That Time I Had A Baby (Part 4)

So all along I’ve been promising myself I’d finish writing Sadie’s birth story before she turns one, and looks like I’m just narrowly making it: she’ll be one in about 12 hours. So here, without further ado, is the conclusion to my overly long and poorly remembered birth story!

Upon arrival at the birth center, I found out I had succeeded in getting through all of early and a lot of of active labor at home, with only my husband and mom for support. I’d known that it had been a long night, but I was still pleasantly surprised when the midwife told me I was 8 cm dilated.

The face of someone who is 8 cm dilated.

This is the face of someone who is 8 cm dilated.

My water still hadn’t broken, though, so they told me they’d need to break it to check for meconium. I tried not to wince as Phary, the midwife, pulled out a rather ominous-looking white plastic device with a pointy end that was destined for my nether regions. I thankfully felt nothing as she broke my water; a moment later I felt a warm gush and said to her shakily, “funny, I always imagined it would be cold…” At the same time, I realized gratefully that the other midwife, Mary Lou, had started running the water in the big, luxurious tub in the adjoining bathroom. I waited for the tub to fill, trying to find the most comfortable position in this new environment. I got on all fours, grasping onto the big fancy headboard for support while Michael applied pressure to my lower back and hips. Each contraction felt more intense than the last; each break in between was more blessedly welcome. Finally when the tub was full and ready, I lowered my unwieldy, aching body into the water.

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Sweet relief.

Phary brought me a pillow, which I leaned onto while she poured warm water down my back. When a contraction would hit, Michael and Phary held my hands while I fought my way through it.

100539_BW-2Not long after I got in the tub (I think? Time is fuzzy at this point!), our doula, Keela, arrived, much to my relief. She immediately set to work trying to help me relax. For the next 45 minutes or so, I worked my way through various positions and techniques in the tub to get through each contraction.

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Keela works her magic.

Between contractions, I felt like I was floating. My consciousness was gradually moving back to a dark place in the back of my skull where all that mattered was the feelings rolling through my body.  The specifics at this point all blur together. I know at one point Phary told me I was almost fully dilated except for a small “lip” of my cervix, and told me she was going to put her finger inside and wanted me to “push it out.” My husband got a kick out of that. After that, I remember it was time to push. When a contraction hit, I’d like to say that I breathed deeply, went inward and rode the wave of each surge with serenity and focus, but that wouldn’t be true. I screamed when I pushed. Oh, did I scream! I was like a petulant child, kicking and fighting, arching my back and clenching my jaw with each one. They would tell me to push and I’d howl things like, “I CAN’T!” And yet after it passed, I’d apologize for being “such a jerk.” I remember feeling like the pain had taken over my body and I just needed to get away, out of my body. After about 45 minutes in the tub, the midwives decided it would be best if I got out and pushed in bed instead, so out I went. Apparently they tried to move me into different positions for pushing, but the only way I was comfortable was on my back. (The doula-in-training in me is appalled now!) I remember pushing was so, so hard. At this point I was just so tired and so ready to be done. Clearly the exhaustion was taking its toll because at one point I remember they gave me an oxygen mask. After about ten minutes of pushing in the bed, though, they told me they could see her head, with lots of dark hair! Someone told me to reach down and feel her, so I did. I remember thinking, “whoa, her head is so squishy!” (Not “whoa, what a beautiful moment,” or “whoa, my baby’s almost here,” but…”squishy!”) I kept pushing for what felt like either an eternity or a split second but what I know now to have been about ten more minutes. I felt the proverbial ring of fire, which felt exactly how it sounds, but at that point I didn’t even care. I remember reaching the point where I felt like I’d hit a wall. I knew I simply couldn’t go on any more. I reached down deep inside, somewhere primal and wordless, and pulled out another push. I pushed out of frustration, out of spite, with what felt like the last ounces of energy left in me.

And out she came.

As soon as her head was out, I gasped with relief. The rest of her body came out quickly and easily, like an afterthought. I remember saying to everyone, “wow, it really does feel better immediately after!” And there she was: this tiny, slippery, lavender creature, real and alive and solid on my chest.

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Mary Lou and fresh baby butt.

She was only there a few seconds before they took her to check her; she hadn’t made any noise yet and they wanted to make sure she was okay. There were a few tense moments before I heard her squeak, and then she was returned to me, rapidly getting pinker and wearing a funny little hat. She nestled in between my breasts and I looked at her and said “hi, baby.” There was a flurry of activity around me, midwives talking and cleaning, all of us laughing nervous, relieved laughter. My husband got in bed next to me and I turned to him and said, “what do you think? Is she Sadie?” He looked at her and back at me and said yes.

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The Naming of the Baby.

After that was phone calls, family arriving, breastfeeding lessons. Sadie was weighed, measured, swaddled, and ogled.

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Sadie and Papa.

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I remember feeling giddy and giggly, like all the intensity and hard work of the last 12 hours had been a dream I had just woken up from. All that divine post-birth oxytocin was working its magic. Everything was sweet and hazy and strange and blissful. The midwives informed me I hadn’t torn at all. Keela went and got us sandwiches. Countless cell phone pictures were taken. Our little baby burrito met her aunt, three grandmothers, and two grandfathers all in a span of her first couple hours.

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Aunt Allie.

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Sadie and GG.

And then, only a few hours later, we got to pack up and go home. We’d arrived in noise and chaos and urgency, but we left quietly, tentatively and peacefully. Our little family got home, exhausted and bewildered and fifty percent larger than when we’d left that morning.

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…and that’s how it all began.

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That Time I Had A Baby (Part 3)

Active labor crept up on me like a sudden thunderstorm.  The signs had been there, building all day, but I kept on going until I found myself at home in our bedroom, overcome by an intense contraction, unable to stand up straight without supporting myself.  My body was rebelling against my well-maintained facade of “I’m okay!”-ness and was folding in upon itself in waves of increasingly powerful cramps.  This was the point when I realized that I needed my husband and I needed him NOW.  However, I suspect childbirth was the farthest thing from his mind at that point.  When I texted him something along the lines of “I’MINALOTOFPAINANDIWISHYOUWEREHERE,” he’d been out all day with friends – it was both Cinco de Mayo and Kentucky Derby weekend – and was, understandably, slightly inebriated.  Still, the urgency of my text was not lost on him, and he made the nearly mile-long walk from the bar to our place in record time, arriving concerned and panting.  He went into action mode, leaving to accompany my mom to get her stuff (she was staying in an Air B&B just around the corner from us) after making an order for Chinese delivery and leaving some cash with me in case it came while they were gone.  And of course the delivery guy came not only while they were gone but while I was in the middle of a contraction.  I waddled to the door, smiling wincingly and hoping that the wad of cash I’d tossed in his direction was enough.  I clambered back into bed and hunkered down to try to breathe through the pain while timing my contractions with my app.

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Michael helps me with the newest pain management technique: hoodie-ing

Now, at this point in the story, things get a bit fuzzy for me and I need to rely a bit more on old text messages and my mom’s photos to piece together the progression of events.  Despite the fact that I had accepted the fact that labor had begun, I was still reluctant to contact our doula, Keela, but at around midnight I gave in and sent her this text:

Hey, it’s Emily … I don’t think much is happening yet but I think I may be having some contractions?

Yep.  Those are the words of someone who was unable to stand up straight due to the amount of pain she was in – someone who had, in fact, been having contractions for over 12 hours.  Apparently I still wasn’t quite believing it.  I told her that I’d had 16 contractions in the last hour, ranging anywhere from 1 to 8.5 minutes apart, and she suggested I try to get some sleep.  And try I did.  Man, did I try.  My body, however, had different plans.  I tried different positions with no luck.  I decided to labor in the bath for a while, which was probably ridiculous to see since we have a 3/4 size bathtub, and I was a million months pregnant (and legit almost 200 pounds).  I remember the warm water was nice, but being on my back like a flipped-over turtle was not the most comfortable position for me during contractions, so back to bed I went.  I spend the next few hours there, breathing and moaning through each wave, in the only position I could tolerate: face down, ass up (“that’s the way I like to…labor”).

In the thick of it, with husband and mama standing by.

By about 4:00 AM, my contractions were happening 1 – 2 minutes apart, lasting almost a minute each time.  At Keela’s suggestion, we called the midwives at the birth center to let them know what was up.  The midwife on duty suggested – maddeningly – that I drink some water and try to sleep.  At some point I must have requested a bendy straw, because I remember drinking my water out of one as I curled up in bed.  I vaguely remember both my mom and my husband comforting me as the contractions become increasingly intense.  The next couple of hours passed this way, with me moaning through each contraction as it came and trying desperately to sleep in between them.  I don’t think I slept much, but I must have gone to a place mentally that was somewhere between sleep and waking where my only focus was my body and the intense waves rolling through it.  Somewhere in the early dawn hours of May 5, my husband called the midwives again since I could barely talk, and they told us we could come in to the birth center around 9:30.  It was a gorgeous, sunny early spring day; as we left the house, my mother proclaimed, “it’s a beautiful day to have a baby!” to which I responded “SHUT. UP.”  I remember specifically trying to walk down the driveway like everything was normal – I didn’t want someone to drive by and see a massively pregnant woman obviously in pain and pull over thinking something was wrong!  It was no small feat standing up straight and walking to that car.  The birth center is less than three miles from our place, but the journey there was a bit of a comedy of errors.  I clambered in the back and assumed what was apparently the most comfortable position, with my feet pressed up agains the window and my head and arms in the newly-installed car seat next to me.  The main road between our place and the birth center is riddled with potholes, every one of which I felt resonating through my entire being that day.  And of course, we found ourselves stuck behind a tediously slow driver for most of the way.  So it was a bit like a scene from some awful birth-themed rom-com: screaming pregnant woman in the backseat, frantic husband swearing at the traffic while trying to navigate a treacherous road.  If I hadn’t been the screaming pregnant woman, I’m sure I would’ve been amused.  When we finally arrived at the birth center, my husband ran in to let them know we’d arrived.  Apparently the midwife took one look at his face and knew we’d need a wheelchair, which she mercifully wheeled out to me.  We skipped the exam room and went right up to the room where I’d be delivering.

Our fancy room.

Once I was in the bed, the midwife, Phary, checked me.  I almost didn’t believe her when she smiled and said, “wow, you’ve been working hard!  You’re eight centimeters with a bulging bag of waters.”  I was so incredibly relieved.  I looked her in the eye and said, “I could kiss you right now.”

Stay tuned for the fourth and final installment…

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That Time I Had A Baby (Part 1)

Hi, friends and what few readers I may have out there.  Clearly, my hopes to chronicle my pregnancy on here were in vain.  It was a whirlwind 40 weeks, and although I loved being pregnant, I never quite found the time or energy to write about it.  I know someday I’ll regret this, but there’s no fixing that, so onward!  Let me tell you about our daughter!

GUYS WE HAVE A DAUGHTER!

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Yup, I made this person.

We have a daughter and her name is Sadie.  She has big blue eyes, pouty little lips and a full head of dark, fluffy hair.  She looks like her papa most of the time but when she looks like me, I swear she looks just like how I remember looking as a tiny person.  She has a huge smile and a husky little voice and a dimple under her left eye.  She is exactly who I was expecting and nothing like what I had imagined.  In short, she is magical.

And not to brag, but I brought her into the world!  Sadie was born on her due date(!), May 5, 2013.  The story of her birth is, at least to me, crazy and funny and fascinating.  Let me impart it to you.

I had planned to work up until I went into labor so I could maximize my maternity leave, but as my due date approached, I could feel myself slowing down.  My body was ready to be done. At my midwife appointment the week before I was due, my midwife looked me over and asked, “if I wrote you a note, would you feel okay leaving work?”  And yes, I decided that would make me feel okay.  While I was concerned that I’d be sitting around for weeks waiting for this kid, I was undeniably tired, and my commute to work, which included a bit of walking each way, was becoming more and more taxing.  So I went in the next day, note in hand, and informed them that that day – Tuesday, April 30, would be my last.  As it turned out, that was just in time.

After making sure my desk was in order and my temp replacement properly trained, I hunkered down for what I thought could be days of nesting and waiting.  I was born 10 days late and my husband was three weeks late, so I knew there was a chance that this kiddo would be similarly tardy.  Still, by the third day after I left work, I’d felt nothing, and was already starting to feel antsy and impatient.  I hadn’t even reached my due date, mind you, but I was just so. Ready. To be done.  That Friday, May 3, we went out to see our friends Hallelujah The Hills play a show at the Sinclair.  I hadn’t been doing much going out at that point, but I thought maybe dancing around at a rock show would help things get moving.

Hallelujah The Hills that night, playing some baby-freeing music.

We had a great time – the band even gave us an impending-baby shoutout – but I didn’t feel any different when I went to bed that night than I had before.

And then the next morning, Saturday, May 4, I woke up to my first contraction.

…to be continued!

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Transmissions from Preggo Brain

So last week, I somehow managed to forget my winter coat at home when going to upstate NY for Christmas.  While this was certainly not its first appearance, this was definitely the best example of what I’ve been calling “Preggo Brain.” I realize this is not a phenomenon that is unique to me, but it has nonetheless been interesting.  Aside from apparently deciding I didn’t need a winter coat in December, my own brand of Preggo Brain has looked like this:

  • Walking into a telephone pole while texting
  • Narrowly avoiding a meltdown when being told at Target that their registry was down
  • Falling over onto two chairs at a bar
  • Bawling at Liz Lemon’s “Planty” dream sequence on 30 Rock

…so basically, pregnancy – specifically, the second trimester – has made me clumsy and emotional and maybe a bit of a jerk.  Also, Preggo Brain seems to be bad for blogging.  I need to get better at that; this is a magical time that I need to be documenting, or something, etc. etc.  Still, I love the perks, like having people give up their seats for me on the T, and this genius belly band thingy that enables me to wear my pants COMPLETELY unzipped.  Seriously, I’ll be wearing this thing for the rest of my life.

In other bebe news, we found out a few weeks ago that our spawn is a LADY BABY (with an absurdly adorable nose):

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The creature!

And, here’s a little visual update for those of y’alls who like belly pictures:

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12 weeks: more beer than baby

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She’s half-cooked!

(Yeah, I need to clean that mirror before the next belly photo.)

So, that’s what’s up in the land of my womb and its inhabitant.  I’ll keep you posted on whatever bizarre things may happen next.  Oh, and Happy Effing New Year, friends.  Needless to say, I’m pretty damn excited for 2013.  I hope you are, too.

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Another Insta(nt)gra(tification)m!

For your viewing pleasure, I have Instagrammed views of all sorts of summer things: camping, dogs, babies, sunburn, karaoke, just to name a few.

1. PANDA RUG!
2. Dressed up as Dr. Girlfriend for our show at the Rusty Gear Con.
3. Buffy and the creature from Alien, before our private gig.
4. Sunday night karaoke crowd.
5. Elmo, is that you?
6. In the back of a windowless van, en route to 4th of July hangout.
7. Nicholas.
8. Lunch break.
9. Me, Paul, and the 87 bus.
10. Karaoke magic.
11. Trying to sell my stuff.
12. Vintage shirt tag.
13. Sam “the Beagle” Sensale.
14. My beautiful post-flea-market sunburn.
15. At the new falafel place in Davis Square.
16. Lucy, the newest human I know.  (Born just about two weeks ago to my friends Nancy and Mike)
17. Definitely the coolest thing that’s happened to me at work thus far.
18. Snacks at our office’s carnival-themed summer party.
19. My current favorite beer, enjoyed on our camping trip.
20. New Kork-Ease sandals that were waiting for me when we returned from camping.  They were on sale!
21. Burly-q rehearsal.

Bohemian Rhapsody.

So we have reached the time of year where I refer to myself as a “Phish widow,” for my husband has once again given in to the siren song – and flying glow sticks – of Phish.  Some people find it hard to believe, but it’s true: my beard-sporting, indie-rock-listening lover man has a secret jam-band hippie streak.  This time he’s gone for a week, so I decided to get out of town myself, hopping a bus up to Vermont to see our friends Jen and Mike this weekend.  They’ve just bought a house, a lovely old colonial full of creaky hardwood floors and hidden staircases.  I hadn’t seen their two-year-old daughter, Ella, since last August, and with baby #2 set to make an appearance next month, I figured it would be a good opportunity for some quality time with much-missed friends.

And quality it was.  I always forget just how much I love Vermont until I’m in it.  I tend to consider myself a city girl at heart, but there is something about being up there that quiets a part of me that I sometimes forget needs quieting.  It was a weekend of good company, good food, good conversations and even better photo ops.

Ella in the morning.

She’s got her dad’s curls and her mom’s dimples.

She took me on a “nature walk.”

Mommying.

Mike owns a pottery studio where we hung out during the day on Saturday, playing with clay and listening to the Grateful Dead.  After becoming thoroughly covered in clay dust and teaching Ella to say “you’re harshing my mellow,” there was a little thrifting,  some chocolate malts, and backyard swing-pushing/grass-sitting/bug-biting-my-booty (and also teaching her the word “booty” – oops).

So many curls.

Jen + belly.

Jen and I then spent the evening toddler-free, puttering around Montpelier.  There were burgers, obscenely posed Star Wars action figures, and plenty of girl-talking.

We are grown-ups.

Father’s Day morning was French toast and rambunctious toddler dancing, after which I hopped back on the bus and headed to my little city.  Now I’m kind of still longing a bit for mountains and farm markets and moccasins and barefoot toddlers…

Sometimes I have this fantasy where we all pack up and start our own crunchy little quasi-commune up in the mountains of Vermont somewhere.  I’d probably have to be in charge of photography or sewing or something since my agricultural and culinary skills are severely lacking, but I suppose that’s where everyone else will come in.

Funny how, once upon a time, communal living was kind of a vague threat my mom would talk about from time to time, and now it’s my own fantasy.  I guess we really do all become our parents eventually.