Sunday, June 14, 2009
Newly arrived - Quinn Amos Rawhouser
Quinn Amos Rawhouser
born at 3:54 pm
on Friday June 12th, 2009.
He weighed 8lb 8.8 oz, and was 22" long.
I'd like to tell a bit of the story; Monica can add her perspective later. I hope that this record will help him to always honor his mother, who chose to endure again the child birth process for him.
I returned from a run and Monica wondered aloud whether her water had broken. She decided to make sure by going to the nearby clinic to be checked. She called at 9:00 am, and got an appointment for 9:40 am. As she realized that this was the beginning of a very uncertain, painful, and scary process, she began to cry a bit. With each child, we have passed through this wave of realization. As Monica was at her checkup, several scenarios ran through my mind. I thought of the very real and enduring pain that I had seen others experience: loss of the baby, loss of Monica, enduring health problems for the baby. As I dressed, my eyes watered as I imagined life, with one of these trials. Each time that we have a baby, we open our lives to so much joy. Yet, we also open our lives to pain. These two feelings, in opposition to each other, come packaged together in a new life. I think birth is one of those moments that the two - pain and joy - are temporally condensed into a burst of experience and memory.
So this was to be our first hospital birth. We had chosen home birth before for several reasons (but that would be another post, better suited for a guest blogging post during Monica's vacation time). It's enough to say that, despite the thoughts of the multiple unknowns, Monica and I are uneasy about voluntarily entering a place that uncomfortably constrains behavior for reasons that are only loosely connected to safety, often only by the term "protocol". So it is with these concerns, that when Monica announced her water breaking, I set to having the boys dress, clean their rooms, eat and then go out to play with their friends. Then I worked at cleaning the kitchen (it's so nice to come home to a clean kitchen), posted updates to Facebook and Twitter, and Monica and I signed up the boys for a day camp for the coming week, dropped the kids off to our neighbors, the Rundall's, and headed toward the hospital. Finally, we filled up the gas tank and bought a "Very Berry Smoothie" at the Costco near the hospital. We wanted to arrive at the hospital ready to have a baby.
With all this busyness, there is something about walking through the beginning phases of labor in the presence of others - both friends and strangers. It's like we are leaving the village, for a long hike up a mountain. The path, the conditions, and the pitfalls to come are unknown, even unknowable. Yet it gives comfort to walk those first steps with others. Whether it's the little cheer from Katie Rundall, as we walked towards the car, or the understanding response of the lady who called about a response to a Craigslist ad when she hears that Monica is in labor, it is comforting. Even walking through the teeming crowds of bulk-buying Minnesotans, with the secret that Monica is beginning labor, tends to lift our steps, knowing that others would smile and wish us well, if they only knew.
Having waited long enough (contractions were beginning to be more painful), we calmly entered the hospital a little after 1:00 pm. We quickly got settled, and met our nurse and midwife (Monica's certified nurse-midwife was at another clinic, so she was unable to attend). The next three hours gradually crescendoed in both pace and intensity. Monica's contractions slowed some. She was checked, and the midwife found that somewhere near the top of the water bag had broken (for this reason it had not gushed out, but slowly leaked). With Monica's tentative (knowing that this would bring both the beginning and end of greater pain sooner) approval, the midwife broke the water. Then, we walked around the maternity ward a bit, as Monica's contractions began to get stronger.
Shortly after walking the maternity ward, Monica could no longer walk through the contractions. She had to lean on me or the wall until they subsided. The nurses and other people smiled as they passed. But soon, Monica could no longer smile or conceal her pain during contractions. It was time to go to our room. While previously, others' presence is encouraging, at this point the presence of others is increasingly less appealing. This is when others can no longer walk the path with us. It's hard to face others in pain. So we returned to her room, and Monica began heavy labor.
She tried to kneel, but comfort became increasingly difficult to find. For some reason, she finds comfort in letting out the pain with moans that she sustains for several seconds, starting at a low pitch, and ever-so-gradually increasing in pitch. Of course I cannot understand how she felt, but I recognized that I have done somewhat similarly when I've had severe stomach cramps. As she moaned, she sought comfort from me, yet mostly I felt unable to provide it. At times she would ask me to push on her back, and she would punctuate her moan with the words, "higher", "lower," or "stop". In the end, she just asked me to be close to her. As the contractions intensified, and she began to cry, I felt increasingly helpless. She said, "Hans, I don't want to do this," and later, "I want it to stop." I recognized these as signs that she was nearing transition. Yet, estimating timing is so difficult. All I could say is, "You're really close Monica."
As the midwife checked her and reported that she was dilated to 8 centimeters, Monica asked if she could have an epidural. But the midwife said that she was close, and that she would probably deliver before she could even get one. As Monica labored through a few more contractions, the midwife suited up, and gave me a gown to wear (our original nurse reminded her that I wanted to catch the baby). Then, when she was ready, she checked Monica and told her that she could push if she felt the need to push. She said, "You're complete." We were not familiar with that term, and it took a couple of times for Monica to realize that this meant that she was dilated at 10 centimeters. I think Monica was more used to a midwife that she had a relationship with who was constantly talking her through the process. But this realization brought greater certainty and confidence.
With newfound strength, Monica began to push. And unlike with Conrad, where pushing lasted what seemed like forever, in a few pushes, the baby's head crowned. Then in the next push, the midwife helped to pull, as I caught and held the baby. Monica couldn't believe that it was done so quickly, as I helped lay the baby on Monica, who opened her eyes to a beautiful baby boy. In a rush, the anxiety and feelings of discouragement and pain were replaced by joy and peace, with simultaneous residues of disbelief.
And then the energy of the room slowly subsided, as I cut the cord, and the baby was weighed and measured. In a short time, the baby, Monica, and I were alone again (except for the steady stream of nurses coming in and out checking Monica and the baby - even during the middle of the night). We had a few hours before the Rundall's (our lifesavers, whom we will always remember for sharing this moment by watching our children) brought over the kids to see their new baby brother.
And now life is back to a sufficient level of normalcy. Monica has recovered well so far. The punctuated period of pain and uncertainty mingled with excitement has been replaced with consistent doses of joy as we look at this beautiful boy (who we didn't name until yesterday morning, having left the hospital a day previously). While we walked that path without others (but not without prayer) for a short time, we are again comforted by involving others in this new life. Yet while it was fun to begin labor in secret, we feel excited to let everyone know now. Welcome to our world Quinn!