Friday, June 08, 2007

A Week of Remembering: an actual birth!

Where were we? Oh, right, I was being wheeled top speed through darkened hospital corridors while midwife Joan urged me not to push.

I was thinking: funny, I should be getting motion sickness right now.

I was not thinking: where are my husband and sister?

This last might have been a good question, for neither were with me. Pynchon corrects my post of last night: he didn't ride in the car to the hospital with my sister and I. He came in our car, 10 minutes later, because he was still trying to put the hospital bag together. When he arrived, the doors were locked and he had to do some pounding to get in. My sister dropped me on the curb to argue with Joan about whether I was going to get in the wheelchair or not--you know who won that battle--and then she had to park the car somewhere.

I did not care. Not one bit. Other than surprising myself by not getting nauseated by a high-speed wheelchair ride, I didn't really care about much except my awful awful back pain and MEETING MY BABY.

That's how I was thinking about it: meeting my baby. Finally. Proving to everyone that I was in fact pregnant, and an infant would shortly depart my body. I was a little excited to get going but a little annoyed ... in fact, annoyance seemed to be my default mode up to this point. I had had 20 minutes of fairly peaceful labour by myself, followed by a Marx Brothers routine with startled sisters, sleepy husbands, and bossy midwives all buzzing around me while I was obviously in transition and beyond the reach of mere humans.

I passed most of my time since Joan's arrival and Pynchon's awakening with my eyes open like little slits, glasses flung away.

I came out of the fog of transition as I found myself having that damned smock dress pulled over my head again, by Joan. Apparently I was in The Room--a quite nice labour / delivery / recovery room, actually. Another midwife was trying to take my bra off, and I wondered why I needed to take that off to give birth. Why? It was a nursing bra, even. I told them to take my glasses away. Everyone was buzzing around me. Bz-bz-bz. I'm standing naked in a hospital room with no Pynchon or sister in sight, being introduced to a midwife I don't know. I sooooo don't care about anything except my glasses. Take them away, they're BOTHERING ME.

You have to understand how blind I am--so nearsighted that I'm like a -6 in one eye and -7 in the other. I had big plans to put my contacts in, and possibly dab on mascara before giving birth--after shaving my legs and trimming the stage area, if you will. Ha. Now I'm yelling at midwives through slit eyes to take away my glasses and I can't even see my own feet and if there was a fire in that hospital I never would've found the door to the room let alone the building.

"Don't push yet, just another minute, you can do it!"

Why does she keep telling me not to push? I have no urge to push. None. My back hurts like a sonofabith and everyone is very very irritating. But push? Um, if you say so.

I am hustled onto a bed and Pynchon and S appear. I'm semi upright, half in a hospital gown, and the contractions are coming even stronger. Pynchon is at my left, and he is whispering kind kind words, full of love, and full of support. I can hear the awe in his voice, and the love, and a little bit of fear, and I can hear him trying to act the role that the book says he needs to do for me. And half of me wants to hold him close and adore him, and the other half (I'm so sorry Pynchon) wants him to stop talking. I still don't want to push and I'm mad at everyone.

It's 2am.

Oh wait. I don't want to push but ... I ... can't ... help ... it. I thought I was going to be a pro at pushing: my mom and my sister were pros, you know, the 10 minutes of pushing variety? I had been actively visualising and doing my Kegels and reading all the books. I HATED pushing. Hated it. I only did it because pushing made me feel less awful than not pushing.

Joan kept telling me I was doing it wrong. This made me mad. Mad also because I had imagined that contractions hurt, but then you got a break: not me. Back pain. Contractions hurt sort of less but sort of different from the back pain. At least they were distracting. You know what was even more distracting? Pooping. With every single damn contraction.

Of course, Joan wasn't actually telling me I was doing it wrong: she was offering very good suggestions for improvement, in a take-charge manner I had come to expect from her.

We laboured on this way for a while, me semi-upright on the birthing bed, Pynchon at my left feeding me ice chips and putting cool cloths on my head, absolutely at my beck and call, and my sister S at my right being just as steady as a rock and holding my knee in that firm competent way that was so calming.

The baby? S/he was fine, good heart rate through the stethoscope, turned just into perfect position, and heading down a little bit at a time. But not far and not fast.

Joan has this great idea that I should push from a squat. I refuse. I'm not delicate or ashamed or anything: I'm pooped out from already 30 minutes of pushing and I don't think I can support my own weight and push and my back is killing me and I wasn't allowed to stand up to get out of the CAR and you want me to stand on a TABLE and GIVE BIRTH???

But Joan is not the type to take no for an answer. And so S and Pynchon heft my 180 pound self to a crouch at the start of every contraction. Watch me poop. Hear me holler (no screaming! Um, except at the very end). Help me collapse. Listen to me complain bitterly about my back, and then kindly shut up when I tell them to so that I can have 40 seconds of nap before the next go round.

I never imagined I could nap while pushing, but there you go.

Pushing is all a blur, an anxious, demoralising, difficult, poopy blur. I'm left with impressions, very strong sense memory, like how you can never drink lemon gin again after that one high school party ... Ice chips--good. Water--bad. Holding my knees--good. Talking to me--bad. Baby--good. Midwives--bad.

After about an hour and 40 minutes of this (yes, that's right, I pushed longer than I laboured. How sick is that? I want my money back on that damn Mind over Labour book ...) Joan begins to get stern with me. She accuses me of not trying hard enough (I'm not) and of giving up (I am). She makes me crouch some more (I don't want to) and she tells me I have to do it (I can't!).

I do.

This is the next thing I hear:

"Good! Good, Mimi! That was excellent. Now again!"

And then:

"I know it's hard, I know it's hard just keep keep keep pushing. Just 5 more seconds keep keep keep pushing. Now do 5 more seconds. Keeeeeeep pushing ... Again!"

She's a real taskmaster, that Joan. And always lying about five more seconds. She doesn't mean it.

There are several more pushes and much more congratulations, but I am TIRED. And then:

"Look at all that hair! I'm twirling it around my finger! I'm giving a hairdo."

What a bitch! Is it my fault I didn't have time for the trim? I'm not the height of pubic fashion, I know, but this is a little insulting ... Oh. Wait. She means the baby. I am encouraged to look in the mirror but yell at everyone to leave me alone because I'm not wearing my glasses and shouldn't I be giving birth?

The baby is coming.

The baby crowns. I have never, obviously, felt the likes of this. I am relieved but I am being split in two. I push again. The head comes out, to judge from all the cooing and cheering and happy noises.

But then: stuck. The shoulders. For what feels like 20 minutes but what Pynchon assures me was no more than 30 seconds, the soon-to-be Miss Baby is neither in, nor out. I am actively and vocally cursing all and sundry for abandoning me like this. No swearing, but much blaming. Pynchon recounts now that Joan braced herself against the table and pulled: "I didn't think," he says, "that you could pull on a baby like that." But I guess you can.

And then, with a great whoosh, baby was born. It was 4:29am, Friday, June 9, 2006

Pynchon yelped, "It's a girl! ... it's a girl ... it's a GIRL!" and my heart sang with love and pain and tenderness for this new little girl and this man whose yelling voice betrayed his emotion.

I was the only one who heard him. A chorus of "what is it?" rose from the corners of the room, as Pynchon repeated himself at greater volume and exasperation.

Me, I was suddenly alone on the table, so nervous for my baby, and I just kept repeating "where's my baby? I want to see my baby! Give me my baby! Where's my baby?" as I became increasingly agitated. Pynchon came to my side but I sent him after her. Her. Miss Baby. Our little girl. They were only 10 feet away, but I wasn't taking any chances: I was somebody's mother now. She was weighed and measured and scored: 8 lb, 14.5 oz, and 22 inches long. My nine pound baby predicted by the ultrasounds. Purple, then gray, then red and squirmy. I could hear her little squeaks.

Finally, Pynchon brought her near to me: he had tears in his eyes, and hers were wide open, little shots of blue peeking out from under a full head of hair, apparently styled by Joan in the space between born and not-born. My baby.

Here we are:

So the final tally was about 4 hours of labour in total, with two-and-a-half hours of that time spent pushing. I got one Tylenol and one Advil, after the birth. No stitches, no tears. Very bad backache, and sore throat from hollering. Tired.

But I got a baby girl, the little girl of my dreams, and she was perfect. A little slimy and prone to squeaks, but beautiful and perfect and a good latcher and my very own baby daughter. Ours.

We were home by 10:00 am. And started our lives together, a project that has swung all through the calendar pages once, a giddy and vertiginous and ... well, you know what kind of year it was. We've been getting to know each other. And in that time, I have become a mother, and Pynchon a father, and Miss Baby has become a person, loved and lovable. And tomorrow we celebrate that year with a little party, where she will eat cake and I will get teary.

"Mom! Mom! Nice to meet you! Look at me! I'm very alert and I'm 10 hours old!"


Gabriella said...

I've been reading this story with such anticipation. I loved it. And that final picture brought tears to my eyes, look how she's just staring at you, it almost looks as if she's smiling. Beautiful! Happy birthday little one.

Alpha DogMa said...

Good job! Well told and well played!
Oooh, the crowning. Remember it well. Though I try to forget. Even now.
So will you be revealing Mini-Mimi's new title tomorrow? She's officially out of babydom now.

Mimi said...

Gabriella -- nice to meet you!

AD -- yes, the new name will be unveiled today!

Can you believe I went to bed at midnight and I'm up at 6am? I'm too excited that it's her birthday. Oh dear.

Christine said...

Oh this was a beautiful story. Brought tears to my eyes. You did such a wonderful job! Oh, and I hear ya on the pooping thing. Isn't it weird how at the time you just don't

And i was so so keyed up and emotional on my kids' first birthdays.

Omaha Mama said...

Oh yes, tears for sure on this one. Look at how she looks at you in that picture. Sure, you're black and white and fuzzy to her. But still. What a fantastic story.

IF you have another one, I'll bet you'll push about two times (at least that's how it went for me...2 hrs. first baby, 2 pushes second baby). I remember them telling me not to push yet, when they were trying to assemble the bed and get me ready. I secretly pushed. How can you not? At 10 cm. I mean, really.

Great story. Can't wait for the birthday party story and pics (demdanding, I know).

bubandpie said...

I've always thought that pushing in a squatting position sounds TOO HARD, despite what all the midwives say.

And yes, I recall that tug-of-war sensation as the O.B. was pullling Pie's shoulders through. Nothing swooshy or graceful about it.

Happy birthday, sweet girl!

Jen said...

Happy Birthday Miss Baby! What a wonderful story and it is so wonderful you have documented so well, this way the memories are safely preserved.

Can't wait to find out Miss Baby's new name...will it be the very sophisticated Ms. Baby?

You are inspired me to document my birth stories too, if for nothing else so I don't forget the wonderful details.

Bon said...

that was so wonderfully vivid that i felt like i went through labour all over again just reading it!

i think i liked your version better, except that the squatting was quite exhausting, even from here in my kitchen. :)

happy happy birthday, Miss Baby. you are clearly, clearly loved...and that ten hours old picture is one of the dearest things i've ever seen.

Beck said...

That last picture! With her looking at you!
Ah, birth. I remember HATING the doctor I had with The Boy for YEARS afterwards. HATING him. He's a nice, kind, competent man, but I HATED him. Got him again for The Baby and this time he fell on the Good side of the fence so now I LOVE him.
Happy Birthday, Miss Baby. We always tuck in our tomorrow-birthday kids in with a "Goodbye, 2 year old" (or whatever age they are) and wake them up with a "Hello, three year old!", both of which make me cry.

slouching mom said...

Great, great, great story.

And I agree with the others. That last picture where she is smiling at you (I think she is!) -- gorgeous.

NotSoSage said...

From this:

What a bitch! Is it my fault I didn't have time for the trim? I'm not the height of pubic fashion, I know, but this is a little insulting...

Which had me laughing OUT LOUD (which is rare).

To this:

Pynchon yelped, "It's a girl! ... it's a girl ... it's a GIRL!" and my heart sang with love and pain and tenderness for this new little girl and this man whose yelling voice betrayed his emotion.

Which had me tearing up.

This was beautiful, Mimi.

Happy Birthday, oh-soon-to-be-bloggy-named-One. I got all confused with the days versus dates thing and thought that yesterday was her birthday.

ewe are here said...


You did great!

Happy Birthday wee one.

Mad Hatter said...

Yup. That last picture takes the cake.

Loved the whole thing but the lemon gin line is gonna stick with me.

Em said...

Wow - what a great story! Brought back memories for sure (I endured three hours of pushing to get my son out!)

Bloor West Mama said...

Happy Belated 1st Birthday Miss Baby!!!

Beautiful post Mimi.

Happy Belated Birth Day to you as well:)

Mimi said...

Em -- a tip of the hat to you. Because you had more children after that. The two hours DAMN NEAR KILLED ME.

It is kind of eerie how she's smiling up at me in that last shot. I shoulda known she was not going to be a sleeper ...

nomotherearth said...

I do love that last picture - wow! I'm sorry I missed reading this on the actual day, but I got sick. I was anxiously anticipating the ending (or, the beginning..), and you did not disappoint.

Wonderful Birth Day story.

Oh, The Joys said...

So fabulous!

I was a bad pusher too (with The Mayor), but the 2nd time around I had that pushing thing DOWN!

Denguy said...

Great story, well described. I feel as though I was there.

One question: What the hell are Kegals?

kittenpie said...

I am loving this story. It's funny and not pulling any punches and getting all misty and sappy, it's just, well, true-sounding. And really quite interesting to someone who never got past early labour, so never felt any of that fog or got lost in contractions, as they were never that bad before I was into the land of epidural and pitocin together...

Be Inspired Always said...

Wonderful Story! Brought back alot of memories. My labor was long, 38 hours to be exact. No meds. My husband kept telling me that I made such a nice home for our baby to live that he didn't want to leave.


But he is here now, a beautiful 10 year old boy. I look back and I know I would do it all over again.


Come stop by my blog, there's a give-away!

Her Bad Mother said...

'And my heart sang with love and pain and tenderness' YES.

Such a lovely, vivid - vividly lovely - story.

(And the pics. Aah.)

Lawyer Mama said...

WHat a wonderful, wonderful story! Thanks for sharing it.

Lisa b said...

oh she looks like such a cutie in that photo.
what a great birth story.

Magpie said...

Awesome story - thanks so much for enlivening my lunch hour! Seriously. And great pictures.