All about Harry, part 2: his arrival on planet Earth

When we last left off, I was on an oxytocin drip and having contractions. Still, after a few hours, I hadn't progressed much beyond where I was to begin with. I wasn't surprised, because with both Ethan and Oliver, the labor was slow until the breaking of the bag of waters.

I had to wait for my doctor until almost 4:30 to break my water, because he was delivering some other lady's baby. Ugh, people, amiright? I told everyone on staff, this isn't going to take long. "Oh really?" they replied casually.

In both my previous pregnancies, I'd gotten an epidural, and both times the epidural didn't do much. Ever the optimist, I tried once again. After just a few minutes I decided to get the anesthesiologist in.

Guys, long story short, I was experiencing hard labor for the nearly 45 minutes it took for him to get to the room and place the epidural. He had to keep stopping so I could breathe through contractions.

Literally moments after it was all complete and he told me I could lie down again, my legs started to shake. "Uh, I think I'm transitioning," I said to the nurse.

Fortunately, she had stayed with me through the whole epidural placement, so she saw that the labor was certainly progressing (though because of the way you have to sit for the epidural placement, the contraction monitor doesn't really work properly). So, like I said, I was all "I'm transitioning," and she was all, "hmm...let me check you," and then she was like, "Omg you're 9 1/2 centimeters, we need to page the doctor right now." And I was like, "Duh."

I guess the epidural sort of dulled like three contractions? 

At this point, we were figuring out who would be in the room for the baby's delivery. See, through my whole pregnancy, Oliver was determined to be there "when the baby gets out." I explained that it might be a little scary, it would definitely be weird, but he could be there if he wanted. I had talked it over with my doctor, and he said he had no problem at all with siblings being there if everybody was good with that.

I knew there was no way Ethan could handle it, what with his track record of "paling out" at the sight, suggestion, mention, thought, spelling, or hint of the existence of blood. But Oliver is a tough cookie. 

Still, after the epidural debacle and the speediness with which I went from about 3cm to fully dilated (under an hour, for the record), I wasn't exactly calm and collected. I wasn't screaming, don't misunderstand. I was in control, but part of maintaining control was moaning loudly as I breathed through the contractions. Oliver started to backpedal on being there. Which, poor guy, there's no way he could've comprehended what was in store. But he didn't want to leave altogether.

Noah and my mom were next to me, holding my hands, and my dad was standing behind the curtain in the little nook between the L&D room proper and the door, holding Oliver. I could hear him telling Oliver that mommy was okay, she was just working hard. So in the approximately 4 seconds between contraction peaks I would shout out, "Mommy's okay Ollie! I'm okay! I'm just working hard to get baby out!"

Finally, after paging him twice (ANOTHER "emergency situation"), Dr. Thompson arrived. Fun fact: he's the same OB that delivered Oliver.

"Didn't you just get the epidural?" he asked.

"Yeah. Think I can get a refund?" I replied. Notice how brave I was, still able to tell jokes.

And the pushing commenced. Needless to say, I was ready to get the baby out. At one point I nearly pushed myself off the table, which Dr. Thompson helpfully announced he'd never seen before. And after just about five minutes, Harry was born.

Weirdly, I was a little peeved that I'd had to breathe through some contractions while waiting for the doctor, because I really wanted Harry to be born at 5:43pm. Ethan was born at 4:43, Oliver at 3:43. But because of the selfishness of some other lady and her silly emergency birth, Harry was born at 5:55. Could I have made it happen at 5:43 if the doctor had been there a few minutes earlier? I don't know. ...But yes. Yes, I could've. Anyway, Noah then realized the baby had been born on 1/11 at 5:55, so that was pretty cool, too.

Moments after Harry was born, once they'd put him in my arms, my dad and Oliver emerged from behind the curtain. Labor was over, but folks, it was still a war zone, is what I'm saying. So while Oliver wasn't next to me at Harry's birth moment, he was pretty darn close. Even Ethan came in a couple of minutes later, and my mom helped guide him to the head of the delivery bed to protect his delicate sensibilities.

I was extremely glad to have them there—and later I'd learn that the very next day the hospital was going on flu restrictions, meaning no visitors under the age of 12 allowed in.

The hospital has really embraced the Baby-Friendly standard of care, which means I immediately had more than an hour of skin-to-skin contact with the baby. There was no rushing us out of the delivery room. We had plenty of time to bond and recover. Noah's dad, brothers, and niece and nephew were able to come in and visit briefly. So did my brother and sister-in-law, who was bummed that she was still at work (she's a nurse practitioner) and not able to attend the birth the way I was for my niece Evie's birth. And so did our best friend Nick and his then-girlfriend (now fiancee!) Megyn, who's also a pediatric resident.

Everything had gone well, and quickly, and we were all together. I was happy.

Once we were all settled into our room for the duration of the stay, all the monitoring began. Not just of me, but of Harry. He had the standard baby-wearing-headphones hearing test, but he also had multiple blood sugar tests (since I'd been diabetic) and checks of what appeared to be a hernia. The pediatrician's office put in a referral for the fluid in his kidneys to be checked by a pediatric nephrologist.

By all accounts, he was—and is—healthy. 


Every couple of months, Harry has an ultrasound to check what's going on with what we all thought was a hydrocele and hernia—not ideal, but not uncommon in baby boys. With the exception of a VCUG, an upsetting test to check if his kidneys were experiencing urinary reflux (answer: yes, a little bit, but not a big deal), there was nothing particularly worrying. Granted the hydrocele was very big, extending into the abdomen, but the hernia wasn't strangulated and didn't present any reason to be swift to surgery.

So for months, Harry has taken a daily dose of antibiotic to prevent a UTI or kidney infection (we await the problem to fix itself, which it often does), and had those bimonthly ultrasounds.

One day a couple of months ago, the hernia seemed to disappear. Confirmed by ultrasound, the "communication" (as they call the little channel) between abdomen and testicle had closed. But the large sac of fluid was still there, in his abdomen. This began to complicate the diagnosis. Had it been a hernia and hydrocele, the fluid should've dispersed itself, and that's why the hernia would've closed.

Last week, at his most recent ultrasound, the sac of fluid had grown significantly. Though he remains asymptomatic and healthy, the nephrologist and surgeon agree it'd be better to remove it than let things continue.

So what is It? Good question. They now believe it's a "lymphatic malformation"—a benign congenital defect that can be surgically repaired. This would make sense, since the fluid was first noted relatively early in my pregnancy by that very canny ultrasonographer. Of course they can't speak definitively until they've actually done the surgery to remove the abnormality.

There was talk of potentially doing an MRI, but he'd have to be sedated for that, and they wisely try to limit sedation on babies. If they're going to do the surgery anyway, why add another sedation for an MRI?

All of this is worrying. I do my best to not be dramatic about it. Noah reminded me that these doctors are experts, and if they saw something that was truly worrying, they'd have acted swiftly. As it is, they've repeatedly assured me they don't feel the situation is one "of urgency." The mass is just fluid, nothing solid, though it's grown enough that even I can feel it easily.

But here we are. Tomorrow is Harry's pre-op appointment with the surgeon. We'll know then when the surgery will be and what they predict it will entail. Back when it was just a hernia, they thought if we waited till he was at least six months, it could be an outpatient procedure. Now, I doubt that'll be possible.

I look at this sweet baby, this good, good baby, and I just want all of it to be over. I want him definitively healthy, all of us moving on. Tomorrow should be the first step.