Peeking out from the insanity here....turns out giving birth might be the easy part. Nothing major--although everything feels life-and-death when nobody's slept much--but suffice to say, making milk is apparently not one of my natural gifts and a hungry baby waits for no one.
We've had many a meltdown of mama and baby as we try to work it out. I'm pretty much heartbroken that we're having to supplement him with formula--or, perhaps more correctly, feed him with formula and supplement him with breast milk--but a formula-fed baby is ever-so-much better than a starving one, so.
But, I digress a bit, because what I sat down to write out was the Kiddo's birth story. The squeamish may want to step away, but I've loved reading other people's stories in the past, so I want to get ours down before I start forgetting things....
After having some fakey little contractions Friday evening, I woke up at 5 a.m. Saturday morning to one that felt a bit more real. I dozed back to sleep, but was woken up again at 5:30, then at 6, then at 6:30. They may have been half an hour apart, but that seemed to count as "regular" to me. I finally got up about 9 or 10, and started cleaning house.
As a note, if it's ever applicable to you, do not clean house in early labor. Sleep. No really, sleep all you can. And make your partner sleep too. I knew that, but was worried that if I rested the contractions would stop and we'd have to be induced after all, so I did everything I could to be active.
We had a late lunch, went for a walk, and then settled in to try to watch a movie in the early evening. By that time, I was having contractions about 10 minutes apart, and it was enough pain to make trying to concentrate on Sense and Sensibility annoying. After trying a bath--which was "meh"--I just gave up and went to bed.
Of course, by then I wanted to sleep, but really couldn't. I half-dozed between contractions until we finally got to five minutes apart, which was when we were told to call Lovely Midwife. After chatting with me for a minute and working on getting me to breathe a little slower, she told us we should come in when we felt like we were ready.
We stayed home until about 5. I felt like I wanted to get in the tub again, but ours was a little too small to really get comfortable. Poor Sweet Husband--who had also had no sleep--got us safely to the birth center, where Lovely Midwife--who was kindly dismayed that we had wasted our sleep time cleaning house--tucked us both into bed for a few more hours of dozing in and out between contractions.
It seems like there were some other bits that went on in there, but I was getting a little fuzzy by then.
I remember having the weirdest half-formed thoughts. Like, thinking about cases from work and random people from my childhood.
I remember that there was a little note in the birthing room that I kept reading over and over again,
"Over 300,000 women will be giving birth with you today. Breathe, relax, and do nothing else. Labor is hard work. It hurts. And you can do it."
For some reason, the "thank you for flying with us" tone was amusing to me.
At about 10, I got up to potty and threw up all over the bathroom, contracting and hitting the trash can evidently being more coordination than I could muster. Once that was cleaned up, Lovely Midwife suggested checking to see how far along things were.
After two weeks of dilating ever so slowly--almost 1...1...1 1/2...getting close to 2--I about cried with relief when she said we were to a 7. She suggested trying the tub again, which I did, but it was too hot. We moved around from birthing ball, to stool, to bed, and I finally got really comfy--comfy being relative at that point--sitting backwards on an armless rocking chair with Sweet Husband rubbing my back.
By, oh...maybe 2:30? I started feeling like I wanted to push. While, overall, I fall into the "giving birth wasn't so bad" camp, that transition-y period was definitely my low point. I can't remember what was specifically happening even, but I remember saying something along the lines of "I'm so done with this." And Lovely Midwife, bless her, snapped right back with, "No you're not, you don't have a baby in your arms yet." Just what I needed to hear, and certainly true!
I got back on the birthing stool, and at 10 'till 3 (I remember that very clearly) my water broke. That was incredibly encouraging. I remember asking, "Could we get the baby out by 3?" Lovely Midwife said, "Maybe more like 3:30," which was good enough for me.
Then it was all pushing. Counter-intuitive as it may sound, it felt really good to push. Like, it was to the point where I was getting impatient waiting between contractions because pushing felt so much better than just being there. Again, it wasn't a day in the park, but it wasn't unbearable either. It's hard to describe....and I think it may be one of those things where you can't really understand until you've done it. It just was what it was, and had to be gotten through--that was all.
While Lovely Midwife offered, I didn't stop to do any looking as the Small Man came out. Sweet Husband said it was crazy to watch, as his head slowly eked out and back.
I tore just a little as the big part of his head came though. I was petrified of tearing, but actually it only hurt enough for me to mentally note, "Hm, that's going to sting a little later." And I knew it meant that he was really close to being out.
When the baby got as far as his nose Lovely Midwife said, "It'll be this one or the next one." Two contractions later we had a baby boy.
Sweet Husband said he was blue for about a second, but by the time he was handed up to me he had pinked up already and was crying nice and loud. He had quite the cone-head--we were joking that he looked like a little Klingon baby. And his placenta was ginourmous--almost 2 pounds! In a completely gross way, it was facinating to examine. Lovely Midwife said it was a teensy bit old, but for the most part it looked like the Kiddo wasn't actually overbaked, despite his "late" arrival.
And even though it's been a rough first week, I still can't get over this amazing little person we made. I know every mother thinks her baby is beautiful, intelligent, etc., but...well, isn't he? I was holding him while he slept this afternoon, and, thinking aloud, said to Nice Dad and Sweet Husband, "I wonder what he thinks of the world so far?" At just that second, the Kiddo broke out into one of his first smiles...and my heart melted into a big ole' puddle on the floor.
I think we may just have to keep him.
(And P.S., thank you all so much for all the good wishes and congrats that have been coming our way!)