I remember a day mid-summer when I sat with Kaleb underneath the freeway bridge. It was a typical day for us, with truck problems, waiting to be picked up off the side of the road. On this day I was extra sad, because we had just been informed at our Dr. Appointment that our awaited little girl June was actually a boy. I can't even fathom that devastation now, because my little one is absolutely meant to be a boy and I love, love, love it.
Last Sunday, I sat squirming in church. I was so uncomfortable, because it felt like my baby was crawling his way up into my ribs and planning an escape out my throat. I swore to Kaleb that he was climbing up in there and going to hold on to my ribs so that he never ever had to come out. They say that you should feel your baby "drop" down into the birth canal before labor begins. To me, he felt like he was ever rising into my chest.
He was due in a week, and that night as we were setting the table for Sunday dinner I expressed to my family how I thought he would never come unless we made him. I guessed, "two weeks and he's still inside, and we have to make him come out. That's what's going to happen."
So we sat down and had a lovely dinner at 5:00 pm with mashed potatoes and roast beef and hot blueberry muffins with butter, just exactly how a Sunday dinner should be. We were mid-conversation and I remember having something I wanted to say, but before I could say it I felt the faintest little pop down there and a gush of something come uncontrollably out of me. It wasn't enough to be noticeable to anyone else, but I felt my face flush red. I think that was the point that I knew it was happening but I was so scared by then I just pretended everything was still normal. Then I started getting mild pain in my lower stomach, so I went up to the bathroom to check things out. It looked like I had peed my pants, and then more came out as I was in the bathroom. It wasn't pee, it was too involuntary for that, though I felt like I could kind of hold it in, so that's what I did. I changed into some silk shorts and went back down to the dinner table, hoping no one would notice I had changed into shorts. Well, no one said anything, and we continued on with our dinner. But not for very long.
I was so awkward about it. There was a pause in the conversation and I said..."so, um, I don't know what's happening." And they didn't quite know what I meant by that so I tried to elaborate by saying I might be leaking fluid, and I might be in a little bit of pain, but I just didn't know for sure." And then I made a few trips to the bathroom again, and eventually ended up calling Kaleb into the bathroom. By that time the pain was really intensifying and quickly, and this was when I knew something had to be done soon because the pain was just terrible. No one had yet addressed the fact that I was in labor. It was like, hmm...I wonder what's wrong??
I urged Kaleb to call our Dr. right this very minute. But he was hesitant because I still couldn't describe what I was going through. The problem was I wasn't having contractions. It was just pain, constant pain, that certainly intensified greatly at times but never went away. Finally when Kaleb decided to call our doctor, I could hear him talking and saying "Yeah, she says she is kind of in pain." Are you kidding? I was like....tell him I'm in A LOT of pain. At one point, as I crawled around the living room floor, my mom said something like "it sounds like it's just Braxton Hicks." Was everybody serious? Why was no one grasping the fact that I was in unfathomable pain?? Kaleb's convo with the doctor ended kind of like...."well, you guys can go to the hospital if you think you should..." but he didn't say GET THERE RIGHT NOW. But as soon as Kaleb got off the phone I said we're going RIGHT NOW.
So we left out the door without grabbing a thing and I was in my shorts that were now soaked through. By the time we got to the hospital I nearly had to crawl in. We got inside and it was completely deserted in there. No one at the front desk. We had no clue where to go, oh and I was simply dying. Finally a random woman poked her head out from some corner and said..."can I help you?... and then Kaleb did the whole awkward thing of..."ummm, my wife thinks she's in labor?" And then she gave us prompt directions on where to go. By the time we got to Labor and Delivery, everything seemed like a slow nightmare. We got to these double doors and had to wait for someone to buzz us in. Then we got to the front desk where there were literally like ten nurses just hanging out at the front desk, now all staring at me as I had to recite off useless information like my birth day and height and whatever else. Still. Someone, anyone, had yet to address the fact that I was in incomprehensible pain.
They put me in a room and had me changed into the gown and finally a nurse came to assist us. I immediately told her I was in so much pain and she had to do something about it. She just told me to change and she would be back shortly. So I changed and then started writhing on the bed. They told Kaleb to answer the phone when it rang, so Kaleb was on the phone forever with some random person giving what seemed like entirely useless information seeing the amount of pain I was in. Have I gotten across yet that it hurt?? I was angry now, because I was just laying there with no nurse and no Kaleb for what seemed like a very long time, completely suffering. I know they tell you to relax and focus on your breathing and it will make the pain better or more tolerable, but I'm sorry. It's a lot easier to say that when you aren't in the moment. And I may be dramatic compared to some women, but I don't care.
By this time it was like...6:30 or 7:00 I believe. Hell if I was keeping track of time! The nurse finally came back in and I told her once again that she had to do something about this pain immediately. She then proceeded to check the fluid coming out of me to see if it was my water that broke. After testing it, she told me it didn't look like it was my water that broke because the test strip wasn't changing. I panicked thinking they were going to send me back home in this state. Then she checked my cervix, which means she shoved her arm up me and twisted it all around in horrifying ways. That was the moment someone finally bought into my drama. I was dilated to an 8.
The nurse whisked us straight into a delivery room, and as I walked passed the front desk of thousands of nurses, they all shouted at me like "you go girl!, you're awesome!" But I didn't feel empowered at all because in my opinion I wasn't handling the pain well. I was truly getting upset at the nurse that she had not done something about this pain yet. She then said "well the anesthetist is on the way right now from his house." And that was possibly the worst thing she could have said to me. From his house??? Well where the hell does he live???
The next while, or so it seemed to me but according to Kaleb it was just 5 or 10 minutes, I laid there hollering for the anesthetist. Get here! Get here! Please no, please no! Those were my words over and over again.
We planned that I was going to have a natural child birth. I was so motivated to do it until my due date crept closer. I was getting less and less confident about it, and I started saying things to Kaleb like don't count on it. I thought I might be a little bummed out at myself if I didn't go through with it, but the truth is I don't regret it one bit. I am not ashamed in any way, and I feel that I made a stellar decision for myself and my personal experience to get an epidural. Our Dr, Dr. Wall appeared right after I had been given the epidural, and although it hadn't taken effect yet, I somehow felt like I couldn't be acting so ridiculous in front of our doctor and so I managed the pain much better until it went away.
By the time the epidural kicked in I was finally thrilled to be having a baby instead of dreading it beyond reason. Well, I thought I was thrilled until right away they told me it was time to push. I wasn't expecting to be doing that so quickly and I didn't feel ready. I didn't want to meet my baby yet, I was too scared of who he was going to be. So I pushed a few times but I was very resistant and I could tell I was holding back a ton. Dr. Wall asked if I could use some time to breathe and relax and I took him up on that offer. I know that was frustrating to everyone else who wanted to get the show on the road, but I was so terrified of what was about to come out of me and the "mystery" of it all.
So for about 45 minutes I hung out with numb legs trying to breathe and be calm because my anxiety was really off the charts and I was shaking beyond control and my teeth were chattering so loudly that even the doctor had to chuckle a little bit.
I realized after a while that I would probably never be ready, so I decided we should just do this. It turned out the best way to get rid of my anxiety was to proceed because after pushing for a while I began to feel much more brave and confident and I was putting more and more effort into it. They said they could see his head and that he had hair. I freaked. I don't know why, but I still wasn't convinced there was a human being inside of me. Something? Yes. Human? I didn't know.
Well after pushing for maybe two hours, he wasn't making anymore progress on his way out. The nurse explained to me that he was probably posterior, which means that his head was facing the wrong way. Then the Dr. came in and said that his heart rate was starting to show some signs of distress, and he gave me the option of using forceps, (huge scary pliers to pinch the babe's head and pull him out), C-section (yeah right!) or to just keep pushing. I decided that they better get the forceps because I didn't like the sounds of the baby being in distress. So in an instant to mood changed from light and casual and quiet with just one Doctor and one nurse in the room, to insanity.
Suddenly there were about five extra nurses in there putting on masks, gloves, bibs, bringing in all this foreign equipment. They shone a huge spotlight on me and put me in an oxygen mask, and told me I had better start pushing for my life. Then it got scary. Because I was surrounded by people in masks and I could see into the Dr.'s eyes which looked very stern and focused. I could see those forceps too, and they were huge and I can't believe they went inside of me. Dr. Wall said that within one or two contractions he would be out. I just took some deep breaths and was braver than ever because I was so scared.
Within two contractions he was only half way out and my second contraction stopped, which apparently haulted him and he got kind of stuck, which was not good because he was distressed. You could feel the mood shift in the room from focused to slight emergency and I saw the look on the nurse's face, I could tell something wasn't right. I also heard the Dr. say "we could really use another contraction right now." They told me to just keep pushing and I'm pretty sure I would rather die than have anything bad happen to the baby so I pushed with all my lady lightning and seconds later I heard "he has blue eyes" and I looked and there he was. I could not believe it. I looked from Kaleb to the baby and from Kaleb to the baby in pure shock. He was born at 10:38 pm.
They brought him over to me after he was cleaned up and the first time holding him was weird because it was so overwhelming. I couldn't take him all in at once and I had no idea how to hold his fragile little body.
Then they took him away to the nursery to check his breathing and Kaleb went with him. I had to stay in the room for another hour and a half without them to get all stitched up. I laid there in serenity and kind of saw a lot of mess in the reflection of the Dr.'s glasses as he worked. I saw the nurse picking up disgusting things off the floor. And I couldn't feel a thing. It was interesting.
Time since then is all a nostalgic blur. I can't imagine life without little Sawyer while at the same time missing being pregnant and missing the times before I ever got pregnant and feeling so responsible for his health and nourishment that it makes me ill. But it is a completely joyous and timely type of ill. It's perfect and I wouldn't have it any other way. He is a precious little angel in our family. Adventure, here it comes! Welcome to the great wide world, Sawyer.