Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Christmas Birth Story

I never wrote the birth stories for Calvin or Hobbes, though every detail of those hours is still clear in my memory. Perhaps I will go back and write their stories one day, for them if no one else. Our beautiful baby (I still need a blog name for him) turns one month old today, I am coming out of the fog enough to write his story.

You weren't due until New Year's Day. Our "New Year's Baby" is what I called you, but all along I had a feeling you might come on Christmas Day. It wasn't just because nearly everyone who heard my due date commented that you might be a Christmas baby. It wasn't just because Calvin wanted a Christmas baby, though he definitely did. Even Hobbes said you were coming on Christmas, but I think he was a little confused between you and the Baby Jesus. (Don't let that get to your head when you are older.) Though plenty of people speculated that you might be a Christmas baby, something inside me, call it mother's intuition, seemed to know it for sure. I would be in labor on December 25th, thinking of Mary doing the same thing in a stable in Bethlehem.

I woke up at one o'clock in the morning with contractions. Since I had been having them on and off for a couple of weeks, I wasn't sure this was the real thing. But they kept coming every ten minutes, steady and just strong enough. I tried to sleep in between. I woke your daddy at around four to let him know what was going on. We decided to sleep a bit more then get up and get ready to go, hoping we could get in an early Christmas morning with your brothers before heading to the birth center.

It turned out that we didn't need to worry about the "early" part. After packing and getting showers at six, we slept a bit more, finally waking at around eight to call the midwife and to tell your Auntie __, who was staying with us, that this was the day. Contractions were still ten minutes apart, so we decided to let your brothers sleep. I cooked the Christmas breakfast, country ham and biscuits and cinnamon rolls, while I waited, for you and your brothers. Calvin and Hobbes woke up and came running out for their stockings. We opened presents, ate breakfast, and timed contractions while I sat in my rocker. Still ten minutes apart. Still steady and just strong enough.

By the time your Uncle __ picked your brothers up at eleven o'clock, I was starting to wonder if you would ever come. We had called Nana to let her know to head on over. We decided to walk and try to speed things up. It was a warm, sunny day for December, and I am thankful for that. We walked and walked and walked around the neighborhood, stopping to chat with our friends from church who lived nearby. Contractions sped up to five minutes apart with all of that walking, so your daddy, aunt, and I headed over to the birth center.

When we arrived at two-thirty, I was sure I would be pretty far along from all of those contractions. When the midwife told me I was only three centimeters, I almost cried. Instead, we went outside and walked some more...and walked and walked and walked. Contractions were four to five minutes apart after an hour of walking, so we went back inside. Still three centimeters. By this time, another midwife was on call, who was older and more experienced. She suggested we try going up and down the stairs. There we were, you daddy bearing my weight, your faithful aunt timing contractions, and me climbing up and down the stairs, fighting off tears and fatigue, wishing something would just happen. An hour of stairs, contractions two to three minutes apart, and still only three centimeters.

It was five-thirty. I was exhausted and frustrated. The midwife was wise and calm. It turns out you were making things complicated by having your hand up by your head. The midwife pushed you around a little bit and told you you could suck your thumb once you were out. Then she sent me home to lay on my left side to see if you would move your hand. I couldn't be checked in until I was four centimeters.

Turns out we didn't need to go home. On the way there, I started having serious, painful contractions. By the time we got home, I could barely get in the house and to the couch. Your Nana arrived at the same time we did. I lay there, unable to talk or breathe through the pain while your daddy called the midwife. She asked to talk to me and realized right away that we needed to get back. Immediately!

I am pretty sure your daddy has never driven like that, speeding and running red lights as I screamed in the passenger seat. There is nothing more miserable than having active labor on a bumpy road. Auntie ___ was following us in her own car this whole time, wondering if she would get pulled over by a cop and how she would explain it. She obviously had no pregnant woman in her car.

When we arrived back at the birthing center at six-twenty, I could barely get in the door. The midwife checked me, and I was only four centimeters. I didn't care. I was ready.

It was a blur from there. Your daddy started filling the birthing tub and got into his swim trunks. I got out of my clothes as quickly as I could and got into that hot water. Oh, the water! I could not have made it through this labor without it. The next hour was like one long contraction, pain upon pain upon pain, more than I thought I could bear. I could not focus to breathe through it all. There were times when all I could do was scream. I really just wanted someone to shoot me and end it. It was that bad. Worse than with your brothers. The midwife had to yell at me to focus a couple of times. She kept reminding me there was a baby at the end of this. I kept gripping your father's hands and leaning back into him, completely unable to think about seeing you, just wanting it to be over. Needless to say, I was not meditating on Mary and her labor with Jesus.

The pain. The pain. The pain. A second to float in the water then it all came again. I thought it would never end. I COULD NOT DO IT. And then, suddenly, I had to push. I didn't care if anyone wanted me to or not. I just did. I pushed and your head was there. I pushed again and you were out. So fast. Only two minutes according to the midwife. Only an hour after we returned to the center. At 7:22 p.m. your eight pound, four ounce, dark-haired, squirmy, red, beautiful self came up out of the water and into my arms. And, though I was just as overcome with love and joy at the birth of your brothers, I have never been more relieved in my life for something to be over.

Then I was shocked. Dark hair? You didn't look like one of my babies. In fact, you looked an awful lot like Auntie __. Oh, but you were so beautiful with those dark, alert eyes and that gorgeous coloring. You cried so loudly right away. We cuddled and admired and enjoyed you.

Then the family arrived. Nana, your brothers, Gram, and Auntie __. Your brothers adored you from the start, though Hobbes was a little sad to have to leave us at the birthing center. While everyone admired you and took their turns holding you, I rested. Oh, how tired I was. Gram had brought Christmas dinner with her, and turkey and dressing, green bean casserole, and candied yams never tasted so good.

Everyone left, and it was just the three of us and a nurse. We stayed at the birthing center for about four hours after you were born, just enough time to take care of the paperwork, get all of us dressed warmly, and enjoy being alone with you. We haven't had much time alone since, little one, except after your brothers go to bed. But we are enjoying you nonetheless. You are such a sweet, mellow, beautiful baby. Your brothers, especially Hobbes, love to comfort you and talk to you and kiss you.

We cannot imagine our family without you. You are here. We are five. Welcome to the world, my Christmas baby.

(And I promise to never wrap your birthday gifts in Christmas paper.)


wheelsonthebus said...

sure beats a manger, huh?

evenshine said...

Water saved me on both my labors. Wonderful cracked me up on the not meditating on Mary and Joseph...hope you write one for Calvin & Hobbes.

Em the luddite said...

Calvin's a heady theologian and Hobbes is the state-of-nature philosopher... maybe Merton, the quiet monk (in hopes that he'll be a poet too)?

I still think Baby Moe sounds cute though!