(Note: OK. The truth is, I started writing the birth story just before Georgia turned a year old. Then we went to Ireland, we went to Maryland, we bought a house, January happened, I got depressed, I started thinking, who the hell cares? etc...but ultimately this is for me and Alex and one day Georgia. Upon hearing and reading the birth stories of my friends, there is not all that much unusual about it, but it's MY story and such is life. It was a transformative experience. Probably the most transformative experience of my whole life, so I might as well give it some credit. So why all the justifying? I dunno. Because I don't think it's going to reveal any great mysteries or anything. We all know how the lil' buggers get here. It's long, and there's at least a couple more parts (those ones are not written yet), but if you're up for it...keep reading. Warning: even if I don't mention them in this part, there's bound to be mention of hanky-panky, poop, and vaginas. (Messin' with Google searchers everywhere for sure.) Be warned. It's not gratuitous, and no, I didn't poop during delivery (I don't think. Nikki? Did I?) But, if the mention of these things bother you, as innocuous as they may be, you may want to skip reading. And thanks for humoring me.)
Saturday, December 16th, 2006, I was supposed to go to a work-related Christmas party at the Mayor’s house. I didn’t feel like going. I was huge and tired, going through my days in a zombie-esque daze--the kind of stupor best understood by a late-pregnancy insomniac who’s husband is prone to making mouth noises while he sleeps—soundly—next to her.
I was just days from my 38th week. The obstetrician had successfully performed a version two weeks prior and the little bean was in ‘go’ position. My doctor told me that if the baby decided to come they wouldn’t stop her. I was impatient. Eager. Bored. Could only eat two-bite-meals lest I feel like one of those tribesmen who force-feed themselves tapioca in order to grow their stomachs big and fat in the hopes that they would win the hand of the most beautiful woman in the village. (I saw it in a movie when I was in high school and hung out with stupid boys who were prone to watching things like that on video for kicks.)
That evening, in lieu of the Christmas party, I convinced Alex we ought to start pulling out as many tricks as possible to serve this baby her eviction notice. It doesn’t sound nice, I know, but I wanted some kind of relief. What’s more, I wanted to meet this little bugger!
Last year was mild. We were still walking along the track at the high school with nary a sweatshirt in late autumn. Most nights, four laps was tops for me. Even then I would hobble home—or more likely, to the car that I made Alex drive the four blocks or so to the track.
My back often felt like it might crack open where it meets my buttocks and some kind of creaky awkward ginormous ostrich would step right out of me bum! On the 16th, however, we walked eight laps. While I had never heard of ostriches hatching from your backside, I HAD heard, walking could bring on labor.
After the walking and a quick session of hanky panky (Hey. If you’re family—especially— and you read this blog? I apologize. But how do you think that sweet girl got here anyway?), also rumored to get things rolling, we headed to Tony’s where we split a ham, feta, and jalapeno pizza. The hots! Bring it on, baby! Or rather, bring that baby on!
I must have really wanted her to come out because the thought of jalapenos and the heartburn I endured during pregnancy do NOT go hand in hand.
That evening, too nervous to try anything like castor oil, I settled in for the evening feeling…different. Nothing I can place my finger on, just different.
By 10pm, I was having mild, random contractions. I timed them, but they were anywhere from 3 to 20 minutes apart. Regular only in that they kept happening. I did NOT want to be one of those women who got sent home from the hospital. Instead, I spent the night giddy, not sleeping, reading Their Eyes Were Watching God and writing the times of my contractions down on the back of a greeting card that I had slipped out of the drawer of my bedside table.
Next to me I let Alex sleep aware that he may not be getting much sleep soon. Iggy slept between us in the bed—a rarity, but I was in need of his warm body and steady breath.
Around 3:30am, having slept maybe 30 winks, the contractions grew more regular, every 7 minutes or so (and still not too painful). Alex slept soundly besides me, although I got the sense that there was excitement right there on his skin. At some point I called my midwife. She told me to call back when the contractions were closer together. I went back and lay in bed, unable to sleep.
At about 5am, Alex awoke. The excitement was palpable. He took a shower. He came back in the room where I was still lying in bed. He got into bed with me and we chatted.
Is this it? Can it really be?
I told him the contractions came in waves just like they taught us in birthing class. I said they were like little shadows. Demons. That crept in under the doorway, blackened things just a little, and then snuck out like a passing shadow. Little did I know just how much they would “blacken” things in time.
Then. For no apparent reason—and completely out of character—Iggy barked.
It startled me. And I felt a fissure inside me.
I dove out of bed clenching my vaginal muscles. The thing I had been most anticipating, most anxious about, had happened. My water broke. At home, not at work in a business meeting with a bunch of suits (thank God), and, having not laid out a shower curtain under our bedsheet like our birthing coach had advised us, I didn’t want to ruin our mattress.
I ran to the bathroom like a small child who really had to go. I sat on the toilet and water just drained out of me. It felt like so much peeing. But with no control. I giggled. I called Alex in (yes, we’re that type of couple), I said things like “I think this is it! Oh my gosh, do you think this is it? Is this it? This is my water right? This is not pee? My water broke! Iggy just broke my water!”
Alex giggled. I drained.
Then I crammed a towel between my legs because I didn’t know how long that could go on for. Even in our dark brown toilet (I HATED that toilet! Who has a dark brown toilet? Don’t you need to know how things come out?) I noticed that the water was green. Of all the things I forgot from birthing class, suddenly that one bit of knowledge regarding green water came back to me.
Meconium. That could be bad.
So back to the phone I went. And for some reason, I played it nonchalant. “I think my water broke. I’m pretty sure it did. There was a lot of it and I couldn’t control it.” (Looking back and remembering what it felt like, why was I so unsure???) “It was green. I think there was meconium in it.”