Birth Story – Part 2

It’s the Tuesday after she was born and already these details are starting to get foggy. Good thing I’m trying to remember now because in a few years, when Greer asks me about it, I imagine my mind will be exactly like all of that cream of wheat I was told to consume while pregnant. 

Wednesday dawned with hope and more contractions. I parked my pain-filled rear end on the sofa to keep the baby from coming. By late afternoon I was thinking that I could keep her in there for weeks. Then Jud called to say he was sick and I felt the bottom drop out. He drove to our house to be with the little sick ones. He spent most of the evening sleeping with chills. I watched some more Travel channel and lusted after the delicious things Anthony Bourdain was eating in France while I painted my nails. If you’re going to push a baby out, you have to have pretty toes. I think this was the signal to my body to tell it that I would go along with the labor process.

I ate dinner by myself and crawled into bed without Jimmy Kimmel’s jokes or the pain of searing heartburn. I woke up around three when a strong contraction convinced me not to sleep. We danced the dance of sleep and pain until eight when I finally convinced myself to get ready for the day. By the time my hair was straight and my mascara was on I was having trouble staying upright when the pain hit. I went back to the couch and found a website that would help me time my contractions.

They were still six or seven minutes apart when I called over to my house and asked my dad to come pick me up, but they were strong and I was nervous about delivering a baby at home like someone who didn’t know they were pregnant in the first place. While I waited for him, I filled out the pre-registration forms for the hospital. Nothing like being prepared.

I convinced Jud that he was indeed still sick, although the Tamiflu was clearly making him delusional. Later, after he showered, he texted to admit that he was feeling awful and that he was sorry about not being there for the delivery. I was sorry too, sorry but focused on the task at hand – delivering a healthy baby and keeping her that way.

Arriving at the hospital, I asked the woman at the lobby desk where I was supposed to go. I’ve never done a dry run of the hospital labor and delivery department. Three babies, three hospitals and three times I’ve asked where I was supposed to go once the show was already on the road. Up the elevator and into the right place, the nurses seemed doubtful about me being in labor. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to act like when I’m in labor, but apparently I do a poor job of looking like I’m in pain.

Hooked up to the machines, the contractions are four minutes now, so I’m not going anywhere. The midwife hasn’t arrived yet, but the nurse asks about my pain. I tell her that in the middle of the contraction it is an 8 or a 9. She disagrees with me and says that I would have asked for pain meds by now. I realize that I’m not a huge fan of this nurse and hope that the midwife comes soon. She does and I’m relieved.

She asks me if I want her to break my water. I say yes. She does and it is easy and not painful and almost immediately the contractions are coming faster. Then she delivers the single most helpful idea about the waves of pain that are coming. She tells me that the contractions are all going to be about one minute and that they will build for 30 seconds like riding a bike up a hill and then I can coast down the other side.

She asks me if I want to walk and we do that for a while. When a contraction comes, we stop. I hold on to the railing in the hallway and alternately plie onto my heels or rock back and forth in my hips, but in my mind, I’m riding the bike.

Up the hill. Coast down. Walk. Up the hill. Coast down. Walk. Up the hill. Coast down. Walk.

I don’t know how long we walked, maybe 45 minutes, I guess. Right in front of my room a big long contraction hit and the midwife suggested getting in the water. I was all about that idea.

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