The November/December before she arrived was a busy one. My brother got married in Tampa on Thanksgiving weekend, the military relocated us from one on-post house to another just two weeks before Christmas, forcing us to package up our entire lives and stuff it into an (old) new house. This move caused us to have to rush-shop and holiday decorate just days before the holiday, all while I was in my final month of pregnancy. Whew! I couldn’t have been more tired and overworked, all in my last month. Adding insult to injury, the electricity was haywire in the new home, frying my desktop we suddenly had to replace in time for the New Year, too.
Her due date was the same as my oldest son’s – January 6th, which frightened us. Would they share a birthday? He eventually came two weeks early on December 27th. With Christmas, the new year, our anniversary all around the same time, my husband and I both prayed she’d come on an “unoccupied” day. A day only to herself. Except she didn’t listen. She came on my husband’s best friend Mike’s birthday, January 3rd. Uncle Mike was retiring from the military, and he’d scheduled his last official military jump the morning of the 3rd, with my husband as jumpmaster, his best friend, to “push” him out of the bird (aircraft) for his celebratory birthday/last jump. Our baby had other plans, though.
I had been busy nesting for days, preparing meals, cleaning and unpacking as much as I could with Christmas clutter and post-gift-opening messes everywhere, but there I stood preparing for the kids return to school on January 2nd and I felt a tightness in my belly. I took a nearby pencil into my fingers and jotted down the time from the microwave as I continued cleaning and cooking. 4:42pm. Every so often, as I’d feel my belly tightening again, I’d jot down another time, roughly 8-10 minutes apart. After writing 20 or so times down on the envelope, I peered into the living room from the kitchen, calling to my husband. I showed him the envelope. I told him it was almost time.
Once our parental back-up had arrived to watch the kids, he took me over to the hospital to be checked around 8pm. These contractions weren’t strong at all, just mere tightnesses, but I wanted to be sure I was experiencing what I was experiencing. We were met with a young, vibrant doctor with a triage at labor and delivery chock-full of big-bellied pregnant women huffing and puffing through contractions. “Busy night, eh?” I joked with him.
“Oh yes, the full moon has seemingly put every pregnant woman into labor, coupled with the new year…”
As he trailed off I looked around and I stepped onto the scale for my weight. This one poor girl by the door was laboring pretty hard there in triage. Perhaps it was her first, and she was unprepared? I wasn’t sure. The nurse scribbed onto my chart my weight and placed me into the second gurney from the left, hooking me and my belly up to the crazy beeping contraction machine with the scratchy girdle belt for my check, which was, thankfully, a quick one.
“You are seemingly contracting, Lisa. You’re about 3cm dilated,.” he told me. “How do you feel?”
“I feel great, actually. I can see you’re all really busy here. If it’s okay, I’d like to go home if it’s not time yet…”
I mentally prepared myself for him to tell me that, no, I had to stay, and that I’d probably have to wait in the waiting room, with all these other laboring women surrounding me, obviously farther along than I was, but he surprised me with what he said next. “I don’t have a problem with you laboring at home.”
“Sweeeeeet!” I excitedly responded.
“Okay,” he responded, relieved. “not many are as comfortable with going home to labor..” as he motioned around to the other ladies, “.. and you’re right, we are a little busy. There are no beds available right now, anyway.”
As if on cue, the lady by the door grunted and hissed through a contraction loudly. You could see she was hurting a great deal. I turned back to the doctor, “Not a problem! I’d much rather labor at home as long as I can, anyway.”
“Great!” he said. “Since you’re handling the contractions so well now, come back only when you’re really ‘huffing and puffing,’ okay? Now, I’m only on until 8am tomorrow morning, so there may be another doctor on if you don’t come in before then.”
“Oh..” I responded, mentally hoping I was ready to go before he got off shift, as he was seemingly a great doctor already. “Okay, thank you so much.”
I celebrated to myself while slipping my shoes back onto my feet, as the poor girl near the door cried out with a nurse’s hand in her crotch, “AHHH!”
As I walked out of triage and a few feet from the door, I overheard the nurse say that poor girl was already a “ten,” and how she was going to have to deliver right there, as there were no beds. Oh my.
For hours, I happily recorded contractions while cooking, cleaning, prepping, and laughing with my husband from the comforts of our home. It was pretty much the dreamiest labor ever. Even if we hadn’t lived there but for a few weeks, I was at home with my kids, I was comfortable, I was surrounded by my things and at ease. I was watching my shows, on my couch, with my heating pad, resting and relaxing while this baby prepared to join our crazy family. I couldn’t have asked for an easier time.
Around 3-4am, though, the contractions were getting harder to sleep through, and closer together. Around 6am, I was really breathing heavily with contractions, and we made the decision to go back, just before the kids went to school (we had help, though, she was sleeping over, thankfully).
While the drive to the on-post hospital was a short one (ten or so minutes), the long walk to labor and delivery was a challenging, but laughable one. I waddled and whistled through panting breaths while gripping my husband’s arm navigating down the long corridor as he cracked jokes.
(Side note: It never fails, whatever hospital I’ve delivered at, there’s always that one ridiculously long corridor one has to go through to get to labor and delivery, am I right? The one that seems to take FOREVER and EVER to walk through?)
I always thought they had these bumper guard things on the walls for the gurneys and wheelchairs, but they made spectacular hand grips when a laboring mother was mid-contraction, too.
Upon checking in and seeing me much further along than before, the same nurse ushered me into a now available room to prep me. I was anxious about her checking me, though, because they like checking during contractions, and at this point these contractions were hurting. “Owwww!” I moaned as my stomach clenched tightly as her fingers penetrated me. “You’re an 8 and ready, aren’t you?”
Holy crap, I labored all the way to an 8 at home! I thought to myself, so proud of how well I’d handled myself, and how, only now, was it truly beginning to hurt. I felt I could handle anything! I was invincible! That is, until I was standing after that cervical check and the next contraction hit, and it leveled me like a Mack truck. “AHHHHHHHHH!!!!”
Getting me into a gown and onto the bed was rough. I didn’t want to be on the bed at all, I didn’t want to be on my back. I’d broken my tailbone as a child and again when delivering my son, and I told the doctor, the nurses, and anyone who would listen, I didn’t wanted to be sitting in that God-forsaken hospital bed laboring directly on my tailbone. They obliged, letting me stand and move around as much as I could, but being so close, they checked me often, which required me sitting down…
I didn’t want an epidural, but the tailbone pain was becoming too intense to bear. They offered me Stadol, to help ‘take the edge off,’ but what they didn’t tell me is how BADLY I was going to want to itch my freakin’ legs off. I don’t know why I didn’t just trust my body to continue on as well as it had – maybe I was growing weary, maybe I was wanting it over with and thinking it would go quicker with a little pain relief, but all it did was make me feel somewhat drunk-like and weird. and the time spent laboring on this drug is almost un-rememberable, except to say I was now no where near as strong or cognizant as I was before to handle the contractions. Such a monumental mistake.
Thankfully, though, the nurse checking me said I was “practically” there, there was a “tiny lip of cervix” left that she felt I could “push past” if I wanted to. Whatever drug they’d prescribed was beginning to wear off, and I was feeling more myself, except the relentless itching. I felt like I could do whatever they asked me to do. And so, I pushed, because I wasn’t considered “complete” until I did. One good push was all it took, and she declared me “complete” and “ready” and the flurry of things happening to prep for the baby’s arrival began.
Between you and me, I love that time.
I love how everything is moving so fast, yet you can feel every last heart beat. Every movement. It won’t be too long now, before that baby is presented to you squealing and covered in goo, and it’s the most gorgeous thing you’ve ever seen.
I love the look my husband gives me, that “it won’t be long, you’re doing wonderfully, I can’t freaking wait” look he gives me with his Cheshire Cat grin with dimples on his face as he holds my hand.
But that happiness, that overjoyed yet hurty feeling came to an abrupt halt when a nurse took a look at my crotch after shining the “birth” light on me, slapping her gloves off in a hurry, yelling into the hall “CODE MOM!”
I didn’t know what was happening.
Before I knew it, eight or ten gloved and draped adults came rushing into the room, one older black gentleman dove almost fist first into my spotlighted vagina, but while it was uncomfortable (to say the least), I was more worried by what was wrong. What did that mean? What was happening, was my baby okay?
Someone from the large crowd who had gathered finally said something. “The nurse saw that a cord was presenting.”
The cord presenting first before the baby was not a good thing, apparently, and so this Chief Obstetrician guy had now taken control of my delivery. He didn’t see a cord himself, however, but felt it necessary to help facilitate this birth into happening RIGHT NOW. As FAST as POSSIBLE.
All the joy, all the excitement now grew into fear, I didn’t waste any time because I was so fearful something was wrong with my child, and so I pushed.
I pushed like I was Superman lifting a car off of a dying person.
I pushed until I was probably purple, but I did whatever he told me. If it was to bear down, I beared down. If it was to breathe while he did something, I gripped my husband’s hand and bit my lip through the pain and breathed, even if I wanted to scream because I was so afraid for what was happening.
It didn’t take long, though, because I am a damn good pusher, and before anyone could blink, the baby was here. 10:21am. I heard baby gurgling and saw her flailing in a white blanket with blood and fast hands attending to her, and I couldn’t breathe until they gave me the okay.
“It’s a boy—- NO, a GIRL!!!!”
And she was absolutely fine. Apgar of 8 and then 9. Sweet and pink and made the sweetest of girly grunts and noises while they fussed around her checking to ensure she was alright.
She was a determined little bugger to come into this world with a bang, to be all dramatic, to come into this world with flair. She didn’t want to listen to mommy and daddy and come on an “unoccupied” day, didn’t want to give Uncle Mike his jump on his birthday with her daddy, and had to give her parents a heart attack during birth. She just had to come with the thunder. Like Thor, but in a tiny, seven pound, thirteen ounce newborn.
This little spitfire has been smashing us with her invisible Thor hammer ever since, with love, beauty, and grace. She may have her daddy’s hair color, and be a daddy’s girl, but she is all me, full of craft-lovin‘, school lovin‘, baking lovin‘, water lovin’, and curly girly sweetness I can’t get enough of.
Happy 6th Birthday, my sweet princess.