Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Happy Birthday, Boy#4!

As I write this, I know exactly where I was 24 years ago this moment.


That's because one does not forget the sensation of balancing on one of those no-sided medical gurneys with Husband on one side, the Best Nurse Ever on the other side, the Best Doctor Ever peering north at me over the lumps-of-flesh-formerly-known-as-my-feet, and the entire staff of a couple of floors of Wesley Medical Center gathered around.

I do not exaggerate. Ordinarily the slot where that gurney was parked would have been curtained off from the next gurney's slot, but there were so many people packed around my bed that all the curtains had been drawn back to give a better view. (That next door gurney, fortunately, was unoccupied.) There were nurses and interns and residents and a stray doctor or two and all were seeing me at my very best: Hugely, enormously, unbelievably pregnant, in one of those gowns that provide easy access for medical procedures and absolutely no privacy for the wearer.

But unlike the rest of my life, when I'm a pretty modest woman (Boy#1's high school civics teacher asked if I was Amish. No, I'm not kidding.), I was okay with all of those folks being around me in this state of exposure because I was beyond excited. I was about to give birth for what I knew would be the final time.

This baby, wanted and loved even before he was conceived, would be the caboose on our train of kids.

And while I had often said I would never stop wanting just one more baby, I was okay with that. I was in the oh-so-charmingly-named "Advanced Maternal Age" category with this baby, and that meant more testing and more worrying. The three Boys already in the House on the Corner were all under age five, so I had felt creaky and tired for much of the previous nine months.

Now, though, in an appropriately dramatic exclamation point to the gestational stage of my life, Child#4 had, sometime between my final prenatal exam on Friday and my induction on Monday, flipped 180 degrees. The baby's head was cradled next to my heart, which is a lovely metaphor for motherhood but a lousy position for birthing.

We discovered this when the Best Nurse Ever couldn't find the heartbeat. I wasn't worried; I knew the baby was alive because I was being kicked in the bladder with great regularity, which, come to think of it, should have tipped me off that the head was not leading the way toward the exit. So BNE began prepping me for a C-section and let the Best Doctor Ever (who was performing a surgery while he waited for me to get a move on) know that he would be going into another surgery.

"Hold up on that C-section prep," the word came back. Best Doctor Ever was going to try to an external cephalic version, a movement also known as "turning the baby."

This prompted a whirlwind of excitement on the labor-and-delivery floor. Even though this was a major medical center, Best Doctor Ever apparently was the only obstetrician in Big City who had been trained in this procedure and I was the perfect candidate (multiple pregnancies, not in active labor, etc.), so everyone wanted to watch. Woohoo!

We had to a bit as Best Doctor Ever cleaned up from the previous surgery and everyone else jockeyed for front row seats, but when he arrived BDE was most reassuring.

"You know I'm not going to do anything that will put the baby or you in danger, right?" he asked me. "We're going to give this one shot, and if it doesn't work, we'll go for the C-section."

And with that he stepped up to the side of the table, put one hand on the baby's head and one on its butt, and pushed them counterclockwise. It didn't take long, maybe 10 seconds, and suddenly his hands slid off the baby's butt--the tiny body was back where it should be for a non-surgical birth. The residents standing on chairs cheered.

A couple of moments later I was on my feet walking down to the delivery room (the medical pros weren't taking any chances that the 180 rotation would turn into a round trip back to breech) and six hours later, Boy#4 was born.

I've wondered from time to time if it was this dramatic entrance into the world (with such a great cloud of witnesses) that prompted Four's aversion to the spotlight, but I'm pretty sure it's just his nature to love his friends and family more than being the center of attention. Still, he will play a piano on the street just because his mother wants to take a picture of him doing it.

Happy birthday, Boy#4. You were worth all the dramatics.

1 comment:

  1. Favorite line: "The baby's head was cradled next to my heart, which is a lovely metaphor for motherhood but a lousy position for birthing."