At around 1:20am, I got up to use the restroom and felt a contraction. One that hurt a little, even. "Could just be because I needed to pee," I thought. I laid back down with some nervous energy fizzling down my spine. I closed my eyes, determined to go back to sleep. Contraction #2. My eyes flashed open. Maybe? When contraction #3 struck by 1:45, I knew. I
To the car. I blasted the a/c. Called my mom. Called Stephanie. Put in my earbuds and channeled some inner-calm with the Hypnobabies track for the first stage of labor. I opened my eyes just a couple of times the entire trip, none of the clinging to the handle above the passenger seat as before. Just calm. Focus on breath. On opening. On excitement to meet my baby.
Sometimes things go just as they should, or just as one might hope. That was certainly the case with my nurse for this labor and delivery--Whitney. She was undaunted by my desire to have a natural childbirth, only providing corny jokes and a calm attitude. I donned my hospital gown, focused inward as conversation between the nurses, my husband, Stephanie & my mom swirled around me. IV in. Fluids started. Questions answered by Chris. I labored quietly, remembering to focus on the word "peace," to keep my jaw relaxed and to focus on the good work my body was doing to bring this baby into the world.
After many promises of being able to get up "soon," it was finally deemed enough time on the monitors. I used the restroom. I faced contractions by standing, hands braced on the bed in front of me, swaying my hips. Movement, so important. No reclining. I sat and rested in between contractions. This continued. . . for a time? Time was not quantifiable in this period. It just was one contraction at a time. Chris provided pressure on my back. I had to make noise. Words of encouragement from Whitney, nurse divine. "Stupid," I thought. "What made this seem the right path? Why did Ina May lie about this just being pressure?" Oh the self-doubt of transition, that stage of final opening from 8-10cm. I tried to cling to the words of my friend, Kim, "Just when you think you can't handle anymore, it's time to push." "Oh, please let this be true," I thought desperately to myself.
I remember the urgent question of Whitney: are your contractions more intense? do you feel pressure? She knew. I climbed back into the bed to be pronounced complete--10cm. Perhaps a few minutes before they had called the doctor? Nurses rushing around. Whitney telling me not to push yet. Impossible, I told her. Too satisfying and much like telling the Earth to stop rotating. This was happening. An internal pop and a geyser of fluid soaked the bed, the floor, the nurses. So much fluid Stephanie had to mop up the floor with towels for safety. Relief, followed by pressure. "Hold your knees together," Whitney commanded.
"I.CAN'T.HOLD.IT!" I grunted/screamed. Two pushes. And with that, Kellen made his way into the world. Right after I commanded someone to catch my baby. No doctor. He was quickly placed upon my chest, after emitting one single cry. Such relief. Calm. Alert. Perfect. Okay, maybe a little gurgly, some suctioning was needed.
Eventually the moment came to weigh this sweet boy--he tipped the scales at 9 pounds, 4 ounces. The nurses tossed the term, LGA around. Large for gestational age. Ha. Yep. "Well-insulated," Dr. White had deemed him at the 36-week ultrasound. He was a nursing champ. The doctor finally arrived for the less-glamorous work--placenta arrival and stitches. The placenta was giant and immediately provided a final wave of relief with its delivery.
THIS. These are the moments on constant replay in my mind, just as with the previous two births. The high. The careful attention. The power of a woman's body to give life. The power of MY body to give life. I suspect this would never get old to me, even as my body tires with life with a newborn. I want to sear these memories so deeply into my brain as to remain until they are the last muted-colored photos pulled forth at my end.
Childbirth. Often spoken of in hushed horror. Pregnancy. Often spoken of in tones of wonder.
I defy the standards. Pregnancy? It is okay, miraculous, but overall brings lots of aches and pains in conjunction with all of the anticipation.
Childbirth? I love it. It is a gift of immeasurable worth. To experience it three times, so lucky.
Welcome, Kellen Paul.