Saturday, August 2, 2014

Family of Five

The last month of my pregnancy was no joke. For 18 days, I was on labor-alert. It all started with a middle of the night GI issue (TMI, I know), which falsely put into my head thoughts of "you'll have this baby early, before your due date" and those thoughts stuck around, day after day, until I was a week late and woke up to my husband saying "let's go to the water park with the kids today" as though that's a perfectly acceptable thing to do when you're 41 weeks pregnant. I mean, I guess if I hadn't been having contractions that morning when I woke up - which he didn't know about yet, at that point... he's not so cruel as to suggest the water park with a 4 year old and 1 year old while his 41 week pregnant wife is contracting - I would have been game to go. The previous weekend, we hit up the beach on both Saturday and Sunday. I even stuffed my 40 week pregnant belly into a swimsuit and got in the water with the kids a few times!

So this particular Sunday morning, when he suggested the water park and I hadn't yet told him about the contractions, I unfairly cursed at him in my head but in reality I said "I don't think the water park is gonna happen, I'm feeling crampy and contractiony." But at this point, since I was on day 18 of saying "maybe THIS will be the day" with feigning enthusiasm and confidence, he just slightly rolled his eyes at me and thought "suuuuuure" and suggested we walk downtown to get donuts instead. Now he was talking. The donuts part, I could get behind. The walking downtown part, not so much. It's about 1 mile one way, and my gut knew that was no bueno. I told him as much, and agreed to drive downtown and meet him and the girls there, as he was bound and determined to get out and get some fresh air.

I had a few contractions at the donut shop, but they were weak enough that I could manage to just slightly grimace instead of letting out primal, embarrassing noises. I'd save those for later. I texted my mom - who lives 45 minutes away - and waved the "probably in labor, but wait for my official call" flag. It only took about 30 minutes for me to follow it up with a "okay, yeah, why don't you come over" message.

She arrived, I asked her to snap a "last picture as a family of four" shot, which turned out like this, mid-contraction which I admit is kind of awkward to look at:

And then this, once the toddler joined us: 

It was a gorgeous summer morning. We took off towards University of Michigan hospital and I cursed the city of Ann Arbor for their shitty roads. Nothing like driving over potholes while your vagina is stretching open to make you have strong opinions about where the road budget should put their money. Luckily for me, my water I didn't break in the car like it did with my last labor. 

Arrival! Amen!

I was 6 cm when we arrived at the hospital, and even though this wasn't my first tango with childbirth, I was nonetheless relieved to get confirmation that I was indeed in labor. I think that inherently, I'm a rule-follower and someone who listens to authority, so I was sort of, I don't know, waiting for the authority figures - the doctors - to tell me I was in labor. I know that sounds silly, and I'm one of those people who's all "listen to what your body is telling you, no one knows your body better than you, you'll know what to do and when to do it"; sort of a wanna-be crunchy type. Not full blown, obviously, since I was waiting for the person with the medical degree to confirm that "yup, that horrible feeling of your vagina stretching open is indeed your vagina stretching open". Man, how many times should I work "vagina stretching open" into this post? 

So once it was established I was in labor, my labor nurse asked me to get into the wheelchair to go into the delivery room. "What? You're not going to wheel me down there in this triage bed?" I literally asked out loud. Which was probably one of the ONLY perks of my last labor - that they wheeled me in the triage bed down to a delivery room when I was 10 cm dilated with a head about to be birthed when they checked me upon arrival.

So I found the energy to get into a wheelchair to make our way down to a legit room. It feels funny and lazy and dramatic to write that, but honestly I didn't think I could move from a hospital bed to a wheelchair. My labor nurse, who had this really dry sense of humor and communication style, promised me "I really think you have it in you" in this Darlene Conner voice. Can you picture that? I simultaneously wanted to throttle her but also kiss her. I loved the honesty but I really didn't want to commit to that level of cardiovascular activity when I had a much larger task at hand. 

Once in my real room, I labored in the tub for a while. At one point, I painfully proclaimed my water had broken. "That, or I just totally forcefully peed in this tub." Enter the primal, embarrassing noises. I just didn't know what else to do but say different variations of Ouch, Ow, Oh Man, Fuck, Damn, Shit with different variations of moaning, yelling, groaning. So yeah, that happened. Then came the instruction disguised as a polite suggestion to get out of the tub and into the bed. I wasn't hoping for a water birth, and I wasn't necessarily opposed to getting out of the tub, but you guys had better rig up some make-shift construction equipment to haul my wet naked body from this tub to that hospital bed, is what I was thinking. Something along those lines. 

By some magic voodoo force, I did indeed make it to the hospital bed. I have no idea how, I think I might have blacked out and they brought out catapult equipment, or just dragged me by my shoulders battlefield style. I don't really know. All I know is that I was on the bed, with my ass and back facing the doctors, hands up at the top of the bed, continuing with The Noises. I vaguely remember hearing another polite suggestion, this time coming from the young male resident, asking me to move into a laying-on-my-back position to check me. I just went right ahead and pretended I didn't hear him, and as I did, I heard my doctor whisper to the resident, "it's okay, she can deliver in that position, whatever feels best to her." I seriously could have kissed her. Seriously. I sent her a ESP high five. That was exactly what I wanted to and needed to hear. My wanna-be crunchy "birth however I want to birth" Mama spirit wanted to birth in some hippie yoga position. Funny though, because once I heard her say that, I did realize that I'd rather deliver in the typical "on your back" position, even though it felt like death to try to actually exist in that position while a baby was crowning. 

So again by some voodoo magic, I was able to pull off the unimaginable physical feat of moving from kneeling to laying on my back. Soooo dramatic, I know. But I felt like that 100 lb gymnast who was on American Gladiator or whatever that show was that went around Facebook. I felt like an Ironman. And I hadn't even pushed the baby out yet!

So I finally make it into position, and this is the funny part, he was just born. Just like that. With one contraction, his head emerged, and the next, his body. He birthed himself, I swear. That's not to say it didn't hurt like a motherfucker, because trust me, it did. But the nice part was that I didn't really need to push. Out he came into this world, just like that. A darling little boy, a son. I was a mom again. My childbirth amnesia set in immediately, and my natural birth high took over. I took this picture shortly after he was born. 

Here he is in his newborn nugget glorious state!  Seven pounds of beautiful baby goodness. 

My mom and mother-in-law brought the girls to the hospital to meet their baby brother and it was... crowded. We were elated but it was also... overwhelming. It was... requiring ellipses. ;)

But ultimately, it was really happy.

We were at the hospital for two nights due to my group b strep status, and we were a little bored by day two. We watched TV... we took so-bored-please-help-me selfies,

we introduced the baby to the glorious state of Michigan, 

we took postpartum "look I'm just like Princess Kate LOLOLOLOL" selfies, 

we were just excited to get home and out of our hospital prison. Well, let me tell you, that was a rookie mistake, the being bored and wanting to go home part, by two not-so-rookie parents. I don't know what we were thinking. Because the second we got home, we both secretly wished we were back in the hospital. The girls were so loud, so excited but so loud, they were totally off of their schedule, they were still adjusting to the fact that all of this "soon we'll have a baby" talk finally came true. I went upstairs for a postpartum cry and ended up napping for three hours. The first night home was a little rough. Hell, the first week was a bit wobbly, to say the least. But things got a lot better after that first week.

This baby does a lot of the following: 

Occasionally he opens his eyes!

All in all, he is a keeper. We will keep him. The receipt on him has expired anyway, and we'd just get store credit for the lowest marked price anyway, but that matters zero amounts and I don't want to trade him for another model anyway. He is wonderful and lovey and soft and sweet and I love him so. <3


Jenna said...

I came over to talk to you about the comment you left on my guest for My Life In Transition but first a few things:

You are really funny. The receipt has expired. Ha!

I love that picture of him on your chest right after he was born. It's really sweet.

The princess Kate reference made me laugh!

I came to your blog to thank you for your comment on Julia's post. I (possibly a bit defensively) wrote that knowing that it wouldn't be what everyone wanted to hear, but I knew that it was what I wanted to hear when reading the posts of others. I know I spend a lot of my time feeling lost and confused, wondering how all of the other women with children are making it through the day, and I wish there was more talk about the steps people are taking to fit it all together. Maybe it's just my polarizing personality, but maybe it's not something you can write about unless you're willing to develop a thick skin? I stopped reading the comments after the first day, it was very discouraging.

I asked Julia to forward me the supportive ones though so I could write and express gratitude for the support. It really means a lot.

Jenna said...

(P.S. - I really wish I knew how to not write defensively, how to write without any critics in my head. :( I'll keep working at it???)

Erin said...

Aw, so you had two girls and a boy and I had two boys and a girl! Your princess Kate comment made me laugh out loud at my desk just now. Hope all is going well as a family of five! :)