Thursday, September 24, 2009

Meet The Joey, or, Look What We Made! v. 2.0

Josephine Ruby Lee, 9.24.09, 1:30 p.m., 7 lbs. 7 oz., 19.5 inches

Everyone in the know, i.e., my OB and my friend Michele, who is also an OB, told me that labor the second time around would be nothing like the first. That the monstrous labor I went through with Zeke -- 25 hours of labor to get to 10 centimeters dilated, followed by 4 brutal hours of pushing out a 8 lb. 9 oz. baby with a 14 inch head -- would no way repeat itself.

And I had reason to believe them. We caught the gestational diabetes this time around and I stuck to my diet and took my medication religiously, with the result being that I basically gained no weight the last 12 weeks of the pregnancy and kept the baby's size in check, plus I was being induced a week early. I also was 3 1/2 cm. dilated before I even checked into the hospital this morning -- it took me 15 hours of hard labor, plus pitocin, to get to that point with Zeke.

So any optimism I might have had was not misplaced.

But still. When you have nothing but the experience at one end of the spectrum to compare it to, it's incredibly difficult to imagine an easy, quick, painless delivery of a reasonably-sized baby, no matter how much I was assured that this time around, I would have one of those ridiculously awesome experiences involving super-fast dilation followed by pushing the baby out in 20 minutes.

But they were right. It's still kind of surreal to me how incredible today was, how peaceful and simple and joyous having a baby can be.

We checked into the hospital at 5 in the morning. I was in my Taj Mahal of a room by 5:20.

Taking some time to catch up on blogs and read the news before getting started.
Yes, in my enormous private room I had a bathroom with a jacuzzi tub nicer than the bathrooms in most hotels I've stayed in.

It took awhile to get through the paperwork, filling in questionnaires with medical histories, signing releases, going over security procedures, etc. The nurses, who were unbelievably wonderful, started my pitocin drip at about 8:20 in the morning.

Unbeknownst to me, I had already been having contractions. I just thought the baby was kicking me really hard, but apparently a number of those jabs to the ribs were actually contractions. And they didn't really hurt much at all. So for a long time, I was feeling great, with only minor instances of contractions that, if I had to label them on a pain scale of 1 to 10, were no more than a 1.5. I knew that it would get worse -- as Doris, my main RN said, "no pain, no gain" -- but so far, so good.
Chilling out, dealing with regular but not particularly painful contractions, waiting for the fireworks to begin in earnest. Mom keeps me company and sews for the baby.
At around 11 or so, my doctor came in to check my cervix and break my water. I was still only about 3 1/2 to 4 cm dilated, but she assured me that things would start moving along after my water was broken.

And boy, was she right. Within about 1/2 an hour, the contractions went from, "hey, no big deal" to "SWEET BABY JESUS, THIS HURTS LIKE A MOTHERFUCKER!" And they were coming in rapid succession, fast and furious. My mom and Jason took turns holding my hand, and Doris and Lupe, the student nurse assisting her, helped me breathe through the contractions. I told Doris, "um, yeah, I'd like that epidural now," and she said, "no problem," and within 15 minutes the anesthesiologist was in the room hooking me up with pain meds. And 20 minutes later, I was free of pain, though still feeling the pressure of the contractions, which were continuing unabated.

The doctors and nurses told me to be sure to tell them if the pressure -- the feeling of needing to push -- started to increase, because that meant that the baby was coming soon. And I started to feel that pressure (but not pain) at around noon, so Doris checked my cervix but couldn't feel it. So an OB resident was called in, and she said, "I don't feel cervix. I feel baby hair. I think you're ready to go."

So my OB was called (her office is about 3 blocks from the hospital), and the nurses prepped me while we waited for the doctor to show up. And all this time, I was feeling fine, and kept saying, "really?? are you sure I'm ready? I'm already at 10 centimeters??"

It just didn't seem possible that it could happen that quickly, and without me being in excruciating pain.

But sure enough, Dr. Ann, my OB, arrived, and they finished prepping me and got my feet in the stirrups. I was told to push. I pushed hard.

It took 9 minutes of pushing, and a total of 5 big pushes altogether, to get the baby out. And it didn't hurt, and nobody was yelling, and it all felt very calm and easy. Dr. Ann had to give me a small episiotomy, but she warned me in advance and was very gentle and quick (unlike my OB with Zeke, who just seemed to hack at me indiscriminately while I was in agony), and then I just needed one more small push and Josephine Ruby Lee came into our lives.* And because I wasn't completely exhausted and strung out and in pain, and was gently breathing as the baby came out, I got to watch my daughter slowly emerge from my body. It was magical.

Seconds after being born, Josie was placed on my chest.

Jason is totally in love with his little girl.

The J-Team: Dr. Ann, Jason, me, Josie, Doris and Lupe

Josie squawked a little after being born and getting cleaned up, so I offered her a bottle. She scarfed down the whole thing, had a nice burp, and promptly fell asleep for 2 1/2 hours.

Jason got a nap in. Apparently, watching me give birth is exhausting.

After her snooze, Josie got a bath from the nurses, discovering the joys of having your head gently scrubbed and washed. She sighed deeply while getting a scalp massage, and was as mellow as could be. After her bath, I fed her and she passed out again.

At around 6, we were moved from the labor and delivery room to a regular mom/baby room. Just in time for Kathleen to pick Zeke up from school and bring him to meet his little sister. I think he likes her.
He kept pointing at her and saying, "baby! BABY!"

Our family unit.

Jason and my mom went home with Zeke. I indulged in some Pad Thai -- fuck you, gestational diabetes! Josie and I hung out for awhile, but now she's in the nursery so that I can have one night of decent sleep before the craziness begins. This song kind of sums it up. Cheesy, perhaps, but it touches me right now.

It's a new dawn
It's a new day
It's a new life
For me
And I'm feeling good.

And now I'm going to bed. I'm a little tired.
*Regarding her name, "Josephine" came from "The Joey" -- it just kind of grew on us. It's a pretty, sweet name, a little old-fashioned without being overly precious, and it's not like "Madison" or "Ashley" or one of those names where it seems like you can't swing a dead cat without hitting 6 of them in your average daycare facility. If it had been a boy, I don't know what we would have done, because while we loved "Josephine," we didn't really like "Joseph" for a boy -- too many shitty Josephs in history (Stalin, Mengele, Kennedy, McCarthy -- you get the idea). "Ruby Lee" is a nod to my maternal grandparents,
Ruth and Leo, both of whom died in the last year.


  1. Lori Bouzane9:10 PM

    Congratulations!! She is beautiful and I LOVE the name Josephine!! You look fabulous...are you sure you are the one who gave birth to her?? Cripes..looks like you were at the spa! What an amazing gift! All the best! xo

  2. Seriously, Kathleen said that you look amazing AND I can't believe that you're blogging hours after giving birth and making it all seem less stressful than going grocery shopping. You really are super woman!! (But we knew that.) Love to the crew and can't wait to see you next week.



  3. Congratulations!!! So happy for you and that it turned out to be so good and "easy"! Beautiful girl and beautiful name!!!

  4. Amazing, amazing, amazing!

    I almost fell over when I saw your name on my caller ID at 4pm yesterday!

    May the Armstrong family continue to be healthy and happy.

  5. Congratulations! Josephine is beautiful. These photos are amazing - what a beautiful, happy family! Thrilled for all of you!

  6. YAY! Welcome Josephine! Love the name.

    Zeke looks so excited. Your family is beautiful and the picture made me well up! Congrats, Armstrongs!

  7. congratulations, I'm thrilled! She is so adorable, a wonderful product of the both of you, just like Zeke! big hugs from Canada! love soph & sean

  8. Anonymous10:08 AM

    I am sitting at my desk crying a river. I'm such a punk when it comes to babies.

    She is beautilicious! And you, lady, look FANTASTIC; blogging and all (my co-worker was drafting & editing briefs when she was in labor and her daughter's middle name is Josephine).



  9. Congratulations, WAJ! I will make sure the old P & M crew knows the wonderful news! Best wishes to you all. Love, Rich

  10. Anonymous1:14 PM

    WAJ you look great - just like you did 10, 15 years ago?

    Congrats! I know you will love parenting but grandparenting is much better.

    Sue Janowski

  11. Wendy,
    She is gorgeous. What a lovely lovely little girl. And I am amazed at how easy and happy it all happened. I'm so so happy for you guys.

    ps---Zeke does look excited...does he know she's staying?