Thursday, July 23, 2009

Birth Story No. 2, Pt. 2

I had already made arrangements with two neighbors who would be willing to drive Valerie and I to the hospital if I went into labor the next day while Tom was out-of-town on business. I didn't have to call either of them because I went into labor that night at about 1:30 a.m.

Tom's reaction to my nudging him awake was something like, are you sure...shouldn't we just go back to sleep for another hour and make sure? No, I told him, I was leaking amniotic fluid, it was time to call the doctor. I called my parents first to give them a heads up and a head start, since they live 5 hours away. My mom asked me to call her back after checking in with my OB. Indeed. I called my OB. He said I should go to the hospital. I called my mom and asked her to please get herself and my dad up and get on the road.

Even Valerie was hard to rouse. What finally got her out of bed was when I told her the doctor said it was time to go to the hospital. By this time I was definitely having contractions and they were 10 minutes apart. Really, shouldn't the woman leaking amniotic fluid and having contractions know when it is time to go?!

Before we left, I looked at my face in the bathroom mirror, smiled a goofy smile, and said to myself, this is it! Tom called his boss on the way and told him he wouldn't be able to make the meeting that day. The contractions grew in intensity and frequency for the 25 minutes it took to drive to the hospital. I was wondering what was to come, and how soon my parents would arrive to take care of Valerie.

A friend of mine refers to our regional hospital as the Ritz-Carlton of birthing centers. And I'd have to agree. I felt so cared for from the moment I arrived. My first nurse said she'd even do one contraction for me if she could, one.

Labor progressed and at about 8:30 a.m. the contractions were close together and painful enough that I couldn't help being loud about it, even with Valerie at the bench by the bed coloring in a new coloring book with the new box of 48 crayons I'd put in her backpack special just for the occasion. At 8:45 a.m. my doctor said he could rupture my bag of waters and the baby could be born in under an hour. I said, OK, but Tom needed to call my parents first to find out where the heck they were! They were close, stuck in rush hour traffic at the off ramp to the road the hospital is on.

All I could think of was that I didn't want Valerie to see me in so much pain. It seemed to me she was beginning to get concerned. Within minutes my mom and dad came into the room, my dad took Valerie out to the waiting area, and the team mobilized for the birth.

Tom and my mom took up the same posts they had been at for Valerie's birth, and I began pushing. Man, that was some pain! I actually writhed in pain, and for a moment questioned my decision not to have an epidural. Then, a split second of clarity came to me and I understood that the only way to make the pain stop was to push the baby OUT. And after a few more pushes, Andrew was born.

And it was wonderful. He was toweled off and placed right on my chest, just the way I had always imagined. He was small and pink and precious, 7 lbs., 12 oz. After a while, he was taken over to be checked out, weighed, etc. Then the nurse brought him back to me sucking away at his little fist and asked me if I'd like to breastfeed. Well, yes, of course, I said.

Whenever I think back to the morning Andrew was born, I feel a little bit of that high I had after his birth. Part of it was the oxytocin, of course, but part of it was the empowerment I felt at having given birth without pain medication.

And then I start craving eggs, sausage, and pancakes. That's what they brought me to eat after Andrew had fallen asleep and I had showered with the help of my fantastic delivery nurse. It was the most delicious breakfast I'd ever tasted.

In fact, I still get cravings for that particular meal every time I even drive by the hospital. Funny how our senses and strong emotions are so wrapped up in each other. Ah, the strong emotions that came after Andrew was born--that is another story.

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