Sunday, September 28, 2008
Avery Jane arrived on Thursday, September 25 at 5:13pm after 19 hours of labor. She weighed in at 7lbs 11oz and was 21 inches long. She is perfect and healthy in every way -- the tiny little miracle we had all been waiting for. And she was so worth the wait!!
Labor started at about 10:00 on Wednesday night. By 11:30 I knew this was it! I told my husband to get some sleep and I went downstairs and wrote my letter to Avery, stopping every 10 minutes to get on my hands and knees during the contractions. By 3:00am the contractions were getting more intense and I woke my husband because I couldn't breathe through them on my own anymore. We stayed home until 11:30 the next morning. He rubbed my back during ever contraction and reminded me every single time that it wouldn't last forever. I called my midwife in the early morning and she encouraged me to labor at home as long as I could. My husband set up a makeshift bed for me on the floor so that I could try to rest in between the contractions and just flip over when each contraction hit.
By 11:30 the contractions were coming 3-4 minutes apart and were getting really intense. We packed up, got in the car and headed to the hospital. We live about 40 minutes from the hospital and that car ride was not fun!! I had 9 contractions on the way and I couldn't sit upright during them. The people on the highway must have thought I was crazy by the way I was straddling the passenger seat.
By the time we got to the hospital I was crying and getting a little bit hysterical. They checked us in within seconds and my midwife checked me. I was 4cm and 95% effaced. This was good progress considering I was totally closed and 0% effaced just 2 days earlier. My midwife was AMAZING! I told her I was still intending to have a natural birth and that I wanted her to encourage me to keep going even if I asked for the epidural. She had such a calming presence and suggested all sorts of different positions during the contractions. I was so happy to finally be in an environment meant for laboring and with a professional who knew exactly how to help me.
I labored in the tub for a while, which I LOVED in between the contractions. It was so relaxing and calming. We shut off the lights and my husband sprayed warm water over my belly. During the contractions, however, it was excruciating -- although I guess any and every position was excruciating at that point. At least in the tub I was really able to relax in between.
By 3:30 the contractions were coming right on top of each other and I could no longer focus enough to breathe through them. All I could do was scream. My midwife and husband kept encouraging me and reminding me how to breathe. They were incredible. My midwife checked me again and I was 8cm. I knew I was in transition and I knew this was going to be the hardest part. And it was! The pain was more intense than I ever imagined possible. I don't think I even opened my eyes again after that point. I was completely in a different state of being. I had no thoughts, just pain. I started to doubt if I could make it. I just wanted it to be over already.
Here is where I started to beg. I wanted the drugs and I wanted them NOW! I was screaming and crying and yelling for someone to PLEASE HELP ME!! My husband told me later he thought it was funny because here they both were trying desperately to help me and here I was acting like they were trying to kill me. Other things I remember hearing come out of my mouth were "I CAN'T DO THIS!" and "I AM GOING TO DIE!" and of course "GIVE ME THE EPIDURAL!" My midwife was amazing. She never said I couldn't have it, but she knew it wasn't what I really wanted. She just kept telling me over and over again that I was almost there and that I could do this. My husband kept telling me the same thing. He was so calm the whole time. Around 4:00 she checked me again and I was fully dilated and ready to push. I was so happy to get this baby OUT!!
I had heard that the pushing was the best part and a huge relief. I would have to disagree. My friend once compared it to pooping out a basketball. That sounds more like it to me. A very large basketball. I did not see how I was going to be able to get the baby out. But at this point I knew it was too late for drugs so I stopped begging. I didn't stop screaming though. My husband used the word "primal" to describe the sounds coming out of me. They were loud -- loud enough that I lost my voice, loud enough that I probably scared every other woman in labor in the hallway. But all I cared about at that point was getting the baby out as soon as possible. I wanted this to be over!! I kept asking how many more pushes, how many more minutes. My midwife never gave me an answer. She just kept saying, "You're almost there. You can do this. You are doing this!"
Finally after an hour or so she told me that I would have my baby with the next push. I've never wanted anything so much in all my life. I pushed with every ounce of strength I had left. I can't even begin to describe the pain. When her head finally came out it was an unbelievable feeling of relief. The rest of her slid right out and the next thing I knew, my baby was on my chest and I was holding her! She cried right away and was so pink and had this full head of hair! I was too exhausted and too in shock to cry or think. I just kept saying, "Oh my god, Oh my god. Oh my god." I couldn't believe I actually did it. I couldn't believe my baby was actually here.
My midwife lifted her up and told daddy to call it. He cried out, "It's a girl!" That was the best moment of my entire life. She was a girl and she was ours.
She was so alert and perfect and healthy in every way. I fed her soon after that and she latched on right away. I won't get into the gory details of my personal post-birth experience. We'll just say there was a lot of blood and it was a little scary. But all that mattered was that she was healthy. And she was!
Having a natural birth experience was something I always wanted to do. It was more intense and traumatic than I even had the capacity to understand before-hand. And I can't say I want to do it again anytime soon. But I am so thankful for the experience. It has changed me forever. And I am damn proud of myself for following through. I know that if I got through that I can get through anything.
And looking at my beautiful daughter right now I know it was worth every ounce of pain, every scream, every push and every overdue day of waiting.
I am completely in love.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
6 days overdue
It is the wee hours of September 25 and I think this might turn out to be your birthday. I am writing this in between contractions as Daddy tries to get some sleep upstairs. I might be interrupted a lot, but I don't think I'll be sleeping tonight and I need a project to pass the time while I'm not on the floor trying to breathe. So writing you this letter it is.
I want you to know about this night -- this magical night that you decided was the right one to come out and meet us. We planned on pork chops for dinner. Daddy always grills the meat and I always do the extras. Tonight it was steamed carrots and warm biscuits. I asked Daddy if maybe he could make the pork chops a little spicy to help give you a boost. Daddy liked that idea. He warned me before our first bite that he might have overdone it. Boy was he right! We both started coughing and turning red right away. It was the hottest thing I've ever tasted. Ever!! And then all we could do was laugh and laugh and laugh. Daddy kept apologizing for ruining dinner but I told him he didn't ruin it at all. He made it one I won't ever forget.
After dinner we decided to take a ride on Rocky Road. This is a dirt road through the woods at the end of our street. Some day it will probably be developed into a beautiful neighborhood. You might not ever remember it as dirt road. But for now it's a special secret path that Daddy and I discovered a few nights ago. It's really really bumpy! It's a little scary too. But it's special. Because we drive down it just for you -- to help give you a boost. And I think you like it. I love having silly adventures like that with your daddy. And I love that you get to have them with us now too.
After Rocky Road we came home and started to watch "The Office." This is Daddy's all-time favorite show. Mine too. But you started letting us know you were getting ready to come out. And Daddy and I are so excited to meet you that we decided to give you one more boost. Daddy and I love to take walks together but we usually walk during the day and it's really dark out at night around here! So we decided to just walk up and down our driveway. We did 24 laps. If the neighbors saw us, I bet they thought we looked really funny!
Then we changed our minds and decided the dark wasn't going to stop us. We put on our sneakers and headed out to the neighborhood. It's a whole other world in the dark. And I loved it. There are so many stars out tonight and Daddy and I both made a wish. Daddy's wish was quick and mine was long. He made fun of me for that but I didn't care. I have a lot to wish for. And I think maybe you heard me.
It's very late now but I don't think I'll be sleeping tonight at all and that's ok with me. I want to spend the whole night with you. I want to tell you how proud I am of you. We are in this labor thing together, ok? And I promise you I'll take care of you through it. I'll take care of you through your whole life. I promise.
So don't be scared, sweet baby. Mommy's not scared either. We'll get through this together, and at the end of it Daddy and I will be waiting for you. The whole world will be waiting for you.
Happy Birth Day. I love you.
Monday, September 22, 2008
3 days overdue
Who are you and who will you be?
A man like your daddy or a lady like me?
Will you like fairies and flowers,
Or train tracks and cars?
Will you run and chase butterflies
Will you be wowed by the stars?
Do you know that I dream about you?
Do you know that I pray
For you, sweet little baby
Every single day?
Who are you and who will you be?
A comedian like your daddy or a giggler like me?
What will you look like?
What will you love?
Will you know that you are the sweetest gift from above?
Will you know how you've made your daddy a man?
Will you know that you've changed him?
Will you understand?
Will you know what you've taught me?
Will you know what I've learned?
Will you know that the road I was on
Has forever been turned?
Who are you and who will you be?
An athlete like Daddy or a writer like me?
What will you smell like?
How will you sound?
Will you know of the joy me and Daddy have found?
Do you know Mommy's voice?
Can you feel my touch?
Do you know you are loved?
Do you know just how much?
Do you know Daddy's kisses?
Can you hear his sweet song?
Do you know we've been waiting
For you for so long?
Who are you and who will you be?
And what are you waiting for,
Sweet little baby?
Sunday, September 21, 2008
1 day overdue
My husband and I get restless yesterday and decide to venture out on an all day date. We go to our favorite bagel place for breakfast and then to Borderland State Park for an hour and a half walk. It is a beautiful fall day, much like the day at Borderland three years ago when I first knew he was "the one."
The first picture is from three years ago and the second one is from yesterday. I find it funny that I am pretty much wearing the same sweatshirt, only this time I have another person hiding under it! A lot has changed (and grown) in three years.
There's one thing that hasn't changed, though. He's still the one.
After going home for a long nap and a hot shower, we finish off our date walking around Faneuil Hall in Boston and then to the North End to our first date restaurant. It is a wonderful meal and a wonderful day. I consciously make a point to cherish these "just us" moments because I know days like this one are numbered. I also recommit to being patient waiting for our little late one to arrive, which is much easier said than done.
Truthfully, I'm still working on that one.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Yes, it's my due date, and no, the baby is not here yet. It might be my due date, but I guess the baby has other plans. This is not easy for me. June 17 (my first due date) came and went without a baby and I kept telling myself that by September 19 I would be holding my sweet baby in my arms. I've stared at that date on the calendar for a long time. And now September 19 might just come and go too. Of course I know my baby is coming and he/she is coming soon. I realize that rationally. But emotionally, I feel like a 6-year-old on Christmas morning waking up to a giftless tree still waiting for Santa to arrive. (Yes, I know I grew up Jewish but we can all imagine what that would feel like.)
I realize my thought process and emotions are completely childish. I know how lucky I am. I know I have so much to be thankful for and excited for. And I am. But I'm being totally honest here and I'm telling you like it is. I want my baby OUT!!!!!
It doesn't help that my friends and family are calling and emailing by the dozens to ask if I'm still pregnant. I know they all mean well but do you really think my mother is going to somehow miss the big announcement?!?!?! Um, last time I checked, yes, still pregnant. Pregnant enough that some man last night walked by me, looked at my belly and just said, "WOW!" I am past the point of cute pregnant girl. I am obnoxiously huge, stop-and-stare pregnant girl. It really isn't that fun anymore.
Nobody tells you in the beginning that the AVERAGE for first time moms is 41 1/2 weeks. And nobody seems to accept that either (and certainly not my mother!) They think of your due date as your cut-off -- that if the baby isn't here by that date, there is something seriously wrong with you. I should have told people I was due in the beginning of October instead. I should have told myself that too. I've had to actually switch my daily walking route to avoid a well-meaning neighbor who comes outside every day just to say to me, "You're still here?!?!?!"
Ultimately my baby gets to choose the due date. And I do sort of like the idea that it gets to choose its very own birthday. No matter what I do (and trust me, I have tried EVERYTHING) this baby is going to come on its own time. And my job is to sit back, trust mother nature, have confidence in my body and accept that my child is neither habitually early like its father or always right on time like its mother.
I guess someone in the family has to be late.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
I am asked this question by a two-year-old this morning. My husband and I are out for breakfast, and a little girl at the booth next to us takes an immediate interest in my giant belly. I explain to her that there's a baby in there, and her mother apologizes and tells me with a sigh that she is amidst her terrible twos.
Later, after my scrambled eggs and toast (and three unmistakeable contractions!) the little girls turns to me again and asks:
Why are you having a baby?
As simple and innocent as it is, it's a question I haven't been asked before. I giggle and tell her:
Because babies are cute!
But I know this is not the right answer. The only other answer that pops into my mind is why not? But I know that isn't the right answer either. "Why not" is passive and it lacks power. And it's not a good enough reason for me.
So why? It's harder to answer than I would have guessed. Back in February I wrote about why I wanted this baby, which is a slightly different question than why am I having one. Yes, I am having one because ultimately I wanted to have one. My husband and I chose to create this baby. We made a decision to extend our partnership to include a new life. We made the choice to grow ourselves into a family.
But there's more to it. I know that there are plenty of women (and men) who want babies desperately, and for reasons I will never understand, they don't get them. I've seen it first-hand and it's horribly unfair and it breaks my heart.
My husband and I have been given this life. A gift from God. And there is no gift more precious. It is one that we get to give and receive all at the same time. Our first baby was a gift from God too. We accepted that gift with grace. We acknowledged its fragility and held it close to our hearts. We still do. We gave her tiny life meaning. And we haven't forgotten.
So when I think about why we are having this baby, the answer is quite simple.
Because we have been blessed.