2005.04.28. the story
We were late, as usual, to our doctor's appointment. 9:10 a.m. on Wednesday the 27th. I'd been up late, as I got a tear to get a bunch of work done. After furiously writing and emailing for several hours, getting my mostly-packed bag ready to go "just in case," looking up to see which historical figures were born on the 27th, 28th, 29th and 30th of April, and collecting a couple of pages of Truman's baby book for transport, I was in bed after 2 a.m. and awoke early, before 8. Jonathan, though, had to be coaxed out of bed and we didn't arrive at the doctor's office until 9:20 or so.
Destiny and I were rushed in to the exam room, and I weighed in at 171. A pound over my goal weight. Darn. I left my urine sample and had my blood pressure checked, and got undressed from the waist down.
We waited, and waited, for Dr. Kehoe. Finally she came in, and we talked about my recent contractions, which had been frequent that morning. We chatted about the baby's position - he seemed to be facing up, and seemed to be about 6 pounds or a little more. She checked me at 3 cm, 70% effaced. Same as last week.
But I was having contractions, so she put me on the monitor in their office. Destiny and I hung out, reading some of the great parts of Mother's Nature, drinking juice while the contractions beat out their rhythm on the paper strips. I could feel them rising, and falling, intense but not painful, as I listened to Truman's heart buhbeat-buhbeat-buhbeat-buhbeat-buhbeat-buhbeat.
I felt fairly certain that Dr. Kehoe was going to keep me. The contractions weren't slowing down. I had this feeling, that today was "go" day. I didn't feel "in labor," exactly, but I knew it was getting close. I told Destiny about my findings from my birthday research. April 27th wasn't a great birthday - the most famous figure born that day was Jerry Seinfeld. I don't hate Jerry, or anything, but I don't love him, and have no real desire to commemorate his life by announcing that my son shares his birthday. April 28th, my husband's birthday, was nice. In addition to the dubious distinction of being Saddam Hussein's birthday, and the rather inconsequential coincidence with Jay Leno's birth, it was Harper Lee's birthday. Harper Lee. A writer, and a great one. Perfect for my little Truman, sure to share his mama's passion for literature. And as I'm rather broke this week, what more appropriate birthday present for daddy?
April 29th and 30th and May 1st were all rather boring, an assortment of lesser historical figures, movie stars, and the like. No poets, no major names. Kirsten Dunst, born on the 30th, was the highlight. Nice...but not exactly a star that will light the way for generations to come. Nice, is all.
As we reviewed the possibilities and wondered what fate would decide, Dr. Kehoe came in to check out my results. Contractions every four minutes. She'd check me in to the maternity ward; if nothing much happened, I'd be sent home. If these contractions continued, I'd be spending the night and have my baby in the next 36 hours.
We told Jonathan the news and walked with Everett and Nehalem over to the labor & delivery ward. I was tired from my largely sleepless night and feeling groggy. I hadn't had anything to eat, and just a bit of water and juice to drink. I felt a little surreal.
We checked in at the busy desk and were given a room. Number eight. It was large, and looked out onto the emergency room entrance below. There was a big, flat roof out over the waiting area and parking strip that we could see, and Everett kept wondering if he could go down there! The day was sunny and hazy, the kind of yellow-grey brightness that is harsh and not comforting, warm but not hot and delicious on the skin, not at all the kind of day I wanted for my birth. Maybe today wouldn't be the day.
We were introduced to the nurses on duty, and a very cheerful woman came in with her young teenage daughter, who had been brought to work with her for the day. Was that ok? Of course it was, the girl was thin and so little but with a ready smile and an obvious willingness to help. We did the rundown; previous pregnancies, the complications of this pregnancy, medications (prenatal vitamins and fish oil, which seemed to make her so happy), what I wanted. I described my desire to go without medication for as long as humanly possible; I mentioned I'd been taking yoga and doing meditations. She nodded enthusiastically throughout everything. Destiny asked for more pillows, a birthing ball, and the daughter was sent in search of them. If I was determined to be really in labor, I would need an IV for antibiotics, as I'd been cultured 'positive' for Group B Strep
One thing I've discovered in the course of a few labors: there are long stretches of time that nothing happens, sometimes hours. For the next few hours, I sat strapped in, watching the contractions tick by on the little pieces of paper as Everett jumped around me and Destiny and I talked about our plans. I sat half-upright in the bed, quietly watching the quiet, and knitted a little, having an amazing amount of space just to think.
In the wild world of being pregnant with older children, sometimes the only time you do have to spend with yourself is in the hospital, strapped and monitored, and I took full advantage, running over my birth meditation in my mind and calling up everything I'd learned in "Psych-K" training for track, the things I'd developed from yoga, the exhortations I give my atheletes. I thought about vertical lines, I breathed deep, I prayed, I found rest within myself. And though I was very, very tired and hungry, somehow, I was on edge with the possibility of labor. I tried to focus on the contractions, willing them to work.
It was a strange thing to go from the early morning rush to this peace and sunny quiet, from the dimly lit monitoring room in Dr. Kehoe's office to this wide, bright place where the door was closed but everything buzzed with activity, with people having babies, from my always-on, always-connected life to this time when I could just do nothing but focus on my job as mama and mama-to-be.
A little after lunchtime, Dr. Kehoe came in and checked me again. 3.5 centimeters was the verdict: evidently my focusing had succeeded. I was officially admitted and Destiny began to busy around making arrangements for Daniel to bring her doula bag and a pack-n-play for Nehalem, and her mom to come by.
While I was certainly focused on the straps and the monitors, Everett and Nehalem were there, distracting us a bit. Everett, uncharacteristically, was acting tired and asking for pillows, so we set him up on the window seat/day bed overlooking that attractive roof and pulled his shades. As the sun grew low, Everett slept, and slept, and slept, and I worried. Was he sick? Did he have a fever? Would he not be able to hold his new little brother because of some sudden virus?
In ebbs and flows, we were quiet and busy. Sometimes I was alone while Everett slept for an hour or more; other times I was interrupted every few minutes, an adjustment, a bottle of water, another nurse. Daniel arrived shortly, and Destiny busied about setting up her doula accoutrements, which were really lovely, a little sculpture, a Gerbera daisy (to remind me just how big 10 cm was)...
[now that I'm about to birth baby #3, it has suddenly become important to me to finish this! I hope I can remember everything I thought and felt. In the meantime, there's a complete-but-brief version of my birth story here.]