Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Born First: Scott's Birth Story



Scott was born in the days of our poverty. I was working full time at Bradshaw Auto Parts in Provo, Utah while Andy was finishing his two degrees at BYU. He was also working part time at the facilities plant on campus. We lived in the "Chicken Coop" and drove a beater Plymouth Volari station wagon. Each night before dinner, we would eat a bowl of Top Ramen to fill us up so that our sparse meal would suffice. We  took the prophet Spencer W. Kimball at his word when he said not to delay our families for school. We decided that if we were ready to be married, we were ready for children. We were blessed far beyond any sacrifice we made. Each child brought blessings beyond measure along with many blessings that could be measured.

Due to our busy schedules of work and school, we were not able to squeeze in the childbirth classes that are the norm for first-time parents. We ended up taking a one evening crash course which was really a refresher course for those who were on their second or third. A nurse gave us a summary of what to look for as signs of labor and then showed us a film of a birth. It was the first time I had ever seen a baby being born. We went home with a stack of papers and brochures which I studied intently. There was no internet, no Learning Channel with "A Baby Story" running 24/7. I was really on my own.

Scott was due on November 18th. I had the date circled in  highlighter on my calendar at work. As the day drew near, I became more and more uncomfortable sitting all day behind a desk. My ankles swelled and I waddled like a duck. The morning of the 16th, I awoke at 3:00 am with a contraction, then I discovered that I had lost the mucous plug. I recognized that as an important sign of imminent birth--so I decided to clean the house.  My main craving during my pregnancy had been the smell of Comet cleanser. I would come home from work and scrub the kitchen sink and the bathroom sink and tub just so I could smell it.  Crazy yes? So cleaning the house really wasn't necessary since I had been scrubbing for nine months. I didn't eat anything as per the instructions of the nurse in our childbirth class. By the time Andy was up getting ready for school, I was exhausted and hungry. When Andy got back from class late in the afternoon, I had called the doctor and he told me to come in and get checked. So we did. The contractions were coming about 20 minutes apart but the doctor was surprised to note that they were lasting for 5 minutes each. But I was only dilated to one. He told us we would most likely have a baby by morning and sent us home to wait it out. We took a detour to the Cougar Eat so Andy could get some dinner--I was still faithfully following the instructions: "Don't eat anything whilst in labor".  By  the time we got home, the contractions had gone up a notch and I had a hard time catching my breath during them.

At that time, Andy was playing on an intermural football team made up of accounting majors--really. And they had been winning. Around 6:00 he got a call from a team mate wondering if he was coming to the game that night. And here, Gentle Reader, is the stuff that legends are made of. Andy's question to me has gone down in history as the infamous What NOT to Say to Your Wife in Labor. The poor father-to-be who really wanted to go play football asked his wife:
"How long do you think you will be?"
I responded by bursting into tears.


After Andy decided he would miss the game for the sake of his distraught wife, we decided to call the hospital and see if I should come in yet--the nurse told me to come on in and get checked.  The contractions were closer and harder and I hoped that I had made some progress. I had made progress...the nurse informed me that I was now at 1+. She told me I should go home and try to rest, clearly it was going to take some time.

There would be one more false alarm visit to the hospital that night. Around 9:00 the contractions kicked up another notch and we debated whether to go in--Andy called the hospital and the nurse encouraged us to get checked--better safe than sorry. So we made the trek to Utah Valley Hospital yet again. They hooked me to a monitor and left us for an hour and a half.  The contractions were 5 minutes apart and were good and strong. I was anxious to get checked and see what progress had been made. At 10:30 the nurse checked me and I was dilated to........drum roll here.....2. TWO! I decided I was never going to have the baby and labor was going to go on forever. The sweet nurse found out I hadn't eaten anything for over 24 hours and brought me some grape juice. She also offered me a shot of Demerol which she said would help me rest. Within minutes of the shot I was shaking all over and puking my guts up--along with the grape juice. While this was going on, I could hear screaming coming from down the hall. It chilled me to the bone as I thought about what was ahead for me--and I figured how ever bad it was at the moment--it was going to get worse, so I had best just buck up and deal with it.  Andy helped me back into my clothes and we drove back to the Chicken Coop.

Through all of this, Andy had also been writing a paper that was due the next morning. His professor had told the class that their only excuse for not turning it in on time would be death--their own death. So he was frantically trying to write in between the comings and goings and the checking and not progressing. I resigned myself to a long night of labor and told Andy to just work on his paper. I laid down on the bed and tried not to make too much noise so that he could concentrate. I was determined not to go in again until birth was imminent--I did NOT want to be sent home again. It seemed like every hour the contractions would kick up a notch. Andy came to bed about 1:30 am and told me to wake him up if I needed him. By then I was gripping the sides of the bed with every contraction and watching the clock with agony during the few minutes I had to catch my breath in between. Around 4:00 am things felt different. More of a pushing sensation. I woke Andy up and he was a little groggy as we prepared to make the all too familiar trek to the hospital. He was upset that I had waited so long and was afraid my water would break in the car. Because it would be a tragedy to have that happen in our ancient, beat-up Plymouth station wagon. I grabbed a towel to make him feel better.

By the time we got to the hospital, I couldn't walk. Andy grabbed a wheelchair and took me into the lobby where I waited while he parked the car. We got in the elevator and stopped on the maternity floor--as the doors opened, the nurse standing there saw my condition and said "I guess this is the place you want." Andy said "No, she's having a baby!" and closed the doors and went up another floor. He sheepishly realized his flustered mistake and got us back to the right floor. I was taken to a labor room and hoisted myself onto a bed. The nurse checked me and said "Seven!" I wanted to cry--I knew I had three more centimeters to go and figured it was going to be hours longer. The sweet nurse reassured me that birth was close and I would not be sent home again. I was so relieved. The doctor made his appearance about then and said "What a pioneer woman you are! You went through all the hard labor by yourself!" I gave him a glazed look.

From there I was wheeled into the delivery room. Everything was shiny and sterile. Andy was outfitted in sterile scrubs from head to toe--I could only see his eyes above the mask. The nurse told me to scoot over onto the bed. I said, "You've got to be kidding me." I couldn't move. So she and Andy shoved and dragged me over. There I began the final pushing. It was excruciating but I figured the harder I pushed, the sooner it would be over. The nurse kept trying to get me to put my feet in the stirrups and I kept using the stirrup posts for leverage. She finally gave up and let me do it my way.  After about 20 minutes of pushing, the doctor made three quick cuts for an episiotomy and then one more.  Scott made his appearance and the doctor startled me with a shout of "POSTERIOR!" Scott was born posterior presentation. The doctor informed me that he was surprised I pushed him out so fast considering that and the fact that he had a ginormous head. But, there he was! We waited to hear the gender and the doctor held him up to suction his mouth and nose and then announced: "It's a boy!" He laid him up on my belly and I reached down to touch him. The doctor yelled "Don't touch!" and startled me yet again. I didn't realize I was about to contaminate my own baby--nevermind that he just came out of my body. The doctor cut the cord and the nurse wiped him off, wrapped him in a little blanket and handed him to Andy. Andy pulled up a chair next to me and we admired the fruits of my labor. He was beautiful and perfect. His face was shiny and he had just enough hair to cover his head. It was dark but reflected the light. He looked around quietly and turned his head toward me when I said "Scott". I was deliriously happy. I hardly noticed all the stitching going on to piece me back together as I admired our son. I couldn't wait to get my hands on him.

 I got to make another painful shift from the bed to a gurney and at last, my baby was placed in my arms and I snuggled him as I was wheeled to recovery. They took Scott to the nursery so he could be thoroughly inspected, weighed and measured. There were exclamations of surprise by all the nurses as well as the gaggle of student nurses who were hovering over me when Andy came to tell me the stats: 9 lbs. 2 oz. and 20 inches long. That's a pretty big boy.

Later, alone in my hospital room, I finally got the chance to hold him. According to my journal : "I will never forget the feeling of holding him just the two of us alone for the first time (Andy went home, got showered etc and went to class--he had a paper due after all! He was on cloud nine!) Such a beautiful little boy--tiny nose, ears, hands, feet and toes. I unwrapped him and looked at his little feet; there was even a teeny little toe nail on his smallest toe! He was asleep so I just held him and admired him. He has quite a lot of hair and the nurses had parted it on the side. He looks just like his daddy--he even has a little cleft in his little chin!"

We took Scott home to our little chicken coop house on a snowy night, two days later. We didn't have a car seat or a stroller or a high chair. We had borrowed a bassinet from our friends in the house in front of us. Most of the baby clothes we had were hand-me-downs. We didn't have a washer or dryer so we scraped money together when we could to go to the laundromat-- but in between, I washed out his little baby clothes in the kitchen sink and hung them by the wood stove to dry. We knew it was time to do the laundry when we got down to the pair of flowery pink pajamas that Andy hated to see on his son--and were only used as a last resort before laundry was done. We didn't have TV or any of the luxuries of the time. But somehow, Scott didn't seem to mind.

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