(Notice we changed the spelling...?)
This is a bit of a book but it felt good to write it all down. Hope everyone is having a lovely time bonding with their babes as December rolls on...sure seems like people are, since noone seems to be writing much these days!
When my due date, Sunday Nov.21, came and went I was not surprised but not thrilled either. I could tell in my body that the baby wasn’t quite “there”- it hadn’t dropped much at all, and I was just still feeling too comfortable in my pregnancy. Each day after that though seemed an eternity. Dan was now home, and everything was ready except the baby. We began to try some of the tried and true ways to get baby to descend and start dilating the pelvis- Black and Blue Cohosh, long regular walks, sex, spicy foods, castor oil belly rubs (not internal), nipple stimulation, visualization, etc. On Friday we called the acupuncturist.
We had a late afternoon visit with Nancy Issenman and I received needles in my back, feet, shoulders and one in my belly. It was not painful except when I moved and accidentally tweaked one the wrong the way. The visit lasted over an hour and we left feeling hopeful with her words “I think you’re ready”. At about 8:30pm I started feeling my first contractions. We went for a walk to see if they continued and they did- about 8-10 minutes apart. Our early labour project was to bake a cake so I called my mom and Amanda to come over and hang out. Chandra warned me to go to bed, but I was far too excited to sleep. We had a nice evening; I got a foot bath and rub, my hair brushed and braided, while contractions continued at about that pace. We resisted calling the midwife and decided to go to bed to try and get some sleep before it moved into active labour.
I didn’t sleep much. The contractions seemed to get more painful when I lay down. I had a bath and that slowed them down and felt nice but I didn’t get much sleep all night. We called Deb, the midwife, in the morning to give her the heads up and she came by to check me that morning. I was only 2-3 cm dilated and 1.5 cm effaced so they told me to keep at encouraging the labour during the day and if night came on to take some gravol, a hot bath and try to sleep. We went for another long walk but by evening, though the contractions were strong enough to have to breathe through, they never got closer than 3 minutes apart. I followed Deb’s advice and tried to sleep through that night too.
By Sunday morning I was getting to the end of my rope. I was two nights out of sleep and exhausted. I had been trying to eat bits of food through it all but was able to eat little. The contractions were painful and I thought I wouldn’t make it if this continued much longer. I desperately wanted a home birth, but was seriously considering the hospital as an option. The midwives finally came at 4pm and said that I had dilated to 4 cm and was pretty much completely effaced. This seemed like pathetic progress to me but they seemed optimistic that the baby would be born that night. I was so ready to quit, but was encouraged by this. They encouraged me to call the acupuncturist again to get things moving so we did. By the time Nancy came at 4:30 I was in active labour (and things start to get a little hazy for me here). We set up a massage table which I draped my head down onto while I kneeled on a chair and I was there for hours. Dan and Zena were simply awesome throughout my labour- they hardly ever left my side and were attentive to my every need, without being intrusive in my process. I feel very lucky to have had them. Nancy helped a lot too, with my breathing as well as with acupuncture. She applied some needles, more to get the baby to descend than to help the pain, and that seemed to work.
The midwives returned at around 7:30 and checked me. I was at 7 cm but baby was still high. Deb offered to break my water to accelerate things and I readily agreed. The relief of the water breaking (lessened pressure) was short lived as the contractions became more intense and closer together. I was moaning loudly- almost singing – through each contraction and was concentrating hard on opening my cervix. I took a shower. Then I kneeled on the bed over some pillows and received another needle. Things became very intense. I threw up the little bit of liquid I had in my tummy. I had started to feel the urge to push (like having to take a huge s***) and finally called out. Deb came over and checked me again. I was still only 8 cm but she thought that was because the top side of my cervix was swollen and preventing the dilation. She asked me to push while she worked the cervix back over the baby’s head. I was so happy to finally have something proactive and different to do that I didn’t mind the pain of her internal pulling and prodding (I told you it would be gory!) This seemed to work and since I was suddenly 10cm I was able to keep pushing. I felt a little unsure of my pushing skills at first, but I got the hang of the sensation and soon became quite proficient. Plus I had Deb urging me to push like it was life or death (baby’s heartbeat was on the low side and they wanted it out sooner rather than later). Dan was holding a mirror, Zena was behind me on the bed and Nancy and Deb each had a leg. Apparently Dan was so spellbound he kept forgetting to hold the angle on the mirror and so Zena would chirp “Dan! Mirror!” I was too busy concentrating on pushing (and bursting the blood vessels in my face) to really look in the mirror! I do remember thinking “wow- already??” when the head fully emerged. It stung like hell and I tore a little. The pushing only took 25 minutes start to finish, which, after the length of the labour, seemed so quick. Deb put the slippery little creature on my tummy while Luba, our other midwife who had arrived during the pushing, suctioned out his mouth.
I was shaking and exhausted, but there was a live baby on me! He was doing a funny gasping cry but he seemed to be breathing and squirmy. Deb vigorously rubbed the blood into his limbs while Luba suctioned. It was several minutes I think before we thought to look at the sex- and it was no surprise to see a penis (I had known all along, from suspicious ultrasound photos). A boy! Dan cut the cord once it had stopped pulsing (he said it was like trying to cut a tendon- quite tough). Luba seemed concerned about the baby’s cry so she took him over to the warmer and oxygen while she continued to suction. I delivered the placenta in a few easy pushes- it’s so big!
But the gasping, repetitive cry didn’t stop and the midwives began to get concerned. His apgar score was high but he did seem to be struggling. After about 45 minutes they suggested we go to the hospital. This was startling to me. “Really??” Hadn’t we just had a great home birth? But I understood that this needed attention and of course was going to do what needed to be done. I started to try and think about getting up and getting dressed and getting what we would need for the hospital. I had a bag of stuff half-packed but it was missing many essentials. I set Zena to getting things together while I tried to pull myself together. I asked the midwives if that meant we needed to put the car seat in the car and they replied “No, we’ve called the ambulance.” Within minutes I heard the sirens and suddenly there were 6 paramedics in our bedroom, on top of the 6 (actually 7) of us! I was half dressed, bleeding profusely and trying to think straight. I could hardly walk. They offered to bring in the stretcher but that seemed so dramatic and absurd to me, so I hobbled out to the ambulance.
In the ambulance I was laid on the stretcher and the baby on my chest. They hooked probes and things onto him while I held the oxygen to his mouth. He was still doing the funny cry but otherwise seemed fine so I felt very calm. It didn’t take long to get to the hospital and up to Labour and Delivery. The nurse who received us was a little snitty and was like- “Oh, I guess this is the homebirth?” The baby was whisked away and I was attended to by Zena and Dan who had come in separate cars. A few minutes later, Deb returned to say he had stopped the funny breathing and seemed to be fine but that they wanted to keep him a little while for observation. We went in for one last look at him- he’s sooo cute!- then went over to Mother and Babe wing to check into a room. They had said he’d be brought over in about an hour and that we should try and sleep in the meantime (it was about 3am).
We awoke at 7am with no baby and so Dan went to check on him. It turned out they had run a blood test and found a high white cell count and that they wanted to put him on IV antibiotics while they ran further tests. We were disheartened to say the least. It looked like the test results wouldn’t be back until Wednesday. They had a special nursing room in the Special Care unit so we ended up hanging out there for several hours while the babe and I experimented with breastfeeding. It was tricky because he was mucousy and we were both such amateurs. I was so exhausted and discouraged by our circumstances but we resigned ourselves to having to wait until Wed. for the test results.
We discovered that the nurses who work in Special Care all have a slightly different approach and agenda when it comes to their babies, and every 12 hours there was a new nurse on. Most of the babies there are very premature and need serious feeding and care and so the nurses get very protective of them. While generally good intentioned, we ran across nurses who were not very supportive of mother-baby bonding or breastfeeding. I could tell that many of them approached us knowing we had had a homebirth and like they expected confrontation. I felt like we were the “difficult” parents, simply because we didn’t want them to use bottles or formula and because we insisted in being awoken whenever he was ready to nurse. That was another issue. By the time they had called us and we had trekked down to Special Care, taken his temp, diapered and weighed him he was screaming for food. This did not help the breastfeeding to go well. One nurse insisted that we feed him on a schedule, for only ½ hour, and not leave his bedside to go to the nursing room! She weighed him on a scale before and after the feed to see how much he had eaten and then fed him my expressed milk through a tube in his nose when I didn’t measure up to how much she deemed he needed.
Wednesday morning was the worst. They found a high bilirubin count (jaundice) and had put him under the bililights. My breasts were engorged from my milk coming in, making breastfeeding extra difficult and they wanted to start him on the scheduled feedings. The jaundice along with “other factors” such as the difficulties breastfeeding (and him keeping it down) made them decide to keep him on the antibiotics the full 5 days even though the test for infection had come back negative. I was weeping with despair at the separation from him, from all my hormones raging, from our lack of control, and from being stuck in this ironically unhealthy environment.
Thursday was better- they took him out of the lights and I had a promising visit with Luba who insisted that I try out a nipple guard to help him get a better latch and thus be able to leave as soon as the last dose of antibiotics was over with. I had been resisting using the silicon nipple, but when I realized that not using it might mean extra days in the hospital (and they wanted to discharge me which meant Dan and I would no longer have a bed there), I agreed to using it. As soon as I did he started nursing so well that by Friday they no longer had any reason to keep us there and we could head home. We were so jubilant! Pulling up to the house, I thought I’d never be so happy to see our living room, candles burning in the window. I burst into tears when we walked in the front door and saw a sign my mom had made: “A Miracle Happened Here: The Birth of Zylo. Welcome Home!”
We are now on day 6 of our belated babymoon, and yes, we are in love! He doesn’t use the nipple shield at all anymore and has been gaining lots of weight. He gets a little fussy sometimes but is so adorable it’s hard to get really ruffled. I’ve been slowly catching up on sleep and finally feeling sane. He has Dan’s eyes and my nose and mouth and light brown hair on his head. He is beautiful.
So, now the name. Back in July, my friends and I had a birthday brunch where names were the hot topic of conversation. I had mentioned that I was interested in Z names because of the “tradition” in Dan’s family (Zena, Zach, Xan). Since there isn’t a lot of selection beyond Zoe, Zane and Zelda, we started making up names. Lia came up with Zilo and it was an instant hit. By the time brunch was over Amanda was calling my belly Zilo and it stuck throughout the pregnancy. Later, out of curiosity, I googled the name and came up with an A-Z tourism website for the island of Vanuatu (one of the places we visited in our travels). In it they mentioned a bartender named Zilo who worked at a restaurant there. I found the email address for the restaurant and emailed them, looking to find the meaning of the name. Shortly later they wrote back. Zilo was a derivative of Cilou, ci meaning “two”. The name was made up by the father’s friend so that through the son they were forever united. We thought that was sort of interesting but best of all was that they sent a photo of Zilo- a very friendly looking dreaded guy with a huge smile. They said in the email that Zilo was very stoked to think that someone might be named after him! Well, this didn’t completely sell me, but Dan seemed to like the name so much and had pooh-poohed most of the alternatives I had suggested, and here it was days after his birth and how could we not name him Zilo after months of calling him that in-utero. So it stuck. We decided that Zylo with a “y” was more likely to be pronounced correctly and looked nice too so went with that. Alexander was not a name we had talked about, though we had Zander on our list after Dan’s grandfather Xan. Alexander was also the name of my grandfather’s uncle who became like a surrogate father to my grandfather after his father disappeared when he was a boy. But mostly I just liked the way it flowed. Auger is my father’s last name and my second middle name and Green is, obviously, Dan’s last name. So there we have Zylo Alexander Auger Green.