I’ve promised a post about the birth of our son. Our close family and friends will have already heard our birth story, of course, but this is for everyone that we haven’t yet seen.
Tuesday, August 9th: My lovely wife Beth started having contractions and her doctor confirmed it was, indeed, pre-labor. She was excited by the thought that our little guy could be coming two weeks early in order to relieve her of her negative pregnancy symptoms. Her due date was supposed to be August 28th. I did caution her to not get too set that he would come early just in case he didn’t. The internet had warned me that pre-labor could potentially take weeks.
Friday, August 12: Beth called me at work. She thinks her water may have broken and she’s going to leave work early. Her OB was able to see her on short notice and verified her amniotic sac (eww, medical terms) was ruptured. It was around 1:30pm so I had to give some directions to guys at work before leaving. It was a frantic couple of minutes getting them ready to finish out the shipments of the day but then I was racing home. We packed a couple last minute items and left Maeby to be picked up by Beth’s sister. Traffic was as annoyingly bad that early in the afternoon as it could only be on a Friday but we made it to the hospital around 3pm.
Beth was checked in and we were shown to room 2038. It was one of the largest delivery rooms they have. We had seen a much smaller one on our tour of the hospital a couple weeks earlier. The bathroom in our room was bigger than the entire room we had toured! Beth’s nurses were really nice and supportive. Her bed was uncomfortable but she says that about a lot of beds. She had a long way to go before actually giving birth so we turned on the TV and settled in for a long night. Beth even let me watch the Olympics!!! Some time around midnight Beth decided to get an epidural for the pain. She had wanted to avoid drugs if possible but reached a point where that changed. I was glad she was going to be in less pain going forward. The worst was yet to come, of course, but the maximum pain level would be much less with the drugs. Beth was only dilated 2cm so her nurse advised that we get some sleep.
Saturday, August 13: Beth was able to sleep for five hours through her contractions. The epidural was definitely helping. I took the couch under the window and at some point a nurse covered me with a blanket. A nurse came in to check on Beth around 5am and she had gone from 2cm to 10cm while she slept! The nurses and doctors were surprised at the quick progression and said to prepare for active pushing. They did, however, have to back down the dosage of the epidural a bit so she could more accurately tell when to push. She actively pushed for almost an hour. Our little boy hadn’t moved much closer to the exit so Beth was told to take a break and “labor down” for a while. That meant not pushing during contractions. I’m clearly not a doctor but that was helpful somehow.
The break was about half an hour and was followed by more pushing. Even with the epidural, the pain and exhaustion were getting to Beth. She said she wanted to quit but her nurses/doctor and I encouraged her to keep going. Some of her contractions lasted longer than the average three long pushes and she pushed four, five, and six times. I was (and still am) very impressed with the strength she displayed. Baby was very close to arriving and I was asked if I wanted to see his head. That meant crossing an invisible line on the bed that meant seeing something gross, something I normally avoid, but I looked and saw his head crowning. Beth pushed a couple more times and, with one more push, our son was born! I looked away after he was caught (because of all the liquids and things he was covered with) and just looked at my wife in the eye and told her, “You’re done, you did it!”. She didn’t believe me at first. I know at times she thought she’d never be done, but once it set in that she was indeed done, she was relieved and incredibly happy. It was 9:16am.
The nurses cleaned him up and put him directly on Beth’s chest. They call this very important skin-to-skin time the “Golden Hour” (it’s vital for mother-child bonding). He was a little cone-headed as many babies are but he was born a healthy 6lbs and 15oz. He was 19.5″ long and had all his fingers and toes. They’re long monkey-toes like Beth’s. I have monkey-toes too but Beth likes to think they are from her. She thinks he looks more like me than her (basically saying I look like a baby) but I know his features have yet to fully develop. He could end up looking a lot more like her. Beth’s nephew Carter looks a lot like the rest of her family.
About two hours after the birth (and the epidural), Beth was allowed to walk again. She had trouble getting to the bathroom after not walking for almost 11 hours. We were moved to a postpartum room on the fourth floor. It was a considerably smaller room but mostly because our delivery room was enormous. All our parents, two of our collective sisters, a brother-in-law, and two nieces visited us right away in the new room. They were waiting not-so-patiently in the lobby until I came down to grab them. Beth and I ate some lunch (hers was room-service) and our families passed the little one around. At some point everyone left and we got a (very) brief nap. Our new nurses were just as wonderful on the postpartum side. They provided us with a ton of awesome advice and childcare tips. All of them were essentially expert moms but with a bunch of medical knowledge and a complete lack of fear. Beth and I had, and still do have, a considerable amount of fear. Parenting can be quite difficult and scary.
Sunday, August 14th: We watched a lot of Olympics (once again, because my wife is amazing and loves me). Sleep was still at a premium for mom and dad but the little man slept well enough.
Monday, August 15th: The baby was a little jaundiced (common with premature kids) so they started him on a light blanket to reduce his bilirubin levels. It’s a flexible blue blanket that he slept on whenever he wasn’t feeding. After a while, our pediatrician advised adding an overhead light as well as staying an extra night in the hospital. Bummer. I actually left the hospital to do some stuff around the house, crazy stuff like finishing the nursery (something I thought I would have two weeks to do). It was incredibly weird to be outside the hospital having slept there and eaten all my meals there for over two days. The rest of the day was Olympics and blue lights. The nurses were able to take our son for a couple hours between feedings overnight to help us sleep.
Tuesday, August 16th: The doctors noticed enough reduction in his bilirubin levels to release us but delayed it until dinner time. Beth and I were fairly antsy to get out of there and go home (and not only because of the ever-growing hospital bill). Although the prospect of having to care for him ourselves was daunting, going home felt like the best option for us. Finally, at 6pm, we were discharged. A thunderstorm was headed for the Twin Cities and thankfully the hospital waited until the exact moment it hit us to send us home. Driving with an infant for the first time was nerve-wracking. Sleep was damn near non-existent.
Wednesday, August 17th: I was out of vacation time and had to go back to work. It was really difficult being away from my family but not nearly as hard as it was for Beth. That first full day home alone with him was awful from what I heard. He had an appointment at 4pm conveniently near my work but somebody called in sick and we had to go to further away. His health was improving but the appointment did not go very well (I don’t think we’ll be seeing that particular doctor again). It was another rough night but we were encouraged any time he slept even just a little.
Thursday, August 18th: Beth was justifiably exhausted so I stayed home for the morning. We had one more pediatrician’s appointment at 11am with a registered nurse named Patricia Zajak. Yes, her name is Pat Zajak and she is awesome and gave us some great advice. She could tell Beth was stressed and by the end of our visit we both had a renewed strength. Our pediatrician has half a dozen offices with many doctors and nurses but we will likely be requesting Pat more often. I went straight to work from the appointment and apparently the rest of the day went a lot better. He still had some trouble sleeping and breast-feeding but everything was looking up!
Since then: Our little boy is doing well. He’s eating more consistently (half-formula, half-breast milk) and he’s sleeping a ton (just not very well between 3am and 7am). He has gained weight gradually and is up to 7lbs 5oz. He’s cute as a button and we love him.
I would like to formally introduce all my readers to James David Knutson.
Yeah, I’m going to be one of those parents that takes so many embarrassing photos it becomes impossible for my son to grow up and not have these surface. Strike a pose, young man, you’re adorable!