Since we’ve just celebrated the Pea’s first birthday her actual birth has been dominating my thoughts lately. (And, it still feels surreal to me.)
Why save all the goods for the end:
I didn’t bother writing a birth plan because nothing stayed on plan with my first delivery. I thought it would be easier, for my sanity, to just roll with the punches. Well, besides the epidural. I totally banked on having an epidural. I’d already experienced labor pains, and failed at my attempt for a ‘natural’ child-birth. There was no point in pretending I’m tougher than I am.
It’s a bit fuzzy- I’m not sure if I ever feel asleep Sunday night. I went to bed having random painful contractions and timed them for a while. They were super far apart and I thought resting would make them stop. But, at 5:30 the contractions were still rolling in: still random and still painful. And I was sick of staring at the clock.
Eric woke up to me rustling about in the dark, packing bags for the next morning, and starting timing my contractions. When he announced they were 5 mins apart, I initially thought he was either: a. full of shit or b. timing them wrong. They had been no closer than 14 minutes the entire night. But, I put a call into the midwife anyway.
Eric decided I needed a decent breakfast and got busy in the kitchen making eggs and veggie sausage. I went to pee and discovered my bloody show. Then I got kind of nervous and uncomfortable in the bathroom because I’ve watched way too many episodes of I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant. So, I finished up in there pronto.
I called my mom to wake her up so she could watch the Danger-man. She came downstairs to find me mid-contraction and climbing on the coffee table. (Like that would help me escape the pain?) Eric plopped my beautiful breakfast in front of me while I waited for the midwife to call me back. I didn’t take a single bite. Not for lack of trying, I just couldn’t sit still. Not even long enough to pick up the fork.
We decided to head for the hospital and hope the midwife called me back before we got there. I didn’t grab my coat and nearly bit Eric’s head on for even suggesting I should. At the time, it seemed like an obviously ludicrous idea. (I’m sorry, my love!) I sat on my knees, hugging the seat, the 20 or so blocks to our hospital. Judge me if you will, but it was the only way I could stay in my seat, or even in the car. Fight or flight. Eric asked what he could do to help and I responded: don’t fucking touch me. (Again, I’m sorry.) Luckily, he took me at my word. Even though I feel bad about it now, I truly meant it then.
We arrived at the hospital and started navigating the labyrinth to labor and delivery. I stopped short of marking our way with arrows written in red lipstick. I was sure if I did someone or something would poke their head through the floor and turn the arrows around anyway. We stopped every two minutes so I could clutch the wall and power through a contraction.
Luckily, we ran across a security guard who helped to point us in the right direction. Unluckily, for him, he asked if I needed a wheelchair. More ludicrous suggestions. This was not a movie; there’s no need to be so dramatic. (My brain might be broken: I will beg for an epidural but I will not be pushed in a wheelchair.)
We made it to labor and delivery and they had a room ready for me. (My midwife DID get my message, even if she never returned the call.) The first thing I asked was how long it would take to get the epidural. The nurse laughed, grabbed a hospital gown and helped me to the bathroom. She closed the door to ‘give me privacy’ and I nearly screamed though the crack in the door: I don’t want privacy, I want a effing epidural. I have never changed so fast in my life. I couldn’t focus enough to tie the stings in the back. I couldn’t care less. I lost all modesty already, nearly 4 years before.
The clock read 6:30. And, things get fuzzy again. I asked over and over for an epidural. They convinced me to lay down long enough to check my dilation (5 cm) and hook me up to shit: I’m not sure what. But it wasn’t an epidural. At some point I shouted fuck. It shocked my poor nurses, but it felt good so, I said it a few more times. Then I paired it with holy and that became my go to phrase. Eric seemed so far away (he really took me at my word, poor guy.) My body was shaking uncontrollably. The nurses, tried to hook me up to an IV 4 times and failed each time. (I learned this is vital if you are indeed going to get an epidural.)
My midwife stormed into the room, grabbed a chair and sat down backwards. You know, with her legs spread wide, leaning forward with her arms draped over the back; like she thought she was one of the cool boys in highschool. And she just watched me. I wanted to punch her in the face. Next, the anesthesiologist arrived and to this day I would swear he was surrounded by the glow of holy light. Until he opened his mouth.
It took me what seems like an eternity to work out I would not actually be getting an epidural. It was too late. Things were happening too fast. And I refused to get in the bed. Getting in bed would mean giving up. It would mean that I agreed to suffer through this to the end, sans pain relief. And that thought scared the hell out of me. (Like I’ve said, judge me if you will.)
Finally, my midwife spoke: “get in bed right now.” I obeyed but not without begging for a few minutes longer. The midwife tried to reassure me that this was going to happen a lot faster than I thought. I’m not even gonna lie: I used the line from Knocked Up: I won’t push. The anesthesiologist took his leave with a parting shot: you can do this: you’re already doing this. And I wanted to punch him in the face. The midwife checked me and I was at an 8. It was just before 7:10. My midwife then explained, once she broke my water I’d be fully dilated and ready to push.
I scanned faces for Eric. He looked as terrified as I felt so, I didn’t look at him again. The t.v. was on (seriously, WTF?) and it kept drawing my eye. It was programmed to the Home Shopping Network. (It’s crazy what I remember clearly and what I don’t, right?) I know this was this was the only clear thought I had in hour: “what kind of masochist watches HSN in the delivery room.” Thankfully, someone turned it off.
My nurse called me back down to reality by saying: “just look into my eyes.” At first I thought she was nuts. But, I did as she said and I calmed down instantly. She was this tiny, frail, woman with soft looking skin, curly black hair and square framed glasses. And (brace yourself for corniness 3.2.1) the kindest blue eyes. I looked into her eyes and seriously thought: this is what my Grandma’s eyes would look like if I had a Grandma. Every time I looked away I would start to panic again. So, I just kept looking into her eyes.
My midwife broke my water. I pushed. And, it was such a relief to push so, I kept pushing. I pushed through 3 contractions. This time, I didn’t need any reassurance, knew I was doing it right. I felt the ring of fire and pushed harder. And then my Sweetpea was here.
Her first item of business in the outside world was to poop on the nurse. Then she was snuggling on my belly. I couldn’t believe how beautiful she was. I finally chanced a look at Eric again and he was laughing and crying. And I fell in love with him all over again. I held her and kissed her and nursed her. But, I couldn’t actually comprehend that I was holding my baby. It was so surreal. It was just before 7:25. Then I said that first thing that came to mind: “Can I have drugs now?” I was only half-joking.
And, I couldn’t stop shaking for hours. Something about endorphins. (I didn’t really listen.)
Eric held his daughter for the first time and I witnessed the exact second she wrapped him right around her little finger, irrevocably.
The Danger-man skipped pre-school and came to meet his little sister for the first time. She was nursing when he walked in so I unlatched her so he could peek at her face. Of course she started crying. When I explained she was crying because she was hungry he said in his (almost) 4-year-old wisdom: “Well, let’s take her home and feed her then!”
Sidenote: We were lucky that she decided to make a quick exit. My midwife showed me that there was a loose knot in her cord. If we had a long labor/delivery it would have cinched and cut off her oxygen.