Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Nora's arrival, part 1--the calm before the storm.

On the whole, my pregnancy was pretty easy. Sure, weeks 6-16 featured monster "morning" sickness that extended all day and reduced me to huffing vanilla in public. But once I got into the second trimester, it was pretty much smooth sailing.

It was fortunate that I was feeling good, because I had a lot to do. You may have noticed a severe drop off in posting around the first of the year. That's because my job market process kicked into high gear around then. I was flying to interviews all over the place, including a few in Europe. My last flight was just a week before the airlines would start refusing to let me on the plane. And I felt pretty good, albeit a little tired. I wasn't particularly huge (go tall lady!), and I managed to avoid a lot of the third trimester discomfort that most women experience.

No sooner had I finished the interview circuit, and I had to turn my attention to defending my dissertation. The goal was to finish my thesis, send it to my committee, and do the oral defense before the Goober arrived and changed our lives forever. I set the date for 2 weeks before my due date, figuring that either the Goober would hold off until I finished, or I'd have a great story to tell.

The process of defending the dissertation is remarkably anti-climatic. You turn in the thesis 1o days before the defense. You give an hour long talk. They ask some questions. They pass you. Frankly, by the time you get to the oral defense, they've already decided you should graduate. In my case, I already had a job lined up. They couldn't fail me. At the same time, I wanted the talk to be worthwhile. It seemed silly to work so hard for six years and give a lousy, half-assed talk at the end. So in the week or so between when I handed the draft to my committee and when I had to defend, I planned to make my talk really shine.

But during that week, things started going down hill. I was having some difficulty getting the talk in order. I had to present considerable background, plus three very different models in less than an hour. Plus, my luck seemed to be running out, pregnancy-wise. I was feeling extraordinarily tired. My feet were swelling up. Over the weekend, I felt so sick that I thought I was coming down with the flu. On Monday, our traditional beer night, I seriously considered staying home, because I didn't think I could make it all the way downtown. The walk took a lot out of me, and I got a ride home. I couldn't concentrate on my talk for more than a few minutes at a time. I did the best I could, and figured it would have to do. I thought that it must just be the third trimester creeping up on me. After all, women are supposed to be uncomfortable near the end, right?

My talk was on Tuesday. I felt ok that morning--better than I had been feeling in the days before. I picked up the paper work I needed and tested out the equipment. Ross handled all of the snacks, and set up a feed so my parents could watch my talk. The talk itself went very well, though I felt pretty distracted throughout. I felt really hot up on stage, and a couple of times I lost my train of thought. I had to take a seat for the questions at the end, and I was so warm that I felt kind of faint.

I spent Wednesday making some of the corrections my committee wanted done. My goal was to have them done by Friday.

My OB checkup was scheduled for Thursday at 3 pm. That day, Ross and I went on a walk after lunch. We were planning to have one more cocktail party that weekend, before the baby came. Ross wanted some raspberry sugar for a special cocktail he was concocting, so we walked to Kerrytown. I was tired enough when we got down there that I contemplated staying there until my appointment and then cutting across--saving a small amount of walking. But there was a seminar I wanted to attend, so I trudged back to campus. I remember thinking that I was lucky that the bad part of pregnancy had held off for so long--I had only 10 days to my due date, and I was just starting to feel lousy. Famous last words.

After my seminar, I dragged myself down to the OB clinic. It's only a mile or so from campus to the university hospital, where the clinic is located. I had been walking a lot throughout my pregnancy--both because of my travel schedule and because we just like to walk more than we like to drive. I'd walked to all of my OB appointments--a fact that baffled the folks at the clinic desk. So a mile would normally be a trivial distance for me. In fact, we'd joked that I could just walk to the hospital when I went into labor. But that day I was feeling pretty bad--and we'd already walked all the way downtown and back--so I seriously contemplated taking the bus. In the end, I decided to walk, not so much because I wanted to, but rather because I didn't feel up to figuring out which bus to take down. Since I never left the hospital after I checked into the OB clinic, I'm able to say that I did walk to the hospital for delivery after all.