Five years ago today was a big day.
Five years and eight days ago, this photo was taken. I don't think my smile looks forced at all.
Due date, schmu-date. It occurred to me a few days ago, maybe while I was plastering blue icing all over a birthday cake, that I’ve never written down Michael’s birthday story, so in honor of this milestone, I’ll do it today.
Michael’s story really begins with Ella’s. I was a very young 26 when our girl was born, and having weathered quite a pregnancy, I can honestly say I didn’t give much thought to the whole birth part. Luckily I had a doctor who was fairly hands-off about these things and she let me go ten days over due. At which point I looked at the calendar, saw the real possibility of spending Christmas in the maternity ward and began begging to be induced. I didn’t know what that meant, actually, but it seemed to be all the rage and I was quite ready to stop taking anti-nausea meds to get through each day.
All’s well that ends well and we had a beautiful, healthy baby girl. A couple of years later, now expecting No. 2 (It’s true, women are crazy enough to do this again! I wouldn’t have believed you in December of 2005, but apparently kids are cool), I was furiously educating myself on all things babies and birth. Cue the moment when I had this golden idea: “I can do this,” I thought. I can go au naturale and I don’t even need a class to do it. I’ve read books, I’ve read blogs, and Ella’s birth was a breeze! Five hours long, got the epidural twenty minutes before she came along, and pushed exactly two times.
It was one of those stories that makes other women hate you, until they hear what the pregnancy was like, then they slowly step back a bit in case that sort of thing is catching.
Michael’s pregnancy, while no picnic, was pretty tame in comparison. Being one of those lucky few who have BH contractions starting around week, oh, nine or so, I was used to telling the nurses during my check ups that no, I wasn’t in labor yet. Yes, this happens all of the time.
Determined to let this baby come on his own timeline, I soldiered past 40 weeks again. Saw my chiropractor two or three times that week and then went in for my 41-week check up. Alarmed at the size of my belly and concerned I may have too much fluid, I was sent for an U/S. The technician estimated the baby at 10 pounds 5 ounces and fluid levels were normal. What wasn’t normal? I was completely unfazed by that baby-size revelation. You see, I was taught there’s a two-to-three pound (POUND) accuracy swing at the end of pregnancy. U/S technicians…what do they know.
Nevertheless, we were to report to the maternity ward at some ridiculous hour the next morning for monitoring. I was adamantly refusing any interventions and the nurses saw me coming from a mile away with Ina May's book under my arm. I had contemplated not even showing up, but Wes was not pleased with that plan. Apparently he thinks reading a lot is not the same as attending medical school.
After checking in and being set up on monitors, it looked as though those “practice” contractions were registering as real ones. I stubbornly turned down the IV and waited for my favorite OB to come on call at 7 a.m.
Once she arrived and got the scoop, she agreed not to talk me into anything crazy. It seemed Mother Nature was doing her thing and there was no danger to letting me try this solo for a while. I did agree to have my water broken. No sense in spending all day in the hospital if I didn’t have to! Let’s get this show on the road.
Fast-forward about an hour…contractions were strong and they were loooong. Wes could see it in my face. This wasn’t going well. This was not Ella’s birth. And who was that idiot who refused the IV fluids at 5:30 a.m.? As I was now realizing between moments of sheer panic and hyperventilating, I was going to have to get that thing hooked up for forty-five minutes to an hour before the doctor with the epidural could even be summoned to the room.
I’m pretty sure the smug nurse we were assigned that morning took extra pleasure in inserting my IV and squeezing the freezing cold fluids in as quickly as possible. I’m also pretty sure that in that moment I didn’t care. Eventually the anesthesiologist came and I was doing my best to hold still while the little needle found it’s way to the right spot in my spine.
Long story short (Ha! I know. Too late for that.),
it didn’t work. My left leg was
completely numb; my right was just a little tingly. And I was completely
nauseous now in addition to still feeling most of the contractions. My wonderful husband held one of those bean-shaped tubs by my head and stroked my hair while the nurses left us alone.
Within a few minutes of the anesthesiologist finally throwing up her hands and leaving as well (job well done!), I felt the need to push. Convincing Smug Nurse to go call my OB was not happening, however. Having just checked me fifteen minutes earlier, and after giving me a lecture on the potential introduction of germs to the baby, she flatly refused and told me I didn’t know what I was feeling. I may or may not have said something snarky about how I was going to begin pushing whether she liked it or not and then she agreed to find another nurse for me. Second Nurse was a big improvement over the first and quickly figured out I was indeed ready. Smug Nurse was not pleased but ran to get the doctor after asking only three or four times, "Are you sure?"
In the hurry to get prepped for baby, no one thought to shut the door. There was a handy screen preventing anyone from seeing in, but unfortunately for my in-laws who were sitting in the hall, screens are hardly sound-proof. Over the next five minutes or so, they probably learned some new things about their daughter-in-law’s vocabulary. Oops.
I pushed through one or two contractions, and Michael arrived. 10 pounds, 10 ounces, and 21 inches long at 11:40 a.m. on September 16, 2008.
A friend of mine was giving birth at a hospital north of the city the following day and heard nurses talking about this really big baby that was born sans a C-section down at Dekalb Medical the day before. News of a woman with freakishly big hips travels fast, I guess. I do admit, it was pretty funny seeing him in the nursery next to the rest of the regular-sized newborns.
He was perfect. And we quickly learned a whole new level of multitasking existed.
Recovery was not quite as breezy as with Ella’s birth. My botched epidural had left my left leg paralyzed and we spent the rest of the day in a tornado of new-baby ogling, introducing the big sister, convincing doctors and nurses that both my and baby’s blood sugar levels were perfectly normal, constant feedings, and visits from a variety of doctors. Regarding my dead leg, the anesthesiologist pointed her finger at Big Baby who must have severed a nerve on his way out; the OB pointed a finger at the epidural. The neurologist said “Who knows? If you get feeling back, you get feeling back. Only time will tell.”
I was absolutely terrified but hopeful and did my best to focus on the baby. Wes made some wisecracks about being able to easily make our house ADA-compliant in no time to lighten the mood. Thankfully, by the following morning, I was beginning to get some feeling in my toes and by the end of that same day, I could just barely support my weight again. It was a joy not to need help to get to the bathroom and we were soon discharged.
Back home, everyone was smitten with our new arrival.
The days are long but the years are short. I can think of no truer words this morning. We are so blessed to have this crazy, curious, witty, stubborn, grumpy, snuggly, wonderful boy in our lives. The roundness of his toddler belly is just a memory now, like so many milestones that have passed by already. But I know there are even more to come.
I’ve got my camera ready.