Tuesday, July 1, 2014

My husband leaned over and said, “It’s a girl”

A month ago I went for a walk.  

After talking to a few friends and co-workers, we determined that would be the best course of action. When you live in Worcester there are few ways to induce labor. We’re a city of a variety of spicy foods and restaurants; apparently there’s a legendary cream cheese you can try. But when I was four days past our due date, my flavor was to walk one of the city’s hills, nearby Wrentham Road, which has a grade to make any right angle jealous. In my defense I had few options – my doctor said induction would not be tabled. So Baby-Two-Cents-Plus-One had to come on his/her own or I would have to have another C-section (the latter, I decided, would not be tabled). I was in this category called "Trial of Labor" which, as the term implies, means I was going to try labor. And try I intended. So Wrentham Road it was; and for locals needing an endorsement – it worked like a charm. 

I know the trend today is to author a birth-plan. I didn’t make one. But even if I did, I don’t think I could have created a better one than what happened. I half-joked late in the pregnancy that I wanted to have Peanut Butter Fox Tail (i.e. Lydia) at home (I didn’t want to be away from Henry and Sophia for any length of time) and I thought they would be better birth-coaches than anyone I could hire or ask. As it turned out, I stayed with Henry and Sophia until the (almost) end. I leaned against the bed and they built duplo-towers around me. They were an adaptive, accommodating, and alleviating presence throughout labor. I felt so comfortable with them that I sent Tony off to work in the morning.

With Henry and Sophia, I never experienced a contraction – never felt any of the hallmark signs of labor. I have no regrets about their entrance into the world – but their birth left me completely clueless. And my level-headed doctor was not one to create scenarios. “Call us if anything changes,” was the prescription for this pregnancy – one that suited me just fine. So after going for that kick-starter walk, things had changed.  

Fifteen minutes after Tony left, I called my mother who is an hour and a half away and asked her for an assessment. Apparently, when you are in labor you need to know how to time contractions properly – not from the worst part, but from start to finish.

I now know this.

My mother, being my best friend and source of limitless knowledge (even over the phone) knew I was further along than I thought. “I’ll be right out,” she said.

I somehow managed to signal Tony to call me at home. My mother was stuck in some traffic and I was still in denial that I was in labor (I thank God that my mother didn’t listen to me when I said, “No, really, I think this is going to take a long time. Don’t rush.”)

By the time she got to my house, my mother took one look at me and said, “I think its time for you to go to the hospital.”

“But what if they send me back home because I’m not far enough along?” I said.

My mother calmly replied, “They’re not going to send you home.” 

And it turns out they didn’t send me home. We got to the hospital, I was checked and quickly admitted. Eight centimeters they told me. I was introduced to my no-nonsense but lovely nurse. I was too far for any pain medication, she said. Okay, I said. A little bit longer and you can push, she said.

There was a Resident with kind, wide eyes. And Tony in street clothes. That was all. Gone were the dozen plus people who were around for the twins’ birth. Gone were Tony’s blue scrubs. But then in walked the same, savior-like doctor from my practice who delivered Henry and Sophia. Apparently I said, “I could kiss you” or something (I have no memory of this) and he laughed. Then I knew, It Was Time.

I approached this birth with no intentions – except for one. We didn’t know the gender of the baby. I had this vision of requesting from whatever medical staff was there that I wanted an “It’s a girl!” or “It’s a boy!” shouted with cinematic-quality pomp. I never really articulated this to anyone – I thought it would conversationally come up pre-arrival.

The funny thing is, there was nothing chatty about my labor or delivery. So I never got the chance to tell the doctor or my nurse that we didn’t know. After that final push and she was here, it was quiet (save for a crying newborn). Instead they said, “reach down and hold your baby” and it was Tony who leaned over and told me quietly “it’s a girl.”

And with that I was glad that the one element of my birth plan fell through. 

And as for the original two cents? I couldn’t be prouder of them. Over the past year we’ve said many goodbyes. We’ve said goodbye at rehabilitation centers, in the ICU, in hospitals, nursing homes and in private moments to friends moving away. Goodbyes for a short time, an indeterminate amount of time and a long time. We said goodbye to our dog. To family members we didn’t know if we’d ever see again. To both my beloved grandparents when we visited the same graveside twice in a year.

But they also learned how to say hellos – hello to new friends and teachers when they started preschool in September. And the mysterious welcome-to-the-world-hello when they met their baby sister for the first time. 

So back to where this story started – with a walk. Walks I know we’ll all take together

And when we leave the house
It will be in two straight lines

[feel free to join in here]

in rain or shine
with the newest one
Lydia Madeline

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