Sunday, November 22, 2015

Atticus Palmer

Years and years ago I watched To Kill A Mockingbird for the first time. I was too young to really understand the deeper elements of the story but what I remember sticking with me was 1) the mystery and intrigue of Boo Radley, 2) how much Scout and I both enjoyed being outside getting into adventures with our friends and 3) that Atticus Finch reminded me of my dad. 
When I read the book and watched the movie as an older teen, what stuck with me then was 1) the mystery and beauty of Boo Radley, 2) the horrible story of Tom Robinson and 3) how much Atticus Finch reminded me if my dad.
My dad is easily, truly, the most kind hearted man I have ever met. His selflessness made him the best father. His desire to take care of others taught me empathy. His love of literature led me into the powerful outlet I found in writing. His deep heart for justice and fairness makes him tender to other's pain and suffering.
I loved the name Atticus because it's a strong name that's interesting and deeply rooted. I knew if I had a son I wanted to name him after my dad and his name would be Atticus to honor both my dad and the character Harper Lee created in her classic. 
My senior year of high school I took home one of those robot babies to care for over the weekend. So duh I named him Atticus.
He's actually Atticus Palmer, he was born October 5th, 2015 and he weighed 9 lbs 1oz and measured 21 in but this could still pass as a legit certificate.

10 years later, on my birthday, I got to meet my Atticus. 

Atticus, like his sister Isla, took his ever sweet time arriving which I didn't expect because of all of the stories of quick and early (or at least prompt) births I'd heard regarding 3rd children. Nope. He would likely still be in there 6 weeks postpartum if we hadn't kicked him out.

In the last week of September, I was utterly, miserably 39 weeks pregnant. My appointments weren't showing my body to be making any kind of progress towards labor anytime soon. I was locked up tight. I met with my doctor and told her that my last baby was large, she had to be induced and I wanted to prepare to do the same this time around because hell. no. am I pushing out a 10 pound baby if I don't have to. I was measuring on the larger side of "on track", which is good and all, but did nothing solid for my concern for a mammoth baby coming out of there naturally.


After talking to my doctor, we could either schedule an induction on October 4th or wait until the next week. My physician, Dr Mercado, who I will refer to her by name now (because duh why didn't I earlier) was a little hesitant to schedule the induction date because my birthday is on the 5th and she wasn't sure how much I would love being in the hospital with all kinds of vagina pains happening on my birthday. I told her you know, when you're turning 29 you don't exactly need the day off to party into oblivion and the idea of a baby being on the outside rather than the inside of my body earlier was very appealing, so we scheduled it.

On Sunday, October 4th, my husband, Palmer and my two girls and I went to church like normal, then joined my parents for my favorite pizza at SPIN, did some baby shopping at Target and hugged major hugs before Palmer drove me back to the hospital to be admitted. Last time I was induced the good old fashioned way - breaking the water. This time was all new and different. I was given a medication called "Cervidil", I believe, which softened the cervix so my body would be more ready to go when the time came.

I was given the drug, strapped to a bunch of monitors and wires and told to sleep tight. I chatted with Palmer and then he went home to sleep while he could. I brought my book (Gillian Flynn's 'Dark Places-totally light, uplifting read for a night before baby hospital stay) and loaded new games on my phone prepared to kill lots of time. I slept very restlessly because when you're as giant as a walrus trying to sleep on a hospital bed, it's hard to sleep well. So I tossed and turned and each time I moved a nurse had to readjust my monitors so they could read baby. So it was a long night.

The rest of the next day, October 5th, is a blur, honestly. I remember Isla's birth very well. I guess because it was beautifully easy. But 6 weeks after the day Atticus was born is still a bleary memory. I remember at one point getting my IV and the "IV therapy" team had to do it because I have a tendency to pass out (thanks mom). They put it in my hand and I could feel it anytime I used that hand so that sucked and made me queasy.

Here's my sexy needle hand getting ready to get in the bath. I've personally never experienced anything sexier.
I was very insistent on using essential oils in the labor and birth process so I took a bath in oils that were supposed to help prep the body for labor. Except I accidentally put too much peppermint oil in which I learned very quickly when my body felt way too hot and way too cold at the same time and I was kind of hurting but this was my one bath so I just sucked it up and told myself it was good for me. At least for my sinuses.

I get out and get help back to bed and wait for the oils to kick in. Spoiler alert: they don't. But that's ok.

They later redo my IV and relocate it into my forearm which is better for my sensitive little veins and delicate little feelings. Also, the placement in the hand was causing swelling they were concerned about so, lucky me, they called the "IV therapy" team to redo it again.

I get checked every few hours and I'm not progressing at all. My cervix is a little softer but not much and I'm not dilating. AWESOME. So then we break the water.

When they did that with Isla, I remember thinking, "Oh, THAT'S what it's like when your water breaks'. It's unmistakable. This time, dude, it was intense. Dr Mercado broke my water and we all made our passing, "woo's" because, well, it worked, but then it just didn't stop. One nurse leaned towards Dr. Mercado and stated in the form of a question, "This is copious..?" which Dr. Mercado replied with a definitive yes. That nurse then turned to grab more towels and she slipped and almost fell to the floor.

She slipped in my amniotic fluid and almost faceplanted. To this day I can't decide if I should be mortified or continue to laugh. 

Short backstory, through the last half of my pregnancy I had a pain in my upper right side that continued to get worse. I went in to get it checked out thinking it was preeclampsia, which I had with my first pregnancy. It wasn't, So it got more and more intense, especially after I ate, and they couldn't find a reason. When I got my epidural and gave feedback on my pain score, I would always reply that my pain was managed except for that pain in the upper right side. I rated it an 8-9 on the pain scale they have. One nurse, my favorite who almost biffed it in my amniotic fluid, was the only one who seemed to be aware and slightly concerned about it. It felt like an organ about to burst. When they popped my water, the pain was GONE. I was thrilled. They determined that the pain must have been the excessive fluid putting pressure on my ribs. That sucked but I was so thankful it was over.

So I was certain once they broke my water that labor would progress quickly because that's what happened last time. Right? Wrong. They checked my dilation every couple of hours and I was progressing about one centimeter every hour or two. And then I just stopped.

It was dark now on Monday, October 5th, when I was sure I would have a baby by now. I had tried different positions and essential oils and things to get this going and nothing was working. I have an iron clad cervix, is what I'm getting at.

I was so defeated. And then about 3 nurses came in and they were calmly working and explaining that baby's heart rate was reading too low and they needed to get a better read from better monitors, which means something other than the external belly monitors.

I remember holding it together until they put the oxygen mask on and laid me down to check me and use the scalp monitor. 

If you haven't had a baby before or haven't heard of those, it's hella creepy sounding, I know. And it's worse when I describe it. They have a monitor on a long swab that they screw the tiniest bit into the baby's head to get a better heart read. Awful, I know. It's really not that bad but in the moment my walls of strength were crumbling fast. I laid back with the mask on and I cried. I shook and cried and couldn't talk to explain why I was. I didn't even know why I was. I felt strong until that moment and then I felt like I just couldn't do it and my baby was going to be in trouble and things would get scary and complicated.

Eventually I calmed down and the mask came off and I sat blank faced waiting for something. Dilation, a baby, more meds, time. I don't know, I remember being so defeated. The IV had taken two tries, the overnight meds hadn't worked, the labor was progressing so slowly, the epidural also took two attempts and took over 10 minutes to complete. We started the pitocin over, I was worried about my epideral wearing off and now my baby was becoming distressed. Maybe I made a bad decision. Maybe I should have just waited for things to happen naturally, like I intended in the first place. Was I being selfish being induced? Is this what I get for being selfish and wanting to end my discomfort?

I remember sometime after that trying a position again that I had tried earlier where you put a giant stupid peanut shaped pillow between your legs and lay there. Guess what, it's called 'the peanut'. I lay there feeling like an idiot with a giant peanut between my legs and my vag out and it's creeping up on 9 oclock. We were talking about how we may not have a baby tonight, which would be fine and all but man, what a major disappointment. And we were also bringing up the idea of when to discuss a C-Section.

"Hey, the plus side, if you get a C-Section do you want to ask them to just get your tubes tied?"

....I get the logic, yes, but in the moment NO. This is NOT how this is going.

At some point while I was laying there with that giant peanut and giving them my pain scores, I noted that thought I could feel my contractions again, they weren't too painful but there was quite a bit of pain on the right side of my pelvis. Time went by and it got intense. I complained about it two more times and one nurse told me she would check where I was at. I was dilated to a 7 the hour before.

When they checked my dilation, she happily and quickly informed me that it was time to push. 

OH. OH. THAT'S WHAT THAT PAIN WAS? OH. OH MY. OK YES LET'S DO THIS. The pain was baby making his way out with his head cocked to the side, poor sweet guy. It's not dangerous, but it's painful.

 I began to shake, my teeth chattering uncontrollably and tears came running down the sides of my face. Palmer was emphatically telling me it was go time, how exciting! I continued to inform him I had no idea what was happening to me, I'm not cold, I'm not sad, I'm excited...I'm completely and totally overwhelmed.

We both frantically realized we had people to contact...really fast. The nurses were calling Dr. Mercado. We need to contact our sweet friend Leah, who we asked to take birth pictures for us, and tell her things happened super fast and she needed to get there ASAP. We also needed to text an update to the grandparents who had been waiting hours upon hours for a baby.

Something that made this birth extra special was that we planned, with our doctor's blessing obviously, to have Palmer deliver baby when he was born. So I remember this while Palmer was sending texts and I exclaim, "Palmer! You need to suit up! You need scrubs!" A nurse then scurried off to get some while the rest of the room was buzzing with people and excitement and preparation.

I remember the moment Dr Mercado came in and she was scrubbed up and ready to go. I was so worried she wouldn't be able to be there because of the timing of baby's arrival.

So seeing her stride into the room was almost maybe a teeny bit like what it may be like when the Rapture happens and Jesus strolls in. 

Less than 10 minutes later, our friend Leah who was taking pictures for us flew into the room as well. Again, I felt what I may feel in the Rapture. Total rejoicing - and relief - that she made it.

I don't remember much else except pushing for a while, longer than I expected but it wasn't too bad. My husband and the nurses were very encouraging. I remember looking up and seeing Leah snapping pictures and hoping I didn't look like the trainwreck I felt like but following it up with an internal pep talk that THAT'S WHAT THIS IS ABOUT. Just be real, damnit, and be in the moment! It's all beautiful and our sweet friend is possibly being traumatized by the sight of my vag to capture it. So suck it up.

Put on the duck lips, Amanda! Look your best! Why didn't I bring my selfie stick?!

This is a beautiful moment when baby was crowning and almost here. Palmer is intently and delicately waiting to hold him.

But let's also pause a moment to look at my giant, inflated foot. I was pumped with an enormous amount of fluid over the course of 14 hours and my feet tell all. 

And I'm so glad that my concern over my appearance was a fleeting thought because it really was wonderful. It was beautiful.
I can close my eyes and remember seeing my husband making eye contact with me and encouraging me. I remember the light behind his eyes, it was magical. I remember taking short breaks between pushes to chat and laugh and listen to the words of reassurance around me. I remember how weak and tired and pained I was but my God, the amazing ability of the human body to rally and work together.
To birth a human. To instinctively know what to do. It's incredible.

All of the sudden the pressure was gone and Palmer was cradling this GIANT BABY. This plump little giant 9lb newborn. And I lost my mind. 

This picture. This is it.

I don't remember anything else except holding him and crying and being so happy it was all over but also knowing 100% I would repeat every moment of that day to get this moment again. 

That's just pure love in those eyes.

The best birthday present ever.

Calling my mom. She could hear baby fussing on the phone. There is just nothing like a newborn baby's cry and knowing it's yours.

Wendy's has never, ever tasted so good.
I have to thank our friend Leah Evans for taking these pictures for us. She's incredibly talented and I was so grateful that she would capture this beautiful day for us. Thank you!!


  1. Such a great retelling and such beautiful pictures! You looked amazing, Amanda! :)

  2. Beautiful story. Thanks for telling it, Amanda.