This week, I’m going to be telling the stories of how Sprout and Little Bird were born. For two babies born in the same place in the same way, the births of my two sons could not have been more different.
It was three days after Sprout’s due date. My abdomen kept getting rock hard. The feeling was sporadic, but I had been more than a centimeter dilated a few days earlier. Just in case, I called my family.
“I think I might be going into labor,” I said. They must have heard, “I am going to have the baby right this minute,” because they traveled down to see us as fast as possible.
But when they arrived seven hours later, I wasn’t in labor. That night, I still wasn’t in labor. The next day, still not in labor.
Instead of greeting a beautiful baby, my parents, in-laws and sister-in-law were just sitting around, staring at my belly.
Logically, they decided the best course of action was to take the hugely pregnant lady on a mile-long walk. Normally, this walk would be a lovely stroll on a sunny June afternoon. Instead every inch was a grind. While I’m usually waiting on my mother-in-law, I was panting and dragging my legs to keep up.
The next day, everyone was terribly sick of waiting and dispersed to do their own thing. Chris and I decided to go to the movies, one of the last times we figured we would be able to do so for a long, long time. (We were right.) Unfortunately, the only movie out at the time was the rather abysmal Man of Steel, but at least I didn’t feel bad when I had to get up to pee in the middle of it.
My sleep that night was that of a heavily pregnant woman – uncomfortable and never quite right. But something woke me at 4 AM – a puddle of wet. I poked Chris, squinted and said, “Hey, Chris. Hey. I think my water broke.”
The contractions were steady and slow to build, far more obvious than my fake ones while being tolerable enough for me to take a shower. We headed off to the hospital at a leisurely pace.
Once there, the nurses told me my doctor instructed them to give me Pitocin to speed along the labor process. Convinced that my labor was proceeding just fine on its own, thank you very much, I pushed back. I wasn’t rushing my labor because the doctor wanted to go home early. “Ask him if it’s medically necessary. I don’t want it if it’s not medically necessary.”
While they waited for him to respond, they confined me to the bed for monitoring. Every contraction made me twist in pain. The main reason I didn’t want an epidural is because I wanted to be able to move around. Because epidurals numb the lower half of your body, you’re stuck in the bed once you get one. Every minute in the bed was the worst.
Finally, the nurses returned. I didn’t need the Picotin after all. Good riddance.
I started pacing the hallways, fending off the pain with a series of moans. As I walked, the anaestheiologist – a dude, of course – commented, “It won’t be long until she calls me.” I took that as a personal challenge.
Instead of drugs, I bounced on the yoga ball like a maniac and clutched my teddy bear so tight I’m surprised the stuffing didn’t pop out. For eight full hours.
Suddenly, the urge to push flooded my system. I screamed “The baby is coming!!” at Chris. Any and all lessons I learned from prenatal yoga promptly abandoned me.
But the doctor wasn’t there yet and the nurses had stepped out. I believed I was going to give birth with only Chris in the room, but he talked me down, in the ever-narrowing moments between contractions.
The nurses eventually meandered back in, checked me, and declared it wasn’t time to push yet. “What?!” My eyes almost bugged out of my head Wiley E. Coyote-style. “Are you sure?” A couple minutes later, they were sure.
The first push came with a rib-cage rattling scream. The nurse scolded me, saying, “Use that energy to push!” So the next time and the one after that, I choked it back. I swallowed and channeled everything into getting that baby out.
Ten minutes later, my son emerged into the world. He cried and then calmed down, taking in the new world around him. We had just become parents.
What was your experience becoming a parent?