Tuesday, September 17, 2013
The day before my due date (Labor Day) Kris and I lived it up. We went to brunch at La Condesa with our friends Molly and Paul and ended up hanging out and talking for four hours. That night we even thought of asking them to our new favorite restaurant - Bufalina - but decided to get take out from Thai Sway at the last minute instead.
We laughed about how both the beef dish and the fried rice were super spicy and would maybe 'do the trick.' But I didn't really believe it.
When we went to bed that night I didn't feel any different or have any expectations that the baby would actually arrive on his due date. They so rarely do particularly for first time moms. In fact here's a picture of me writing to the baby telling him I doubted I'd be meeting him the next day. (Oh hello thighs! Plotting to take over the world, are we?)
But at 3:30 in the morning I woke up with bad cramps. Quietly I crawled out of bed. Could it be? No way! I looked over at my sleeping husband and decided that rather than ring the alarm bell I should be more sure of what was actually happening.
I used the restroom and while doing so thought I felt my water break. But this is really tricky to verify when you're already peeing. Damn it! Why couldn't it be more like in the movies? Unsure of what to do, I went into our TV room, sat on the couch and looked out the window at the faintest whisper of a sliver moon. Suddenly the cramps intensified, this time deep into my lower back along with the sensation of peeing my pants. Only this time I couldn't have peed my pants because I'd just gone. Aha! This. Was. It.
I went back into the bedroom and quietly shook Kris awake.
"I think he's coming," I whispered.
Everyone who knows Kris has an image of him leaping out of bed upon hearing these words and flying out the door to get the car. But when I came back into the bedroom after putting in my contacts, this is what I found:
There was no leaping. There wasn't even a sign of consciousness. To top it off my dog had literally taken my place in bed. I'm not sure but I think this was Kris' way of quietly having a panic attack while simultaneously soaking up his last moments of pre-baby freedom.
So here's what I love. I had said for months I wanted to do all of my early labor at home. After touring the hospital I realized I'd rather be home in my comfy surroundings rather than in a strange sterile place especially when you can't get an epidural yet anyway.
But when I called the MedLink number to let them know my labor had started, the doctor on call had wanted me to go ahead and 'mosey on in.' Oh well. So much for best laid plans. Truth be told the pain was already getting to the point where a hospital seemed like the smarter place to be anyway, so I quickly showered, called my mom, and off we went.
It was kind of surreal because even though it was still pitch black outside there were already tons of cars and activity because of a big marathon being held later that morning.
We rolled up about 6:30 am. I quickly got checked in and settled into my bed. And it was then and there I realized how hilarious birthing plans are. In mine I had written very detailed notes about things I'd wanted access to. For example, a birthing ball like they'd shown us in our birthing class and a shower (I'd even brought my swim suit!) to be able to use hydra therapy during my contractions which the woman who taught our class had likened to getting a spa treatment.
Well let me tell you something. Once I got in that bed, the last place on earth I wanted to be was straddling a freaking birthing ball on the floor. Or in a bathing suit. The idea made me laugh so hard I worried I'd pee my pants again (not as if it mattered at this point, but still.)
By now the contractions were getting fairly intense and they decided to check me out down south. I fully expected to be dilated to at least 2 or 3. Nope. I was at freaking 1 where I'd already been for a whole week! You had got to be kidding me.
I tried to calm myself down. I'd always had a huge fear of giving birth and now I was sure this fear was going to be verified. This wasn't going to be easy. To make matters more complicated, the amazing doctor on call - Dr. Swenson - explained that scar tissue from an old surgery might delay my body from going into full labor mode and they might have to manually removal some of it in order to help me out.
Awesome. But all in all it wasn't so bad up to this point. My mom had arrived and was hanging on the couch next to me with Kris. When the contractions got bad, they would both help me through it - my mom rubbing my feet and Kris my lower back.
When it was apparent it was going to be a while before anything happened, Kris ran home quickly to take the dog to the boarding place next door. Coincidentally my mom had to run to the restroom so I was by myself for all of 30 seconds when I had the most intense contraction yet. This one was so bad that afterward I swore the baby's heart rate on the monitor sounded different.
Sure enough a gentle 'ding' alarm began to sound and I waited for the nurses to come flying in. No one did. Within 10 seconds I hit the button on my bed for help. My mom was back by now and asked what was going on. I was starting to panic as I explained what happened.
Just then my nurse, Chrysti, came in and checked the monitor. Apparently I'd had what the call an 'epic' contraction that lasted five minutes long! She surmised that the pain had literally taken my breath away and I'd temporarily forgotten to breath which upset the baby.
The upside to this was I got some drugs and some pitocen to speed things up down there. And let me tell you whatever they gave me sent me to the moon. I started seeing three of everybody, the music on my baby mix went all slow mo and psychedelic and every time I tried to talk it felt like someone was playing basketball with my tongue.
So out of embarrassment, I quietly let myself pass out. I don't remember anything for a while except that my belly monitor kept slipping because my stomach was already going down and they kept having to adjust it. Isn't that wild? You start getting skinnier before the baby even comes! Crazy.
Anyway the next time they checked me - I was at 4. Woo hoo! Epidural time!! This is what living in the 21th century is all about! You 'one with nature' types can take all that pain and eat it up sisters but not me. Personally I think opting in for that kind of experience is banay-nay but to each their own.
Anyway from there we basically hung out waiting for the seas to part. The psychedelics had worn off by now and I could hold a conversation again. My dad came in and visited for a while and next thing I knew we were in business. All the way to 10, y'all! Go time. And I felt like a million bucks to boot!
The only problem was the doctor had an emergency delivery with another patient and wasn't available yet. At this point they told me that I should just 'labor down' for a while. My mom, husband and I were all looking at each other like 'wth is Labor down?' Apparently you just lay down and let gravity take over until the doctor is ready for you and/or the baby says 'I'm not waiting any longer - I've already been in this damn place for nine months, thanks.'
So I got to nap again for another hour and a half. My mom and husband were so over it by this point I half expected to wake up and find them pulling the baby out. Thankfully the nurse came back to check me again and as soon as she did so whipped out her cell phone. "The baby's head is right there," she said. Trippy. And how very Grey's Anatomy.
Apparently this granted her permission to have me begin pushing and I got ready for full on battle. My husband put my hair back for me and turned up my music and my mom grabbed a leg.
I'll spare you the details but after the nurse explained what to do, we started pushing and weren't more than 15 seconds into it when she yelled 'stop!' Was I doing it wrong? Damn it - I knew I shouldn't have stopped exercising...
But oh quite the contrary. As it turned out, we were going too far too fast. She immediately dialed the doctor again. Don't you just love the modern world? The doctor was probably two doors down but faster to use a cell phone so there you go. "I can't hold her any longer," Chrysti said. "This baby is coming."
Twenty seconds later, the doctor came in along with a team of other people including the on-call pediatrician (I forgot to mention during all that hanging out - the baby had decided to poop which was not awesome because if he swallowed it this was bad news. I was assured that if he came out crying we were in the clear and wouldn't have to worry about it which was as reassuring as being told there might or might not have been rat poison in the salami sandwich you just finished.)
But there was little time to stress by this point so off we went. Four pushes later this little precious, white slime covered gremlin came out of my body and into my arms. He was crying. All was well. No poop in his lungs, thank God. So here's what nobody prepped me for. He really did look like a little creature from outer space. I remember thinking 'It's a given that I love him more than the earth itself but WOW...that's what he looks like?'
But then they cleaned him and low and behold he looked like a little sweet baby. Smushed face, but still precious. And here's what else they didn't prep me for. I had been so damn afraid of the hospital that my only thought was how quickly we could get out of there after. But truth be told I'm not sure if I've ever had more fun in my entire life than from that moment he came out to the 48 hours directly afterward. It was literally Christmas, New Year's and my favorite birthday rolled into one and times a thousand. Sounds ridiculous but it's true.
It was just happy happy joy joy infinity. Everyone came in to see him from our families who lived nearby as well as dear friends. I was exhausted but my happiness high kept me going. And here's the other thing. I literally had no idea your heart could be that full.
That first night when my husband was passed out and it was just me and little Sawyer on the bed together, I stared at him smiling like an idiot until my cheeks hurt. The second night was the same as well as the whole day in between. But the nights were my favorite. When it was just me and him and him and me against the world.
Do you remember your first bout of puppy love when you'd be on the phone with your boyfriend or girlfriend and you'd both be like 'you be the first to hang up' and the other would say 'no - you hang up first...'?
That's what it felt like staring at my sweet baby in those wee hours of the night. He looked at me and me back at him and I could have sworn this was similar to the telepathic conversation we were having. Only ours went like this:
Me: 'You close your eyes first.'
Sawyer: 'No YOU.'
On repeat. Every night. Okay I realize that in reality he could probably barely even see me and he was probably thinking 'when is this woman going to stop staring at me and give up her boob?' but still. That's what it felt like.
So it's still the most hilarious thing ever to me that the hospital experience was my favorite time ever.
Anyway, I am now in week two. It's exhausting. And elating. And at times terrifying.
But I've never been so grateful to have bags under my eyes.
Because my view is this:
Happy Living, Y'all!