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The initiation of Jackson Eric Dollar
Every New Yearís Eve, in sentimental homage, I think back to all the
events and celebrations large and small, Iíve taken part in to
commemorate the passing of the years. Up to this point, the night we
spent at the Hyatt downtown, amidst all appropriate glitz and glamour,
held top honors for the most memorable. December 31st, 1997, however,
blew all contenders out of the water, probably for the next 30 years as
well. As the ball dropped and the time zone rejoiced, Eric and I calmly
pulled out of the parking lot at Grindstone Charlieís, heading for the
Meijer store down the street.
Earlier that day, I had gotten up to prepare for my appointment,
thinking to myself that most likely, this would be "the" day. I felt my
body and baby were quite ready, and was planning on having the doctor
perform a little "procedure" at my 11:00 appointment, to ideally
stimulate labor (sometimes does, sometimes doesnít). Although not
officially "due" until the following day, I had finally decided that, if
at all possible, we should try to slip the little guy out in time for
the tax deduction this year. I guess itís going to have to come out of
Mild contractions did start around noon, but I had been having those for
several weeks so, although quite hopeful, I wasnít pulling out the
stopwatch just yet. I went about my regular day with the girls
(daughters Zoe & Alexi, 5 & 4), called my Mom, and attempted to pack a
few things. I was a little disappointed I couldnít call Eric and tell
him to run home from work early to have a baby that afternoon, but I
humbly acknowledged it may take a while to get things going. Plenty of
time until midnight!
With each passing hour, I got a little more discouraged. Eric had come
home from work at the usual time, and we applied some "home remedies" I
had read about to stimulate labor. (Who knows what affect they really
had, but they were good for morale.) But by seven I decided I probably
wasnít going to get my wish that night, so we would just go out to eat
and maybe stop by a friendís party later. I was pretty tired by then so
I decided to lie down for a short while before taking the kids to Momís.
When I emerged from the bedroom an hour later, I told Eric I was going
to call the doula, because it looked like we were going to have this
baby after all. It was quite strange. As the contractions finally
intensified, I found myself calm, though totally disoriented. I was
trying to finish packing the suitcases, but it seems I could barely see
straight, running around here and there forgetting what I was doing.
Eric of course commented that that was nothing unusual for me.
Although a little uncomfortable, we had a nice dinner at Grindstone
Charlieís. I figured I should get my sustenance while I could, because
there would probably be a starvation policy in place at the hospital. We
spent an hour or so there chatting with a couple who seemed quite taken
with the fact that I was in labor (opposed to the waiter, who seemed to
think we had all year!) We contemplated their suggestions for baby
names, and discussed whether we wanted to go to the party, or wait out
the last half hour of the year there in the bar. (Stubborn little brat!
Oh well.) The contractions had gotten slowly but consistently stronger.
I decided that I needed to walk, and I wanted to go. There was just a
couple minutes left before midnight. "Who cares!" It was cold out, and
the only place I could think of to go walking, that would still be open
at this hour on New Yearís Eve, was Meijer. Good old 24-hour Meijer! I
could even pick up some stuff for the baby while I was there. A couple
minutes later, Eric and I stole a kiss as we left the parking lot.
By the time I waddled back to the baby department, I was alternately
pacing and pausing, trying to alleviate this intermittent "pain-like
discomfort". Eric looked at basketball shoes; I picked out baby clothes.
Eric looked for slippers; I went up front to find a comfortable chair.
Eventually the manager noticed me sitting there in the only padded chair
for miles, trying to be inconspicuous.
"Are you okay? Do you want me to call somebody?"
"Oh no, Iím fine. Just waiting for my husband."
Well, the next person who asked, I sent back to find Eric and tell him
it was time to go! Still fine, but wanting to go to the hospital to get
"checked". My first two children were induced, so this was my first
experience with spontaneous labor. Not really feeling confident in my
own ability to assess my progress, I worried that if I misjudged and
waited too long, my doula wouldnít make it to the birth or, worse yet, I
wouldnít even make it to the hospital until the last excruciating
second! Didnít want that. I just wanted to get settled, and get this
show on the road.
I told the nurse when I arrived that I was there to be "checked", and
that they might decide to send me home. I thought there might be a
possibility of my misjudging the labor because I had never done this
before, and the pain was still quite tolerable. Turns out I was a good
4-5 centimeters. From that point on, I followed my instincts without
hesitation. That however, didnít entirely work to my advantage by the
time all was said and done.
Initially, I received my first, and it turns out only, internal exam,
and we ran a strip on the baby with the external monitor. He sounded
great, and I was having strong, steady contractions about two minutes
apart. After about 20 minutes I got up to take a walk and wait for
Kristin, my doula, to arrive. (A doula is a labor support person who
helps and comforts the woman or couple during labor. An invaluable
asset! I actually met mine on an e-mailing list for Doulas. A
coincidence that she lived here and worked at this hospital! This list
has people from all over the world!) I had taken the time beforehand to
prepare a detailed "birth plan" outlining my preferences and how I would
like my labor and delivery to proceed. This included a precipitous,
unmedicated birth. I was in charge, well prepared, and quite optimistic!
Since I had discussed it with my doctor, and had he and his alternate
both sign it, the nurses didnít bat an eye. In fact our nurse, Liz, took
the time to get me a pop before she left, since I had specified that I
be allowed to eat and drink if I felt the need. Good thing too, because
I seemed to have an incredibly powerful thirst for about the next 24
Chatting happily with Eric, I paced up and down the halls of the "Family
Rooms". This was a brand new, often described as "hotel-like" facility,
in the very same hospital which hosted my own birth 30 years before.
This was a stark contrast to those days however, evoking jealous lament
from my mother over the 15 cozy, private LDPR rooms (labor, delivery,
recovery and post-partum) decorated in all the latest colors and
comforts. (Just one of the benefits of living in a fairly large and
I stopped at the nurses station to request the birth ball, which I was
hoping was not already in use since they had only one. Surprisingly, the
nurse said she didnít think anyone had ever used it before (I knew
however, it had been used by women utilizing the doula services provided
by the hospital). They set about trying to wash and sanitize this great
big awkward thing before handing it over. As Eric and I were bouncing
and kicking it across the carpet, Kristin stepped off the elevator. In
her usual style, she told me I looked great, and was doing so well, and
everything I wanted to hear that gave me the confidence to do this. The
three of us and this giant rubber ball lumbered down the hallway to room
five, excited and ready to have a baby.
We hung around the room, chatting and pacing as the contractions,
already quite strong, grew increasingly stronger. (My recollections get
a little fuzzy from this point on, but I think I can re-create the
experience.) I experimented sitting and leaning on the ball, the nurse
came back and we ran another strip with the monitor, and eventually my
(17 year old) sister Erin came in with her friend Suzy. Also during this
time, I had told Eric to go ahead and take a nap because Kristin was
with me, and it may be awhile before things got more serious. I have no
idea how long this period lasted, but it turns out I was wrong about
having time for a nap.
We had checked in at about 1:20 in the morning. At 3:30, while pacing
back and forth and chatting with Erin, Suzy and Kristin, my water broke.
(Good thing I was wearing one of those gi-mongus pads they give you.
Erin was on the phone with our sis Jody at the time and said something
like "Oh yuck! Is it all over the floor?!") Now, there are two things I
should have done at this point. One was to wake Eric up (asleep on the
"husbandís couch" there in the room), and two was to send Erin home to
get my Mom and Jody, who wanted to witness the blessed event. Inside, I
knew what this meant, but I was slightly uncertain and preoccupied, so I
kept quiet. All I could think was that now the contractions were going
to get much worse. Oh dread! I had read enough birth stories to know
that this was often a catalyst to labor. I knew my moment was at hand!
Oh no! Ow Ow! Guess I should have shared the revelation with someone
else, because apparently I was the only one aware!
I sat on the ball through a couple contractions and then decided to use
the bathroom. When I was finished, I leaned over the sink and thought to
myself "Ow ow! I donít know if I can do this! I donít want to do this
anymore!" Then, knowing the signs, I laughed to myself (after the
contraction was over of course!) "Hey, transition! Cool, Iím almost
done!" I came out and said something to that effect to Kristin. She
didnít realize that, even though I was joking, I was serious about
entering transition! Sitting on the birth ball and leaning against the
foot of the bed, I began to moan and feel slightly nauseous, and was
having trouble catching my breath during the frequent, though mercifully
short contractions. I told Erin she should go get Mom now. I think she
was glad for the excuse to leave, as things were rapidly becoming more
and more unpleasant! Itís a less than 5 minute trip from the hospital to
Momís house, but as Erin and Suzy left the room, I knew it was too late.
When I had called Mom upon check-in, she told me I was too worked up and
should go home and take a nap. Uh-huh. She had been through childbirth
11 times on her own. She should have known better! This baby was on his
From that point on, with each contraction my voice got louder and
louder. I must say, never in my life have I heard myself scream like
that. It was wild. Extremely powerful and overwhelming. This is about
the time Eric woke up. I just remember him being at my side. I put my
right arm around his neck and leaned back. Funny, at the time I realized
I was screaming in his ear. I felt bad about that, but he wasnít
complaining. I was still sitting on the ball at the foot of the bed, and
Kristin was behind me, holding me up as I leaned back with each
contraction. (I never considered that labor "support" might mean
literally! What a woman!) I knew things were happening, and it was
encouraging. I could feel progress with every contraction and that
eliminated much of the fear. I was actually doing it! (Ouch!) I was also
kind of in my own little world. The nurse came in about then and said
she was going to check me. I just said "There ainít no way Iím laying
down for that!" Okey-doke! She didnít argue. She did however, reach down
and put her hands on me, then got up very quickly. I asked "So where are
we?" As she ran out the door she said "eight." It was right about then
that Eric kissed me on the forehead and said "Geez babe, heís got hair!"
(I distinctly remember the wondrous sparkle in his eyes.) I had merely
asked "where we were" because the nurse hadnít said anything. Donít know
why she said eight! Trying to psyche me out or something! I had felt
the pushing contractions start, about 4 contractions before the nurse
came in. I knew I was close and had been waiting for them
At first the feeling was kind of vague. I expected,
based on other womenís stories Iíd read, for the pain to simply be
replaced by another sensation. Nope. Just a new pain on top of the old
one. A very powerful pain at that! It didnít really occur to me to stop
it, or call for the doctor or anything. I was doing just fine and could
have birthed the baby right there on my own. Eric would have caught him.
Too bad it couldnít have worked out that way.
What did happen was, that after planning for so long, and achieving
every goal I had thus far, I lost control. Rather, it was taken from me.
I had stated that following my instincts had not entirely worked to my
advantage. Well, in retrospect, I see that if I had enlisted the help of
a nurse just a little earlier, I would have been able to maintain more
control over what went on. Instead, I caught everyone off guard and the
staff was in a panic. Not being "ready", they didnít really know what to
do, so they just went with the old standard. The intern who "delivered"
the baby certainly didnít have time to read my birth plan! My original,
very understanding and forward-thinking doctor, just happened to be out
of town for the holiday, and his replacement (whom I had contacted
before leaving Meijer) was 20 minutes away! Someone did finally think to
call her after the birth though.
After Liz had "checked" me, and "called ( ! )" for the doctor, things
really picked up. All I remember is one nurse flying by telling me to
"breath through it honey", and Kristin immediately leaning forward and
saying "Just do what your body tells you, Janette." Even in the midst of
everything, that struck me as funny (the contradiction). I wasnít about
to "breath through it!" (Meaning "pant, donít push, just wait for us".
This illustrates the difference between help from the hospital staff,
and help from your exclusive support person!) It seems to me to be the
ultimate cruelty to insist a woman "breath through" a sensation so
powerful and painful, because the staff doesnít know how to "catch" a
baby without all their fancy equipment at the ready! (As if it is a
production they are directing!) I donít think I could have stopped the
pushing if I tried. I wasnít really actively pushing at that point. My
body was doing it all and I wasnít stopping it!
Somehow there appeared around me a myriad of kindly, nervous, loud
women, all insisting that I move to the bed. What? Why?! I was so
comfortable on the ball, leaning back against Kristin almost
horizontally through every contraction. I know Kristin was working
pretty hard, but she wasnít complaining, and it was working for me!!
Actually, I was simply afraid the effort of getting up and moving would
result in more unnecessary, excruciating pain. I could see their point
though. I must have looked pretty unstable, not to mention I was making
quite a mess all over the ball and the floor. It honestly wouldnít have
been a problem delivering "on the ball," and if this had been a home
birth I would have, but the doctor and nurses couldnít handle such a
thing. So after a contraction or two, I gave in and they picked me up by
my limbs and placed me squarely on my back at the end of the bed. In all
the hubub no one thought to break down the bed, so even though the head
of the bed was raised, I was at the foot, so I couldnít sit up. At that
point I was in too deep to care. I couldnít think of anything but what
my body was doing. Itís a shame, because this was the point I had been
looking forward to and preparing for all these months. I was going to
watch as my babyís head and body emerged, and take him into my arms as
soon as he was free. I wanted to cuddle him and look into his eyes, and
feel the warm steamy feeling of his soft new body. I had never done that
before, and I knew this was my last chance. I wanted to witness my sonís
first miracle, and share these first moments of joy with him. But thatís
not what happened.
I pushed once or twice and his head was out. It felt like it already
was. It was hard for me to tell! Then they kept telling me I had to push
to get the shoulders out. I was waiting for the next contraction (or
maybe they just stopped due to my position), and wanted to rest for a
minute, but they kept telling me "Youíve got to push now!" So then I
did. One long hard push, and both shoulders popped out (I felt that!) I
asked "Is he out now?" Not quite. Whoa, thereís the body. Now they had
him. Three fifty-eight A M, New Years Day 1998. Nobody really said
anything, so I asked to make sure he was a boy. (Ultrasound at 20 weeks
said so.) I heard the doctor ask for a cord clamp, and I immediately
said "No! Donít clamp." I felt the transitional time was important for
the baby to get a good start at breathing and maintaining his oxygen
level. I said it again "Donít clamp!" The doctor said "We need to." and
clamped off our cord. Eric then looked at me as if to apologize, and
went to cut it. I donít tolerate being blown off very well, but in that
position, what could I do?(The only thing about the entire experience
that really angers me!) I asked for the baby, and Eric and Kristin both
said "Give her the baby. Put him on her stomach." So they brought him
up. He was all covered in blood, and they wrapped a little blanket
around him and started rubbing as they laid him on me. He was cute. Not
bloated or misshapen (as my girls had been). A respectable covering of
dark baby hair, an adorable heart-shaped jaw and chin, expressive mouth,
and dark, curious bright-open eyes. A little blue and floppy, but he was
alert and making cute little baby sounds. From my prone position it was
kind of tough, but I tried to cradle him. The nurses kept rubbing him
and saying "We need to take himÖ"
"I just want to hold him and look at him for a minute"
"Öto warm him upÖ" "I can keep him warm just fine."
"Öto check him outÖ" "He seems okay to me."
"Öheís not cryingÖ" "Good. Heís not distressed. Heís talking to me
"We need to give him oxygenÖ"
"Oh. I guess he is still a little bluish. Okay." Too bad he hadnít
gotten that extra oxygen from his cord! So they took him.
Well now that all the excitement was passed, they thought to get out the
stirrups and all to "patch me up". I hate that part more than anything
else (pain included!) But I must acknowledge it is rather important.
Everything was fine until those shoulders came out. Yowch! Life isnít
exactly fair in that particular department. The placenta had passed
without much fanfare, but boy, what a relief! (It was huge!) I was
really disappointed though, that I didnít feel immediately terrific as
promised by all the natural childbirth enthusiasts. Canít quite figure
that one out. The hospital staff is probably still scratching their
heads over why, after all the hard part is done, NOW I ask for drugs!
But I did. My baby was safely out of the way, so now I could pop all the
pills I wanted and not worry about them affecting him. It was a serious
ache I had, which I know I didnít have after my two previous "unnatural"
births. Go figure. (I still felt it was more than worth it though! He
was a healthy 8.5 lbs, same as my first.) I can remember asking the
nurses about the other moms there at the time. I felt a profound sense
of empathy toward these women, still going through labor in rooms
nearby. "The poor, poor things, I hope itís over for them soon" I
thought. Now, several weeks later, time has softened the memory a bit,
but I know it was extremely trying if for no other reason than the
memory of that deep and sincere commiseration. I was also exhausted. I
took only one of the two codeine tablets they offered, for fear it would
put me to sleep, and I wanted to go down to see "the baby" (as yet
unnamed). I washed it down with a couple gallons of orange juice and
Mom, Jody and Erin came in and we sat around with Kristin, relaxing and
talking about the night. (The nurse commented that she was going to
start using that ball more often!) Jody had been at home baking me some
cinnamon rolls (hit the spot!) thinking it would be several hours before
the babe made his entrance. Not! I was sorry they had missed everything,
but I think it worked out better that way. I had felt pretty comfortable
with all present, though I think a few more might have been a
distraction I didnít need. It wasnít exactly the calm, peaceful Bradley
birth I had ideally envisioned. But actually, overall, I was very
pleased. It was really only the last 15 minutes or so that things got
crazy. Other than that, it was almost easy. (Stress- "almost!") I
attribute my relative "success" to the fact that I was well prepared,
and informed enough to have the confidence that I knew what I was doing,
and could trust my body. Kristin had been instrumental in helping me
learn about the natural quality of birth, and encouraging me to trust my
knowledge and instincts regarding the entire process. That is where she
helped me out the most. Many women need much more of the "hands-on" help
for comfort during labor. She had done such a good job of reassuring me
and helping me prepare, that I was relatively independent when it came
to the actual event. (It also helped that it wasnít long and drawn out
like it is for many.) I think the biggest difference between this birth
and the previous two, was that before, it was something that "was
happening to me", supervised and directed by the medical staff. This
time, it was something that "I was doing!"
I was pretty groggy still after an hour or so, so I decided to take the
other pill and go to sleep. I just didnít have the strength to make it
down to the nursery. But, as it turns out, that other pill was just what
I needed. It enabled me to relax. With that and a little bit of time, my
head cleared and I really woke up. I was excited, and Mom & Kristin and
I sat in the dark room and talked until about six. At that time, Mom and
Kristin went home, and Eric finally took me down to see our son.
I was disappointed when I got there though. They had him under an oxygen
tent due to "rapid breathing", and I wasnít allowed to hold him. (Just
play with his feet which were sticking out of the tent. And of course
that set off his monitor alarms.) Obviously they wouldnít let me nurse
him, so they gave us the option of putting a tube down his throat, or
having the nurse give him a bottle. Heís a good boy. He promptly spit
the formula up all over the nurseís hand. Guess I wasnít the only one
resentful of this intrusion! I really wanted to be the first to feed
him. (I could have scrubbed up!) They did let us hold him at our next
visit several hours later. Not sure what was so different that time
around! I then was able to help as he was given his first "bath", which
he did not like, but I enjoyed! (Even screaming, he was adorable.) The
hospital had a rooming-in policy, and only the babies who needed
"special care" stayed in the nursery. They were also concerned about his
seemingly lethargic nature. Actually he just wanted to sleep for the
first couple days, and is just naturally a calm baby. (He takes after
his mommy on that one.) So our little guy stayed in the nursery, mostly
hooked to wires under that silly tent, until after 5 that evening. When
he did finally come to us, he had a whole slew of family and friends
waiting to see him!
That afternoon, before the baby was freed, Eric and I discussed names.
We had searched our minds and memories, scoured more than half a dozen
baby books, and fielded countless suggestions during the previous nine
long months. Girls names were easy; we had plenty of those. But since
the ultrasound at 20 weeks gestation, we had been expecting a boy.
(Really from the moment we decided to have a third child.) We had two
near-perfect daughters and needed to round out the picture! Mason,
Gregory, Thomas. Nicholas, Niko, Brian. The girls liked Jackson. So did
we, but itís become a little trendy. But it sounds good. Jackson Eric
Dollar. It wasnít daddyís first choice (Gregory), but he didnít feel
right putting it off any longer! We had a winner! And at 8:00 PM, at one
day old, we got to take him home.
-by Janette Greene Dollar
Please feel free to email me with
comments or questions!
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