A new life begins

Baby Girl Brown

Baby Girl Brown

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Children Mentioned

Welcome Sweet Pea

Baby Girl Brown was born at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem at 4:46 p.m. Wednesday. She weighs 3.84 kg (8.44 pounds). She has a head full of gorgeous brown hair and has already mastered thumb sucking, displaying her brilliance at a very early age. She will get her proper name some time in the next 10 days or so, depending on when we are discharged and when I can get it together to organize such an event.

The birth story will follow later, but here are some of the fine points:

  • Regular monitoring Tuesday morning showed a lack of heart rate accelerations, so we were referred to the hospital again.
  • The hospital said the monitor was fine, so they tried to send us home. But first, the doctor stripped my membranes, around 4:30 p.m.
  • We drove back to Modiin while I bled and cramped.
  • I made it into the apartment, into the bathtub, and within 20 minutes was having contractions lasting 30 seconds in length that were 5 minutes apart.
  • 20 minutes later, those contractions were 30 seconds in length and 2.5 minutes apart.
  • So we headed back to the hospital courtesy of a neighbor. Dr. Savta left a birthday party early to meet us at the hospital.
  • The hospital decided I wasn’t in labor. I was only 1 cm dilated, 60% effaced. That was at about 8:30 p.m.
  • I’ll blog about the details later, but I was finally admitted for labor at 3 or 4 a.m. At about 5:30 a.m., I was given a dose of Demerol to sleep for a couple hours.
  • At that point, I was still only 2 cm dilated. I had been in active labor, according to Dr. Savta who knows about these things, for several hours without so much as a Tylenol. This was also my first IV fluids, so I was getting pretty parched. Oh, and I had started vomiting again – 3 times.
  • The next doc on shift ruptured my membranes and gave me more Demerol to sleep through the contractions. I don’t know if they mixed up the vials of Demerol and chicken bouillion or something, but it had absolutely no effect and I pretty much grunted my ass off for the next two hours.
  • At 1:30 p.m., I was given an epidural and pitocin. For the record, I will beg my ass off for this happy cocktail combo in every future labor I ever had. I went from 2 cm/60% to 10 cm/100% in roughly three hours – and I slept through all of it. It was absolute bliss.
  • At 5:20 p.m., I started pushing. I think I pushed about 10-12 times, but then again, I was still a bit drugged so maybe I’m wrong (a “push” here having the meaning wait for the contraction, push really hard, deep breath, push again – maybe a third one for fun – and then breath, recover and wait for the next contraction). 20 minutes later, she was in my arms. Not sure if it is because of how hard I pushed or how fast she came, but I did tear. First degree – 11 stiches – up, down and inside. They don’t hurt that bad yet and all the drugs have worn off, so we’ll see how it feels tomorrow. I don’t hurt at all either (yet) but am considering asking for a Tylenol (or Acamol, in Israel).
  • All in all, 22 hour labor, 16 hours without any medication. Or a bed. Or an IV. Still a bit miffed about that one, but the midwife I had for delivery makes up for all of it. She rocked.
  • And of course, no post would be complete without a huge thanks to Dr. Savta. The woman is a complete stud and didn’t sleep for the better part of 36 hours, running across the country to be there for us, time and again.
  • Thus far, the baby has had a massive poop, a good pee, a bath, two shots (Vitamin K and Hep B), and spent a bit of time under a heat lamp in the maternity ward while I was getting settled.
  • She also tried nursing a little. She has a good ability to suck, though it’s clear that this as actual nourishment is going to take some work.

The complete story will follow in the ample free time I expect to have (heh). And photos to come. Too tired to post them tonight.

Labor Day – or not

In the U.S. today, it’s Labor Day. Guess where I don’t live? That’s right. No labor day here.

I had my three-hour, 100 gram glucose test this morning. I took my laptop with me to watch movies and pass the time, which made things go much more quickly. The worst part was trying to get comfy on the seats in the waiting room.

It would appear that I passed. My numbers were:

  • Fasting: 81 mg/dl
  • 60 minutes: 135
  • 120 minutes: 106
  • 180 minutes: 72

And then I was starving and we went to the mall to get pastries and lunch (yes, in that order – it’s a kosher no dairy after meat thing). After lunch, I was so tired, we hopped the bus back home and took a nap (if you can call it a nap when you sleep from 12:30 to 4:30).

This means shoulder dystocia shouldn’t be a concern for us. In other news culled from the medical community, care of my referring physician Dr. Google, women of Nordic descent (I’m half Norwegian) have ridiculously large hips in proportion to the kids they create. They are the least at risk for cephalopelvic angst (I think it’s actually disproportion, but angst sums it up better to me). As the doc doing rounds put it to me last Friday: “You don’t want to push out a 5 kilo baby. But if anyone could do it, it would be you.”

Thus far, no contractions or major news to speak of. I am crampier – basically, it’s feels like I have a really bad period. I’m feeling a lot more pressure in the general area and it feels as though the baby may have moved down a little further (though I’m not sure). She is still kicking really well and very active (at least someone enjoyed the 100 grams of sugar at 7:30 in the morning).

We’re going for dinner with a couple friends at a new restaurant in Modiin tonight. It’s a sushi-noodle place called Met Su Yan (which means “excellent” in Hebrew) and should be very yummy. After that, assuming I’m not too tired (where does the energy go?), I’d like to try and take a long walk after dark tonight to see if I can motivate my reluctant home seller to move on.

I gave my belly a tour of the would-be nursery today in an attempt to show her how much nicer it would be to sleep in her crib instead of having my kidneys as a mobile above her bed, but I’m not sure she was listening. She already shows a disturbingly acute ability to tune me out.

I was hoping she just liked the color navy blue like her mom and therefore was holding out to be born in September so she could have sapphire as her birthstone. It could still be the case, but perhaps she hasn’t checked the calendar in there?

Tomorrow morning, it’s back to the women’s center for more monitoring and another scan. I am still holding out for labor starting tonight (no, I have no good reason to suspect that it will) and that she’ll show up tomorrow afternoon. The weird thing is that, like all other issues you face in pregnancy, you finally begin to accept this as the status quo. She’ll come when she comes, it’ll hurt as much as it will hurt, and God willing, we’ll all come through it unscathed.

But it would be lovely if it could be tonight or tomorrow, no?

No news is… well… no news

So I went for another appointment this morning. I put on my best Israeli attitude and attempted to be assertive. It kind of, sort of worked.

The 30 minutes of monitoring was fine. Good kicking and nice heart rates. The urine dipstick was fine. The scan was a little iffy (not much water again) but the more experienced ultrasound tech looked harder (read: pushed hard enough to see my spine) and was able to find pockets of water amounting to 100, which is fine. From there, we (Dr. Savta and the hubby accompanied me) consulted with the doc. I was fortunate enough to get the doc who originally referred me to Hadassah on that fateful Thursday.

He was suprised they made me stay overnight and didn’t do anything. He seemed genuinely surprised and somewhat disappointed that they didn’t at least do an internal exam. He did an exam and agreed he would strip the membranes if I was dilated enough. It went a little something like this:

Dr.: You’re not dilated enough to strip the membranes. Hold on, I’m going to try anyway.

Kirby: (deep breaths)

Dr.: Okay. Now you’re 1 cm dilated. And I stripped them away a little bit.

Edited to add: Just read over my info from the doc. I’m also 60 percent effaced. Not sure if that was pre or post strippage. Or if my cervix just saw the hand coming for it and was scared into submission. Either way, it makes my Bishop score a lot better and that means an induction would likely be more successful.

Aside from the fact that my cervix appears to be located just south of my breastbone, it wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t fun, but it was no worse than many of the other exams I had to get to where we are today. We’ll see if it has any effect. So far nothing – but no spotting yet either. Either way, it certainly doesn’t appear to have hurt anything. I like to think of us at 10 percent of the way there.

The doc also gave me a referral for another glucose tolerance test tomorrow morning. It’s the 100 gram test instead of the 50 and we’re doing it just to rule out late onset gestational diabetes since the kid is growing at an alarming rate (okay, not really alarming, but let’s just say how alarming has a lot to do with who is feeling the growth inside her). My understanding is that if she’s 4 kilo and I test positive for GD, I get induced earlier. Otherwise, they’ll let me go to 4.5. It has something to do with shoulders, I think.

The kind and loving Dr. Savta even took us to breakfast afterward. And our phones ring somewhat constantly. It’s a very good thing to know that so many folks are watching out for us.

For now, it’s off to take a nice warm shower to ease the back cramps (pretty much constant now) and then to rest in bed for a bit for the day’s second 30 minute monitoring session. I’ll try and post tomorrow after the delightful glucose test.

Hurry up and wait

First, a few notes. Post your revised due date estimates in the post below. And have a seat – this is a long one.

Hmm. Where to begin? I don’t have a very witty lead in, so you’ll just have to bear with me.

On Thursday, the hubby’s 30th birthday, we started the day with a trip to the women’s center for monitoring. This was my first official day of being overdue. I spent 30 minutes or so on the monitor and had to eat a pear to wake the baby up. Then, all was good.

After monitoring, I had another scan for both growth and all that other stuff (placental artery, amniotic fluid index, movement). That was less good. The water level was too low. The baby is estimated at 3.8 kilograms, which is roughly 8.4 pounds. The doc in Modiin issued a referral to the hospital, Hadassah Ein Kerem in Jerusalem (or not, but that’s another story). He said that if it was up to him, he would induce since I was past term, we were quite certain of the conception date, the water level was too low and it had dropped a lot in two days and the baby was getting quite big. By 1 p.m. we found ourselves throwing together the rest of the stuff for the bag and getting on the road thanks to our lovely birth coach, Dr. Savta.

We checked in at 1:40. And then we waited. We waited to be seen by a midwife, who then referred us for another ultrasound to see if the baby had urinated (she was swallowing fluid on the first scan earlier that morning, so it was possible she had just drunk all the water). But the one ultrasound tech was on break (are you effing kidding me? this is Jerusalem – do you know how many babies are born there everyday? at this one hospital, approx 25) so we went and had lunch.

We came back and had the scan. The fluid level was 54, down from 123 two days earlier (can’t find the paperwork from the morning scan, so I’m not certain what that level was). The tech said they would induce as there still wasn’t enough fluid. Otherwise, everything was fine.

While we were out, there was a shift change. We pleaded our case to the next midwife, who put me on the monitor for another 30 minutes. If the water was bad, it was no harm to the baby – she was kicking away happily and moving and all. It also appeared that there were some small spikes on the tocography (which measures contractions).

Wonder of wonders, the doc that had seen me at the clinic in Modiin just 48 hours earlier happened to be on the crew that night at Hadassah! He wondered what had happened to all my water in 48 hours and suspected that I had had a small water break – and subsequent leak – and suggested they induce me. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s two doctors in favor of induction now.

For the record, it was about 5 or 6 p.m. by this point. Not exactly emergency medicine.

But we had the pleasure of consulting with another young doc and the midwife (in Israel, midwives deliver the babies unless there are complications and their word is not taken lightly). The young doc said I was borderline for induction. He suggested an internal exam to see if there was an amniotic leak. He called the midwife in to do the exam and she pretty much refused to do it and said there was no point. Now, I’m all good with midwives and all, but since when does the doc not make the decisions? And would there have been any harm in doing an exam (which had been suggested that morning by the original doc I saw at the clinic in Modiin)?

Yeah. No exam.

The young and not-so-assertive doc caved. He suggested I be admitted overnight for monitoring. We took this to mean monitoring of the baby’s heart rate and another ultrasound to see if the fluid levels changed. In this case, “monitoring” actually meant sleeping in a room with four other pregnant women on the gynecology ward (as in, a completely separate building from labor and delivery) and having absolutely no one say so much as a word to me until the next morning.

For the record, we did ask the midwife why I was being admitted if they weren’t going to induce. She said I was being admitted for induction and that I would be monitored throughout the night.


But they did put in an IV! Or not. Actually, they just put in a 3″ needle that they never attached anything to. I have a lovely bruise and pain up into my bicep on my right arm for absolutely no reason. For the record, never let a doc do your IV. They don’t do them that often. And they do them badly as a result.

So the good Dr. Savta and the kind, patient hubby helped me into my new room across the way. And then the real learning experiences began! First off (and this I knew going into it), your husband can’t stay with you in an Israeli hospital because all the rooms are shared and it’s not really okay to ask the other women to let your husband sleep there. I know this. I am okay with this, even if I don’t particularly like it and wish there was another option. So the hubby and I had a little time together while Dr. Savta got dinner (cause the poor woman hadn’t eaten all day!) and a few tears were shed but we both put on our strong faces and tried to be courageous or something like that. I got ready for bed and my buddies headed back to Modiin for the night.

Note to self: Remember to find out if you have missed dinner. If you have, make your friends fetch it for you before they leave. And if it’s 9:30 at night, you have missed dinner, jackass.

I did have my labor foods though – granola bars and some fruit. I ate a pear and a plum and had a granola bar or two and lots of water and called it a night. Except that the woman in the uh, for lack of a better word, “room” next door (let’s see what’s behind curtain number two!) was in what proved to be early labor and her husband didn’t leave. Nor did he understand that the rest of us were trying to sleep. So he kept talking on the phone, texting, walking around, moving the curtains, sliding the chair across the floor.

And talking about me in French, which they presumed I couldn’t understand. At some point, people in this country will learn that just because you came from America and can’t speak Hebrew so well, it doesn’t mean you didn’t study something in college. I can’t speak much French, but I could understand most of what they were saying. It was fun until about 11:30.

After speaking to the hubby on the phone at 11, I really wanted to go to sleep. And I was upset that while my husband had to go home, her’s didn’t. And it was a long stressful day that was tiring. So I did the only thing you can at a time like that. I buried my face in my towel so that the other women in the room wouldn’t hear me and cried myself to sleep. Yeah. Good times. I fell asleep shortly after midnight.

At 3 a.m., there was a huge crash and everyone woke up. The hubby next door had knocked over the lunch tray thingee that swings out over your bed. I’m not sure if that scared the baby into labor, but the mom, Sylvie, was clearly in active labor and proceeded to share her um, feelings, if you will, about it for three hours until they could get her a bed in labor and delivery.

Note to self: There ain’t no epidurals on the gyno ward. Do not allow self to be admitted to there again.

So Sylvie left around 6, which is when they begin rounds. They put me on the monitor for half an hour and though there was the usual amount of activity, the heart rates were much lower. The baby usually starts at around 140 bpm and kicks it up to 160ish when she moves. Instead she was in the 115 range and never broke 140 for the duration, despite the movement.

Then the docs came for rounds. The morning doc wasn’t concerned about the heart rates as he said she was probably having the same stresses that I was and that it was still in the range of normal. He was more concerned about how big she was and how fast she was growing. He ordered another ultrasound to check for water and said that if the level was normal I could go home; there was no reason to keep me throughout the weekend.

Breakfast came at 8 a.m. Most of it was identifiable, some of it was even edible. I swallowed a couple pieces of bread with jam and butter, what must have amounted to 4 oz. of coldish coffee with milk and some olives (long story – typical Israeli breakfast is a salad of cucumber and tomato with tehina and olives and leben – uh, google it). Knowing that the hubby was on the way, I skipped the veggies (okay, if the tomato had been less green than the cucumber, I would have totally eaten it – even more so if they had not been served whole with the dirt still on them) and I’m just not a fan of leben when I already have a sour stomach.

The hubby got there at 8:15ish and I practically did a happy dance. He promptly fetched pastries from my favorite bakery (upside: the hospital has a mall attached to it*) and we ate. He patiently sat in the chair next to me while I slept (just having him there somehow made it all okay and I crashed) until they came to take me for the ultrasound.

The ultrasound was crazy. Overnight, the fluid levels went from 54 to 103. Well within normal. Told I had “plenty” of water.

We finished the ultrasound around 9:30 a.m. We went back up to my curtained portion of room six and I slept some more. At noon, lunch was served. If breakfast stank, lunch made up for it. Yummy couscous and chicken and veggies with something resembling coleslaw. And there was some watery sweet thing in a bowl (dressing? amniotic fluid? not sure, so I skipped it) and soup (salt flavor, which may not sound great, but it is way better than that other mass-produced option: non-salt flavor). I ate and finished the last of my fruit (eight pieces in less than 24 hours – take that, five a day).

The kind hubby had brought additional clean clothes and I went to get changed and cleaned up a bit. We packed up my bags and got ready for discharge. The nice afternoon nurse came and told us I had to be readmitted through the ER before they could discharge me since I was actually admitted to Labor and Delivery. So the hubby ran around working out the paperwork. The nice nurse came and removed my un-IV and discharged me. We left at around 1 p.m., almost 24 hours after we had checked in.

Total monitoring time: 1 hour (which, for the record, could have been done at my local clinic)

A neighbor happened to be in Jerusalem for a meeting, so he picked us up on his way back home. We got to the house and pretty much crashed – due to nesting, enough food was already made for Shabbat, so we slept until it was time to get up and shower before candlelighting. We had a good dinner (quiche and bread pudding) and goofed around until I decided it was time to issue an eviction notice to my dear daughter.

We took a walk late at night, from roughly midnight to 2 a.m. (we ran into friends who happened to be on their way home from shul and presumably dinner – or at least I hope so, or they are just way too pious and davened very late) and chatted with them before making our way up the big hill to our house.

At this point, I am trying whatever I can to naturally induce labor (assvice welcome). I have been talked out of castor oil by the Dr. Savta, and well, she knows about these things (I mean, she did create Rachel, also of the knowing variety) so I trust her on that one. I will hold to it as a last resort (meaning I will do it tomorrow by noon). She also owns a long crochet hook, so, you know, we have options.

Aside from walking (read: hobbling on my stilt-like hips), I also tried pumping some milk (I know I’m almost 30, but I still snigger at the thought of writing nipple stimulation). I managed to get out about 2 ounces, but I did not get out a baby. Not that I had really hoped she would come out of a breast, but you know, at this point, I’m not picky. I am hoping to lure her out with the promise of a good dinner.

And there is the vigorous sex option, though that’s a comedic thought. When you have a bowling ball (accurate in both size and shape) in your tummy, “vigorous” is rolling from your right side to your left side in bed at night. I’m not even sure the sheer physics would allow for this form of labor induction right now.

Assuming she has kept up her growth, the baby should be roughly four kilo (8.8 pounds) tomorrow. Meanwhile, I’ve lost 3.5 pounds, so I don’t think her weight is my fault from eating too much – though I could be wrong. I am toying with the idea of asking for another glucose test since her growth rate is actually going up (she gained .6 kilo in 10 days = 60 grams a day, up from the usual of 40 grams a day).

If she stays in any longer, we won’t actually bring her home from the hospital – she’ll come out and move directly into the dorms to start medical school at Hebrew University. I guess that would be convenient? If they wait to induce any longer, she may actually have siblings before she arrives. Maybe that’s it? Maybe there’s another one in there that’s due a few months later?

Tomorrow morning, it’s back to the women’s center for more monitoring and a consult with the doc. I am going to beg for a prostoglandin insert to gently induce labor (though Rachel says they may only do that inpatient – have I mentioned that I volunteer to be an inpatient on the LDR ward of their choice?). If they won’t do that, I’m going to beg to have my membranes stripped. Honestly, if I possessed sterile gloves and longer arms, I would have stripped my own damn membranes this afternoon. If they refuse to do that, I’m going to plead for at least an internal exam (cause yeah, haven’t had one yet for the entire pregnancy – for all we know, there could be a padlock stuck in my cervix – or maybe the amniotic sac is made of kevlar or something) and try and flail about during the exam in hopes that something breaks (with my luck, it will be my hip). Or not. I couldn’t flail right now if I tried.

So look for an update tomorrow afternoonish our time. And think contracty thoughts for me.

* The hospital is largely thought of as being part of Jerusalem. Except it’s not really in Jerusalem. Quite a ways outside it. And it’s on the top of this hill that makes it positively reminiscent of Edoras, the capital of Rohan, from “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.” It has a crazy winding road that leads up to it. And they take ambulances on it – can you even imagine? I can only assume that most of the patients show up with “nausea” among the presenting symptoms (joke stolen from ProjGen’s hubby).

Extra innings

Still pregnant. More on that in the next post (coming as soon as I find the power brick to charge the laptop), but!

Time to pick new due dates on “The Price is Right.” Since we all picked dates too early.

My guess: September 2nd in the p.m.

Much ado about nothing

And today, just for fun, we had a little scare.

Starting yesterday afternoon, I stopped feeling the baby move. Not entirely, which would have sent me into hysterics and the hospital – just a lot less than the vigorous kicking that results in my tummy looking almost square, an elbow here and a knee there.

I did not panic. I drank some really sweet mango passionfruit smoothie juice thing and waited. There was a little more movement, but again not up to the usual antics. I thought I would sleep on it and see if she woke me up in the night like she usually does. I went to bed around midnight.

At 7 a.m., I woke up desperately needing to use the bathroom, but again, without the movement. I stayed up for a couple hours and had some homemade chai tea with milk and sugar, hoping to spur her into action.

Nadda. I still didn’t panic. In fact, I went back to sleep (there goes my mother of the year award).

I got back up around 11 a.m., still feeling exhausted despite having got a good night’s sleep. We puttered around the house, doing odds and ends and chores and such.

Still, not a lot of movement. Despite soda and caffeine and sugar, she just wasn’t her active self.

I panicked a little. And, as I always do when I panic, I called Rachel. Or, more specifically, I had my secretary (previously known as “the hubby”) call Rachel.

Rachel said there was likely nothing wrong (for the record, this is why you call Rachel) but that we should go to the women’s center for a scan and monitoring and would we like a ride there? Cause, you know, in her free time when she’s not raising six children and finishing seminar papers for college classes and being a work at home mom and blogging, she does things like wait on panicky pregnant women hand and foot.

She even called the women’s center for us on the way over. All the more reason that you call Rachel in these instances. They had a doctor in and agreed I should come in.

And so we went. I was put on the monitor (happy strong heartbeat between 140-165, plenty of activity that I just couldn’t feel), given a scan (uh, not sure what we were looking for, but she’s still in there?!) and a consult with a doctor (lay down for 30 minutes three times a day and do kick counts in a nice, quiet room without my husband or telephone – yup, he actually said that) and all is well. I go back Thursday morning since I will officially be overdue.

Cause it just wouldn’t have been a fulfilling pregnancy without a little drama toward the end.🙂