Saturday, October 22, 2011

one year ago

A year ago, I was pregnant.


I went to the pool a lot.


Sometimes with my pregnant friends.


Elan was already telling the baby jokes.


Did I mention? I was VERY pregnant.


But soon not to be.

At 2 a.m., I woke up. It was pouring. First I heard the rain, then I felt the sensation of the contraction. It was the baby's due date and a full moon. I couldn't believe the baby would really be so precisely punctual, but the contraction felt different than the ones I regularly got around the clock, so I got out of bed. Made cream of wheat. Read Blink on the couch. Timed the contractions. Told the baby I was really ready to not be pregnant anymore, and wasn't he/she ready to come out and meet everyone?

I promised a lot of yummy milk.

The contractions stayed about 10-15 minutes apart, so eventually I went back to bed.

Elan woke up and went to preschool.

The contractions were still 10-15 minutes apart. Between them, I'd think that maybe I run out and pick up that nursing bra I hadn't bought yet. But then, one would come, and I'd think Not a good idea.

I went for a walk to try to speed things up. I walked very slowly. I kept expecting someone to notice me, walking around my neighborhood, in labor, alone, with my cell phone in my pocket. But I only had one contraction the whole walk, leaning over the splintery railing by the path in the greenway, so I guess I wasn't that noticeable.

Mikhail brought me Thai chicken coconut milk soup, a sudden craving, and over several hours, I ate the whole container.

Elan came home from preschool. I hung out with him on the couch, reading him books. Every 10-15 minutes, I'd roll onto the floor and have a contraction. It freaked him out a lot less than I thought it might.

At 3 p.m., I told my amazing midwife that I wanted to come in to the hospital, but I was afraid I'd only be dilated to 2 centimeters. (In labor 4 years before with Elan, I got to the birth center where I delivered already dilated to 8 cm after laboring at home for 20 hours.) She assured me that she'd never had a second-time mom come in at less than 4 cm. I wanted to be in the water, and I couldn't fit in our little tub, so we decided to go for it.

Some neighbors saw me shuffling down the driveway to the car, while Mikhail loaded it up with all our stuff, and they called out Good luck! I thought - I guess I really am in labor.

The ride to the hospital was surreal. Everything looked so NORMAL outside the car window. It was Friday afternoon, and people were out doing their Friday afternoon, beautiful fall weather, thing. I only had one contraction during the 10 minute car ride. After that one contraction, I was glad I didn't have more.

My midwife Lindy was there waiting for me, at the nurse's desk. She got me a room with a big jacuzzi tub, like we had planned. She checked me. "Well, it's your worst fear," she said. "You're 2 centimeters."


But then she was very comforting. She told me to take my time. "I've got my magazine so I'll just hang out a while," she said. She'd send me home if there was no baby by morning. It was 4:20 p.m. I was still having contractions 10-15 minutes apart.

I got in the tub. Everyone left me alone. I listened to music, rubbed my huge firm tummy, nearly weightless in the water, felt the baby move and wondered who was going to come out. Here we are kid, I thought, back in the water, where the best moments of this uncomfortable pregnancy had been spent. I had been feeling a little freaked out by the hospital, but in the tub, I got my head together. You've done this before, I told myself. You know what to do. Just relax and let your body do it.

I got out of the tub and decided to take a walk. But I never made it out the door of my room. Every time I'd head for the door, I'd have another contraction. And these were big ones, coming on every few minutes. Finally! It looked like the baby was in on the plan.

And then it hurt. More than I remembered. I've had 2 natural births now, with no meds, and I can say: there is pain. It's a whole heck of a lot of work. There's a reason they call it labor. But if you have a good situation - a great midwife and/or doula, and no complications - it's worth it. Your body makes the natural pain relief, which helps; you can stay completely active, birth in the position you want to birth in; you can feel nifty sensations like the baby's feet "walking" down your spine as he turns; and the high afterward is INCREDIBLE. I'm sure all women feel like super-stars after growing and birthing another human being, as they should. But I can say that my experience of natural birth is that, afterward, I felt like I could do anything. Which was especially helpful while recovering from my first baby's birth, which took longer and was more painful than I expected. Not to mention that whole adjustment to being responsible for a tiny, helpless human. I frequently thought back to my superhero birth powers and felt buoyed by them over the course of Elan's first few months.

But, yeah, it hurt. My mom came in the room, and I called her over to me by wailing Mommy!! I'm not sure if this alarmed or touched her, as I haven't called her "Mommy" in several decades. But that's what birth will do to you; you shed all the non-essentials; you become the most focused version of yourself, one is so intent on doing what you're doing that you don't give a damn who happens to come in the room and see your nether regions on full display.

I had an amazing team of midwife, husband and nurse all helping me. One would work on my back with each contraction, and this is not just a casual hand - this is putting some real weight into it. Though this labor was less back labor than my first, that strong counter-pressure still really helped me. The best position was standing next to the bed, leaning over it, rocking and swaying my hips. After contractions, they warmed me up. During, they cooled me off. Lindy put cold cloths on my forehead.


Sidenote: Recently, on a random Tuesday, Elan turned to me with a look of shock on his little face. "We don't have a video of when Emry was born!" he exclaimed. I had to stifle a laugh.
"That's true," I said. "But we have one of when you were born."
"I want to see it," he said.
"Actually, I don't think you do. When a baby comes out, there's a lot of blood."
"Ew, I don't wanna see that. Dis-gust-ing!"

Yeah, I didn't think so.

Anywhere, where was I? Oh, yeah, birthing a baby one year ago.

My midwife and I had come up with a little game plan of what we wanted to try for the birth, which included birthing on my side and trying to push the baby out between contractions. Amazingly, these both worked. Mikhail found the whole thing pretty interesting because he was beside me, holding my leg; when Elan was born in the tub, Mikhail was behind me, meaning he got a worse view than I did. But this time, he saw everything! Lucky guy!

Later, Mikhail told me that, as he was watching the baby's head crown, he kept picturing a 2-month-old's head size, and could not imagine that this whole birth thing was going to work. Thankfully he kept that observation to himself at the time. When Emry was actually born, he was shocked at how tiny his head actually was (it was smaller than Elan's, thank you!).

Once my water broke as I pushed, and we got through the ring of fire (that song has never been the same for me since having babies), and I did some good old fashioned screaming, Lindy told me to push again, and a hot, slippery little baby came out. I tell you, I think even if you birthed 12 babies, there would still be a part of you shocked that after all that - 9 months of nausea and insomnia and heartburn and varicose veins and backache and general slow lumbering quality of life, plus the labor itself - a BABY COMES OUT. Just amazing.

Mikhail announced It's a boy!

And there he was.


The Aforementioned Slippery, Ruddy and Oh-So-Sweet Baby Boy, aka Mr. Emry Isaiah Brams Davis, all 7 pounds, 15 ounces of him, born at 8:30 p.m. on October 22, 2010.


Everyone oohed and aahed over him. Lucky baby, he had 3 grandparents in attendance (my parents and my mother-in-law), and my sister-in-law dropped in just after he was born.

His big brother came to visit.


And took him for a ride around the hospital.


The promised yummy milk was provided, and he was a fan.


I could keep going like this all night, but I have laryngitis and a wicked cold, and my baby just turned 1 year old, so I'm feeling a little emotional and should get some sleep.

So just one more... for now.

This is what happens when you teach the big brother how to swaddle his doll before the baby arrives.


Did it make you look twice?

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