Academic Leigh Speaking

A professor, four kids, and a crash course in work/life balance

How the Older Boys are Handling their New Baby March 18, 2016

Bringing home a new baby is always interesting. The boys’ reactions are pretty varied.


We’ll start with him because it’s hardest on the current youngest. Porter already hasn’t been feeling his best (a little cough and congestion), but couple that with a baby, and poor thing. He wanted to touch the baby a lot right at first. He giggled when he felt Harlan’s head in the hospital. But he quickly expressed his desire to rip the blanket off and check out the intruder. I tried to get away with letting Patrick hold Harlan while I held Porter, having learned a little from the Seamus/Gilbert introduction. He sobbed as he left the hospital.

However, while he’s been clingy and fussy, he’s doing a little better, and we keep reminding ourselves that he’s really having the worst days of his life right now. In a week or so, he should be much better. He wants to rock the car seat, or bouncy seat. He wants to climb on me, ALL the time. He needs a lot of love and reassurance. I’ve been getting up with him when he wakes at 6:15, and we continue our tradition of going to the couch to snuggle and lay down for a few minutes until Seamus gets up at 6:45 (usually). These guys are my early risers. He likes that, and he likes going outside to play. He’s been transitioning to a balance bike, and he loves it.


Seamus’s first question/comment was, “You’re not having any more babies are you?” Well, no. But we talked about the deeper issue. I explained that each baby makes you love your other children more. He was suspicious, but curious. I said, “I don’t know, I guess your heart gets bigger.” And I think that was somewhat plausible for him.

Seamus’s school musical was Wednesday night. Back when they first planned for it, I saw the date with a sinking heart. I thought, if he gets a speaking part, the baby will come on that day and I’ll miss Seamus’s play. He came home and told us he didn’t have a part. Whew. But I still didn’t want to miss it. I helped make the costumes! With all my free time. Well, things got weirder. He told us he croaks with the other tadpoles. Then he said he was one of the ones whose tadpole tail had to rip off. I wasn’t sure what he was talking about. Finally, Gilbert told us that Seamus had to step up the microphone, but was afraid to speak and they had to make him. Now we were really confused. I asked him again. No speaking role.

He was very nervous that we were going to be late. He was nervous I wasn’t going to be able to go or stay through the whole thing because of Harlan (or Porter). We got our programs and listed as Tommy Tadpole was Seamus. It turned out he was a tadpole dancer who turned into a frog. (Hence the ripping off of his tail). Then he had to stand in the middle of the stage for a whole song about finding your voice Tommy, do all the movements, and at the end of the song say “Croak” into the microphone! It was SO Seamus to not tell us that he had a part. What a surprise. I’m so glad we all made it for his big moment.

And that’s how he’s coping. By trying not to ask us for too much, so that he’s not disappointed when we can’t give it.


Gilbert seems to be doing well. But he’s definitely getting the short end right now. Between Porter’s neediness, and Seamus’s musical, Gilbert’s not getting much attention. Well, his friends are giving him some, and he tells everyone he sees about his new baby, so he’s milking it.

Gilbert’s obsessed with my stomach and whether it’s returning to regular size. He’s advocating for another baby brother or sister–he prefers sister.

He came home Wednesday and asked if he had to go to Seamus’s play. Couldn’t he just stay home with me and Harlan? (I told him absolutely not.) Looking back, he was hoping to deny Seamus his moment in the sun and to get a little mama-time for himself.

He’s being really helpful with Porter–patient and friendly. He remembers how Porter feels.

And now there are six people in this family! Patrick said it really struck him when he picked Harlan and me up from the hospital and the van was nearly full.

Our first photo as a family of six.

Our first photo as a family of six.


Harlan’s Birth Story–Successful (if Long) VBAC March 17, 2016

Usual caveats apply; I’m not too graphic, but if you don’t like birth stories as a genre, don’t expect much else from this post.

Birth is such an amazing process, not only because it brings a new and beautiful life but also because it’s a test of one’s ability to adapt to changing conditions and expectations. Harlan’s birth story had some unexpected twists and turns, but none of it overwhelmed me this time. The things I was nervous about, I also knew were well within the realm of possibility and that I might have to work with those things. For instance, because I’m always GBS positive (despite cutting out sugar and taking probiotics), I know the risks associated with that; on the flip side, I know what mitigates that risk as well. Anyway…on to the story!

On Sunday morning, the last day of my Spring Break, Patrick got up with Porter and let me sleep in. I was making breakfast for Seamus and Gilbert about 8:00, when I felt a little pop and small gush. I went to check, and I was about 90% sure my water had just sprung a leak. I texted a friend, and she said call the doctor and try to rest a bit. “Don’t chase labor yet,” she said. I set up the menu plan and grocery list. I went for a walk with the kids, and oh man, Seamus and Gilbert needed to get their jollies out. Kevin came to get the older boys for pancake day; Patrick went to Trader Joe’s, and I hung out with Porter. I was comfortable waiting, as I know that 45% percent of women are in active labor after 12 hours, and 70% after 24 hours. However, I wanted to not get too worked up because getting on a clock is not a good thing for me in general. So I read, ate, made these cookies, rested, and admittedly, waited anxiously.

Porter and Patrick napped. The older boys came home. We messed around and went for another walk. The second walk I started having some contractions. Not very regular, but they were starting to be predictable in that they would show up. Gilbert kept tugging on me, and I think Porter stared to sense something was happening because he got super clingy and fussy. We talked about the idea that the baby would probably be born the next day. We got the kids to bed around 8, since it was Daylight Savings Change day. Then my friend and labor support doula showed up around 8:15. She and I chatted and then I was just so tired, so I said I was going to go to bed and try to sleep. I felt a little silly making her sleep on the couch for (not nothing, but not much of anything yet). Contractions when I went to bed were about 7 minutes apart. I slept in between them and then around 11:20, I had a huge contraction. For an hour, I laid in the bed meditating through them as they sped up to 3-4 minutes apart immediately. Around 12:30 I got up because I needed a change and I couldn’t sleep. I went to the new baby’s room and rocked in my chair, and then I moved to the floor and watched some you tube Friends videos. Around 1:45, I woke Kathy up, telling her they were about three minutes apart and had been for a while. We talked, and they slowed down, but they were still intense. I rested between some of them.

By 4 I was getting a little anxious again, because I knew that the kids would be starting to get up around 6, and I wasn’t sure how I would handle having them be part of the morning. Frankly, I had planned to go ahead and have had the baby already around 1 am. That didn’t happen, obviously. I wanted to go out for a walk to see if I could speed things up. Kathy offered to accompany me and we walked in a very misty morning. I did some stairs, and we came back to the house around 5:00. I woke Patrick up, and this was when we started talking about calling Kevin. Even though I wasn’t officially on a clock (because I hadn’t called the doctor), I can see now that I was acutely aware of the time, and the pressures associated with it. I also was holding back a little because I was coming to terms with this being the last time I’d feel baby move in my belly and that this is my last pregnancy and baby. Once he was out, this part of my life would be over, and while I don’t really even like being pregnant that much, it was a very emotionally wrought sensation. I think we called Kevin around 6:15 or so, and he arrived around 6:30. We got to the hospital around 6:45.

Here again, it was helpful to have Kathy point out that even though we were at the hospital, we didn’t have to go in yet. And perhaps we shouldn’t since shift change happens at 7:00. So I did stairs in the parking garage. Things were going well. I felt good and strong, and while I knew that there would be some intervention in the hospital (continuous fetal monitoring, antibiotics, etc), I felt like baby was going to be out really soon. In triage, the nurses were very helpful; in fact, I’m pretty sure I heard them getting into it with the resident and student doctors who keep trying to intervene. I had been very adamant that there should be no pelvic exams because of my GBS positive status with the water broken. Exams do increase the possibility for infection, and I was concerned that there would not be enough time to get the antibiotics to prevent infection. (To be honest, I was less concerned about infection and more concerned that it would take me a while to get out of the hospital if they wanted to monitor baby.) After I had four┬átimes refused pelvic exams, from a nurse, who backed down immediately, to the student, who insisted twice, and from the chief resident, who said they couldn’t admit me without it, the really awesome triage nurse called my doctor. I had met this doctor for the first time on Friday, and I’m so glad I got a chance to study her affect without being in labor. I find her oddly reassuring. Or as Patrick commented, “She makes me look verbose.”

The student and resident said they had to do an ultrasound to make sure baby was head down. Looking back, I think I probably could have refused this, but I knew he was head down, so I figured it would be fine. The student was so rough with the machine that I was really glad I had told her she could not put her hands on me otherwise! My doctor arrived, I was assigned to a room and a nurse, and I started all the other stuff. Continuous fetal monitoring, antibiotics. I did let the doctor check, and with all the hullabaloo, I was 7 centimeters. Hooray! I felt like it would be no time, and indeed the nurse prepped out the room quickly for delivery. (With Seamus, it took nearly 12 hours to go from 5-10; with Gilbert it was 2 hours from 5-10; and here I was at 7!) Somehow, though, with all the change, (Kathy noted that whenever things changed, I slowed down until I felt safe again–this is also very Ina May Gaskin philosophy) I was not moving as fast as I had been. Two hours later, we asked for a check since I felt ready to push sometimes. 8-9. I was SO discouraged. Another two and a half hours, only 9; but this time I hadn’t expected to make as much progress. I have to give the nurse credit. She must be an advocate for natural birth, because she must have been telling the doctor I was still handling the contractions well and while she kept coming in to reset the monitors, she did let me go nearly 45 minutes off the monitor at one point.

The doctor was also good. Their model of care is to interfere. My doctor did not come into the room, ever, unless we asked our nurse to bring her in. That’s amazing. When it was 2:00 and I was still at nine, she suggested Pitocin. I had Pit with Seamus and I hated it. I had also already considered that that might be in the cards for me, and I had told Patrick earlier in the day, “I can get through 5-10 centimeters with Pitocin without an epidural. If I have to do more than that, I might need drugs.” We asked for another hour to keep trying. I was getting really tired. I had to walk in between contractions to get another one to come. Kathy was suggesting really productive positions, and staying super positive with me. All dignity was out the window. I had absorbed another dose of antibiotics, so baby would be in the clear to leave hospital in 24 hours.

At 3:30, we asked the doctor to come back, still nine. I agreed to Pitocin. It went in at 3:40. Immediately, Kathy and Patrick noted that my eyes were clearer and more open. I started to feel good! I no longer had to chase a contraction. I could sit on the edge of the bed in between them and rest, knowing that the next one would come soon. By 4:20, I felt ready to push again. The doctor checked and there was a bit of cervical lip left. Kathy asked if the doc thought she could push it back during a contraction. She tried, but the position was terrible.

At 4:30, she and the nurse left the room, and us to our own devices. I got off the bed to squat on the floor. On the next contraction, I looked at Patrick and Kathy and said, “Baby!” Three times. Kathy looked, told me to put my hand down, and she sprinted to the nurse call button and then out in the hall to say, “We have a baby here!” Meanwhile, I got to catch my baby’s head coming out! It was the most trilling feeling! I waited a moment, as everyone came rushing in. Kathy and Patrick say they heard the nurses discussing trying to lift me on the bed, but the doctor said no, and she squatted down next to me to catch the body with the next second. And there he was!

Oh, my God. What just happened?!

Oh, my God. What just happened?!

I have many take aways from this birth experience. Some are above. I think I have perhaps pinpointed why labor stalled out for me, though. I did not have coffee on the morning of the 14th. I always have 2 cups of coffee. By 12:00 on the 14th, I was so tired that I felt drugged. I was actually in caffeine withdrawal.

I was grateful for a nurse and doctor, who despite their medical training, supported my efforts to have a natural birth. I know that pit isn’t part of natural birth, but to me avoiding the numbing drugs is what’s important. I hate the feeling of pain medication.

I was tremendously grateful for Kathy who helped me (and Patrick) work through our personalities to get this baby here. Her support and love were well-felt. I was so happy to know the other boys were taken care of by their grandfather. And I was beyond overwhelmed when this little guy showed up, after 17 hours of work.

Harlan Thomas

Harlan Thomas

Born 3/14/16 (pi day!) at 4:39 pm. My smallest baby at 7 lbs 7 oz, 21.5 inches.

I have more to share, but this post is long enough!


Spring Break! (and some False Labor) (and 37 week ultrasound results) March 8, 2016

Filed under: Fourth Baby,Pregnancy,Totally Me,Travel — leighj @ 10:02 am

This post is heavy on the pregnancy news and light on pretty much everything else.

Yay! I’m on Spring Break. I was a little torn, hoping baby would come while I had some time off to enjoy him, but also hoping that I’d get to just do a whole bunch of things I want to do over Spring Break. I’ve set goals to go to yoga every day, run the errands that need running before baby comes, volunteer in Seamus’s class, finish converting the diapers to snaps from velcro, work on an article due next week, finish my photo book, and let Patrick get out to do some work and go for some bike rides. Patrick’s summer program got written up in the Washington Post! We were very excited. So far, I have been doing the things I wanted to get done.

I had some false labor last week that spurred me into action on campus. I knew it was false labor, but it was a good reminder to get the things done that I needed to because baby is going to come sometime in the next few weeks. As opposed to Porter’s bouts of false labor, this didn’t make me angry or sad. I am dealing emotionally much better with the last few weeks this time around. I’m also wanting him to wait until at least the 12th so I can get in the cheap flying I love to do. If he waits until March 12, I get two full years of travel through my Spring Break with a lap baby. And since I won’t be pregnant, I can actually sit with a baby on my lap! That said, anytime after the 12th works for me!

I had an ultrasound at 37 weeks. I’m not actually an advocate of late pregnancy ultrasounds because much of the research suggests that they aren’t that accurate, and in my experience (and that of my friends’) they’ve been known to create more problems than they catch and prevent. (If you’re curious, google things like fetal growth ultrasound accuracy, and afi measurements ultrasound, etc). That said, my doctor likes to do them to check the healing at the incision spot (and the lower uterine segment) after a C-Section. I also read all the research on this on an attempt to educate myself. Basically what I found was a lack of agreement at what might be considered too thin, but some agreement on the idea that thicker is better. I got myself all worked up and steeled against an argument to do another C-Section if the segment was thin.

Long story short, the ultrasound revealed all good news. Baby is growing, but according to the ultrasound a bit small. (That’s good for me, regardless of his actual size, because there won’t be pressure to induce a smaller baby.) Amniotic fluid normal, which is also good because the ultrasound was at 8:00 am and I had gotten up at 5 to drink water so that particular number wouldn’t come up low from morning dehydration. Lower segment measured 5-6mm which is really thick. And of course, baby was confirmed to be head down. Thank goodness!

I also brought home the agreement I have to sign in order to have a VBAC. There are some things I’m pretty tempted to cross out, but then I figure, I’m smart, informed, and risk-adverse for the most part. I’m not going to do anything stupid, but I’m also not going to present myself as a sticking cushion for medical intervention. So, we’ll be laboring at home, taking it easy since the hospital is minutes away.

That’s it!


Making Space for Baby January 5, 2016

Filed under: Family Life,Fourth Baby,Growing up,House Improvement,Pregnancy — leighj @ 7:11 am

It’s no secret that we do like the Konmari approach to tidying and decluttering of one’s space. It’s hard when the holiday means that there will be new stuff that we want to use and keep for awhile. (I also have bags of clothes that fit me regularly in the attic, but I have drawers full of maternity clothes right now, neither of which is it really practical to get rid of at the moment.) I’ve actually been working on this with photos too. I’ve been deleting photos when I take them if they’re blurry or not good; that way, later I don’t have to work so hard to figure out which one was the good one. This is a little depressing, because so often, when shooting the kids, none of the photos are the good one. Someone is always moving. Or making a weird face. Or looking away. Or scowling. Well. I’m off topic.

Anyway, the house. When the baby comes, we’re going to move Porter in with Seamus and Gilbert, at least for 8-12 months while new baby figures out how to sleep as part of a family. Porter’s still figuring it out sometimes. But so is Gilbert, if Seamus’s reports of him kicking his bed are to be trusted…I think Porter’s dresser will have to stay in the baby room, unless I figure something else out. We do have an abundance of dressers. Five people; seven dressers. Our friends who recently had a baby had to buy a new dresser because they only had two for four people! I was floored.

We added a cubby for Porter, so that he can start learning to put his shoes and jacket away. He’s been doing this somewhat consistently, but we thought we could reinforce it by giving him his own space. He is getting more independent. So far, he prefers to eat with his own utensils, and I have to recommend the munchkin 360 degrees cup. Porter can drink from a cup without a lid, if it’s not too full, because he’s been practicing with this sippy cup.

Mostly we don’t have that much work to do. We have to move Porter’s crib, because the new baby is getting the mini-crib for awhile. We added shelves to Porter’s room because it is a dumping ground for stuff that doesn’t have a home. Now at least the stuff is on shelves instead of in a pile on the floor. I got down the newborn clothes and diapers. I’ll need to order a mattress for the mini-crib, and I want a NuRoo, because the one I had with Porter I passed on to someone. That thing was dead useful though. I’m sure there are surprises in store, but it will be an adventure.

I have a few other adventures first though, so baby can hang out until mid-March.


A Lot of Exciting Things November 12, 2015

  1. Porter says many new things, and some old things. I’m going to try to write them all here. Ball, Nana (banana), Mo, No, Yeah, Cheee (Cheese), Dada, Mama, Byebye, nose, NiNi (Night night). He isn’t super consistent on talking because he really prefers to point and grunt, and have you guess. But it’s awfully cute when you ask if he wants to go for a walk, or to the park, and he grabs his shoes, says “yeah” and heads for the door.
  2. Porter is into physical comedy. He does the same thing Gilbert used to do where he tripods his head down and gets close to doing a headstand. He flops over backward for a laugh. He grabs his ears and flaps his arms when you ask him where his ears are. He grabs your nose when you ask where a nose is. He howls with laughter when the boys play with him. He’s still into Peek-a-boo, but he likes to control that game.
  3. We had parent teacher conferences. We’ve made a renewed effort at reading with Seamus, and I’m ashamed to admit this on two fronts, but I will. After spending three nights giving Seamus 15 minutes of my undivided attention, he is already reading much more fluently and confidently. I’m embarrassed because it means I really wasn’t carving out the time to pay attention to his needs, and because I read for a living, and how can I neglect my son’s progress?!
  4. Both Seamus and Gilbert ask a lot of questions in class. The teacher nicely termed that “natural inquirer.” I’m glad they’re working on their understandings of the world, but perhaps it would be better if they weren’t so adamant. I told Seamus he could start reading more mature books when he had a more mature brain. I tried to explain that he would need to know how to think about questions like, what happens after you die? He had a very reductionist answer.
  5. Gilbert is a social animal. However, he must pay better attention to his teachers than he does to us. He believes in his arts and crafting work. It does explain why he’s pretty tired and grumpy after school. He’s been working really hard to keep himself focused and under control.
  6. Seamus and Gilbert both wrote little stories at school about their mini derby bike, that they play with at home in the back yard. It’s fun to get a window into their thoughts through their writings.
  7. And…we found out that the baby due in March is…a…boy! We’re excited for a houseful of boys!

Why You Need a Doula, Even for a Cesearan, and Some Other Thoughts July 31, 2014

I never had a doula for my first two deliveries, mostly because I didn’t know how helpful one could be in making sure I would understand what was happening calmly and rationally. I think it would have helped, especially with Seamus’s birth, and in the aftermath of Gilbert’s. When we moved to the DC area three years ago, we were lucky enough to move closer to one of my friends from college and his wife who had met in the PeaceCorps.* We’d stayed in touch over the years, always visiting when we were in town, and I liked his wife (especially her smile), but I had no idea how much we would begin to enjoy their friendship.

Three years ago, they had just given birth at home to their first child. I was thinking about this the other day and how amazing it is that I’ve known this kid his whole life. I don’t see him every weekend or anything, but I’ve watched him grow. Last year, I was a doula (or labor support person for her second homebirth: her story here). It was such a powerful experience for me, and I was eager to have an out-of-hospital birth for my third baby. I wanted most of all the peaceful, meditative certainty of the body working, to never be separated from the baby, and to come home as soon as possible to begin our lives a family of five. I got two out of three of these, I suppose.

My friend, who actually is a certified doula and nurse and is in midwifery school, so therefore has expertise I do not, came with us to the hospital to prepare for a c section. (I have issues calling it cesarean birth; maybe I’ll get there, maybe not. But I do know that some folks are more comfortable referring to it as such and that it does seem to spin the experience a little differently; I just don’t know if, for me, that terminology is more empowering/affirming.) She’s attended other Cesarean births, and obviously, she’s worked in a hospital.

Some things a doula can help with in a c section:

  • She read my birth plan, so she knew what I wanted.
  • Because she’s attended other births and worked in a hospital, she was able to help us ask for things in our birth plan to the appropriate people at the appropriate times. For instance, we might not have known when to ask about a mirror, but she was able to prod us when the nurses were available. Ultimately we didn’t get a mirror, but we did ask. More importantly, she helped us get an ultrasound so we could ask about the possibility of an ECV.
  • She knew my history, so when there were moments that might trigger emotional reactions, she was able to help me focus through them and also to help me advocate for myself, at one point stepping in for me when I couldn’t talk.
  • Mundane things like bloodwork or IV placement she distracted me through, especially through the long waiting. I think this was a big help to Patrick, who would have been hard pressed to small talk with me during the prep.
  • When somebody left the room after speaking to us, she was able to clarify some of the things they were saying.
  • She has a way of asking a softball question to a doctor that opens it up for us to ask our questions.
  • It’s nice to have a friendly face when you come out of that room. Kathy also had juice and flowers. And she tracked down our hospital bag that had gone AWOL.
  • She helped with breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact, something that would really help a first time mom.


*One of my favorite stories is writing to my friend while he was in Ghana and bugging him about whether or not he’d met someone special because I had read something somewhere about many PC volunteers meeting their spouses on their assignments. He finally wrote back exasperated, “Leigh, I have not yet met the future ex-Mrs. Stop asking!” All right. I think he still hasn’t met an ex-Mrs.


Porter Pops Out July 25, 2014

Filed under: Events,Family Life,Pregnancy,Third Baby,Totally Me — leighj @ 11:50 am

We welcomed Porter Bret at 2:02 pm on July 22, 2014. He was 8 lbs, 5 ozs, 21.5 inches. He came in a very unexpected way! It’s a birth story, so the usual caveats apply–don’t read it if you don’t want to know. There are pictures at the bottom.

If you’ll recall, we left Porter’s gestation with lots of start and stop contractions and prelabor. I was discouraged, fatigued, and frustrated with the idea that this baby seemed to want to come, but then would change his mind. At my appointment on the day before my due date, we learned why he wasn’t coming. As the midwife was feeling my belly, she looked confused. Calling in another midwife, they both palpated my uterus to find the baby’s position. They said, “I think you need an ultrasound to confirm his position.” I knew it wasn’t good, but I was trying to keep myself from panicking. Luckily my parents were here, so Patrick was with me and we could run over to the ultrasound place to get a quick check on baby.

The check revealed his head up in my ribs, and his feet in front of his face. A frank breech position. Amniotic fluid looked good, the placenta looked fine, and he looked to be about 8 lbs. We went straight home, even though we’d been planning on dinner while my parents watched the boys. I knew the midwives weren’t allowed to deliver a breech baby, and I wasn’t even sure what that meant for me.

Over the next few days, we tried a lot of stuff. I went to a chiropractor for the Webster technique, took homeopathic pulsatilla, did inversions for hours, and begged baby to turn. Meanwhile, we also consulted with a doctor to discuss the possibility of an ECV (External Cephalic Version) to manually turn the baby. On Friday, I went for another ultrasound to see if cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck. They couldn’t tell 100% but there was cord near the neck, draping the shoulders. The doctor said he would not attempt the turn, and nor would he attend a vaginal breech delivery. We scheduled a c section for Tuesday. I decided if I went into labor spontaneously, I would go to the only hospital with staff that might be willing to attempt a vaginal breech delivery; but if baby waited, I would have a scheduled c section on Tuesday. I processed a lot of thoughts and feelings over the week–but those are for another post.

He didn’t turn. He didn’t generate any more serious contractions. I wrote a Cesarean Birth Plan (something I thought I would never do). We showed up to the hospital on Tuesday at 10:15. Our friend and doula arrived immediately to support us through the preparation and, we hoped, the birth. (Also coming in another post, Why you need a doula for a c section. Two big reasons, as a teaser: She helped me stay focused when I needed to focus and to be distracted when focus wasn’t going to help. She also helped us ask the questions we needed to ask.) There were lots of questions to answer, blood to give, questions to ask, and people to meet. With a scheduled c section, you meet the entire surgical team prior to cutting.

We met the triage nurse. Then we met the third year med student who asked questions, and worked with the chief resident. She was very competent and reassuring. The only really alarming thing was the nurse anesthetist who came in and introduced herself and remarked that we’d be doing a c section and a tubal ligation. That was NOT what we were doing, and thank goodness Patrick and Kathy were there because I probably would have completely lost it. The chief resident was there, and she said, “I will be there for the surgery, and we are not going to do that to you.” The triage nurse gave the other nurse a look and said, “That’s room four.” To the hospital’s credit, I had a new nurse anesthetist and never saw that woman again. I don’t know that I want to have another baby, but I know that if I do, I want to have every potential for a VBAC maximized. That was in the birth plan. The tubal ligation was not. But as they say, “That’s why we ask.” I then met with the anesthesiologist, who answered my questions about pain medications, and was amenable when I explained that I would want the smallest doses and to be off of them as quickly as possible. Then we met the neonatologist, who was good, and we asked that the baby never be separated from us, even if that meant Patrick went with him and left me. We also asked that unless the emergency was immediately life-threatening, that he take the time to explain as calmly as possible what the risks were to the baby. He agreed. Finally, the surgeon leading the team arrived, checked in with us, and asked when I wanted to leave. I said, “As soon as possible.” He said, “Tomorrow.” I said, “If you can make that happen.” He said, “Then all you have to do is show me you can eat.” We went in for the surgery.

Patrick wore scrubs, I was gowned. Right before, as they put in the spinal block, I cried a little. I was scared but resigned. I felt a little nauseated as I laid back. I remember the anesthesiologist telling me that my vital signs showed that the spinal block was working. Patrick came back in, the surgeons started, and it was over very quickly. I wanted to know more about what was going on, but no one was really talking. I listened hard to the surgeons. Patrick says he saw the head doctor holding the baby by the feet, and the chief resident reaching in to grab something. We figure she was unwrapping the cord because I heard her say, “Turtleneck. Nuchal cord times one. Nuchal cord times two.” Then the baby was quickly moved to the warmer. Patrick went over to the warmer. He came back to tell me baby was great. I heard one of the peds nurses say his name. Then, he was wrapped, and Patrick brought him over so I could see and touch him just a little.

I heard them stitching and then stapling, and talking about the technique. I heard the words, “Delivery complication” but I think they were simply referring to the cord, because that’s on his chart, and both times I asked about the surgery (to the chief resident and to my doctor), I was told that it went really well. We eventually moved to the recovery room, where they monitored breathing, belly, and baby for about 2 hours. We tried to breast feed. It worked, but as I will elaborate in another post, I have only the highest respect for women who establish breastfeeding post c section with their first child. It was hard to get him positioned when I was numb and at an awkward angle. He took to it quickly though, and for that I’m glad he’s my third.

We wheeled to the postpartum room, where Kathy was waiting for us, having gotten us some water and flowers, and she supported us through the getting set up in the room for nice skin-to-skin time with baby. The nurses came to explain everything that needed to happen over the next day for me to go home. I may write another post on the hospital and stay, but I may not. It was pretty uneventful.

We’ve had lots of love from family and friends. It was the least isolating hospital stay I’ve had, and I’m grateful for all the support. We were able to bring Porter home on Wednesday at 10:00 pm, almost 36 hours after arriving at the hospital. We slept wonderfully Wednesday night. Seamus and Gilbert are able to better adjust when we’re all home, and we’ve just loved setting up life as a family of five. I’m still moving slowly, and I will be for a while, but I’m feeling peaceful and happy with the baby and our family.

Porter Bret

Porter Bret

Big Brother Gilbert

Big Brother Gilbert