What an amazing birth, amazing first days of life for little Miles. After hearing a thousand birth stories, we had braced ourselves for 12, 24, 48 hours in labor and delivery, so the speed of everything took everyone by surprise.
Here’s the “unclipped” story of Miles Hacker’s grand entrance.
By the time I got home from work on Monday, 15 minutes after getting the call, Amy was already having contractions three minutes apart. Stacia (our doula) was already here, since they had been out having lunch together when the contractions began at 2:00. Packed the bags, made some phone calls, headed for the hospital.
Since things were progressing so quickly, we went straight to the emergency entrance, and wheeled Amy in past the motorcycle accidents. Got Amy upstairs, and I went back down to park the car. 10 minutes later I was back; opened the door of the room she was in and heard the lowest, loudest “bwwaaaaaaahhhh” moans you could imagine. The nurse looked at me and said she was already 8cm dilated (10 is the goal). As Amy said when recalling it all on the 3rd day, “My cervix flew open like a venetian blind.” My mind went blurry, as I began to realize that our child would be born not tomorrow, not late tonight, but now. As in, now.
The attending nurse was incredible, a woman named Rie who seemed to read our minds, and who was all about natural childbirth. Getting the doctor into the delivery room was a trickier job; Rie had to call three times, as if she didn’t believe that Amy could be progressing that quickly. As it turned out, the doctor arrived with about five minutes to spare, but it was starting to seem like Rie was going to end up doing the whole thing.
How can I describe how amazing Amy was through this process? You kind of had to be there. But after watching all that “Labor and Delivery” and “Maternity Ward” on TLC over the past few months, I really expected there to be a lot of screaming. It wasn’t like that. It was loud, and very intense, but it was low and pure. I sounded with her through every contraction. After about 15 minutes, the nurse told us to look for the crown, and there it was – the first glimpse of the top of our baby’s head – an area the size of a dime seeing the light of day for the first time.
I’ll skip a lot of details here, but suffice to say there were some very intense moments and events in the next 45 minutes. And through it all, Amy never forgot she was a Minnesotan. When she had just finished one big contraction and wasn’t yet rested for the next, though it was coming anyway, she actually said under tensed breath, “Oh for Pete’s sake.” She doesn’t remember saying that, but she did.
Short story, Amy was a rock star, a superwoman, and delivered the baby on the 8th push. I had asked to be able to catch the baby, and the doctor guided me into position. Layed my arms on the bed and our child slid out slimy and strong, into my arms. I raised it up onto Amy’s chest, and our baby existed. Just like that. Stacia reminded the doctor that I wanted to cut the umbilical, so she placed a clamp a few inches from the baby’s belly and held it up for me. With one snip, the baby’s existence was physically separate from its mother. Its own person (though still completely dependent).
The awareness of suddenly having a child – your own child – there in the room with you, is so overwhelming. Amy and I were looking at each other, looking at the baby, just speechless. The whole thing is such a buzz. Nurses were asking me questions and I wasn’t able to answer – like they were speaking in tongues.
Funny – as much as we’ve puzzled over the boy/girl question for the past nine months, it didn’t occur to me to check its sex for the first couple of minutes. We were so fixated on the face, on the very fact of its existence. I love the fact that the doctors didn’t shout out the sex immediately, but let us come to our own awareness of it. It just wasn’t the most important thing right then.
I had been afraid for a long time that I would be grossed out by the whole process — I tend to be pretty squeamish around blood. I didn’t realize until after the fact that I was not nauseated through any of it — it was as if a gross-out shield I didn’t know I had had materialized to let me enjoy the birth of our child.
The entire process took less than three hours, from first contractions to baby born. Amy’s sisters have had fast labors, and I was born quickly, so we had a hunch it might go well, but nobody expected anything like this. Amy became a minor celebrity – visiting doctors the next morning were talking about how they had heard her story during the morning meeting, etc.
After all those classes, all the reading, all the work putting together the birth plan, we didn’t need any of it. The birth was all-natural and drug-free all on its own – we never needed to insist that this or that not be done – there was no time for that. It just happened. In fact, Amy didn’t even get Motrin until later that night in the recovery room.
In trying to imagine the baby over the past nine months, we unconsciously got stuck on visualizing miniature versions of ourselves. We had pictured a little blonde boy or a dark-haired girl, but not a dark-haired, blue-eyed boy. But there you go, a perfect mixture of the two of us. In a strange way, I was unprepared for the fact that I didn’t recognize it immediately. It was as if I had thought I would know it as kin from the very first moment. Instead, it became clear right off the bat that this is not a mini-me. This person is its own person. It is and will be as different from me as I am from my parents. I’ll never forget that.
The baby was wiped down, but allowed to stay on Amy’s chest for a long time. After about half an hour, the baby was removed (but left in the room) to be weighed and measured (6 pounds 12 ounces, 19.5 inches), for all the vitals to be checked, etc. Amy was given a full meal (fried chicken and mashed potatoes!). An hour later, Amy was moved to a recovery room shared with another woman, and the long parade of doctors and nurses, lactation consultants etc. started. Scot spent the night at home.
Next morning (the only day of his life when our child would not be able to use the phrase “I wasn’t born yesterday, y’know”), we attended a new parents class held in the hospital, rested up, etc. Amy was recoving quickly. Around mid-day, we settled down to name the baby. The five girls names were out automatically, leaving Linus, Max, Ruben, Benjamin, and Miles. It’s funny, but once we saw him, half those names crossed themselves off the list all by themselves, which is what we had hoped for. Ruben and Miles were all that remained after seeing his face, and seeing a few people’s eyes light up at the sound of “Miles” clinched the deal. The middle name is a name we both liked all along, but didn’t have on the first name list because a cousin of mine just had a boy named Gabriel a while ago. So Miles Gabriel Hacker it was to be. I headed for the birth certificate office where they – ulp – loaded him into the Social Security System – already a taxpayer, holy crap (when we were young, we didn’t have to get them until we got our first jobs).
Oddly, the only thing we had to fight for through the whole hospital visit was the right to go home 24 hours later. The attending nurse really wanted us to stay for dinner for some reason, and all we wanted was to get back to our cozy home to make an honest meal, and to show Miles the house. After a bit of arguing back and forth about how well Amy was recovering, and after telling her that I already brought the car seat in (it’s illegal for them to release a baby without seeing it put into a car seat), we won and were allowed to come home. Being home was as delicious we had hoped. That’s what you dream of all those years – not being in a hospital with your baby, but being home.
By coincidence, Miles was born into an extra loud world. In the week leading up to his birth, Amy and I joked that pine tree tagged for destruction across the street would be brought down the day our kid was born. Sure enough, the sound of buzzing chainsaws stalled Amy’s labor earlier on Monday (it resumed when she went out to lunch). The next day, the howl of logs being thrown into a wood chipper woke Scot first thing in the morning. Miles’ first whole day in the house was punctuated by jack hammer / weed whacker duets all day long. It’s not usually that loud around here, but Miles got off to a John Cage start if there ever was one.
Like any good baby, Miles knows how to suckle. He’ll basically suck anything that moves in front of his mouth. His own hands, our fingers, the real deal, the tip of your nose, the edge of his blanket. It’s just incredible to discover how much power is in his little mouth. We had to file his little fingernails today with an emory board – the nails are so sharp he’s scratching his own cheeks – not uncommon.
So here we go – incredible woman, incredible birth, amazing baby, all of us overwhelmed by the first two days of life so far. So much living to do.
Welcome to the world Miles Gabriel Hacker!