Thursday, July 27, 2006

Reflections on the day of D's birth

Y'all seemed to like Baby J's birth story so much that I figured I'd indulge you -- what the heck, myself -- and tell you all about D's birth.

After I dropped off my daughters at preschool that morning I called my midwife and told her that maybe I was in labor. She agreed to meet me at her clinic in about 45 minutes.

The Santa Ana winds were blowing that morning, and there were wildfires, so the air was full of ash. I mean, you stepped outside, and you were breathing in hot, dry air full of ash. I had to brush the white flakes off myself as I walked into the clinic. T., the midwife, examined me and said that I was more or less at 4 cenitmeters, and that we could go ahead and call this early labor.

With the wisdom of hindsight, I look back and think to myself that maybe T. simply decided that since we had hit 37.5 weeks by dates -- making this a term delivery -- and since I seemed ready to go into labor, that she would tell me I was in early labor, help it along, and in that way be able to manage the birth. I can't blame her for making this choice, because we had spoken extensively all through my pregnancy about my fast labors. She knew I was terrified of going into labor when she couldn't get to me quickly, of delivering the baby alone in my home while both she and my husband were stuck in traffic. I do blame her for not telling me that this was her plan, because I probably would not have gone along with it. Although, I'm not sure if that would have been the best course of action either.... D's head had hit 40 weeks a week or two earlier, and if we had let him go to term, I might have ended up needed an emergency C-section -- who's to know? It is what it is.

Anyway. She told me it was early labor, I called my husband, and I drove home to wait for him. T. and Mr. WG arrived at around the same time; T. sent Mr. WG to pick up some stuff from a health food store. It was basically a homeopathic version of pitocin.

I walked around the house talking to myself, willing the contractions to pick up. I watched TV. The big news story that day was a lawyer whose client was unhappy and began shooting at the lawyer just outside the courthouse. The lawyer ducked behind a really skinny tree -- I mean, like, pencil-thin -- and the whole thing was caught on video camera because a more publicized trial (darned if I remember which one) was happening at the same courthouse that day. The dude shot at the lawyer like 10 times and kept missing, from 3 feet away. It was weird.

Mr. WG and I walked around the block a bit, smelling the ash, stopping to talk to a neighbor. I remember thinking how surprised she would be the next day when she found out that an hour or so after she talked to us, we had a baby.

The contractions didn't pick up as much as the midwife wanted them to, so she broke my water. Then the contractions started in earnest, and I took a shower. Pretty soon it was time to push.

I love those moments of pushing. I close my eyes and try to recapture that intensity. The baby crowning, that moment when the pain reaches the point where you think it's unbearable, and you push through it, the warm gush of amniotic fluid, blood, a slippery shoulder, that final push where you feel knees and legs and feet whoosh from inside you, through you, to the other side.

And then he was on my chest, not crying. Just there, and I kissed his head and held him for a few seconds, and then the midwife started getting more serious.

"We might need to go to the hospital," she said, and I remember thinking how silly she sounded. I mean, the baby was already born. Why go now? "He's working very hard to breathe," she said. She gave him oxygen, she gave him a bath, she rubbed his back. He still didn't let out with that big cry you want to hear. Some whimpers, but nothing with any force to it.

And of course, we did wind up going to the hospital. We called 911 for an ambulance, and we got 2 fire trucks and an ambulance to the house. About 9 rescue workers crowded into my room. Somehow, it was decided that only one parent could ride in the ambulance with the baby. Mr. WG would be that parent, I would follow with the midwife. At the last second, they let me come in the ambulance as well. By then, Mr. WG was strapped onto a stretcher holding D. I sat on the bench in the back and the EMT buckled me up.

When we got to the hospital, it was already dark, and it was raining. (Now it's the sad part of the movie.) They wheeled in Mr. WG with D. nestled in his arms. I hopped down from the back of the ambulance and walked in, in the rain, behind them.

And then we spent 11 days in the NICU. And then.... and now.

And so it goes.


lisa said...

Wow. What a story! I remember that news story least I think I do. I often times find myself replaying the day of Julia's birth too. The intensity was just amazing.

mamatulip said...

Good grief. I read this a few days ago and clicked on your links and read those stories and then I got distracted and forgot to comment. Sorry.

You've been through so much. You must be so exhausted some days...and yet, in every word, I can feel the love you have for your family. Keep on truckin'. And writing.