Since Buni Daddy has sunk into post-partum blues, I’ll take over the blog with the birthing story we promised. Way belated, but I was kept pretty busy playing a Terrible Mother to the little bundle of poop. While pregnant, I looooved reading other womens’ birthing stories, although there were very few I actually wanted to identify with – one exception was this FANTASTIC water birthing video I’ll post (it’s so serene & beautiful, no blood or scary shots of baby heads hanging out of vaginas, I promise!)
Anyway, half the story is already on the blog – the cervical issues, the fibroid, my Dr.’s paranoid obsession with induction (which really is a blanket ‘cover your ass’ policy, I realized). I dodged it twice, but that Tuesday morning I was to be admitted. Monday afternoon, after 10 days of false starts and a thousand “signs” of labor, there was still no real deal in sight.
So, in a final and desperate attempt to persuade the baby to come out voluntarily, I put on my sneakers and set out on a Labor Walk, totally determined not to come back until I feel contractions starting. For three and a half hours I hobbled by the Danube beaming happy thoughts to baby asking if he would pretty please come out and play. I did deep meditation, breathing exercises, visualizations – but, alas, when I came back nothing changed – except my entire body aching from the marathonic walk.
However, all was not in vain. Later that night, a few hours after practice (and an awesome workshop to deal with fear from hospitals), desperate determination paid off. Around 1:30 am, just before going to bed, I felt a Contraction. It was definitely stronger than those false alarms and I almost peed myself in anticipation of the next one. The next one came, and then the one after that and they were getting stronger by the minute. HALLELUJAH! I mean, could this really be it???
I think that mental attitude of pure happiness at the fact that it will all happen naturally SAVED me. Because in the next 2 hours, the contractions have gone from 6 to 3 minutes apart and they were pretty harsh. But, I was so relieved it started that I managed to shut down most of the pain. Earlier, I pictured a serene, candle-lit early labor that would last for hours and hours, but it seems that the baby got Mommy’s message loud and clear and was not going to waste any time to meet us.
Already at 4:20 we were in the car on our way to the hospital – I don’t remember it at all, it was pretty trippy to see it on that You tube video my brother made! All I could do is attempt to relax and breathe, but it was becoming crystal clear that without an epidural, I would not survive (I knew I was a chicken when it comes to pain, but I did toy with the idea of going ‘all natural’ weeks before).
At admission, I was 2cm dilated – really nothing to write home about. They had put us in a special “apartment” birthing box because father was to be present. Paja got dressed in the green hospital outfit and waited for me when I came out of the “preparation” (OUCH OUCH OUCH!! If I have to pick the winning moment, it would be the enema-contractions combo! But, I shall spare you the details). I was never so glad to have Paul with me. Even though in the beginning there wasn’t much he could do, just his very presence was enough to transform that sterile hospital room into an intimate, comforting space. I don’t remember much of that hour waiting for the epidural, except the cold hospital wall that I leaned against and Paul making me visualize drinking ice cold martinis (“Tingi, it’s going to be a big one. Ok. You’re taking a glass to your mouth, taking a big sip, the cold alcoholic goodness just sliding down your throat”). I swear I tasted the real thing and it got me through at least 5 contractions….And apparently through another 2cm.
And then the good doctor came. Anesthesia. God’s gift to women. When that cold liquid started down the tube on my back, I tell you, I was in HEAVEN. All pain was gone and I could finally relax. The baby wasn’t as thrilled – his heart tones went down for a little while, sending us into a slight – and only – panicky moment of the whole birth, but fortunately it all went back to normal in a matter of minutes.
From then on, everything was a breeze. Lightening speed breeze. In the next two hours – during which ALL the doctors in the hospital came to check out The American – my cervix went from 4 to 10cm. The anesthesiologist would come in and babble about the differences between Serbia and America, his trip to Minnesota, his cousins in the States; Paul listened to baby heart tones and made sure they were ok, making jokes and keeping it all lighthearted; my doctor went in and out, delighted that I was dilating so quickly. Honestly, I felt like I was in my living room, chatting away with the guests…(if only we had smuggled some ice cold martinis in…)
Before you knew it, I felt something in my belly just kind of slid down. Because of the epidural I didn’t feel the urge to push, but there was a definite sensation of something dropping. Paul called the midwife who pretty much said – OK, this would be it – and called the doctor. I pictured that moment in my birthing exercises a thousand times, and not in a million years did I imagine that I would be so calm and at the same time excited to push the little one out (in the worst case scenarios, I had pictured screaming bloody murder, guts and blood everywhere, Paja fainting, baby getting stuck…). But, I felt absolutely no fear, just this giddiness and euphoria – which for a coward like me was a super big surprise.
Paja went to stand behind my bed, holding its rails, and I think we were both prepared for this part to last way longer than it did. The doctor said push, and leaned into my stomach with all her weight (don’t even ask – some stupid 1950’s practice), and I pushed. I didn’t even push so hard, and I could hear them say – great job, the head is out! The head was out??? Already? It was that easy? I pushed I think 2 or 3 more times, and all I remember feeling is warm slithery wetness that was unlike any sensation I ever felt before.
All of a sudden, what was for 9 months invisible and hidden came to light. The big lump in my belly transformed into this ENORMOUSLY long, big, purple creature hanging by his little feeties – A BABY! My baby. This was it. It was so surreal, insanely emotional, and so completely shocking. Behind me, I could hear Paja going “OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD”. In front of me, the baby still hanging upside down, and I all I could see is his testicles (which, believe me, are truly prominent!) and the midwife asking me to confirm that the baby was indeed a boy.
They laid him down then and at first he didn’t cry (boy, is he making up for that right now!) The doctor kept saying everything was ok, give him a minute and he’ll start. As soon as they dried him and let out a few cries, they placed him on my chest and that moment will stay with me for the rest of my life. He got so quiet, opened his big blue eyes and just STARED AT US. Like really intensely, checking us out. Even though what he saw was just a blurry image of two nutbags, cooing and crying and repeating ‘oh my god’ a thousand times, he looked at us like he was a thousand years old, all alert and so super intense. I still don’t know what I felt, except just this huge sense of shock, like it wasn’t happening to me. But at the same time I felt this little creature elicit such powerful emotions of love, yes, but also some fiercely strong, primal protective urge.
They left him with us for a good hour and a half while the doctor was stitching me up and everyone came to see little Serbo-American baby. The doctor was asking if we had a name for him and I said “no, not yet”, but Paul was whispering “it’s Adam, she just doesn’t know it yet.” Which delighted the good doctor so much, and impressed by Paja, she said “oh, you should then name him Adam, your husband totally deserves it.” (I was gonna say – HE deserved it? Uhm, I mean I know he didn’t faint or anything, but wasn’t it ME who just gave birth???). But, at that moment, I loved him so much, he could have talked me into calling the baby Jeremiah, so secretly I knew the baby will be Adam and that the doctor was the one who tipped the scales.
So, that’s the story of Adam’s birth. All together, it was such an amazingly positive experience and I can’t even believe that I am saying this, but it made the idea of having another baby kind of OK (I swore at some point in the pregnancy I would never go through that again!).
So back I go to being a Terrible Mother. Ah, the good old days of pregnancy woes and labor pains…