Monday, May 13, 2013

The Birth Story: The Sequel

Nothing about this pregnancy would have part of anyone's birth plan.  It was not the birth story that any expectant mother dreams or hopes for, in fact, it was perfect in its imperfection.  But as imperfect as it was, the result was beyond anything I could have wished for.  This is the story of how William Malcolm came into the world.

It's impossible to begin this birth story without backtracking a bit to the pregnancy story.  I remember the night we found out we were having another baby.  It was a Monday night, August 27 and Trevor was giving Jack a bath.  I took a pregnancy test into our downstairs bathroom and faster than you can say "I should have chugged down one more glass of wine" 2 pink lines appeared on that stick.  I took the test upstairs to the bathroom where Jack was rolling around in the tub splashing Trevor in the face.  "Hey guess what?" I said.  "We're having a baby."  Trevor, his glasses covered in water droplets, broke out into a huge grin.  "Jack!  You're going to be a big brother!"

Three weeks later I was in the emergency room with what I thought was a pulled muscle which ended up being 3 blood clots in the deep veins of my right calf.  So began a 9 month journey that would test every fiber of my being as I made it my mission to get this baby into the world as healthy and whole as I could.

And now, the birth story.

Birth Story (n): The tale of how a pregnant woman gets a baby out from under her ribs into the waiting hands of a doctor who has gotten way too familiar with her insides without even buying her dinner first.

Tonight I taught Jack how to give Eskimo kisses on our last night as a trio. Hearing him laugh and say "more noses" was everything. Tomorrow we head to the hospital to meet this little boy. It's the ending of winter and the beginning of spring and also the changing of seasons for our little family. Prayers and good thoughts are most welcome!

Hey Mark Zuckerberg!  Were you aware that waxing poetic on your website can send a woman into labor?  Well it can!

A few minutes before 9pm on Tuesday April 30th, I sent that note out into Facebook in anticipation of the induction I was scheduled for at 5pm the following day.  For some reason, Jack didn't want to go to bed that night so Trevor, Jack and I cuddled on our bed watching a movie before he finally relented and let Trevor take him upstairs.  Looking back, I feel that he just knew something monumental was about to happen.  Jack has had a 6th sense about this pregnancy for weeks now and I think he knew somehow that we all needed one more night with just the 3 of us before everything changed.

No sooner had I hit "enter" on that status that a whopper of a contraction hit me.  A few minutes later my brother called me to say hi and wish me well and during the entire conversation?  Contractions.  Hmmm.

After another came on strong I asked Trevor to pull up a contraction timer app on his phone (modern parenting for the win).  5 minutes, 4 minutes, 6 minutes, 5 minutes.  They just weren't stopping.  You know things were getting serious when I put my bra on.  Awful contractions are no excuse for going to the hospital full native.  My mom was called.  In the words of Rafiki in "The Lion King": "It is time!"  In the meantime, our wonderful friend and next door neighbor Angie was called to come wait for my mom so someone could be with Jack.

See, all the logistics change when it's your second child.  You can't just drive willy nilly into the night to go to the hospital.  Baby monitor ranges don't extend that far.  If they did, we'd have saved a lot of money on babysitting costs.

Trevor called the after hours number for my OB practice.  Dr. Goodspeed was on call.  Oh good.  A doctor who I had met once during my entire pregnancy...again!  The same thing happened with Jack's delivery.  I had moved to this new practice to work with the midwives, so I'd never have to have a strange man gaze inside my lady parts again, but midway through my pregnancy, the practice decided to abandon the OB side and all the midwives left for other practices.  So I was left with a doctor again, but to be honest, it could have been Dr. Seuss, Dr. Pepper or Dr. Teeth on call that night and I wouldn't have cared, I was just so ready to meet my son.

Dr. Goodspeed advised Trevor to have me wait an hour and see what happened.

"NO.  We're going now." I said with a vice grip hold on our kitchen counter.

Trevor dutifully relayed the message.  This is not his first time at the rodeo.  Trevor knows that once labor starts I become a honey badger.  Dr. Goodspeed gave us the green light to come to the hospital.  I like to think that he glanced at a chart at that moment that said:  "Nancy, age 34.  Don't trifle with this broad, she doesn't mess around."  A quick hug to Angie and we set off into the night toward the hospital.

Husbands/partners/drivers, there is no winning on that drive.  If you drive too fast, you will hit every bump and pothole and be yelled at.  If you drive too slow you will be encouraged to pick. it. up!  Also, you will hit every single red light.  It's the Murphy's Law of Labor.

Trevor pulled into the drive to let me out at the door so he could park the car.  I told him I'd wait for him in the lobby.  But as soon as I got to the lobby I just made a beeline for the elevator.  There were people milling around the lobby and I didn't want to star in my own one woman interpretive dance show on deep breathing.  I asked the woman at the front desk to send my husband up to the 4th floor when he arrived.  "He's wearing a red, a brown shirt...nevermind, he has glasses."  She nodded at the delirious woman, something she must be very skilled at doing in her line of work.

Triage.  The worst.

A nurse met me at triage and handed me a hospital gown with 900 snap buttons and 350 ties before leaving me staring at this huge piece of cloth blinking.  I sort of draped it around me like a toga.  I must have looked like Little Caesar after ingesting a few of his $5 Hot 'n Readies after a long night of drinking.  A different nurse came back and said "Oh, we should have prepped that gown for you."  So I was not headed into labor looking like a Roman emperor.  By now Trevor  had found us and the nurse asked me to go pee in a cup.  Peeing in a cup while contracting is like being asked to crochet a quilt while jumping on a trampoline.  I might have gotten a single cc of pee in that cup.  I trust that they got what they needed from that droplet since they didn't bug me about it again.  Next up?  A cervical exam!

Are you someone who enjoys when people push on a bruise?  Do you take pleasure in soaking your paper cuts in a bath of salty lemon water?  Then you will love having a cervical exam while in labor.  "5cm!" she exclaimed in voice not entirely unlike the Target lady that Kristen Wiig plays on Saturday Night Live.  So by now it was clear that the train had left the station and wasn't slowing down.  Neither was my heartbeat.  And then, the big question.  "What is your plan for pain management?"

It's no secret to anyone who has asked that I did not have an epidural with Jack.  I am not anti-epidural, but during that entire pregnancy, I had such faith in my body, things were so easy.  Not this time.  The pain was excruciating and everything was happening so fast.  My blood pressure was on the rise.  I started to cry and looked at Trevor.  I told him I wanted some pain relief.  I wanted something about this pregnancy to not hurt so badly.  After more than 500 injections and 20 weeks of crippling nausea, I wanted to end this pregnancy with some sense of calm.  As much as I was dreading being induced, the thought that things would be controlled was comforting to me.  I don't regret that decision at all as I was afforded some calm and Trevor and I were able to rest for awhile before the main event.

At my hospital, the nurses ask you about 1,000 questions while you're in active labor.  Everything from "Are you opposed to having the birth announcement in the local paper?" to "Are we tying your tubes today?" Not only do they ask you these questions, they have you sign documents in the height of your delirium.  Could these documents possibly hold up in a court of law?  I don't even remember half of what I was signing.  I'm certain my signature looked something like this:

After 4 hours in the hospital, at 2:45 in the morning, the pushing began.  Exactly 20 minutes later I met my son.  May 1st at 3:05 in the morning- the very first May baby born in the hospital.  I don't know if I could ever adequately describe in words what it's like to meet your child for the first time.  This little stranger suddenly becomes the most familiar person in the entire room to you.  A long lost friend who has found you again.  That's just what it's like.  His cries were loud and strong.  They placed his warm body on my chest as I looked into his eyes for the first time.  Deep dark eyes crying out the last vestiges of some exciting past life.  We stared at each other as my tears mixed with his.  "We made it, little one.  Happy birthday sweet boy, we made it."  I held him closely, this little miracle who had laid alongside me in the trenches of this complicated pregnancy.  We made it.

Trevor cut the cord.  It splashed in his face.  In his face.  I thought I'd share that detail to add some levity to what has quickly become a very emotional tale.  Being my birth coach is a full contact sport.  It's safe to say I wouldn't have been in this state without him, but it's a guarantee that I couldn't have gotten through any of it without him either.  People ask me if I ever wrote a birth plan.  I haven't, but I can tell you if I did it would have two things written down- Keep an open mind and have Trevor alongside me the whole time.

"I think he's a William," said Trevor the proud father.  "Yeah," I agreed.  "Happy birthday William Malcolm."  He is named for two very important people in our lives.  William Shakespeare, the man who brought his parents together and Captain Malcolm Reynolds, the beloved hero of Trevor's favorite TV show.  A wish for him to live his life with passion and adventure, to be observant of the world around him while maintaining a healthy skepticism and sense of humor.  A strong name for a strong little man who will surely be able to hold his own with his big brother, who, I am happy to say, is completely in love with him.

Will was born on the most beautiful day of the entire year.  We brought him home on a Friday afternoon.  I sat in the front seat with the window down breathing in the warm spring air.  In the short time we'd been away, our lilac bush had come into full bloom right outside of our bedroom window.  Nearly two weeks later, we continue to gaze at our lilacs while we nurse and nap and bond.  Winter is officially over and spring is here.  A new season, a new baby, new life, so much hope.

We just celebrated our first Mother's Day together surrounded by family.  I ended the day on my bed, one son tucked under my arm and the other curled up on my chest.  How did this happen? How am I suddenly a mother of 2?  Who will these little boys grow up to be?  My sister wrote this to my mom for Mother's Day, "Our souls choose our parents."  I am so thankful these little souls chose me.

And that, my friends, is my birth story- the sequel.  The story of how the most imperfect journey can still lead you to exactly where you need to be.  They say that sequels never quite live up to the original.  This sequel certainly had more spectacle and adventure, but I like to think that my two birth stories are the Godfather and Godfather II of birth stories, each one wonderful in their own right.  If we decide to have a 3rd baby, I will change this metaphor to Indiana Jones.  No one deserves a Godfather III birth story.  No one.