Saturday, September 13, 2008

Birth Story, Part One

My mom left early this morning to drive back to Florida, and the house is so quiet without her. My dad had also been here for a couple of days. He was up in New York during the birth, helping to care for my sister after her accident (she ended up needing surgery and is now enduring hours and hours of physical therapy to get full range of motion back in her arm). When she was finally able to get around on her own, Dad took a bus down from NYC to DC on Thursday and had been holding and kissing his grandson non-stop until last night.

We said goodbye last night, just in case we were still sleeping when they left this morning. But around 5:30 a.m. I heard them wheeling their luggage to the car and I scooped Leo up in my arms and ran outside barefoot so they could say goodbye one last time. We were all crying, except for Leo.
I am trying not to cry right now. I think back to when my mom offered to come help me for these three weeks, and how I briefly wondered if it would be better for Mike and I to muddle through without a witness. Not that I didn't want my mom here, but I thought I might need my space.
I couldn't have been more wrong. I honestly don't know how I would have survived those first days without her. Mike is home from work for one more week, and then I will be on my own.

I am sort of terrified.
Anyway, to distract myself from her absence, I am working on my birth story. Here is part one. And please don't worry about me- I really am feeling better every day. I just wish there was some way to hurry these hormones on their way.
In the meantime, this is making me smile:

Birth Story, Part One

We had scheduled our last midwife appointment for Thursday, August 28, 2008—the day before my estimated due date. At the appointment I was 90% effaced and still just one measly centimeter dilated. A little disappointing, but I tried to remind myself that it didn’t mean anything. I could go into labor right here, on this examination table! Like, RIGHT NOW! Or… now! Or… in thirty seconds! Or I could go into labor on my way to work and have to call for an ambulance and end up having a stranger deliver my baby on the side of the highway! I could be on the evening news!

(this is my version of positive thinking)

Back to reality. Catherine the midwife was checking for the baby’s heartbeat with the Doppler. The seconds ticked slowly by as she moved the Doppler over my belly, looking for that familiar whoosh whoosh whoosh. Back and forth, back and forth. I remained calm until her fourth attempt, during which my breath came quickly and my eyes filled with tears. Oh, god. WHERE ARE YOU, BABY? Here is was, the realization of my worst fears! My baby was dead, my precious baby, and I didn’t even get to meet him! And then suddenly Catherine moved the Doppler to the right and


I burst into tears and Mike rushed up to the examination table with a box of Kleenex.

“You scared the shit out of me!” I sobbed to Catherine.

“It’s okay,” she said. “Sometimes they like to hide. He’s very much alive and his heart is beating like crazy!”

Then it was time for Catherine to strip my membranes, after which she pulled out her gloved hand and announced gleefully, “Look, blood!” Mike paled slightly. “That’s good,” Catherine assured him.

I smiled gamely.

We made a follow-up appointment for the Tuesday after Labor Day weekend, just in case nothing happened before then. Before I left, Catherine remarked to Mike, “You both want a natural birth, and I think this one can do it.” She patted me on the shoulder and I felt my eyes well up again.

Have I mentioned that I love midwives?

I’d been planning to go to work after the appointment, but soon felt so crampy that I had to go home instead. My mom had been at our house since Monday evening, eagerly anticipating the beginning of my labor. And within a couple of hours, it seemed that all of us would get our wish. The general cramping had given way to contractions that lasted all day and had me hunching over the shopping cart as my mom and I wound through the aisles of Target and Wegman’s. The contractions were irregular, but painful. We called the doula, who agreed that the signs were good and encouraged me to sleep if possible. That evening I took a hot bath to help me relax, and then drifted off.

At some point I woke up in the blackness of my bedroom and realized that the contractions had stopped. No. NO! I got up and walked briskly around the room. I marched up and down the stairs. But my uterus was quiet once again.

Friday morning I woke up depressed and without even a stitch of pain. The long holiday weekend stretched ahead of me, and we had no plans besides, you know, HAVING A BABY. I knew I would not be pregnant forever, and yet I couldn’t help believing it. Ridiculously, assurances from my mother of “You WILL have this baby!” were enormously helpful.

“I WILL have this baby, I WILL have this baby!” I repeated to myself as needed. I wandered around the baby’s room, touching his clothes and crib and trying to picture myself in the rocking chair with a baby in my arms.

On Labor Day Monday, there was still no baby. My mom and I went to see Mama Mia! as a distraction. I normally despise musicals, so that tells you how desperate I was. The baby kicked crazily during each ABBA song. “My son likes disco!” I whispered to her, and we watched as the popcorn bucket hopped and bumped along my belly.

Finally, it was Tuesday morning and time for the “just-in-case” appointment. DAMMIT. I smiled grimly at the receptionist and told her that it was nothing personal, but I was really hoping that I wouldn't see her again for six more weeks. She nodded and said she would pray harder this time.

Mike and I mentally prepared to hear that there was no further progress, but to my surprise, Catherine announced that I was 100% effaced and 3 centimeters dilated. Seems my cervix had not just been playing around last Thursday! I was elated.

She stripped my membranes again (again showing me the bloody glove), and then handed me a pad and told us to meet her in her office. We had to talk about scheduling an induction.

(Part Two)

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Blogger His suzy said...

Lion has such a cute litte nose!

I cry every time my mom leaves after a visit, so I can only guess how much I would cry in your shoes!

Can't wait to hear the rest of the story. I know there's a comment around here somewhere about a bloody glove (a la O.J.) but I'm just not finding it. lol

1:43 PM  
Blogger bdogg_mcgee said...

You mean I have to WAIT FOR MORE?!?!?!?

*big sigh*

The Lion, he is a cutie. :)

9:06 PM  
Anonymous Frema said...

It's so amazing how differently women approach the post-partum period. Except for a few visits from family and friends, Luke and I were on our own when we brought Kara home, and I liked it that way. Like you mentioned, I was afraid to have a witness around who might judge me for doing things the wrong way. Plus, I was having a hard time with breastfeeding and pumping, AND I often forgot to offer the baby when we did have people over. I wouldn't have done well with a long-term visitor. I blame it on being an "Oldest" who is used to giving advice and help, not getting it.

I'm glad *you* had your mom, though, and that she was such a big help to you. Mine cries at the end of almost every visit, and that makes ME cry, so I know how that feels!

11:27 AM  
Blogger BabelBabe said...

hang in there.
email me if you want my phone number so you have someone to call when you're going nuts and/or dying of boredom....

h has never taken longer than two days off, and my mom is gone. i am soooo envious : )

1:46 PM  
Blogger Caro said...

Great story so far.

Doesn't it make your heart feel like it's going to burst with love every time you look at him?

11:24 PM  

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