Sunday, May 16, 2010
On night just before bedtime, I started having a few minor contractions. They weren't painful, but they were steady and only about six minutes apart. I took a pill like a good girl, sat back, relaxed, and...continued contracting. An hour later I took another pill because they advised me it might take two to make contractions stop. Or not. My mother-in-law was in bed asleep. My husband was still at work. It was midnight. I was having contractions that kept getting stronger and closer together. Oh, and I was 45 miles from the hospital.
I woke Loretta, called PJ at work, and set about packing a hospital bag. (No, I didn't have one ready because it was still five weeks to my due date.) PJ made it home in record time (because there is zero traffic in Cheyenne, Wyoming at midnight any day of the week) and we headed out at NASCAR speed to Fort Collins, Colorado. I was positive we wouldn't make it, and PJ kept speeding up to ensure that we did. I'm pretty sure that trip only took us about twenty minutes.
When we arrived at the hospital, a nurse had to come out with a wheel chair to collect me because I knew if I tried to walk in, the baby would fall out! She assured me that it would be fine as we were riding up in the elevator with another expectant mom who was farther into labor than me. When her nurse jokingly told a story about a woman giving birth in that very elevator the year before, the woman shot her a death glare and yelled, "That was me!" OK. So much for putting us at ease...
We got checked in, changed, into a room, checked, and were told it would be a while. I wanted to take advantage of the new jacuzzi tub, so they moved me in. I'd like to offer a little tip here. A powerful jetted tub is not a good thing for a woman in the late stages of labor. I felt like I was being pummeled to death, and the nurses couldn't figure out how to get it to stop completely, so every five minutes the jets would start up again, I would curse the new wonderful birthing center, and my poor husband would look helpless.
It wasn't long before I knew I needed to get out of the tub and to the bed, so we hurried (Ha! Yeah right.) out of the bathroom, got the bed prepped, and they checked me again. My midwife gave me the go ahead, and I'm pretty sure I never pushed. I maintain to this day that I just complained and whined until my son fell out. I didn't get to see him right away because when you have a preemie, they have an entire NICU team in the room waiting, and when the baby is born, they whisk them off to make sure all is well before the mommy gets a chance to see the little screaming bundle of ugly old man baby (except my babies were all beautiful.).
When they determined he was fine, just needing a little oxygen, they filled me in on all the stats. With as much as it hurt when he came out, I was sure he was at least a nine-pounder. I was in shock when they told me he weighed 3 pounds 15 ounces. WTH??? No really. But his head was E.Nor.Mous. Off to the NICU he went, and my nurses did the usual fussing over me. My midwife was great, and my husband was a champ!
BBE was minute. I was afraid to touch him for fear he would break. I had bought bags of sugar bigger than this baby, and I was somehow supposed to be able to keep him alive. I had an immediate internal panic attack at that thought.
For two days we made visits every few hours to the NICU, and then it was time to check out. I was all packed up and ready to go home to make plans when one of the NICU nurses came into my room and informed us that our bitsy little read-headed baby with the swirl up front was too cute and sweet to not have a name. They were all tired of calling him Baby Boy Eldridge. That's right. He had no name. We couldn't decide what to call him. We talked. We thought. We talked. Finally, Christian, our oldest son who was just shy of 4 years, said he had watched a cartoon and the boy in the cartoon was named Connor. He said it was a good name, and it started with "C", as did both of our other kids' names. And so the nurse went back to the NICU to make a name tag that said Connor William.
The one really great part of delivering Connor in Ft. Collins was that they own several blocks of houses on the street adjacent to the hospital. They use them specifically for families of long-term patients. My MIL, my kids, myself, and my husband, on his days off, got to spend the next 17 nights in a three bedroom house with all the things a house should have, and it only cost about a quarter of what two hotel rooms would have. Plus it was a two minute walk to the hospital.
By the time we were finally allowed to take him home, Connor weighed 4 pounds 10 ounces. I could only wonder if they were out of their freaking minds. Why the hell would they let me take a baby so tiny and fragile home?! Didn't they know I had a rambunctious pre-schooler and a toddler waiting to get their hands on him? They insisted that he was ours, and therefore we had to take him. And so, with six little rolled up receiving blankets to prop him in his giant of an infant car seat, a small oxygen tank, and the biggest pacifier on the planet, we went home.
One week later he was off the oxygen. A week after that he was circumcised. Another tip: Don't be in the room while your son is being circumcised. Holy crap. And wow. But mostly yikes. He was still so tiny that people would look into his car seat, see only blankets, and think we forgot to bring the baby. For the first little while I had to resort to buying him doll clothes because preemie clothes were entirely too big.