This little nugget is a month old, and I’m finally writing a little bit about her birth, mostly so that I remember how it happened. I swear my brain didn’t totally fall out after Henry was born but this time- it is fried. Things I have forgotten lately include but are not to limited to my own address, times for doctor’s appointments, and basic words in the English language.
I swore that this time, I would be a chill mom, calmly awaiting her child’s birth, instead of a crazy who was trying to have a baby early to make it to a wedding. But alas- I am just not a chill person. The waiting and uncertainty of when will a baby come kills me, and as I have absolutely no problem with highly medicated birth experiences (Pitocin for president), I started asking for an induction at 39 weeks at my very first routine appointment. Yes, I am such a gem. But since Henry’s birth was a couple weeks early and I was admitted at almost 7 cm dilated but with ZERO contractions, James and I were both nervous about having a baby in the car en route to our (rather far away) hospital.
Tangent which merits its own paragraph: I totally researched car births to be prepared, and my biggest takeaway was that you must call 911, even if you deliver yourself and then drive on somewhere. Without a record of an emergency call, some car cleaning companies will not clean your car, lest you be lying and you actually committed a homicide and are trying to hide evidence. You heard it here, Friends. Don’t say I never did anything for you.
But I digress. When I tested positive for Group B Strep, my doctors joined the nervous ranks, cautioning me that I needed at least 4 hours of hospital labor receiving antibiotics before pushing. They decided that if I started my wild dilating sans contractions again, we might push for an induction early, which had me ECSTATIC. I was fully prepared to show up at my 38 week appointment, find out I was 5 cm dilated, and then breeze over to the hospital and get that epidural before nary a twinge of pain disturbed my serene soul.
The Saturday before said anticipated appointment was Henry’s birthday. Following the celebrations, I announced to James that we had to get ALL THE THINGS done, as it could be the last weekend I was pregnant. We cleaned out the fridge, took down and bleached the curtains (don’t be impressed- this is the first time I have ever done that and they were stained with red wine from a party two years ago), located the infant car seat, did mountains of purging and paperwork, and James packed a hospital bag, complete with all his toiletries. I laughed at him and how he would have to live out of it for the next couple days, but SPOILER- one of us did not have any shampoo at the hospital and I shall let you guess who. James kept insisting that I was in a final nesting push, and I kept reminding him that I was just in a final procrastinating purge swan song.
That night we were settled in for a good TV binge, and I was bemoaning my 8000 months pregnant miserable state that prevented any comfortable position. I kept having terrible back pain, and in a weird moment of clairvoyance, I texted our DC family to announce that I was so uncomfortable that I might just go to the hospital in the middle of the night. Please keep your phones off silent tonight, I begged, because I am definitely not in labor, but I sure am miserable. True, I had no frame of reference to know what a contraction was, but the hive mind of the internet told me it felt like a fist clenching, only that fist was your stomach, and I definitely had no tightening sensations.
At 2:30 am I woke up for my 6th pee of the night (because when someone tells pregnant women to “sleep now before the baby comes!” they are idiots who deserved to be punched in the face), and I felt so miserable that I did stretches in the bathroom, trying to relieve the terrible back pain. But then it kept coming back, and I spent the next hour trying to find positions that made it subside, succeeding, only to have it return. I glanced at my phone to see a text from my SIL in Sweden, who had just woken up for the day after dreaming I had had the baby, and I was like NOPE STILL PREGNANT… but I am having terrible pain that comes and goes… OH SNAP. (Do people still say oh snap? No, definitely not. )
But again, there was no fist tightening feeling, just crampy pain that would come and go and was thus to be ignored, until it got so bad that I was climbing out of bed with each ache. At that point I called my doctor, who confirmed that yes, this didn’t sound at all like contractions, but yes, my body is freaky deaky and no one knows how it contracts so maybe come in.
It was go time. And James was not so sleepy that he didn’t look smug about his toiletry bag being ready to roll. I called my brother to come down and away we went to the hospital, predicting that we would be home in a couple hours and preemptively planning on skipping church and binging on McDonald’s breakfast sandwiches. But on the plus side, the drive that can take up to 2 hours took 35 minutes at 5 am with no traffic, which is good, since every wave of back pain (now 5 min apart) had me whacking the dashboard and yelling things that shall not be transcribed. As I writhed through each back cramp in triage, I asked the nurse to tell me how big the contractions were measuring, you know, Richter scale style. She paused before telling me that “she had seen smaller,” and it became apparent that my contraction-free first labor had made me a total wimp. Yet sure enough, I had dilated past 5 cm, and thus even my weak back contractions were regular enough to where I was admitted and started antibiotics for the GBS.
And then the epidural came. Glory. That is all I can say. GLORY BE. Once that sweet sweet numbing cocktail started juicing up my whole self, I morphed from deranged beast into a chill dove, gently urging James to go get breakfast and read his paper in the lobby, while I, Zen Mama, listened to an audiobook and calmly awaited my offspring. Behold, the power of modern medicine. I want to marry it and have its babies, but lacking the ability to do that, I shall just allow it to enable me to have all my own.
When Dr. Bro (as he shall be called because he was so chill that it would not have seemed out of place if I had looked down and seen him sipping beer and eating pizza while checking my cervix) checked in about 2 hours after I had been whispering sweet nothings to my epidural, he announced I was 10cm, but the baby was facing backwards, hence my back pain labor, and still very high. He had me lie on my side with a pillow for about 30 minutes, at which point baby girl dropped FAST and spun around, and it was Time.
Given the Group B Strep situation, I had to be on antibiotics for 4 full hours before pushing, and unfortunately, it had only been 3 hours and 55 minutes, a technicality that would result in a whole lot of needles being jabbed into our baby to verify that she was fine. Dr. Bro and the nurse decided we would take up that 5 minutes with a practice push, just to remember how it is done. Since this was a practice, no one was ready for a baby, and he was still telling us a story about his own grandkids as I practice pushed for 1 second, 2 seconds- and then stopped at 3 as the nurse, doctor, and James all yelled for me to STOP BECAUSE THE HEAD IS COMING.
And so, dear reader, I stopped. Which was totally fine, because I had an epidural, so I was like, you got some America’s Next Top Model reruns on Bravo? Because I could be here all day and it is fine. The doctor started getting ready and suggested that perhaps I would want to fill the time by ordering breakfast to arrive after the baby. Why yes, yes I would. And so, there with my legs up and splayed awkwardly and mid-push, I ordered a breakfast burrito. Priorities, people.
The second the clock hit 4 hours from the start time of the antibiotics, I pushed through one contraction. Dr. Bro told me that the baby would be out on the next one, and we fell to chatting in between. Mid-chat, and before the next contraction, he asked me to give just a little push, and then calmly requested I look down. I did, expecting- I don’t know what, but not the end of labor. With Henry I pushed for 2.5 exhausting hours before the doctor finally held him aloft like a hairless Simba and I wept. But this time, after less than three minutes of pushing, I looked down mid-conversation and there she was, looking equally surprised as the doctor handed her to me with a nonchalance that belied the fact that a human soul had just entered the world.
After such a difficult pregnancy, she was there. So calmly, so painlessly, so quietly and quickly entering my arms in a way that left me wondering how it could have all ended so suddenly and with so little fanfare. She was just there, our daughter, our Marietta Elizabeth, feeling so surprising and right all at once. She was on my chest and that strange swelling feeling of love and recognition and wonder that washes over you in waves was rushing to bubble over. She was a tiny bundle of dark hair and scrunched features and I knew her and she was strange all at once. Our Etta, a name, the only name, that we had discussed for months, arriving at last.
Welcome to the world little girl, we love you so. And when my beyond delicious breakfast burrito arrived shortly after her birth, it also felt very, very right.