Two Years Ago Tonight: The Birth of Baby B
Two years ago, in my one hundred year old house with no air conditioning, I was waddling around nine months pregnant and thankful that the summer’s humid heatwave had broken a bit and we could use the whole-house fan to draw in the cooler air. It was still damp, but not hot.
I had just gotten my little guy Ethan down to sleep, nursing him and holding him and wondering how much longer he would be my only son, how much longer before this new person would enter our lives. While nursing him, I’d felt the twinges of Braxton-Hicks contractions that were the norm now, but I had gotten past hope that it was labor starting. I just assumed it was more practice.
I lay down next to my sleeping husband sometime after eleven, around the same time it is right now as I write this. I tried settling in on first one aching hip, then the other, and felt something not like a contraction, but more like an ache in my cervix. It was odd, different than what I’d experienced with my prior two labors.
Unable to get comfortable, I got up and walked around. I just wandered from room to room, restless, not sure if this was the beginning of something or just the groanings of a woman tired of carrying around extra people all the time. I took a bath and tried to be quiet.
My husband had to leave for work at 1:30 a.m. and I didn’t want to wake him unnecessarily, but after a while I realized this was probably labor starting. When he finally awoke, I told him I thought this was it, but to go ahead to work, since my last labor had been so long and slow. Though I was torn about it, I watched him leave, thinking I would be calling him in a few hours.
I got back into the bath and decided I should call my midwife just to tell her things were happening. My contractions were difficult but not overwhelming, and they were growing rapidly closer together, but because of our last seventeen hour experience together, she told me I should see how things go for an hour and then call her back. This was around 1:45 a.m.
I called her back at 2:00, beginning to panic a little bit and feeling like things were happening so fast. There was a moment in which I felt my fear rising at being alone with this difficult task, and I remember telling myself that I could do it by myself. That this would prove I was strong. I called my husband to turn around and come home.
I don’t even know who got there first, but I was so relieved to see my “team” I think I plunged right into transition. I don’t remember much of the beginning. My husband filled the birth tub, and I got in as soon as I could because I was using all my energy to cope with the powerful contractions.
Not long after Leslie (the midwife), Mary Frances (her assistant), and my husband got settled around me, I was in the tub and feeling very much like pushing. I remember saying, “I feel like pushing and it’s too soon! Why do I feel like pushing?”
Mary Frances asked if it would make me feel better if she checked me, and I said, “Yes!” with what I’m sure sounded like huge relief and hope.
When she said I was complete, I got really excited about how fast it had been. Really only an hour and a half or so, which for me was amazing! But the hard work was only beginning.
I have big babies. Not like, super huge or anything, but when you consider my size, they are big. Ethan weighed eight pounds, eight ounces, and I pushed for five hours with him. That’s nearly unheard of, and it’s likely that if I’d been in a hospital, I would have been bullied into a C-section.
So I was geared up for the pushing this time, but also afraid. Afraid of getting stuck, afraid of having to last for hours. I was determined to be effective and strong.
And boy did I try, but this nine pound, six ounce baby took a lot of work to get into the world. Leslie had to ask me to change positions a few times to help bring him down, and finally, squatting and gripping the edge of the birth tub, I was able to do it. It took everything I had to give. Every time a contraction came I looked desperately for Randal and held his hand. Mary Frances kept cool cloths on me, and I just worked. I worked hard. And finally, when Leslie told me to reach down and catch him, I couldn’t even let go of the edge to do it!
But then he was here, and I was holding him, and he was mine. And he was beautiful, and still is.
And Beckett, sweet pea, I wanted to write your story first because I fear I’ve given you too little of everything so far. I fear you’ll remember in some part of your heart that the worst year of my life was supposed to be the best and easiest of yours.
I want to tell you that when I held you tonight and watched you fall asleep, my heart ached with all the mistakes I’ve made. Tonight, I’m making you cupcakes and telling your story. Tomorrow, you will open presents and blow out candles.
And for the rest of our lives, I will love you the best I can, and hope that it’s enough.