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The Birth of Ashby Fox Martinez Byron [Apr. 2nd, 2011|11:23 am]
Friday, March 18, 2011 -
Had a morning shoot for PULSE in the Mission, after which, I drove in the rain to meet Tim at the U.S. District Court.  Met Tim's co-workers Heidi, Terry, as well as Judge Conti, who was exceedingly nice. Tim's co-clerk, Josh, was there too, of course.  Ate a shrimp po' boy for lunch, followed by Philz coffee.  Then I just hung out in the judge's chambers until it was time to go. 
After walking around North Beach, we met up with Oded for dinner at the House of Nan King, where chef Peter picked out our dishes.  Then, Oded got some donuts from the corner shop.
On our way to The Punchline to see Todd Barry, I twisted my ankle and heard a snap.  This was in the middle of an intersection, so Tim and Oded had to help me hop to the opposite corner. 
I had Tim drive me to the emergency room at Alta Bates. When we arrived, we were sent to Labor and Delivery, so the baby could be checked out, even though I never fell over when I tripped. 
We stayed there for over an hour, listening to him swish around through the fetal monitor. We also met Jacqueline, a kind and efficient nurse who gave us a brief tour of her department, so we'd know what we were in for when the time came to deliver. 
After confirming that the baby was fine, we were sent back down to triage in the ER, where we were attended by a physician's assistant named Bobby Valentine, who looked a lot like Patton Oswalt.  Bobby (and two others) didn't see a break on my x-ray, so I got bandaged and sent home with orders to see a specialist. However, 2 days later, on Sunday, I got a call from the ER.  Upon further review, a fracture was seen at the base of the 5th metatarsal -- a common break from twisting your ankle.  I had a strong feeling there was a break, as I've had many sprains before, and I hadn't been able to put weight on my foot that whole weekend.  
By Monday afternoon, I had my foot in a stabilizer boot.  I took Tuesday off of work, too, for some extra rest.

Thursday, March 24, 2011 - 
On this morning, I decided to make a powerful raw juice (the same one I had been making in the fall of 2009) with beets, carrots, lemons, apples, lettuce, kale, and ginger. I downed a big glass and refrigerated some for Tim, who went to 6:00 a.m. yoga. 
Got into work around 9:30, and didn't have much time to settle in before heading to a 10:00 a.m. "Lunch and Learn" meeting in another building.  Luckily, Sara Kwan let me ride in her mom's Lexus, because she didn't want to walk in the rain.  Daisy came along, too.  During the meeting, which went until noon, I started experiencing what felt like period cramps.  I downloaded an app that timed contractions and started timing the sensation.  It wasn't extremely painful, but I wanted to make sure I wasn't in labor.  
Back at my desk, I paged Lindy a couple of times.  She called me back and we discussed my morning, including my irregular "contractions."  She told me I should lie down, and keep an eye on the situation.  We agreed that I probably had indigestion from the juice I drank.  I continued with my work, and being too uncomfortable to go out for lunch, had some soup and cottage cheese at my desk. I told two people, Annette Hsu and my boss, Kevin, that I was having something that might be contractions, but that I was probably fine. I texted Tim not to panic, but I might be having contractions.
I reserved the Privacy Lounge downstairs to lie down, which I did from around 5:00 to around 6:15.  I laid on the tiny couch and listened to self-hypnosis tracks by Paul McKenna. When I got up, I was feeling even worse than I had earlier.  I was sweating, tired, and in pain.   In the bathroom, I discovered some spotting, and that was the first time I got worried that day. I decided to get into my car and get home as soon as possible.  

I should mention that driving was no easy feat, as I still had a broken foot, and had to change out my stabilizer boot for a smaller boot, just to drive.  As it was raining, I had to make this happen inside the car, which was not easy for a lady who was, at the time, 7 months pregnant.  I hit the road, and I knew it wasn't going to be a good ride, as the 880 was flooding from the storm, and the 580 was not much better.   The drive home was about an hour in bad weather.  Somewhere on the interchange of the 238 and the 580, I saw a huge rainbow, and I tried to let it make me feel better.  Avalon later told me that she saw me on the road that evening.  A few times, on the 580, I considered pulling over for just a moment's rest, but I didn't want to risk having a baby on the side of the road with a CHP officer, so I compelled myself to keep driving.

Finally at home, I pulled up next to the house and started calling Tim from my cell phone.  He didn't pick up, so I started honking.  Finally, on the third call or so, he answered his phone, and all I could squeak out was "I need you." He ran out to the car and saw the condition I was in.  He said, "Do I need to take you..." and I answered, "Yes." I sent him back to lock the door.  He also turned off the heater, which was a good call. Between contractions, I moved to the passenger seat, and then Tim drove me to Alta Bates ER for the second time in a week. He commented on how weird it smelled in my car, which I chalked up to sweating through my wool coat on an hour-long drive.

I walked in to the ER, where I was seated in a wheelchair and brought immediately to Labor and Delivery.  At the admission desk at L&D, I couldn't sit in the wheelchair any longer, as I had the sensation that I was sitting on our baby's head. I hovered over the wheelchair and the admissions desk, and paced a little up and down the hall. I'm sure I had a very crazy look on my face. 

In the triage department of L&D, Jacqueline, the nurse we had met a week before, did a manual examination to check my dilation.  The look on her face was a little foreboding, and things started to move quickly.  What she felt was a "bulging bag." The guess was that I was dilated 5 cm.  I was brought to a delivery room, where Joy and Carolina where my nurses when I was given IV drugs to take the edge off of the pain, and magnesium to slow the contractions.  I was also given a steroid meant for the fetus, to help him produce surfactant in his lungs, so that they could expand upon his first breath. Lindy, my midwife, who had been contacted in Calistoga, showed up and helped me be at peace with all of the commotion.   At some point, Tim drove home to care for the pets.  A little after midnight, he asked Carolina what the prognosis was, and when we might be able to go home.  Very calmly, Carolina told us we were not going home, and that I was going to have the baby.  Maybe sooner, or maybe later, but that I'd be in the hospital up until that point.  Before the end of the night, I was 10 cm dilated. 

Something about the process (maybe the magnesium, maybe the pain killers, maybe just plain old labor) made me nauseated. The bed was tilted so that my head was lower than my pelvis, and before I could warn anyone, my mouth filled up with vomit, which poured down the sides of my face and into my hair. Luckily, I hadn't eaten since noon, so it was mostly water. I barfed a couple more times in the night and the next day, but I had the clarity to call out "Barf time!" so that Tim or one of the nurses could get a pan next to my head.

When Joy and Carolina ended their shift, Tim and I were joined by their replacement, a nurse named Eizel. Eizel asked if she could perform reiki on me, and I readily accepted. At around 2:50 in the morning, at my insistence, an anesthesiologist (Dr. Beard?) came and gave me my first epidural. It felt like heaven, after contracting every four minutes since the previous morning. I was even given a button I could push that would administer more drugs as I needed them. What they didn't tell me was that it only worked once every 20 minutes.

A NICU doctor came in to let me know what would happen with the baby after I gave birth. A little later, he came in again with another NICU doctor, who did all of the talking.  This doctor's bedside manner was a little brusque, and he incorrectly told me I'd have the baby within a few hours, but Tim and I appreciated his bluntness about potential outcomes.

At 4:00 a.m., we got a few hours of rest. In the morning, Laurel was our new nurse, and we liked her a lot. Lindy came again and brought battery operated candles, to make the room look a little more peaceful, and less sterile. I clarified with her that my goal was to keep the baby in me until past 9:00 p.m., so I could get another steroid shot that would help with his surfactant-production in-utero. It was good to have a goal, rather than just lying there. I forgot to mention that I was not allowed to have any food or water. Laurel finally got permission to feed me ice chips, and they were very comforting. Over the course of the night and the morning, I got a couple of boosters to my anesthesia (from Dr. Defazio, who reminded me a little of Bill Gates, and from another young anesthesiologist, who had turquoise earrings. Somehow, the pain returned full-force, and a new epidural was administered. This felt good at first, but I was back in pain 20 minutes later. Lindy explained that I was so close to the end of labor, that the epidural wasn't going to do much.

Sharon came by for a visit after walking Holly. She and Laurel chatted about small businesses. Oded came by with loads of food from Saul's deli. Avalon picked up my mom from the airport and the two of them arrived. Avalon told me she had seen me driving myself home on the freeway the night before, which was a strange coincidence.

Auntie Jean showed up at some point.

At around 3:30, Laurel left us, and Susan became my L&D nurse.

At 6:00, Tim went on a tour of the NICU with the charge nurse, Debbie. While he was gone, I told Lindy that I couldn't wait any longer. She and Laurel asked me to wait to push while all of the specialists and the OB, Dr. Hargis, were gathered. By 6:20, they were all back in my room, and Tim was, too. Susan stood to my left, and Tim to my right. Dr. Hargis and Lindy stood side by side at the foot of the bed. Susan and Tim held my knees up to my chest and encouraged me, and Dr. Hargis ordered me to push with each contraction. She did a manual sweep of my cervix and broke my water, which was the most relief I had felt since I had been admitted. I could feel that she had both hands inside of me, to stretch me out and guide the baby. "Push towards my hands," Dr. Hargis said. Susan and Tim both encouraged me, and Tim reminded me not to push with my face. I think I avoided bursting a lot of capillaries by listening to him. 

As the epidural hadn't been working for a while, I was in terrific pain during the pushing. Feeling defeated, I cried, "I can't do this!"

In unison, the whole labor team, including Tim, called out, "Yes you can!" I could see Tim was getting excited, and that he must have seen the baby's head.  This helped me keep going. 

After a couple more pushes, the baby was out. Not knowing what else to say, I said, "My baby! My baby" as he was placed very briefly on my belly. He was quickly swept away to NICU and Tim went with him. Lindy and Susan stayed behind to take care of me. I delivered the placenta very quickly, and Lindy showed it to me. I confirmed that I did NOT want to keep it. She gave me one stitch for a tiny tear. Tim returned and we sat on the room's couch together as parents. And we updated Facebook with our son's first picture. My mom and Auntie Jean returned from wherever they had been.

Tim and I went to see our baby together in the NICU. Then I was transferred to a room in recovery, and I asked Tim to take my mom and Auntie Jean home, where the Byrons (sans Sam) and Katie and Jimmy were headed. When he came back, I had already pumped breastmilk for the first time.

On Saturday, we got to do our first "skin to skin" time with our son, and family came by to greet him. (During Tim's first skin to skin session, he read off the Google document of potential names to see what the baby would react to. This is when the baby chose "Fox" as a name.) Tim was great at shepherding everyone in and out of the NICU. Emily, being under 16, was the only one who didn't get to say hi. Avalon and Christian both came by, as well.

Katie ready baby his horoscope, which included something about a media appearance (Facebook?). She and Jimmy drove straight back to L.A. that afternoon. Tim took the family out to Koryo BBQ, where Soon doted on the group and sent home lots of extra goodies for me. I had to be very firm with Tim that I didn't want Korean leftovers in my hospital room, though. When Tim got back to my hospital room from entertaining the family, he proposed the name Ashby to me, but I was not sold just yet.

On Sunday morning, the family did more visiting at the hospital, and Mom and Auntie Jean met him for the first time. Tim and family went to dim sum at The Old Place Seafood Teahouse while I spent time with baby and pumped milk. By Sunday evening, I was discharged, and out of a hospital gown for the first time. At home, I finally ate Soon's Korean food and Tim, Mom, Auntie Jean and I watched the documentary, Babies.

In the intervening week since Ashby's birth, we named him, snuggled him, watched him go from SIPAP to CPAP to nasal canula to no assisted breathing, made him smile, learned about A's B's and D's (Apneas, Bradychardias, and Desaturation), changed his diaper, took his temperature, pumped LOTS of milk for him, and tried to get on a routine back at home. I'm also still caring for a broken foot, and dealing with the fact that I left my job without preparing whatsoever.