Tuesday, July 8, 2014

IT’S… A…

IT’S… A… Our doctor was purposely drawing it out, knowing that we had opted not to learn the gender of our second child until “it” was born. In fact, we’d been referring to “it” for the past nine months and tended to get some odd looks from people when we did. But the reality was that, unlike with our first child where we had ourselves convinced we needed every last thing off a lengthy registry list the instant she was born, the second time around, we knew we’d be fine with one pack of newborn diapers, a velcro swaddle, two long sleeved white onesies and maybe a pacifier. If it was a girl, we had two-plus years of cute clothes we’d acquired from friends and second hand stores for our first daughter. If it was a boy, we’d put the word out to friends with boys and make a couple shopping trips in the first weeks. And in the meantime, he could rock a pink John Deere onesie.

That being said, we pretty much had it in our heads that “it” was going to be a boy. Ann said it “felt like a boy,” unsolicited opinions from passers-by were in accord that she was “carrying low,” and friends all agreed that the lack of nausea during early pregnancy pretty much confirmed it. We were even confident enough to politely refuse our gardener’s offer to have his sister dangle a gold ring by a strand of Ann’s hair over her belly to verify that it would spin counter-clockwise. Yes, that’s how convinced we were.

Still, we’d put some thought into names from both genders, our process revolving primarily around staying through the credits of our weekly date night movie to read the names and pitch the interesting ones to each other. 

“Best Boy?”

And by Ann’s due date, we’d settled on two favorites for each gender, though we both openly admitted that we really only liked the top one for each and were just keeping a backup because it seemed like something people did. You know, just in case he didn’t look like a “Pierce.”

But the day had already not gone quite as we planned it. Despite being told by Ann’s doctor after an appointment the afternoon of her due date that he didn’t see any signs of labor coming on and would be very surprised if it happened within the next couple days, by 2:00 am that night, the app she’d hastily downloaded onto her iPhone confirmed that her contractions were 4 minutes apart and lasting 1 minute each, the universal metric for “time to go to the hospital.”

After over 12 hours of labor with contractions of increasing strength and frequency, only the last 2 of which were softened by the blissful effectiveness of the epidural - administered by our specifically requested nurse anesthetist, Misty, who had been there for the first birth - the doctor had announced that he expected a few more hours of the same with the baby coming soon after. Of course, we’d received the same prediction at about the same stage the last time, and the similarities just kept right on coming.

Next exam. No change. Let’s wait and see. Next exam. No change. Tweak the drugs to strengthen the contractions. Next exam. A little change. Brief hope. Next exam. No change. Contort mother into positions made only more awkward by the lack of feeling in her legs. Next exam. No change. Utter the words “failure to progress.” Introduce the possibility we’re heading towards a C-section. Again.

And just like last time, we placed a late night call to my brother, a family practice physician who has delivered thousands of babies and provides just the right mix of straight facts, holistic considerations and experience-based opinion, and we all agreed that it was time to throw in the towel. Ignoring the fact that one floor down was an operating room prepped and ready, staffed with a team of skilled doctors and nurses who performed this procedure with regularity, that could all but guarantee a healthy mother and baby within the next 30 minutes after almost 24 hours of constant labor did not seem prudent.

… GIRL! And that was the last surprise of the night. A girl. Not what we’d convinced ourselves to expect but immediately familiar. We were suddenly once again in the same hospital with many of the same nurses holding a tiny swaddled baby topped with a fuzzy pink hat that had been knitted by the hospital ladies auxiliary, just as we’d been two and half years earlier. Of course, the familiarity didn’t diminish any of the excitement, and once we were finally back in our room on the maternity ward, we cycled between staring at each other in disbelief and at this perfect little 8 lb 10 oz bundle, Mae Carolyn Zimmerman.