Martin William Dew was born at 5:01 AM on August 29th, 2012. He weighted 8 pounds 13 ounces and was 21 inches long.
The Long Form:
If you've been reading my g+ stream lately you may have detected a slight air of impatience to finally have this baby as my due date approached. I was fortunate that I managed to stay active to the very end without injuring myself, but the pelvic separation was really starting to be more than just an annoyance. There was also the doula issue. I'd had a bit of a fiasco on that front, with my first doula needing to drop out at the 11th hour due to her own preterm labor issue, and the replacement I'd found at such a late date would have had to roll me over to her backup if I actually went to my due date, which was OK, but less than ideal.
Tuesday night I was grumpy. When there was no sign of labor by 8pm I assumed it wasn't going to happen that night and I'd have to go forward with my plan to go to my OB appointment the next day and then meet doula #3 afterwards. I sent email accordingly. Margaret went to sleep, but Duncan resisted, trying the tactic of asking for Daddy. Daddy humored him and watched started watching 'The Magnificent Seven' with him while I went to bed.
Once in bed I didn't actually get any sleep. Contractions started around 11pm, and when they did not go away after drinking water and changing position. I checked on my guys. Warren was enjoying his movie and snuggling with a sleeping Duncan who had no doubt passed out within 15 minutes of the start of Daddy time. I went to my office and started timing contractions with the buggy but still useful app. They were less than 4 minutes apart and lasting for an average of 80 seconds. After an hour of timing with things being pretty consistent I decided that this looked like the real deal and I was justified in waking up the doula who I had emailed 'probably not tonight' just hours earlier. I called her and left a message on her voice mail. Then I called the doctor's office and spoke to an actual clueful nurse on the phone who took me at my word when I said, "If I wait until I can't talk through the contractions I may have this kid on the bathroom floor." We loaded the kids into the car without bothering to change them out of their night things and headed to the hospital. I had a nervous moment that I might have jumped the gun when I had a slightly longer interval between contractions after getting into the car, but then I had a very convincing one just as we hit the first fresh pond rotary.
I remember it took me three calls to actually wake up the doula. Not that I blame her. It was 2am when we got to the hospital, and the last she'd heard from me I was all convinced I had at least one more day to go. It's a good thing I did wake her up, though.
At this point I need to digress a bit and tell you that we wanted both siblings present at the birth if they wanted to be there, and Margaret was quite vocal about wanting to be there. I checked the hospital's webpage and read their policy, which stated that siblings were allowed and that I could have up to thee support people at the birth, including siblings, but no I couldn't make substitutions. I hired the doula thinking she would not be allowed in because that would put me over the three person limit, but she could watch Duncan in the waiting room if he decided to bail during the birth. It became clear at the sibling class that very few siblings actually attended births, since the instructor was assuming they would not, so I spoke to her to make sure two siblings at the birth would be OK. She said to check with my OB, which I did. My OB said it would be OK, but if one child needed to leave Warren would have to leave with both kids if no one was available to take care of the kid who needed to leave. So, I hired the doula for backup child care at the hospital and assumed it would be OK since I'd checked the policy on the hospital's web page and with the sibling class person and with my OB. As it turns out that was a tad optimistic of me.
So we show up at labor and delivery at 2am and the first thing out of anyone mouth is, "we don't have kids in here." This immediately make me angry (given the prep I did with the kids watching birth videos and extensive checking), and I immediately retort hotly that not what the hospital web page says. We went back and forth a few times, and as I continued to stand my ground the policy suddenly morphed from no kids into I had to have someone other than my partner looking after them. Warren pointed out that this made no sense as I wouldn't have any more help from him if he was taking care of the kids in another room than if he was taking care of them in the same room, but the logic of that seemed lost on them. I said fine, we have a doula coming to take care of the kids, I'll just wait outside in the waiting room until she gets here and I turned to leave. At that point it suddenly became OK for us to have the kids with us in the examine room they wanted me in. I was left with the impression that the nurses thought that whatever the actual stated policy was irrelevant if it was inconvenient for them, and that they just were not used to dealing with laboring women who were willing to argue with them.
We were warned that we'd probably spend the entire time in the examine room because it was a very busy night and everything else was taken. This was very disappointing to me as I really, really wanted to be laboring in water at that point. I was having back labor, which was a new experience for me, and the contractions were also causing sharper pains where my pelvis was failing to join together properly at the front. At least the kids were with us, and our doula showed up in fairly short order. Having her in the room with us was actually better for us than if they'd gone with the policy stated on the web page, but I was still annoyed with the way things had played out because I strongly suspect they would have stuck with 'no kids at all' had I not stood my ground.
The initial exam showed me at 3cm dilated and 80% effaced. They assured me I'd be heading into active labor soon. I was a bit nonplussed because I felt like I was already in active labor. Our doula, Bronwyn, arrived shortly. Bronwyn kept Margaret and Duncan entertained by playing games with them on the ipad. There was a good long while of me kneeling on the bed in that exam room leaning on the raised head of the bed trying to deal with the back labor while the sound of the Curious George game and the Thomas and Friends game played in the background. Bronwyn made helpful suggestions to Warren for dealing with the back labor, but on at least one occasion her attention faltered from Dear Leader for a nanosecond too long and there was an indignant cry of, "I want my doula!" Dear Leader was very clear on who we had hired the doula to assist. Warren did a super job at labor support. His help made a huge difference with the back labor, and he had a few choice things to say later on that were spot on like, "I don't think she has a choice about pushing right now," but I am getting a bit ahead here.
The reason for the back labor was no mystery. I'd spent the past several months with a bulge on my left side that was very clearly a butt, and a bulge on my right side that was very clearly feet, so the baby was clearly facing my side rather than my back, and that certainly remained true for a fair portion of the labor.
After just over an hour in our little room I started to feel an urge to push, but in an odd way. I asked to have my cervix checked, and I was at 5cm, but my water sac was bulging. I ended up going with the odd pushing sensation, and that broke my water, and I think I was at 7cm shortly thereafter. Things got a little weird after that. At some point it was suggested that I get on my side, which was really hard to muster the energy to try, but I it did seem to help and then I was back on my back to have someone check the baby's heartbeat. I wasn't fully dilated yet, but there were some pushy sensations that came and went. Long story short I ended up pushing against my cervix. After the head was out I really wanted to rest a bit, but the doctor wanted the rest of him out right away, so I pushed anyway and got him out. Everyone commented that he was big. (When he finally got weighed, over two hours after birth, I was less than impressed by the 8 pounds 13 ounces as I know of other women who have delivered larger babies vaginally, but he is certainly a robust baby boy.)
Martin cried more than I remember either Margaret or Duncan crying, but you can't really blame him. Things were disorganized in that funny little exam room and it took ages to get him cleaned up, weighed and measured. I suppose on the plus side he had loads of skin to skin time with me, enough that I'm pretty sure he peed on me, but that didn't bother me. He also got to nurse a fair bit before his official weigh-in.
Both older siblings were apparently pretty intently watching the actual delivery. Some of the other stuff clearly bored them, though Margaret had commented several times on my water breaking. Right after the big moment Duncan decided he'd seen what he was there to see and fell asleep in Bronwyn's arms. Margaret was more interested in checking out her new brother and keeping tabs on the further developments. We finally all got to our postpartum room around 8 am. It was nice because they gave up one of the big rooms in the older section that used to be a double but wasn't anymore. This meant there were enough chairs for everyone, and extra room for the kids to play in during visits. We ordered breakfast including grapes for Margaret and got some food into us before Warren took the kids home and I got my post-birth nap.