Early in the morning on Tuesday, December 10th, Daddy and I headed into the hospital buzzing with excitement to meet our baby boy. I changed into one of those oh-so-stylish hospital gowns—pale, non-descript in color with a dizzying geometric print all over it, nearly identical to those worn by patients in every hospital I’ve ever worked in. Who designs that fabric anyway?
My cheerful nurse started the IV and hung the Pitocin to start contractions, and Daddy and I talked and laughed and reveled in our growing excitement until the contractions became strong enough to interrupt our conversation. I stood at the side of the bed for a while and swayed my hips back and forth, and your Daddy pushed hard into my lower back to ease the pain. Before long, I climbed back up into the bed where I could rest between contractions.
And here is where I gush about how much I love your Daddy. This pregnancy and birthing business is not easy on the man that I married. Medicine and hospitals make him anxious. Three times now I have been lucky enough to have relatively easy, uneventful pregnancies, and all three times your father has spent the ten months from when I happily told him a baby was coming until the day we took our baby home tempering his excitement with a healthy dose of worry. But on the day that you were born, when I closed my eyes to let the waves of pain wash over me, I fell in love with your Daddy all over again. He was calm and patient and unendingly helpful—getting me ice chips and cool washcloths and very literally fanning me with the homemade fan Bug made for me to take to the hospital. I sat in the bed with my legs bent, and he dutifully pushed my knees toward my body during every contraction, pressing my hips just enough toward the back of the bed to ease some of the pain. He is just the very best man. Try to be like him, ok?
Once labor progressed enough to be distractingly painful, I wasn’t terribly social. I found, sort of to my surprise I guess, that breathing slowly and audibly through my nose like I do during yoga was calming during contractions. The waves of pain never lasted more than 5 very slow breaths, so I counted my breathing to manage each one.
I had epidurals when your sibings were born, and those births were beautiful and perfect and I wouldn’t change a thing. I am grateful beyond words for the advances in modern medicine that allow me the privilege of walking out of the hospital healthy and with beautiful babies. That relief for the excruciating pain of childbirth exists is a beautiful miracle. On the day you were born, I had agreed to the epidural when we arrived at the hospital, but I had also considered the idea of skipping the medication this time. My thoughts weren’t part of some social statement or exercise in self-punishment, it was just that I was nearly positive I could do it without that extra intervention. Delivering your siblings happened quickly and uneventfully, and I figured I could avoid giving the anesthesiologist a thousand of our hard earned dollars if things went well. (You know, high deductible plans and whatnot.) The thought of suffering through a contraction or two hunched over and trying to hold perfectly still while the epidural was placed was just enough motivation to keep me focused, and before I knew it (about five hours from the time we arrived at the hospital), I was dilated to seven centimeters.
From delivering the Bug and Mr. Baggins, I knew that the transition portion of labor typically goes very, very fast for me. With both of your siblings, I went from seven centimeters to having a screaming baby on my chest in about 45 minutes. My experience with you was no different, only this time I was experiencing everything without the benefit of pain relief. The advanced stages of labor were incredibly intense. I remember looking at the clock at 1:00 in the afternoon, wracked with the pain of strong contractions coming one on top of the other, and saying to your daddy, “he’ll be here by two. I just know it.”
I was right.
While I had been nearly silent for the first 5 hours of labor, I found myself moaning and crying out quite a bit in the last 30 minutes. The nurses (who were AH-MAZ-ING) called for our doctor to come from his office across the parking lot to get ready for the big event. Swamped with something at the office, he sent his medical student (who I had met at my appointment the day before) because, as he put it, “things might go fast for her.”
That proved to be the understatement of the year.
To be continued...