Sunday, October 21, 2007

The great-grandclerk

We took Auletta on her first road trip this weekend. On Friday afternoon we drove to an inn in the Catskills, about three hours away from New Haven, where we had dinner with a group of people associated with Cornell Law School and Sandra Day O'Connor. Justice O'Connor was there to go fly fishing the next morning before heading to Ithaca for a visit to the law school next week.

Justin's dad clerked for O'Connor in the early '80s. So Justin is one of the original grandclerks. She now has two great-grandclerks, Auletta, and a boy who's about four months old. Both of them were there. Justice O'Connor assured us that Auletta is beautiful.

Auletta handled the trip really well, which I hope bodes well for our holiday travels.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

One week

Auletta turned one week old yesterday. At her first pediatric appointment she weighed 8 lb. 4 oz., six ounces more than when she was born. So this breastfeeding thing is obviously going well. So well, in fact, that I spent yesterday afternoon doing not much else, and decided it was okay to give her a pacifier. I wasn't in a hurry to do it, but I have read it won't lead to nipple confusion once breastfeeding is established, and I don't know how it could be more established. Besides, the hospital apparently gave her a pacifier when she was in the nursery at night. Which I would not necessarily have approved, but at least they use Soothies, which is what I was going to get anyway.

(Thanks to Helene and Michael for the sleeper and my sister for the conveniently coordinating hat. Baby hats are, in fact, flat when you first get them.)

Update: I added a couple of pictures to the story of Auletta's birth and hospital stay, in case you don't want to read the whole thing but want to see pictures.

Monday, October 15, 2007

About her name

Auletta is my mom's last name. Justin has three siblings whose last names are family surnames, so we decided to continue that tradition. Ruth is Justin's Gomma, who is still hanging in there. She got to see pictures of her great-granddaughter this weekend, thanks to the miracle of email and digital cameras.

The birth certificate lady had to check on us three days in a row before we totally made up our minds. We've been calling her Auletta since we found out she was a she, but as her due date approached we started wondering if we really wanted to be spelling her name for everyone (and making her have to spell it) in aeternam. We thought of switching her first and middle names. But we realized several things: 1. We were already calling her Auletta. 2. Word had spread to my mom's family that her name was Auletta. 3. It makes a lot more sense, if we're already calling her this unusual name, to give her a normal middle name she can use if she hates her weird first name than to give her a normal first name and call her by her weird middle name.

And anyway, Ruth might become popular again, but there is no chance our daughter will have three classmates with the same name. Someday I'm going to write a post ranting about some of the names that are trendy these days.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Auletta: The early days

This is the whole birth story, plus first days at the hospital. It is very long.

I went to the hospital Tuesday morning to get the gel to ripen my cervix. The doctor told me that it was possible but unlikely this by itself would be enough to initiate contractions; otherwise I'd go in the next day, probably early, for the induction. While I was hooked up to the fetal monitor I had mild contractions, but nothing that looked like actual labor. I was dilated a centimeter, if that, and less effaced than I had been told I was on Friday (effacement is so subjective that I'm not really sure why they bother, but whatever).

On the way home I picked up Justin, who was tired and figured we might as well spend this last baby-less afternoon together. I started having contractions I could actually identify as contractions as the afternoon went on. By the evening they were regular and getting stronger. I started timing them more carefully around 9:00 and called the doctor twice; the second time he said we could head for the hospital. At that point they were at most three minutes apart and still not very painful, but I didn't want to wait that much longer because they were so close together.

We got to the hospital around 11:30 and went up to triage, where they have rooms for women in early labor. By that time the contractions were definitely painful, but manageable. A resident did an internal, the most freaking painful internal I'd ever had (no doubt because it was during a contraction, ouch). I was dilated two centimeters. The doctor who was doing deliveries that night came and told me to walk around the floor for two hours and then they'd check my progress and admit me to L&D if I had made enough progress. I wasn't sure I would make it two hours with the pain I was already having, but being on my feet instead of lying on my side attached to the fetal monitor was more comfortable, at least in the beginning. But after 45 minutes I asked Justin to see if I could get any sort of pain medication at all or have another internal. The nurses said I could have an internal, but if I hadn't dilated enough I might just be disappointed and still in pain. Fortunately, I had dilated to 3 or 4 centimeters and could be admitted to L&D, and the doctor asked if I was interested in an epidural. By that time any idea I had of even attempting natural childbirth had gone out the window, so the epidural was arranged.

We walked over to L&D. After this everything went haywire and I don't really remember exactly what happened. In some order, the following took place: I was attached to an IV. I was asked the same questions several times about whether I was allergic to any medications, etc. so I could get the epidural. The doctor broke my water. The number of people in the room increased exponentially. The fetal monitor made threatening beeping noises at wildly varying rates, which was the baby's heartbeat, and the doctor said, at what seemed like really soon after I had gotten into L&D, that they might have to do a c-section. I got an oxygen mask, which paradoxically made me feel less able to breathe, but nobody let me take it off.

I was in awful pain the whole time. Now I don't know if I am just a huge wimp or I didn't practice my breathing exercises or if this was an unusually horrible labor, but it was extremely unfun. The contractions were really intense, which I'm sure is normal, and there was often no time for me to relax between each one. Basically, I think it was like being in the transitional stage of labor (when you dilate from 7 to 10 cm, and which is supposed to be hideous but short) when I was just barely in active labor. As far as I know I never made it past 4 cm.

After some period of fetal distress and various medical personnel acting, in a controlled way, very worried, they decided to do the c-section. I remember the doctor telling me if I had another baby I could either have a VBAC or an elective cesarean, which it seemed weird for him to tell me at that point since either way I had to get this present baby out as quickly as possible, but the whole thing was weird so I didn't really notice it at the time. I signed the consent form at a rare moment between contractions and was wheeled rapidly to the operating room.

Justin, who had been incredibly wonderful and supportive the whole time, was left in L&D to await further instructions. At that point they didn't know if they could stabilize the baby enough to do a spinal block, in which case Justin could be in the OR with me, or if they had to knock me out as quickly as possible with general anesthesia, which would mean he couldn't be with me. I had heard them discussing the possibility of general anesthesia, which kind of scared me (as scary as this all was) because as I understand it, even with emergency cesareans general anesthesia is pretty rare.

Fortunately they were able to get the baby stabilized enough to do the spinal block. It probably helped that I was less frantic by this point, since I knew the baby would be coming out imminently. It took several more contractions for me to be asked the same questions about my nonexistent allergies to medications and to get the spinal block itself, which once it kicked in was the most beautiful physical sensation I have ever experienced in my life. The doctors and nurses set up a curtain between my chest and my abdomen, Justin came in wearing scrubs, and we had a nice conversation with the anesthesiologist about how Justin and I met and where we were from while the medical team delivered our daughter, who came into the world at 1:56 AM on Wednesday. We didn't even know she was out at first because they took her next door to get cleaned up and get her APGARs and all that, but they told us they had delivered her and after a couple of minutes we could hear her cry. And then they brought her out so Justin could hold her, and she stared at us and she was perfect and everything was good and worthwhile.

After they sewed me up (this took a while; Justin heard the doctor say something like "Who has her bladder?" which was a little disconcerting, but I did get it back), they took us to a recovery room. This was probably the weirdest part of the evening. I was extremely cold and shivering uncontrollably. My temperature got down to 94.2. I didn't know it was possible to be that cold and be, like, not dead, but apparently it is. So they put a warmed blanket over me, which was nice but kind of lame under the circumstances, and then put this weird sort of inflatable blanket hooked up to an air hose with hot air coming into it, which was less lame but still didn't heat me up as quickly as I would have liked, which was immediately, or at least soon. We were in the recovery room for probably an hour and a half; the baby had to be warmed up too, although Justin got to hold her a lot. The spinal block, which was a darned good spinal block, took several hours to wear off, so I was still flat on my back at this point. There was a nurse in and out of the room, but otherwise we were alone, which seemed kind of bizarre. Eventually they got the baby to a safe temperature and me up to 96-ish, which for being two degrees below normal body temperature was pretty great under the circumstances, so they brought us up to our room on the maternity floor. I got to hold the baby, kind of, in the crook of my arm. We got there around 4:00 AM. The baby had to go to the nursery to be weighed and measured. We sort of slept for a couple of hours.

* * *

So you remember how the baby's head never fully engaged? This probably had something to do with how she ended up coming out. My doctor thought at first her head was smooshing her umbilical cord, which would definitely have explained her distress, which turned out not to be the case. But her chin was tipped down toward her chest, instead of upward, which is how babies are supposed to be facing when they're born, and it was bent at kind of a weird angle. We also overheard the doctor saying something about my narrow pelvis during the surgery. Not that you could ever tell from the outside, but it seems perhaps I am not built to deliver babies, at least this big-headed one. I'm not sure it was a case of true cephalo-pelvic disproportion (which I believe is rare, for obvious evolutionary reasons), but I'm sure that didn't make things any easier. I'm hoping to get a better idea of what happened at my first postpartum appointment. I think the doctor kind of explained it afterwards, but I was not in much of a condition to remember if he did.

* * *

We had four days in the hospital to recover. We probably could have been discharged on Saturday, but we took advantage of the extra day's worth of food (which was room service and generally pretty good), baby help, and rest, sort of. The first day I only got out of bed twice, with the help of nurses, and was still hooked up to an IV and catheter. We got started breastfeeding. I had been worried that since I wasn't able to hold Auletta or even try nursing her for the first twelve hours or so of her life that it might make things more complicated, but we managed fine, it just took a little longer to get started. The baby was sleepy and mucusy her first day, so she wasn't really hungry, but I pumped a little bit to keep up my supply and kept encouraging her to feed. And whatever I might think about Yale-New Haven as far as the scheduling of my induction, they have wonderful breastfeeding support, so I got lots of help from all the nurses and lactation consultants. I especially adored one of our night nurses, Caren, who was a sweetheart and helped out with our first successful couple of feedings the first full night we were there. Once we got rolling things just went incredibly smoothly. I had very few expectations about my childbirth experience, which is good because none of them would have been met anyway, but I really wanted to breastfeed and had myself mentally prepared to stick it out through days or weeks of pain and frustration if it turned out to be difficult, but it wasn't. So I'm really happy about that.

Justin's mom spent all day at the hospital on Friday. (She'd tried to get there on Thursday, but it didn't work out. Another U.S. Air-is-evil story.) This is when I discovered for myself one of the advantages of breastfeeding, which is that every couple of hours people have to give you your baby back. His mom and dad both came on Saturday and spent the day fighting over the baby, which was very cute. She's their first grandchild, and the first girl in their branch of the Schwab clan since Justin's sister was born twenty years ago, so they're really happy to have her.

I think I'm recovering pretty quickly from the surgery. Actually I felt better in the hospital, but they kept loading me with Percoset and I didn't have to do as much there as I am doing at home (although my sister's visiting so I have lots of help). After the first day I was moving around slowly but without much pain.

We came home Sunday morning, which is when my sister's flight got in, so I'll have help until Friday, and then Justin has the next week off. We are probably doing Auletta's first road trip--a short one, for us--this weekend; more about that later.

Baby With Flat Hat is here!

Auletta Ruth Schwab was born on October 10, 2007 at 1:56 AM. She weighed 7 lb. 13.5 oz. and measured 19 3/4 inches. Her big brainy head was 14 inches. She is perfect and we adore her. I'll post more details later this week.

Monday, October 08, 2007

How induction is a lot like spontaneous labor

They don't tell you when you're supposed to be induced until right before it happens, apparently. The hospital is still having trouble fitting me in for my cervical gelling tomorrow, so they're supposed to call in the morning and let me know if 1. someone has canceled (i.e. delivered) or 2. the on-call doctor can take me. I'm set for the induction itself on Wednesday, but I won't find out until tomorrow evening when I'm supposed to go in for that. So it's all a big fun surprise!

Meanwhile, I'm entertaining myself by going to the baby chat boards on This isn't really making me feel better, though, because I've read so many posts from women who are 37/38 weeks pregnant and disappointed that they're not dilated yet, and it's not charitable but I want to kick them.

The good news is, I think the baby's been putting more pressure on my bladder, which is manifesting itself in frequent but not always timely trips to the bathroom, so maybe she's dropped a bit.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Baby With Flat Hat update, part the gazillionth

Today I spent several hours at the university health center (and environs, since I needed to eat at some point) attending three inconveniently spaced appointments. Scheduling anything related to this baby seems to be like herding cats; more on that soon. Anyway, first of all I had the nonstress test, in which I was hooked up to a fetal monitor and asked to press a button every time she moved to see if her heartrate went up when she moved, which it's supposed to do. It facilitates this procedure if the baby moves. My daughter is not a morning person. The nurse gave me some grape juice, though, at which point she perked up and said "I love JUICE!" and had all kinds of heartrate-boosting movement, some of which I even felt. So that is good.

I ate lunch, then went back for a short ultrasound to check my amniotic fluid level, which is fine. And she's still a girl, or if she's not they decided not to disabuse me of that notion before I find out in person.

Then I went upstairs very early for my 41 week appointment, was surprised to be admitted to the exam room early, and then less surprised when I ended up sitting there for half an hour in a stuffy room on the edge of the exam table with a glorified paper towel over the lower half of my body and my back hurting like crazy from the exam table's failure to be a comfy chair like the ones in the waiting room I'd rather have been sitting in. Maybe I should bring this up in the telephone surveys I keep getting from Yale Health Services about appointments I can't remember because they were short and three weeks ago and I've had other appointments since then.

So, finally a doctor emerged and gave me an internal. I am 80% effaced. Progress! But still no dilation, and the baby's head is still not fully engaged. Well, I wouldn't want to stick my head in someone else's pelvis, either. At this point, if they want to induce me by 42 weeks (remember, ignore the ticker if you're a doctor and all women have 28-day cycles; I was due almost a week ago), they have to schedule me soon. I have mixed feelings about inductions, like 1. I was born four weeks late and I turned out fine, so what's the rush? and besides, I've heard the contractions are worse on pitocin, and they often end in c-sections especially if the baby's not really ready, which she's not, and sometimes they just fail, in like a big icanhascheezburger conehead-cat that can't eat its food FAIL. type of way, and they can take forever (my sister's induction = 36 hours of labor, etc.), and, etc., but 2. gee, it would be nice to have a baby, for a couple of personal reasons besides the obvious impatience with being pregnant and wanting one, some of them not so significant in the big scheme of things (my sister's here from the 14th to the 19th and it'd be nice if I were home with the baby by then), some really important to us (like Justin's Gomma meeting her first great-grandchild before she passes away, which is looking inevitable and soon).

So. At first they were trying to schedule me for another AFI/NST on Monday and an induction toward the middle/end of the week. But apparently the hospital is having trouble scheduling me for anytime except maybe Tuesday/Wednesday. How hospitals have trouble scheduling inductions when presumably they have to accommodate anyone who, like, goes into labor on her own is beyond me, but apparently it truly is that complicated. So now the plan is for me not to have anything on Monday, to go in Tuesday at some yet-to-be-determined time to get gel to thin my cervix, sleep at home that night, and then come back in on Wednesday to get the show on the road. We hope. (Justin has a light class schedule on Wednesday, which is a small perk to this plan.)

If that confused you, imagine how I explained it to Justin, who has a project due on Tuesday and wants to know when the baby is coming. Despite all this attempted scheduling (FAIL.), she is a baby, so I don't know. Maybe before Tuesday. But definitely (probably) within a week.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

My ticker amuses me

The Baby With Flat Hat Status Report says

I'm getting lots of sleep, waiting to get out.

Judging by the all-night party in my uterus, she has no trouble passing the time. This might have had to do with my brilliant idea of baking brownies last night, now that I have found my measuring cups. Chocolate, I now remember, has caffeine, which keeps me awake, and apparently like everything else it gives me gas six ways to Sunday so that I had to sit up and burp all night to keep from floating away on a giant internal bubble. Also I seem to have taken up snoring at those times I do sleep. Lovely.

I'm scheduled for a nonstress test on Friday if I don't have the baby before then. My weekly appointments have been so routine, and my progress so negligible, that at my 39 week appointment eight days ago my OB decided to cancel my 40 week appointment and just schedule me for the NST if I didn't have the baby before that. Thereafter I had this odd notion that because I had the appointment for the NST, it would somehow prevent me from going into labor, which who knows, maybe it has. I'm so convinced she's not coming on her own anytime soon that I would be in shock if she did, although that's technically what's supposed to happen.