THE BIRTH STORY | PART TWO
"i'm wonderstruck... all i know is i was enchanted to meet you."
Another physical sign of transition is the inability to relax or be comfortable. A woman who was handling labor well may suddenly find that she has no idea what to do and nothing is comfortable any more." I was not handling labor well anymore. I was a complete disaster. And I honestly thought I was going to pass out and die right then and there. Here's how much pain I was in: I swore... IN FRONT OF MY MOTHER. One of these demon-contractions was a game-changer because the pain was no longer in my back, rather it was in my hips and pelvis. I screamed for Caleb to push "lower! Lower! LOWER!" After a day and a half of pushing my back in the same place, he was confused. The women eyed each other.
Janet went to get the midwife. She calmly said she would be in soon. Janet returned alone. So my mama bear went to get her. Something about a strict tone of voice, and fake wrist watch and "I'm counting" got the midwife into my room within 60 seconds ;)
Now. Brief pause to this loooong story. I feel a little bad for this midwife because I had only seen her once before this trip to the hospital. We certainly did not know each other well. And she had only been a part of my 35-hour labor for about two hours. I really think she thought I was a dramatic, bad-at-dealing-with-pain, over-the-top laborer. I don't think she realized how different I was from 5:00pm to 7:00 pm to 9:00pm. And it was still wildly busy on the floor. She was being pulled many directions. I don't think she really believed I was ready to push. I think she didn't fully 'get' how my labor had gone. She was doing the best she could with the knowledge and time she had. But it wasn't particularly available and understanding. Okay. Carry on.
Meeting Our Son
She checked me at 9:30 and said that magical word "Ten!" and at 9:35 I pushed for the first time.
Everyone's eyes got big and the midwife seemed shocked. Caleb nearly squealed and leaped with excitement: "I can see his head! BABY! He's SO close! I can see his head! He has hair!" The midwife paused and seemed confused. She asked me if my water had broke a few days ago, or earlier today, or when, really? My mom told her that we had been told it had broken, but we really didn't know when. She shook her head and said "No, it hadn't. It just broke now." I took that first push very seriously? FINALLY, for real for real, broke my water and showed off my kid's head all at the same time.
Little Man's heart rate supposedly dropped during that first push (my mom thinks the monitor just picked up my heart rate) so they had me stop pushing while they put an IV in and put an oxygen mask on me. After I was all geared up, they let me push for the second time. I heard a chorus of "His head! He's coming! His head! You're doing it! He's almost here!" After that contraction ended the midwife answered a phone call and quietly exited the room. On her way out she mentioned something about pushing. We didn't really hear what she said, and another contraction was coming. "Can I push?!?" I asked. The nurse said I could, so I did. After a push or two she told me to stop. "You need to wait for the midwife to get back." I'm sorry. But where did the midwife go? Like. My baby is COMING OUT OF ME RIGHT NOW.
A couple minutes later she returned and she took one look at me 'down there' and instructed the nurses to prep for delivery. (Because, yes, up until this point there was nothing prepared for him to actual come out. No scissors to cut the cord. No blanket. Nothing.) They hustled about preparing the table, and dropping down that big light, and giving the midwife her outer-garment, and putting a blanket on my belly. Caleb whispered to me "This is it, baby. We're about to meet him. You're about to hold him. This is it. You did it. I'm so proud of you. You're incredible. We're going to see him in just a second. It's happening, baby."
Pushing was an incredible relief from the contraction pain. I'm quite curious how God made it work, because all of that torture-of-a-contraction melted away when I pushed. Pushing wasn't painful it was just 'hard.' I think I said "This is like pushing the Empire State Building through me!" I felt calm again, though. I could feel my body dropping and releasing my baby. The next contraction came and I pushed - trying to be steady, strong and patient. The room was cheering and adrenaline began to pump. Pushing felt similar to sitting on the floor, with your back against the wall, and legs pulled back and resting on a couch or bed you're trying to move alone. Using alllll your might you try to push the furniture with your legs and it won't budge... and then! All of a sudden! It slides away like it's on ice! A perfect, sweet head plopped out and in the same push his whole body came, too. He. Was. OUT! NOT in me anymore! And... It felt dreamy and completely, completely wonderful:
He reached his long arms towards me, nuzzled into me when I wrapped myself around him, and looked right up at me as he took his first liquidy, panty breaths. He was perfectly rosy, with flailing arms and legs. He was smooth and had chubby cheeks made to be kissed.
What had been the depths of the dark side, in truly a single instant, transformed like the Beast's Castle, into a high and bliss I've never experienced before. I felt amazing. My body felt fantastic. My mind was clear and completely engaged. I remember the details of those first few seconds brilliantly, in dazzling colors. I can smell and feel and breathe it. My heart was absolutely swelling. Just being poured into with the warm water of brand new love. I loved my son (I really did!) before I met him. But here he was! With us! Caleb was breathless and equally smitten right beside me, where he'd been the whole time. I felt so strongly for him in that moment. I adore my husband. My mother was incredible. My friends are bizarrely kind and amazing. My dad is in the doorway, with tears in his eyes. I am SO proud of myself! Of us! WE DID IT. Oh, I felt amazing. No pain. None. No cloudiness. No fog. Just intense happy and true emotion. I wouldn't trade those 60 seconds for the entire world. I'd do the natural birth all over again, in a heart beat, just to have that first minute back.
While I was still laying there I told the people around me "Oh, that was worth it. That was so worth it." I'll never forget Rowdy's spindly, strong arms reaching right for me. It was honestly a combination of all my favorite feelings: winning championship games, making hard-to-make-teams, scoring over 100%, people loving the food I made for them, falling in love, being in love, getting engaged, waiting to walk down the aisle, coming home after our honeymoon, making Rowdy, listening to my dad laugh, talking for hours with my mom, the times I've 'been filled with' the Holy Spirit, long nights of worship and conversation, laughing through childhood memories with my brothers and sisters. All of it. BOOM. In one moment. A culmination of all the things that got me and my Caleb to the place where we were a part of a new soul, a mysterious, fresh person, being welcomed into his earthly life... it was absolute ecstasy. An intoxicating felicity.
I count it the highest privilege and honor to be able to feel and be a part of the labor and delivery we had. I know so many women who either simply can't have this experience, or who choose not to, and I have only become more grateful for what our story was. It was different than what I expected or certainly wanted, but it was marvelous all the same. And nothing can replace the beauty of that intensity. Something as 'simple' as Rowdy being given right to me, and him gurgling and grunting and grabbing our fingers and sucking his fists and rooting around on my chest, while we looked at each other, just would be foolish and impossible to describe with words. Within a few minutes he was latched-on and learning how to nurse. He was so alert and strong. He knew me and responded to my voice, and daddy's too. In a room mildly buzzed with people and machines, he was deeply focused on us. Incredible. I was so proud of him. So... okay... I'm rambling now. It was nothing short of the over-used word: amazing.
After we had been able to soak him in and bond, really, we were thrilled to be able to watch the room full of family and friends get to feel and snuggle him, too. It was a worn and weary and teary group. The whole of them had worked hard for this Nugget Boy and they were rejoicing. Rejoicing over him and us with gladness. It was another incredible (and un-planned! People just kept coming in, depsite the nurses wanting them to leave! Haha. I'm glad they came and stayed anyway ;) The moment was too perfect) memory for me.
My little sisters had been at the hospital almost as long as I had. They slept on awkwardly, uncomfortable love-seats and waited those grueling 36ish hours with us. They weren't allowed to come back to see me, but I knew they were there. And I kept getting reports from others about how sweet, concerned and eager Shannon and Lauren were. I couldn't wait to let them meet their nephew.
And when they did, they both burst into tears. It was the first time I cried, too. Salty, hot love and relief tears.
But TheLadies weren't the only ones waiting long and hard. My "support parade," as the nurses called it, were there too. We didn't even get pictures of everyone who came back (Jess, Kevin and Mikey... I loved that you were there!) while I was still in labor&delivery, delivering a placenta, getting stitched up (a random skin tag/strip ripped off that needed to come off anyway, so it was handy to have it come out during labor... now I don't have to make an appointment to get it removed!), having my stomach mashed on to make my uterus contract, barely dressed... they with glowy-eyes and full hearts made their way into the room to join in the joy.
My wiggly, vocal, peering, muscular, young son. Oh I love you.
(And! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU Janet and Lydia for taking all these pictures. You. Both. Rule.)
As my dad texted me on his way out "Now you know what instant unconditional love is." Yup. Amen. I do.
(Side note: Before labor started, I often prayed that I would have a good recovery. I even said 'I don't mind if the labor is hard, I just don't want the recovery to be hard.' I was worried about stitches and catheters and breast-feeding and bleeding and after-contractions and a slew of other things. I really wanted to be able to fully enjoy my baby once he arrived and not be so physically hurting that I couldn't be 100% 'there' with him.
God completely answered that prayer - but next time I'm going to pray for an easy labor AND easy recovery. Too greedy? But really. I'm stunned and grateful. I've really felt marvelous ever since that last push. Essentially zero pain. Completely mobile. The kid eats long and hard and easily. Natural labors have the best odds at having a smooth recovery, but there is certainly NO guarantee and I easily could have had another long hard road ahead of me after he was born. But God gave us that enjoyable and peaceful recovery we had prayed for. I'm grateful grateful grateful. Thank you, Lord.)