(Pregnant bellies of niece Kristen, me, and niece Ashley at Ashley's recent shower)
Oh labor labor, where are you? I am now past the 37 week mark -- which means, for those of you who don't know, that I am now considered "term." I won't reach my due date til 40 weeks, but once you hit 37 no one gets worried about you going into labor. "Go ahead," they say, "See if we care." Yes, that is what the doctors say. They won't try and stop you.
Of course, I won't be going into labor. Not yet anyway. My kids don't believe in early arrivals. Well, that isn't totally true; Abe believed in it by a few measly days, but the rest have all preferred the fashionably late entrance into the world.
I shouldn't be complaining because I am not one bit ready for this baby. I need every last minute of letting Penny be the baby; no Christmas shopping is done; we haven't even gotten the car seat, cradle or any baby clothes from our storage unit; I have a long list of organizing and cleaning I want to get done; AND, I have talked my sister Megan into running the Thanksgiving day "Turkey Trot" with me -- which, coupled with a Thanksgiving feast, will put me in labor -- and why ruin that fun? (Side note: no amount of running or other craziness has ever put me in labor -- people will tell me how they took a vigorous walk to go into labor and I am like, "HUH?" My body, or perhaps it's my baby, just won't be tricked).
So, as I said, I shouldn't complain, but once one has reached that official "go ahead and have your baby if you want" stage, it is really really hard not to start thinking about it and getting excited and, if nothing else, thinking, "Why can't I be fun and surprised by suddenly going into labor now -- when I least expect it?"
If nothing else, it certainly has me reminiscing about my past labor experiences -- and being a little nervous -- I've had my last two with-in about an hour or two of getting to the hospital, which is great, but I don't want that hour to shrink to no hours and a baby on the boulevard! Of course, that would make a good story. My friend gave birth this last week and got to the hospital with no time for an epidural, so that has made me more nervous!
Abe's labor was quite perfect. I woke up around 2:00 am with closely spaced contractions. By 4:00 am we were off to the hospital -- in pain, but certain there was no way I could really be in labor! I was dilated to a 5 when we got there though; so I was quickly admitted, numbed up, and a few hours later (much of that time being spent pushing -- much to my dismay) Abe arrived with the widest screaming mouth Mike and I had ever seen.
Daisy's labor . . . I do adore that girl, but . . . to this day remains one of the worst experiences of my life (except of course for the end -- when I had the little one in my arms). Unlike with Abe, I had contractions all night -- never quite close enough to go to the hospital, but much too close to relax or sleep. When we finally did go, I was dilated to a 5, but once I reached a 6, my body decided it was done with laboring and everything pretty much stopped. It would have been no big deal normally, they would have given me a nice boost with pitocin and we would have been on our way. But, I had decided to go natural that time and I was determined that if I was going to go natural I wasn't going to have synthetically induced contractions. (I wanted to be certain I was dealing with the pain my body was forcing me to deal with and nothing else). I wanted my doctor to break my water to see if that would get things going again. He wouldn't (a huge frustration to me then and still today when I think about it). I wanted to go home. They wouldn't let me because I was so far dilated. Finally, by the end of the day, I'd given up. In tears I told them to just give me the pitocin, but I wanted an epidural if I was going that route. Contractions immediately began coming one on another. As I tried to sit for the epidural I was in the most horrible pain I could have imagined. Unbeknownst to me, this was because I had already dilated to a ten and was trying to hold still for an epidural when Daisy was ready to come out. Before it had any effect, I was pushing and pretty much felt like I was sinking into a deep black pit that no one else was aware of and that I coulnd't possibly be saved from. It really was terrifying. At the end, I was shaking so awfully I could barely hold Daisy. I later read some little sanskrit proverb that said something like, "In giving life, death holds your hand." It made me shudder because it rung so totally true to me.
After that, you'd think I'd give up on natural labor, but I was so disappointed in my last experience that I was determined to have one more go at it. And truly, as far as a natural labor goes, it was perfect. I had a great nights sleep, started contractions in the morning. Hung out with the kids and Mike -- doing random little things to keep me occupied. Got to the hospital at about 3:00 pm dilated to a 5 as usual. Goldie came an hour later -- surprising us all -- particularly the nurses who had to deliver her since my doctor hadn't yet arrived. A bunch of nurses had come rushing in and it seemed to get everyone all excited to have the unexpected quickness. They all kept complimenting me on how well I did, and I think all I said, over and over -- about 50 times was, "I'm so glad that's over! I'm so glad that went so fast! I'm so glad that's over! I'm so glad that went so fast!" I'm probably more of a wimp than some, but truly I think the last bit of labor and delivery can only be described as utterly terrifying. I'm glad I had the experience, and it does give you almost something spiritual to think about, but I'd proved whatever I'd wanted to myself, so . . .
With Penny, I was back to the joy of an epidural. I went into labor around 2:00 am, was at the hospital a few hours later ready for that pain relief. I think I was even less patient than I might have been otherwise because I knew and was scared of how much worse it could get (when the usual early dilation stages are already miserable pain). They took waaay too long getting me checked in for some reason, but once I was up to my room the anesthesiologist was there quickly. He was about the most unfriendly soul I've ever come across. He pretty much ignored any comment I made or question I asked. I think he said about two words of instruction and nothing else. But, bless his little heart, I'd have Mr. grumpy and taciturn again and again and would say nothing against him as he put the epidural in quick as a wink with out giving me a moment's pain. He was an epidural expert. And I was glad he was so quick because a short 20 mins. later I was at an 8 and about 30 mins. after that Penny was born. My only regret is that I didn't push that darn little pump thing enough, so it was a little uncomfortable again at the end -- not bad mind you, but I was ready for dreamy oblivion!
So, those thoughts keep going through my head as I think and wait for this next experience. Of course, they are much more sentimental, detailed and significant to me than portrayed here, and I wish I had my pictures available so I could have a little picture of each tiny newborn next to their tiny story!
P.S. I don't trust this blogger spell check. It just flagged "unbeknownst" and gave me "Unbeknown St." as the only possible option. That would be a cool place to live.