Needless to say times were stressful. I had my final exam coming up in a week, Jami was coming right up on her due date, and my son Lincoln had a big shock in store. Luckily Jami's Mom was already in town awaiting the arrival of the baby, and she was very helpful to have around.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
Jami had already had a couple false alarms. One kept me up all night nervous. During another one, I came home from school, and canceled an appointment with my professor. It ended up being a false alarm so I called my professor back, and we reconvened for the appointment. Everybody in my group at school was telling me to go home. They thought my wife was in labor, and I was meeting with my professor. It was just a false alarm. However, one good thing came of these false alarms. It got us to get prepared for the big night or day. We had almost everything packed that we needed for the night of the birth, had arranged for babysitting for Lincoln, and we even had a bag for the babysitter (our friends the Copeland's).
The night before the birth, Jami was having another false alarm. Her and her Mom were playing it up, trying to get excited, like it was the real thing. I wasn't fooled this time, plus I had to wake up at 4:55 a.m. to go and play basketball. Jami did not look like she was having a baby. I know the tell-tale signs now. Jami doesn't suddenly dump two gallons of water on the floor to signal the start of her birth. It would be nice if she did (and it would make for some funny stories), but she doesn't. Her water breaking is very subtle. The real sign to look for when Jami is having a baby is if she randomly stops talking or doing whatever she was doing, looks down and concentrates, clutches her belly with one hand, and puts the other hand on a counter or wall to stabilize herself. This lasts about a minute. Then right after that she goes right back to what she was doing. Doesn't miss a beat. This is a contraction of the uterus. Last birth, the midwife asked if Jami can talk through these contractions. Technically she could if she tried, so I had said yes. But really a better question perhaps is, "Does she stop talking in mid-sentence when she is having a contraction, and go right back to talking after a contraction?" Anyway, I didn't think it looked like Jami was having a baby that night. So although I didn't want to put a damper on her and her Mom's excitement, I told them I was going to bed and to wake me if things got more serious.
This is the night!
The next night was different. Jami was doing that thing I told you about, you know not talking, hand on belly, looking down, concentrating, etc. I knew this was the night of the birth. There were only a few things to pack. Jami had been through this before, and she was prepared with her hypnosis. So she wasn't in as high of a level of discomfort as last time. Plus her Mom was here, and she was able to keep Jami excited and comforted while she began labor. So we called the answering service. They told the midwife, and the midwife called us back promptly. They must really get sick of having calls Friday night at ten o'clock. She was probably just lying down to bed. I heard a hint of eye rolling in the tone of her voice and the unspoken question, "Are you 100% sure she is going to have the baby?" Come to think of it, I was probably 96% sure, but I said we were getting ready to leave and we would be to the birth center shortly. I sure hoped this was not another false alarm.
Amanda came by to pick up Lincoln. From what I hear, he immediately began doing what he does best, pointing to and identifying objects in their house. "Car." "Ball." "Star." "Baby." "Bear." "Cow." Etc. Ha ha, What a funny guy. I'm glad our friends could watch Lincoln for the night of the birth. It made it so much less stressful. Anyway, the birth center is about half an hour from our house. We got there, and the midwife and nurse were there setting things up. The room Jami wanted to give birth in had just recently been used. So she chose a different one.
I got sleepy.
The room was dark. I think the walls and decorating revolved around the color baby blue, but it had low lighting, so I wasn't sure. We started Jami's hypnosis CD, the special one that she is only supposed to listen to the actual day of the birth. Like last time, she didn't scream or cry or even grunt. Unlike last time, we got there before she was fully dilated. So it was much less stressful. Last time there were like ten nurses frantically running around, Jami's clothes got tore off, the people were hooking Jami up to this and that, computers were beeping, there were bright lights, and it was generally chaotic. Something like you might see on a dramatic television show. This time we got there earlier in the labor. We got put in a quiet, little, dark room with a nice bath tub. Jami started those hypnosis CDs (so we weren't supposed to talk). And I, after being up since 4:55 in the morning and studying like a mad man all week for the upcoming final, I was just looking at that king size bed with that nice comfy blanket. The week just caught up with me, and I was able to look past the fact that the plastic sheet was kind of noisy from the slightest move on the bed. I was able to look past the fact that hundreds of women had probably given birth on that bed. I was going down for a nap. The nurses probably thought I was a bit of a jerk for not being there supporting my wife while she labored, but hey what were we paying them for anyway? I knew this would be a fast birth like last time and they needed to earn their money. Although the slightest of doubts came into my mind. Was this another false alarm? Jami was so absolutely calm. I couldn't tell if she was just rolling around on that birth ball to ease the discomfort, or if she was trying to get stalled contractions going again. She was so calm, I didn't know what was going on.
Time for me to wake up.
The nurse checked Jami. She was at four centimeters. Oh man, maybe we were in for a long night I thought. I am used to not showing up to the hospital until my wife is at a ten, so this was a bit of a devastating blow to me. Maybe this wasn't the real thing. But the nurse said a four was definitely real labor. So that brought my hopes back up. Jami kept doing her thing, and the CDs kept playing. I kept trying to rest in the quiet, dark room. If anybody spoke it was in a whisper. Jami's Mom kept making funny faces. To my credit, I did get up and massage Jami's shoulders for a few minutes when she got into the tub. About an hour and a half went by, and it seemed like nothing happened. I thought Jami might have fallen asleep in the tub she looked so comfortable. Jami asked to be checked again. The nurse checked her in the bathtub. She was at an eight this time. Whoa! So Jami has been laboring!, I thought. That got me out of bed. Things were getting serious. I forgot to pack a swim suit. They gave me some scrubs to wear in the bathtub to catch the baby. I got dressed in the bathroom. Then I got into the huge tub with Jami. By this time she was starting to push the baby out. I just put my hands down in position to catch the baby. I ain't in med school for nothing. The midwife said Jami's water hadn't broken. There was a smooth, tense amniotic sack down there where the baby should be coming out. The nurse decided to poke it. A dark cloud poofed out from the sack into the water. The nurse softly spoke something about meconium in the amniotic sack. The midwife said it would be okay, but I was worried now. I didn't think it was gross or anything, but I knew some of the awful things meconium could do to a little baby's lungs.
Jami continued to push like a champ. I could feel our little girl's head. The head was coming farther and farther out with each push. I was worried because they didn't have a constant heart monitor on the baby like they do in the hospital. How did they know if the baby was alright? Jami had been pushing it out for about five minutes now. Things were moving too fast to ask questions. That baby was coming. All of a sudden the baby's head, and then the rest of the baby came rushing out! The nurse and I lifted the little grayish girl onto Jami's chest. It was, for lack of a more masculine word to describe the incident, beautiful to see Jami give birth and hold her little baby for the first time. As you can see in the video from Jami's perspective, she was elated. Our little girl didn't breath much at first. No screaming really. The midwife and nurse said water babies don't scream or cry as much. Maybe it's a little more gentle entrance into the world. Amniotic fluid-->water of body temperature-->Mom's chest. No real cold moments, or prolonged moments of having the almost non-fetus's head exposed to cold air during passage through the birth canal.
DenouementThat was the exciting part. What else do you want to hear? They had to sew Jami up. That seemed to be pretty painful, although they had some local anesthetic in there. Jami wanted Domino's pizza and garlic, spinach, and feta cheesy bread, and even though our budget was crushed, I ordered it. We gave some of the pizza to the nurse who stayed with us through the night. I must say the delivery at the birth center was much, much nicer than at the hospital. Although I am glad that they caught Lincoln's acid reflux at the hospital right after his birth, it was much nicer to just hold the baby for a couple hours before they ripped the baby out of our hands and weighed and measured her and washed her. And we got to take her home the next morning. No staying in the hospital for four days, and doing a ridiculous make the brand new baby sit in the car seat for thirty minutes on the floor test to see if we know how to put the baby in it (sorry grammar nazis I missed 17 hyphens in my run-on adjective). Anyway it very nice to just keep the baby all to ourselves for as long as we wanted until we decided we could let her go for a couple minutes to weigh her and measure her length. All in all, the birth center was great. We waited until we saw her to name her. We still liked Atley (a name we had found over two years ago) better than all the other names we had thought of. So that's what we named her. Her middle name is Wynn after my Mom's middle name. We thought the name Wynn flowed nicely, Atley Wynn. I learned from my Grandma that she gave this name to my Mom from a comic strip character that she liked, Winnie Winkle. Jami rejected my proposed spelling of Atley's name: @lee.