I wasn’t expecting to give birth any time near my due date. I’d gone nine days past with Boogermonkey & saw no reason why it wouldn’t happen again. For a few days, I’d wake up at “the pissing hour” – what I’d come to call 1:30 & 4:00 a.m. – unable to roll over until a contraction passed, but nothing was consistent or regular, and nothing lasted. Braxton Hicks. No big deal.
So, on Thursday morning, when it happened again at 4:00, I ignored it. I went to the bathroom, went back to bed, and tried to go back to sleep. And another contraction came. And another. And another. I tried to doze between them. No dice. My sense of time is really bad, so I thought they were ten minutes apart at least. I finally got up after the fifth one. It was 4:15. I did a load of laundry, I washed some dishes. I called my midwife’s office & left a message saying it wasn’t urgent, but labor had started & I’d call her in the morning. My mother, who’d only arrived from Eugene that evening, asked me what time it was. “Four-thirty,” I said. “Go back to sleep.” I took a bath from 5-6, reading The Audacity of Hope between waves. I ate a banana and felt nearly instantly ill. At 7:00, I took a sleeping pill and went back to bed. The pill didn’t work and at 8:00 I got up again.
I called Elias. I paged Cindie. I thought about breakfast, and then thought of how ill the banana made me feel. I paced the house, counting to 30 & back again with every contraction, letting everyone else sleep, knowing it would be a long day. Elias arrived & made me eat applesauce. He took Mom & Booger to the library for story time. I read Ravelry (are you there yet?) & timed my contractions online while Elias & Llamaface applied counter-pressure to my back. Cindie called every hour or so, checking in. She made the decision to come over at 12:30.
After this, times get fuzzy. Llama’s clothes were on the shelf, blocking my view of the clock, I’d closed my computer, and my watch was on the dresser. No one was keeping track of time anymore. I know Mom & Booger came back after Cindie got here & they took a nap in Booger’s room. At some point, Elias made me a peanut butter sandwich. I know Cindie checked me after I started crying because I felt so defeated. I was going through transition. Mom took Booger to the park & then out for a walk & then ate dinner in the laundry room. Llama had ordered pizza at some point & Cindie’s assistant Erin & Erin’s assistant-in-training Gretchen came before the pizza did. I scared the delivery girl, or at least my “moose in heat” noises did.
I was having back labor again, just like I did with Booger, and it scared me. Cindie, Elias, Erin, & Llama all took turns pressing on my back so hard I have bruises today. It wasn’t enough. They gave me homeopathic remedies for back pain. It wasn’t enough. They rubbed gel on my back to help relax the muscles. It wasn’t enough. Even when Cindie checked me again, and noted that Bumblebee wasn’t posterior anymore and I was nearly at 10cm, I still had back labor. It’s just how my body is, I suppose.
It’s very important to eat during labor, to keep one’s strength up. In times of stress, I don’t eat. Cindie & Elias made sure I did anyway. Cucumbers with salt. Gu, which tastes & feels a bit like frosting. Water. Vitamin water. More Gu. More water. I am thankful I didn’t throw up.
Along the way, I started praying. I am not, and never sincerely have been, the praying sort. I believe that one’s relationship with god – any god, not just the god of Isaac & Abraham – is the most intimate relationship a person can have, more intimate in every way than that even of a spouse. So I don’t feel comfortable praying in front of people. Ever. I get uncomfortable, like I’m watching a very intimate moment, when people talk about their relationships with their version/view/idea of god. But I prayed silently, and then while standing in the shower, letting the water do the work of pressing my back, I asked Llama to pray for me. And then, back on the bed, I asked Elias if he knew any prayers in Hebrew, and could he say some for me. They were like lullabies. I didn’t understand any of them, but I could pick out familiar words like “Elohim” and “Hallelujah” and somehow they helped.
Not long after that, I was ready to push. I’d been asking the baby to move down, move down, please move down, and finally he did. After a few, my water broke. Gushed. Popped. It was fantastic. The midwife had broken my water with Booger and I’d felt cheated in a way. Not long after my water came, Bumblebee did, too. He was wiggly and pink and didn’t cry but breathed fine on his own and sneezed out fluid. The cord was short, so we had to wait for it to go limp & white before he could nurse; he tried scooting himself up my chest. Like his brother, his eyes were open & grey upon entering the world. Unlike his brother, he did not poop on me upon exiting my body.
8:35 p.m. Llama brought me a slice of pizza, Elias & Llama took pictures, Mom cried, Booger bestowed his brother with kisses & said, “excuse me” when he wanted to nurse, too. Cindie was a bit concerned with Bumblebee’s breathing rate (it was a bit fast & accompanied by squeaking sounds), so after she did the laundry & changed the sheets & made sure I ate (mmm trail mix & vitamin water & a brownie), after Erin & Gretchen & Elias went home, she stayed, checking breathing while we slept. I’m not sure what time she left, but I think it was around midnight. We slept in our own bed, undisturbed by nurses or lights or other patients. We ate eggs for breakfast the next morning & played on the internet while nursing & dozing. We took more pictures. We took turns holding & kissing the newest member of our zoo.
Today, we did more of the same. Napping, reading, dinking on the internet. Cindie came by to check on us (has it already been two days?) and noted a slight yellow tinge. We sat in the sunshine until my legs fell asleep. We took more pictures. Elias came by for a visit & got slept on by the first baby he’s ever seen enter the world. I’d say I’d do it again, but I don’t think I will. After Booger was born, and I mean immediately after, someone (maybe my mom?) asked “Are you going to do it again?” And I replied, “Yeah. Not, like tomorrow, but eventually yeah.” I don’t feel like that again. Don’t hold me to it, but right now it feels like we’re done. Complete. The zoo is at capacity. And I like it this way.