Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy had been described as the Perfect Storm, Frankenstorm, or Storm-a-geddon. She was the 2nd largest hurricane on record and the 2nd costliest, losing to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. She also decided to hit the mid-Atlantic on October 29th, the day after Austin was born.

The Casino Pier Roller Coaster at Seaside Heights, NJ 
Like Hurricane Irene last year, I probably didn't take the storm seriously enough but once I was admitted to the hospital, home maintenance went out the window. Our room was facing the inside courtyard/roof of the hospital so we were incredibly secure and probably safer there than anywhere else. For this reason, we couldn't see much of the storm from our window.

Monday night the hospital lost power and switched to generators. All things considered, this wasn't a big deal for our new family recovering in Labor and Delivery, but selfishly - we lost TV reception. Sleep deprived and limited to activities, space, and entertainment - things got very boring very quickly. Try as we might to dose off in between feedings and crying, it proved near impossible since we were constantly getting interrupted by the hospital staff for one reason or another - food delivery, blood pressure checks, hearing checks for Austin, introducing the new nursing staff, paperwork, etc. I'm glad we were in good hands, but I didn't need a formal introduction and life bio of everyone that walked into the room. We felt the need to be nice to everyone because we are nice people, but this resulted in way too much conversation, fake laughs, and a lot of "no, thank you - we are really ok.".

Flooded parking lot of taxis
Meanwhile, DJ's parents had come up Sunday night to meet Austin and stayed at our house while we were in the hospital. As the storm came Monday, we were told by the staff that only First Responders and Hospital Staff were allowed in and out of New Brunswick, so no visitors allowed. This was nice because it allowed the three of us to spend the day as a family, but again - with no TV - it wasn't super thrilling.

Monday evening we were told there may have been water issues, so the hospital staff came in and filled a bucket with water so the toilet would flush. Then Tuesday we were told the hot water was being turned off at 11:30am so I took a quick shower, along with every other able bodied patient in the hospital so it wasn't exactly warm. Oh well. At this point we were so ready to get home it didnt matter whether I was clean or dirty.

Meanwhile, at home we had lost power and a branch was on the roof. I'm still not entirely sure of the damage, but I know our gutter is messed up and there is a tarp on the roof. We may have lost a shingle and there may be some damage to the siding. DJ's parents held down the fort which was much appreciated and we came home to a secure home.

Powerless, DJ and I spent Wednesday and Thursday shuffling back and forth between our house and my parents. Compared to other parts of the area, we were certainly lucky, but it is hard coming home with a new baby and feeling displaced. We also didn't want any one set of grandparents to feel neglected so we did our best to split time evenly. It was certainly doable but stressful.

Power came back Thursday afternoon (yay!) but now the gas situation is out of control. Lines can be up to three hours long with a 10 gallon limit on purchases. Last I heard, cars with odd number plates could receive service on odd days and even number days for even plates. DJ was able to skip the line and fill up as a first responder at a nearby gas station, but a lot of people are rationing their gas.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Labor Remix

All of the birthing lists suggested bringing things to distract you during labor and pass the time. Well, we didn't have time but had a kick-ass labor mix planned for Austin's arrival. So our hard work doesn't go to waste, this was our playlist:

Ausitn and Me - Day 8 
1. Push It - Salt & Peppa
2. Bad to the Bone - George Thorogood and the Destroyers
3. 1812 Overture
4. Push - Matchbox 20
5. I'm Coming Out - Diana Ross
6. Pressure - Billy Joel
7. Under Pressure - Queen
8. You can do it, Put your back into it - Ice Cube
9. Hips don't Lie - Shakira
10. Breathe In, Breathe Out - Machine Head
11. Ring of Fire - Johnny Cash
12. I Wanna Be Sedated - Ramones
13. I want a new drug - Huey Lewis and the News
14. Don't Stand So Close to Me - The Police
15. Got to Get you Into My Life - Beatles
16. Born to be my Baby - Bon Jovi
17. Baby Got Back - Sir Mix A Lot
18. Born to Run - Bruce Springstein
19. Ice, Ice Baby - Vanilla Ice
Cool list Mom! 
20. Your Momma Don't Dance - Poison (even though she really loves it!) 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Bearing Down for Sandy, Bearing down for Baby!

As the mid-Atlantic beared down in preparation for Hurricane Sandy, DJ and I went into labor.

My first "contraction" came at 4:35 am, although at the time I didn't know it was a contraction. I had trouble falling back to sleep so I took a minute to update my Fantasy Football Team, trading Brandon Bolden of the Patriots for Steven Jackson of the Rams. The trade would later prove to be lame with Jackson only earning me 5 points, but I still won the match.
Anyway, thats not important.

After my trade, I went back to sleep, waking up now and then with a "kind of pain, but not really" until 6:30. That last "contraction" had a little something special to it. An extra kick, if you will so I stayed awake and hung out in the bathroom since I couldn't think of a better place to go.

Close to 7:00am, DJ was up with me and we started timing things. The spacing was so erratic and I still wasn't sure if we were in labor so we just toughed it out. All breathing techniques went out the window and I resorted to some kind of hyperventilation breathing and writhing in the fetal position.

Near 9:00 am we called Dr. Beim and were connected with his dispatch service where DJ had to get a little sassy with his receptionist. Was this an emergency? Well, maybe? My wife isn't suffering from stab wounds to the chest, but she may be in labor. By this time, I was thinking there is no way I can do this for 16 hours - I will need drugs.
Beim told us to call back in a few hours if contractions become more intense. Sometimes the pains will subside and it will all be a false alarm.

It felt like as soon as DJ hung up the phone, the contractions went from 7 minutes to 3 minutes to 2 minutes - although, I admit it was hard to tell. The intensity  would subside, but it never really went away so I was just guessing when one ended and a new one started at this point. DJ told me that after the 4th "big one", he would call Beim again. In the meantime he was singing the few bars of "Afternoon Delight" that he knew - which was actually quite enjoyable.

At 9:45 I made the call to home and told my Dad we were on our way to the hospital . I really wanted to wear my lucky Giants shirt, that I had worn to all Petry's major appointments, but I was so hot that long sleeves were out of the question. I wore a pink Old Navy tank instead and the cold air felt delicious as I hobbled my way to DJ's truck. To the outside world, I was probably inappropriately dressed but if anyone told me that, I might have ripped their head off.

Some might say, "shit got real" on the way to the hopsital and thank GOD! St. Peter's is only 15 minutes away and there was no one on the road this early on a Sunday. I couldn't get comfortable and was probably stopping circulation in DJ's hand as we made our way down Route 1. The one traffic light we hit was a fate worse then death as I thought my insides were going to rupture out of my body. At this point, I was really hoping this was labor because if it wasn't I was in some serious trouble.

We got to the hospital and DJ got me a wheel chair. Leaving his truck, he took me up to labor and delivery. Things get a little foggy here, but I remember someone asking if we were doing cord blood, DJ having to run back down stairs, move his truck, get our things, and me telling the nurse (Carissa) that I was scared. I also asked if I could keep my sports bra on because I didn't want to be like one of the ladies in the birthing DVD that have their boobs exposed. I was told no, but my gown was securely tied in the back.

We beat Dr. Beim to the hospital so a tall Indian Dr. Patel asked if I wanted an epidural. He had a little pony tail which I thought was interesting.
Me - "How far am I?"
Dr. P - "9 cm"
Me - "What number do I have to get to?"
Dr. P. - "10 so you really won't have time for an epidural anyway"
Me - "Oh...."(exasperated sigh)..Can I get anything?"
Even if I had time,  I was also nervous about getting a needle in my spine since I couldn't sit still and didn't want to be paralyzed. Instead I got something that began with an N put into my IV that was supposed to ease the pain. They might  have completely lied to me, but just knowing or thinking there was potential relief worked for me. Then another doctor with a beard came in and poked around, said I was doing well and then left.

In  the movies it looks like the actress does four or five good pushes and out comes baby.
Not so much - pushing is long, exhausting, and intimate.
My mom had joined the room as Carissa held one leg, DJ the other, and Dr. Beim stared intellectually into my girl parts. He was so calm and collected - but I guess that's his job.
I couldn't seem to differentiate pushing and screaming so every time I was asked to push, I also screamed. I thought the baby would just come flying out since I had dilated the required amount, but I was a fool. So I pushed on my back, I pushed on my side, I pushed during contractions, and I pushed during things that weren't contraction but urged me to push. Somewhere along the way I got ice chips and a cold compress.

Pushing is also frustrating because, lets say for every 3 pushes, the baby gets sucked back inside a little when you are done with that round so you are always taking a small step back. At one point I swear his head was out and I was in the clear, but who the heck knows. I saw DJ take a peak and I remember thinking that was a bold move. He can never unsee what he just saw. Who knows what things looked like down there. I also heard my mom ooo-ing and eesh-ing  in the background, pacing with her hands clasped at her chest.

So we pushed on and at some point I got the go ahead to scoot down and put my feet in stirrups. I guess this was the big moment. Again, things are unclear but I remember feeling something down there coming out and not getting sucked back in. I'm sure instructions were given but I was so focused on pushing, I'm not sure what was said. I remember giving one last grunt, feeling a pull, and then something squiggly, skinny, and slimy coming out. I am guessing this was the legs and umbilical cord.

Austin David Lathroum entered the world on October 28th at 12:03pm weighing 7 lbs, 6 oz. and 19 3/4 inches long.

He was placed on my chest and I said "Happy Birthday" in an excited  but exhausted whisper. I didn't cry yet, but looked up at DJ and said "we did it!".

He was then whisked away for the appropriate measuring and cleaning while I was cleaned and stitched up. There is something disheartening about seeing a man with a medical grade needle and thread down by your chatchki. You are convinced it will never be the same and, like it or not, Austin will be an only child. I don't remember too much of this part either, but I know I was insanely thirsty. Fortunately my mom was there to feed me ice chips, which were delicious, and life was good while DJ went off to do first-time dad things with the nurses.

After 6 hours of labor and, statistically, a smooth delivery, Austin, Daddy. and Mommy were set up in our room in time to watch the Giants beat the Cowbys 29-24.