In honor of J's 2nd birthday tomorrow (!!), today for the first time I'm actually writing down his birth story. It's not that anything strange or scary happened, but seeing as how it was one of the most beautiful days of our life I think it's worth commemorating. It's funny, I couldn't tell you alot about any other day 2 years ago but the weeks before J's birth and the day itself are etched in my memory. I remember what I was wearing that day, details about the nurses (one named Linda had just found out she was pregnant with her first kid, I wonder how she's doing), even the fact that NBA basketball finals were on TV. So here's the story for those of you who are interested.
J was overdue. Not just a little overdue, but TEN DAYS -- he was due April 20 and evicted (I mean born) May 1. Looking back I'm wondering if we figured the due date wrong but at the time all I knew was, I was READY. TO. HAVE. THE. BABY. ALREADY. I had been on maternity leave since April 15, just sitting around the house waiting. And waiting. And doing jumping jacks, and jumping off the bottom of the stairs (I'm not kidding), and taking hot baths everyday (dr.'s advice), and drinking cranberry tea (twin sister's advice), and taking castor oil (BAD IDEA - internet advice), and having "hot monkey sex" (mom's advice and yes those were her exact words), all to no avail. Add in the constant, 2 to 3 times daily calls from my sisters and mother-in-law (Are you feeling anything? Did your water break? We didn't hear from you this morning, are you at the hospital? DID YOU HAVE THE BABY WITHOUT TELLING US?) and I was one miserable cookie.
After 2 straight weeks of being 2cm dilated with no real contractions and 2 visits where they "stripped the membranes" (2 words: never. again.), we all decided that if J didn't make an appearance by April 30 we would evict him, i.e. induce. On Sunday night I prayed prayed prayed that I would go into labor on my own because I was convinced that being induced would result in a c-section, or worse. But J had different plans - all day long he kicked me furiously and wouldn't allow me to get any rest, but no labor started. After a night of Charley horses and horrible back spasms (NOT contractions, just back pain) I was more than ready to be induced the next morning.
All night long we were restless, excited, nervous, petrified, the whole spectrum of emotions. It was like Christmas Eve, waiting for the presents you know you're going to get the next day but no clue what they're going to be. On the one hand, we knew that in less than 24 hours we would be parents and get to meet the baby I'd felt kicking and seen dozens of times on ultrasounds I would sneak and do on myself at work (hey there's perks to knowing how to use an ultrasound and having one nearby). On the other hand, I was irrationally afraid of being induced, not just the labor but whole process. Believe it or not J's birth was the only time in my life where I've ever been hospitalized or even had an IV catheter.
So...we arrived at St. Rose Monday, May 1, bright and early as instructed. Thankfully there was only one other birth going on so we were checked into a room right away. The nurse had a hard time getting an IV catheter in and had to poke me SIX times in my arm, hand, and wrist -- oddly of all the medical procedures that day the IV catheter was the most traumatic for me. They checked me once -- yep, still 2cm -- and started up the Pitocin. For 4 hours, nothing major. A few little contractions that felt like Braxton Hicks, and no dilation. Around noon my doctor came in and after watching me laughing and joking with my sister told me I was "a little too happy" and had them turn the Pitocin up. Still nothing regular. At 2pm the she came back and had them turn me up again, at which point she and the nurse got into a little argument over turning the Pitocin up that high. They actually stepped out into the hallway to exchange words, after which Dr. Keller (who I LOVE) came back in, turned up the Pit, and told me I'd be getting a new nurse. (I had never seen this balls-of-steel side of Dr. Keller before and let me tell you I was impressed.) Well, she was right -- within 20 minutes I felt a strange throbbing in my back that turned into full-blown every 3 minutes contractions pretty quickly, and full-blown horrifying back labor a few minutes after that.
By 6pm I was at about 5cm dilation and the back labor was BRUTAL. I couldn't sit down, I couldn't stand up, I could barely think straight. All pretensions of "trying without pain meds" flew out of the window and I begged for an epidural. (While we were waiting for the anesthesiologist they gave me something to "take the edge off" that helped with the pain but also led to me saying things on the birth video like, "I'm high high high as a kite in the sky sky sky" and "Wow, this stuff is great, they could sell it on the street.") Right after the epidural -- which was nowhere near as scary as I'd imagined -- at around 7pm my water finally broke, which put the labor into hyperdrive. By 10pm I knew it was time to push, and when the nurse checked I was 10cm and she could feel the hair. Hair! He had hair! I was close enough to delivering that Dr. Keller literally sprinted into the room and it was like the pit at the Indy 500 as they broke down the bed for delivery and medical equipment started randomly appearing out of the drawers and cabinets. I distinctly remember me and TH looking at each other and we started laughing. It was so weird - here we were at this moment after 12 years together, 4 years of marriage, a horrible miscarriage, and 10 days overdue. I think you call it "giddy with excitement."
I only pushed for about 20 minutes. Because of the epidural I could kind of feel what was happening but I had no idea if I was pushing hard enough, so every time she told me to push I would overdo it and bear down so hard that I had broken blood vessels in my eyes the next day. At one point my sister B was talking to my mom in Alaska and twin sister D in Denver 3-way on her cellphone, and they were all crying and yelling "He's coming! He's coming" over the phone. B turned to Dr. Keller and asked if she could put them on speakerphone, at which point Steel-balls Keller resurfaced and firmly told her, "You better not."
J was born at 10:24pm screaming his head off. My immediate impression was that he was HUGE, he had alot of very curly hair, and he looked like TH's dad (which he still does). Then I burst into tears. TH was standing next to me looking completely shocked, and my sister starting singing "Happy Birthday" softly while they cleaned J off. When they handed him to me at a healthy 7lbs 2oz and 19 inches, my first words to him were, "I've wanted you for so long."
And the rest as they say is history.
Practice makes perfect
7 years ago