One year ago, at 4:25AM, I sent an email that said this: "I am awake with the stupidest cramps that feel like my period is starting and they better be doing something, otherwise they are extremely annoying!" Little did I know that they were doing so much that in less than 24 hours, I'd be sitting in the quiet comfort of a labor and delivery room, in which I neither labored nor delivered.
As much as I joke about "getting my home birth," the truth is, I wasn't opposed to the hospital birth we had planned. I'd had a good experience with Luke. I was so looking forward to laboring in the big whirlpool tub again. In fact, it's safe to say that I spent nine months looking forward to it. I was really looking forward to Beth taking photos during and after our special moments. So while yes, I'd tossed the idea of a home birth out to Shane before and if he'd agreed, we surely would have had one. Despite, I was happy with our hospital birth plans.
You all know the story, but I hope I can tell more. The amazing thing about technology is that there are elements I've forgotten, but I have emails and this blog, of course, to remind me. I'll always remember how his body felt as it corkscrewed out of me, landing in my outstretched hand. I'll always remember I never worried for a single second that I'd drop him or that he'd slip away from me grasp. I'll always remember looking down at his wet dark hair and the way I exhaled when he gave a throaty cry. I'll always remember not knowing that my parents were there, until I turned my head as my mom practically vaulted up the steps to the ambulance. I'll always remember how TINY the ambulance seemed as my mom, Luke, Shane, and my dad all crowded in and how lucky I felt.
I remember this last day of pregnancy. The cramps and the bloody show starting early that morning, but I'd been having both for FIVE straight days, so I wasn't too excited. Every night, I had waves of contractions, ten minutes apart, that would last for hours and then abruptly quit. My midwife assured me it was normal circadian rhythm. I was assured that my body was getting ready. She told me she thought I'd be in for a shorter labor this time, with less pushing: "maybe 20 minutes." This sounded dreamy, but I didn't want to get my hopes up TOO much, because shorter than 22 hours might still be a decent chunk of time.
Beth and I went for pedicures. She took what would be my very last belly shot, just a click of her phone. Of course, I thought that when the time came, she'd be taking photos of my belly while I was in labor. I am so thankful she took this shot, a mere eleven hours before he was born. Eleven hours before Luke was born, I was at the hospital, 5cm and swaying my hips through the painful back labor.
I remember that moment. My belly was so tight. The body that had allowed me to easily walk six miles the day before was screaming at short walks. The baby's head felt so firmly in my pelvis that I dared to hope that my time would be soon. I dashed from the pedicure to an appointment, to a non-stress test that we passed with flying colors because this baby never stopped dancing inside of me. I had two contractions on the 40 min drive.
The midwife said, Maybe this weekend. Maybe next week.
It was 5pm. I had two contractions on the 30 min drive home. Friends were over when I got home, they brought Coldstone cupcakes as a consolation prize. Sorry you passed your due date, but here's some cupcakes! They know me well. Friends left and I started timing contractions. Ten minutes apart, sometimes longer. I bounced on the birthing ball, while watching Thomas the Train with Luke. He kept shoving me off and saying it was his turn. We ate dinner. I gave Luke a bath, only calling Shane in at the very end because I had one contraction that HURT enough that Luke saw it in my face and DID HE THINK THIS WAS IT? He said, Maybe. But we've had a lot of maybes this week.
I kept wishing my water would break, like it did with Luke. It's so easy to tell you're in labor that way. I had so much pressure that I thought for sure it would. At 9:56pm, I emailed Beth and told her that the pressure was killing me but not the contractions.
At 11:27, I sent this email to Sarah: "I'm pretty sure I'm in labor. Tried to lay down, but it hurt too much, so I'm in the bathtub. Louise is on call but so far, everything is still spaced out."
At 11:40, I had a contraction so strong that it sent me jolting out of the bathtub. It was like hot pokers down my back. I thought, Oh great. Another posterior baby. Another long back labor.
At 11:44, I had another contraction--the closest they'd been--that sent me reeling out of the bathroom, into the comforting dark of our bedroom, where I buried my face in the comforter and roared. A primal sound that I couldn't believe came from me, but that woke up Shane sleeping in the next room with Luke. The rule of thumb is to call after contractions are 3-4 minutes apart for an hour, but I remembered my doula's reminder that second labors can turn fast and not to wait too long, so I picked up the phone and called. They put me on hold and I had another contraction while waiting, this time roaring into a pillow, my pelvis feeling like it'd split. I thought, I'm going to get an epidural as soon as I get to the hospital. This is WAY worse than Luke.
At 11:55, I went into the drafts folder in my email and sent this email, with the subject line, THUNDERCATS ARE GO
"So, I'm actually typing this email in advance, as per Sarah's suggestion. It feels a little weird, like I'm typing you from my time machine. However, if I had a time machine, I wouldn't need to type this email because I could just use my time machine to see when I'd have the baby. But since I don't have a time machine, if you are reading this email, I'm in labor! Or I accidentally hit send on the saved draft, but most likely, I'M IN LABOR."
Seven minutes before Luke was born, I couldn't speak. I couldn't think. I couldn't make words come out of my mouth. I was also pushing so hard that it felt unnatural, because he wasn't in the right position. I never felt that overwhelming urge, despite being unmedicated. Seven minutes before Tommy was born, I learned how that urge felt, on my knees pushing before I even knew I was pushing, without even trying my body taking over, I realized I wasn't going to labor in the whirlpool tub, after all.
The next email at 1:41:
"Its a boy, you guys. He was born on the stairs before we could even leave. No I'm not kidding!! Someone call Beth in case she's still on standby. We are at the hospital now"
I remember struggling to find the words so they'd know I wasn't joking. Too much of a whirlwind to even think that, of course, I could just take a picture with my phone. I'm not sure I remembered that my phone had a camera. The responses involve a lot of questioning on whether or not I was serious, until at 3:06, Beth sent this email after we spoke:
"I just talked to her and she sounds amazing.
7lbs 11 oz
nursed at 1:30
Luke and parents are there at the hospital, APGAR in the ambulance a nine. 911 dispatcher said birthday is today, the 18th at 12:02 am. She was able to hold the baby, skin to skin, in the ambulance all the way to the hospital.
Luke saw everything. He started to get scared and unsure WHILE she was having a baby, so WHILE she was having a baby she was also calming Luke down. Seriously? WONDERWOMAN.
Also, since she's ALWAYS NAKED, it appears the fire department got quite a show."
I love this email because I didn't remember what time we nursed for the first time. I'd forgotten that they did his APGAR in the ambulance. It's all so blurry, but in a beautiful way, like when you spin around in a circle and watch the colors dash by your face.
Blurry, beautiful. What a year it's been.