Quinn was born in Silver Spring, Maryland, in 2005 after six hours of active labor. He weighed…wait for it…9 lb, 11 oz. He was absolutely adorable. I thought I had the fingernail thing down by this time, but nope. I think it’s just what you do the first time you cut a baby’s fingernails: you take off the tip of one of their fingers. Alex had to change the diapers in the hospital because I was suffering after-effects from my epidural.
But all of that comes later.
I had some expectations for my third birth. It would be early. It would be fast. And then I would painlessly relax in the hospital for two days. None of this happened.
I mean, Quinn was early, but just not early enough. (He was also fast, but not as fast as I’d hoped.) He had some health issues that turned out to be nothing, but the doctors had considered inducing me early. So I had my hopes up for an 8-month pregnancy.
Fortunately, they didn’t have to induce me, but that meant that I had to wait until I went into labor. If Alex and my mom thought I was surly the last time I was waiting to give birth, they were probably surprised to see the heights to which my surliness could rise.
Every morning when I came downstairs, my mom (who was nice enough to stay with us for a month to make sure she was there to take care of Sam and Jack when I went into labor) would ask, “Anything?”
Every morning I wanted to kill her.
In retrospect, I feel kinda bad about that. She was pretty heroic to put up with me as long as she did. Especially considering the surly.
I started having contractions at 7 a.m. one morning, three days before my due date. They became regular by 9, and by 10 a.m. Alex and I were on our way to the hospital.
After we checked in in the lobby, we got lost trying to find the labor and delivery department. We stood by an out of order elevator, me having strong contractions every three minutes, reading a sign that told us to use some other elevator, but that didn’t give directions to the other elevator.
We stopped someone dressed in scrubs to ask them how to get there. She totally shrugged us off, which I thought was kind of uncool. Because, really, if you’re only going to answer one question from a stranger in your life, it should probably be the one asked by the obviously super pregnant, sweaty lady asking for directions to the labor and delivery department.
We finally found the place—on our own, thank you very much— and were assigned to a room that was larger than my living room and kitchen combined. We had decided against a doula this time because we figured we knew the drill. And we did. But by now the drill totally sucked rocks.
The doctor came to check on me at noon. I expected her to tell me that I would have a baby any minute. She told me she would come back to check on me in an hour. That totally bummed me out. I didn’t want to have contractions for another hour. Or maybe more.
So I asked for an epidural, and the nurses got really excited for me. I’m not sure what the anesthesiologist did the first time, but he gave me a mild dose because he expected me to give birth soon. I didn’t.
But I did have almost immediate relief. I finally noticed that my nurse had a crazy strong Boston accent and that she herself was substantially pregnant. She told us later (after Quinn was born) that this was the first birth she had been in charge of all by herself. I think because it was her first, we were her only patients that day. She stayed in our room almost the whole time we were there. She was nice. I liked her.
Before too long, though, my contractions started getting stronger again and the anesthesiologist had to come back and up my dose. I immediately went numb from the waist down. And then the nurse needed me to turn onto my side so Quinn could get more oxygen. And I couldn’t move. Alex and this poor pregnant nurse had to heave my giant, pregnant body onto its side. It was extremely funny, but also terribly humiliating. (But more funny.)
Quinn was having trouble getting enough oxygen, so they gave me a mask and were carefully monitoring him. I was aware that the nurse and Alex were concerned because of the extreme care they were taking to remain expressionless while they watched the monitors that were just out of my sight.
I remember the doctor coming in at some point saying that the baby had to come out now. She was concerned that my epidural would make it so that I couldn’t push. She was ready to pull out a vacuum to get the little guy out.
Fortunately I was given the exact right amount of epidural and was able to push without feeling any pain. (And the numbness went away almost immediately after birth. I could walk within minutes.)
Shortly thereafter, at 2:26 p.m., we had Quinn. The cord was wrapped around his neck, so they took him to the other side of the room to take care of him before I could see him. There was all kinds of murmuring about his intense blond hair and his size. When I finally saw him, I understood. His hair was white. When they weighed him and told me he was almost ten pounds, I actually said, “You’re joking.”
Even though I’d wanted to name a child Quinn since before I’d met Alex, I was a little nervous about actually using the name. But when I saw my little blond, blue-eyed baby, I knew it was right.
For my first two births, I made Alex stay overnights and sleep on the tiny, uncomfortable chairs they have for partners in the recovery rooms. This time, I not only didn’t insist that Alex sleep at the hospital, I encouraged him to go home so I wouldn’t have to throw things at him to stop him from snoring when I was up in the middle of the night taking care of the new little guy.
The only hitch with this birth (other than the oxygen and the cord thing) was that the day after I gave birth, I got a terrible headache. I was fine when I was lying down, but I absolutely could not sit up or stand for more than a couple of minutes.
This was apparently caused by my epidural. To treat this they did a blood patch, which was apparently interesting enough that three interns came to watch. What they did was draw blood from my arm and then insert it into my epidural spot. Kinda freaky.
It was worth it though. Because this time, I got this: