I’ve looked at the clock at 11:04 since high school. AM, PM- it doesn’t matter which. So, when the midwife told me that my due date with my second son was November 8th… well, you can guess my response.
11:04 = 11/04 = AHA!
I told her my notion about the fourth and she proceeded, in knowing fashion, to assure me that due dates are merely a general estimate and that the baby could actually come any number of days or weeks before that point.
Yup! I know! …. and my baby’s coming on the fourth. I thought. There was no use in explaining myself. I was content in knowing. My first delivery, two years prior, had been peaceful & powerful in a birthing pool at a local birthing center. I read everything I could find (in addition to having attended my local junior college’s Child Development classes prior to my first birth, so as to be as fully equipped as possible when actually developing children of my own) and felt my rookie badge long ago earned.
I was a military wife at the time- my then-husband at sea a thousand miles away. November fourth arrived and I was piqued with excitement. I readied my two year old and went to work as usual to my job as a nanny for another darling 2 year old (Whose mother is still one of my best friends and who is now my darling 12 year old! *sigh* She’ll always be 2 in my mind…) had a great, uneventful day and went home, as usual. I was starting to feel a slight twinge of disappointment after the afternoon started to change into the evening- my last labor was 12 hours long & I knew they could be even longer.
Another of my very best friends, Tara, had no problem believing my intuition (which is what makes her my soul sister to this day) and scheduled a bus ticket set to arrive the evening of the fourth. At 6pm, still awaiting even the faintest sign of labor, I left Tobin (my oldest) with my parents, got in the car and go to pick her up. On the way there, I start feeling slightly uncomfortable in the seatbelt.
At 6:15: I arrived at the airporter and was experiencing light contractions about three minutes apart. Tara had hardly gotten off of the bus and into the car before I said, “Well, I think I’m probably in labor, so we should probably go to the house and get some stuff before I go to the birthing center!”
At 6:45: I had my first contraction that I needed to sit down for. By 7:15, my sister Amy & her boyfriend had come over to hang out & help, too. In that 15 minutes, I went from “Hmm– yeah, this is probably labor…” to rocking my hips back and forth, chanting “Ouuuuuuch.. Ouuuuuuuuuuuuch…” while leaning over on the counter.
At 7:20, I called the midwife, another of my best friends (who was an hour and a half away, studying at Stanford) and the Ombudsman in charge of calling the boat holding my then-husband, since there’s no line for the public to call in order to reach a boat at sea. A few minutes later, the midwife called back to say she was with someone at the hospital who was ready to push, wanted to check her out and would call me back.
At 7:35, my contractions were increasingly long and painful; without hearing from the midwife, we decided to pack me up in the car and get to the birthing center, regardless. I remembered from my previous labor that the car was NOT WHERE I WANT TO BE during labor and I didn’t want to be in any more pain than I already was in and have to be in transit.
By 7:40, I was on all fours in the back seat of my car, pillow supporting my belly and Tara behind me, my sister’s boyfriend with the keys, so that she could focus on helping me. A few minutes later, the midwife called and told us to come on in- we told her we were already on our way. I was having INCREDIBLE contractions, trying to stay calm, give directions and trying to remember to breathe, broken up by bouts of jungle screaming and tears. Amy was in the passenger seat, totally calm, saying “You do what you need to do. SLOW breathing, Julie. Make lower noises. You’re doing great.” I was SO grateful for her.
At 7:50: I was BAWLING in the backseat and screaming over every pothole in the #$&*ing street. I began snowballing toward hysterics and couldn’t feel my hands or feet. I feel my legs start to shake, and told everyone that I was probably in transition (that happened to me with Tobin, too) so the baby was coming SOON. I arrived in a heap in the backseat of the car as we pulled into the birthing center. My parents and my then-husband’s parents pulled up, too. I couldn’t even BELIEVE the amount of pain I was in, and I could NOT move. Vanessa (the midwife) came to the car and told me that as soon as I had even the smallest break, I needed to get out of the car if I didn’t want to birth in it. That was SO hard. I’m not even sure how, but the millisecond after my next contraction was over, I got up and told everyone to MOVE so I could beeline for the bathtub.
At 8:00, I was *almost* from the office to the birthing center, but there was a nurses meeting being held and I had to wait outside, barefoot in the rain, bent over in transition contractions, supported by my sister to wait for them to file out, one by one, for what seems like a hundred years. I walked through the door and my mucus plug landed squarely in the entryway. Gross. I make my way into one of the bedrooms in time for my next contraction, where I collapsed on the bed with more jungle screams and Amy lays right down with me. My butt was barely on the bed, which I landed perpendicular to. I think this is around the time Mom and my MIL came in, too. The midwife needed to check my cervix, but I could’t move. I continued grabbing Amy’s sweatshirt and screaming through my contractions- they tell me I was 9 out of 10 centimeters dilated.
At 8:10, my contractions were crazy intense and I was varying between screaming and crying through them and just whimpering and saying. “I HATE this!” in between. This wasn’t the slow, measured build up of the labor I had gone through two years prior. This was a lightning storm labor and I was having trouble hanging on for the ride, yet Amy remained calm, despite my yelling *directly* in her face. She told kept telling me that I was doing great and to do what I needed to. I could have asked for a better doula! I feel him move down in my pelvis, and screamed, “I WANT TO PUUUUSH!! Iwannapush!” The nurse and the midwife told me to breathe through it. I hated them.
While trying to breathe through my contractions, I felt what felt like the hugest poop in the universe on its way out and announced “He’s coming anyway!” (note the “He”– I had never checked the sex) My water broke ALL over Amy and I. Neither of us cared and I felt the baby’s head move even farther into my hips. I think I’m going to die, or at least start wishing I could. Vanessa checks his heartbeat and tellseveryone in the excited room to shut the hell up, which I am eternally grateful for. (In only slightly nicer terms, which was fine) She tells me I need to push- right now. (You mean like I’ve been telling you, dammit?!)
His heart rate had dropped to below 60, which they didn’t tell me until afterwards, which was probably good. I told her I could’t move, so my Mom and MIL each grabbed a leg for me (thank goodness for THEM!) and I started pushing. By this point, I was grateful to be doing anything but laying there, helplessly screaming; pushing gave me something constructive to do and also marked the light at the end of the tunnel- literally, for the baby. HALLE-FREAKIN-LUIA. Eager to trade my hellacious pain for a new, pink love of my life, I grabbed my sister by the collar of her sweatshirt, closed my eyes and pushed like my baby’s life depended on it.
At 8:18, I was told to look down. Without my glasses on, I can’t see very far, but about 10 seconds later, they lay a warm, purplish, quiet baby on my belly. I immediately think he looks like his daddy and wait for him to move or cry… which he does not do.
Enter the longest minute of my life.
I remember saying, “What’s wrong?? Make him cry!” Please cry, baby… please cry. They put a little oxygen pump-thing over his face. Nothing happened.
Every moment of my pregnancy I could have done something wrong flashed through my mind. I begin to feel the flutter of panic in my stomach. They gave my sister a little tube to put in his nose and told me that the cord was wrapped around his neck; when he descended so quickly, it had cut off his oxygen. After some coaxing, he finally cried… followed by everyone else in the room.
I don’t name him right away, since his father and I had never settled on a boy’s name, but he felt like an Aiden Kai (Aiden means ‘Fire’, Kai means ‘Ocean’. It’s all about balance!). His dad called half an hour later, and I said, “Can you hear your son?” He responds with, “Yeah… how are you?”
It’s the first time I’ve heard his voice in weeks, and I almost start crying all over again. I say, “How do you feel about the name Aiden Kai?” he says, “Sounds great.” and we start small talking a little bit, then he stops and says, “Wait- it’s a boy??”♥
And that’s what I was doing, nine years ago today. I still look at the clock at 11:04 all the time. Whenever I do, I remember to look up and tell whoever is near me, “I love you!” It like my own personal holiday, in addition to being Aiden’s birth day.
Today, I woke up with an extra hour of sleep under my belt, coffee, french toast, livestream surfing of the O’Neil Cold Water Classic in Santa Cruz and a happy family. That’s five things for my gratitude list, right there! In case you haven’t been here before, I’m participating in my 30 Days of Gratitude this November, in order to gear my heart and mind toward the things that really matter and also to help me get back into writing. It happens to correspond with National Blog Posting Month; the theme this year is ‘Blogging For Blogging’s Sake’, which is pretty freeform and awesome. I post a gratitude thread each morning on Facebook & encourage you to join me in focusing on the positive in life, too!
Today, I am grateful for:
- The extra hour of sleep last night. Springing forward always messes up naptime, but I sure am glad to be on the receiving end of the ‘extra’ hour in Autumn!
- My coffee cup and Melissa, who sent it to me. I know I’m grateful for coffee, but I LOVE my new mug! A reader and friend send me a care package all the way from Germany (where her husband is stationed) with all sorts of chocolate, candy and the best mug everin it. The shape, the weight and the starry print on it are just an epic triage of awesome. You know, like finding a pen with good weight, smooth ink & perfect width. LOVE it!
- Having trust and clear sight of my intuition. I have relied heavily on this source of, “This feels _____ to me.” when parenting, and it has led me toward gentle birthing and parenting, cosleeping, babywearing, leaving my sons intact and breastfeeding- years before the term “Attachment Parenting” was coined.
- My sister’s sobriety. Rewriting my son’s birth story from 9 years ago and remembering her role in it, paired with the time spent with her (and my other sister!) during this last year and handful of few weeks into her recovery are a gift more than I can explain. The story is hers to tell (and maybe sometime, she’ll feel like doing a guest post!) but I can tell you that the change has been night and day- and I love my sober sister SO much. (You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @SavageSoberSister)
- The resurgence of 80s cartoons. Nothing can explain the pure awesome of pulling out the boxed set of She-Ra to cuddle up and watch with my 5 year old daughter on a Sunday morning. We also have the boxed sets of Fraggles, Sesame Street, Muppets, Teddy Ruxpin & Smurfs to choose from, too! (in lieu of cable- I HATE commercials.) For the record: The new wave of Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcake and My Little Pony are NOT OKAY. Not. Okay.
- BONUS gratitude: There’s a Johnny Depp/Time Burton movie, Dark Shadows I forgot I haven’t seen- PLUS, Frankenweenie is in theaters now! MAN, I love Tim Burton. (And Johnny Depp. And Helen Bonham Carter. And Winona Ryder- who is a NorCal local. 🙂
You’re welcome to follow along & catch up on my 30 Days of Gratitude posts, comment here or on Facebook with your own list of 5. Thanks for checking in and see you tomorrow!