I am finally feeling compelled to write about my experience in giving birth.
The point around which I would like to center my story is my temporal and spiritual discoveries with as much description as possible. I got REALLY frustrated before I gave birth trying to find out “what it feels like”: All the books told me I’d feel “pressure” and the need to “bear down”.
That wasn’t helping me in any way. It’s like trying to read what getting your finger smashed feels like: “oh you’ll definitely feel pressure…” Uuuuhhmmmm…. yeah. Helpful.
So here we go.
I was a hippopotamus, I was an elephant, I was a walrus, I was a whale.
To stand up, or get out of the car, I had to grasp whatever was nearby that was grounded in order to heave myself into a standing position. I was enormous, and I was ready to be finished being enormous. My friend Heather had given birth to her son already, and my sister Kate had her daughter like 2 weeks early.
I was a’startin to itch.
My due date came and went. My Hospital bag was packed… and untouched. Every night Craig and I went to bed, we said, “this is gonna be it!” buuuut it wasn’t.
I went to my doc who told me if I didn’t pop by Friday, we’d have to consider a C-section. It was Monday, and I didn’t want a dang C-section! No scalpels for me!
That evening and the next two days I reluctantly, but with determination, hauled myself over to LifeTime Fitness to sit on one of those big inflated exercise balls and bounce around. (Someone told me it might help to getter goin) If nothing else, it made my back feel better…. as fellow work-outters checked me out with a suspicious eye; that maybe I was bouncing for the same reason Phoebe enjoyed her Hippity Hop on the Episode They All Turned 30. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhcDvxjsXjM) …which is inappropriately redic, and not something included in my belief system, but I couldn’t help recollecting that episode and laughing to myself as I continued to bounce and watch one of the big-screens mounted to the wall.
All other pretense aside, Wednesday night round 3am (so it was actually Thursday morning), IT HIT!
But of course it wasn’t like what the movies make it out to be. I got up to pee, per my usual hourly necessity, and found a lil somethin that wasn’t pee. It was apparently my (excuse the lack of eloquence) “plug” that sat as a cushion between me and the embryonic sack which contained my behbeh.
As soon as I saw it, I thought, “NO! I am not ready!!! Not yet!”
…but no one’s ever really ready, are they?
I went back to bed and mumbled something to Craig about what I saw and suddenly alert, he froggily asked, “is this it?!” I wasn’t feeling any sort of pain yet so I assumed not. Apparently, one can lose one’s “plug” and still have up to a week until giving the ol’ heave-ho.
A creeping sensation of feeling like I had to do numba 2 (but not from the usual location) began to overwhelm me. I know you know what I mean. It’s like: “oh. … OH WOAH!” but then it went away… …and then came back again…
So, we timed them, and decided to call my poor sleeping doctor who told me to go on ahead to the hospital and get looked at.
Before we left, we took a “Last Pic of Craigolyn” before we would become “Craigolex”. Here it is.
Little did we know….
We arrived at the hospital and I swear the nurse was so rough with me, she made me cry. Which is funny because
A. She is a woman, and one generally expects them to be more gentle and sympathetic.
And B. She was really sweet to me.
But HHH’OH! When it came time for her to examine, it’s like she turned monsta.
Alas, they sent me home.
So that was a little disappointing, but what was more upsetting was the fact that my “Number 2” sensations weren’t going away. and they weren’t getting any less urgent.
We got home and I’m thinking, HOW am I supposed to sleep? But I did. Miraculously, I was able to focus the pain to the back of my mind, take a tylenol, and drift to sleep for a few hours. Poor Craig had to go into work that morning. My cramping woke me up but I was able to function until Craigy came home. By this time, my mini contractions had subsided and then returned to a lulling growl… like a dragon sleeping in his cave, smoke billowing out of his nostrils, ready to thrash at that shiny man and his horse at any moment.
AGAIN we went to bed.
Now remember I hadn’t had my period for (a blessed) 10 months… yet a woman KNOWS when she’s started… even if it’s been that long.
3am again (Now Friday morn), the painful urge that I was going to have the big “D” was growing worse and worse. I was laying on my side (of course that’s the only wretched way I could lay). I felt a tiny *pop* down yonder and then I started my period.
Well, we all know I didn’t start my period.
It was my water breaking. But it felt like I was starting. I heave myself into the bathroom and discover THE WATER.
Haha all my life I kinda wondered what THE WATER was like and then I was slightly disappointed to find that “water” was all it really was.
But this was REALLY it! By now, my contractions were getting heavier and heavier. It is seriously like a mixture of the worst menstrual cramps you’ve ever had (sorry boys you’ll never know, except maybe consider thinking about what being kicked in the jewels feels like… continually.) and the worst constipated diarrhea you’ve ever experienced from eating a really spicy food mixed with a hard cheese. It’s heavy.
So I called the ol’ doc again who told me to go back to the hospital for the second time to get checked out.
The Hospital was literally 10 minutes down the road, and I was thankful.
However Craig… Craig.
He decided he was going to feel some sympathy pain and had to stop at a gas station for Immodium. I’m sitting in the car, starting to get shaky. He gets back in, turns on the radio and “I’m Coming Out” starts playing… I hadn’t been paying attention to the music because I was trying to concentrate on not flipping out; but the only reason I remember this is because Craig was like, “Oh wow this is a great song for right now!” and he turned up the volume and sang along, “I want the world to know! I got to let it show!”. …I turned my head toward him and with as much composure as I could muster, I told him right now was NOT the time, though I loved him very much.
Truth be told, I already had a song stuck in my head. And it kept playing over and over again. I made no attempt to rid my mind of it because it comforted me. It went a little something like this:
“Blame it on the A-a-a-a-a- Alcohol.”
I know. Jamie Foxx. Very moving. Very special.
Though in retrospect, it’s a good song for teens to listen to while learning about drugs and alcohol: You drink alcohol, you’ll prob have sex… and if you have sex, you’ll prob have a baby. It’s alcohol’s fault.
Anyway, back to ME…
Craig and I prayed what some friends of the family like to call “the power pack” which consists of an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and a Glory Be, and in addition, my favorite, The Memorare for a safe delivery.
We FINALLY arrive at the hospital and I was delighted to see the same nurse again. … NOT. As soon as I saw her I frantically requested that she take extra care to be gentle. Which she really did, actually. And yes, they confirmed my water had indeed broken- which I thought was unnecessary to have to confirm, seeing as how the amount of water that I experienced coming out of my body was unquestionably generous, and my pain had suddenly increased 200 fold. Buuut I guess hospital procedure is hospital procedure.
SooooOooo I got rolled into my awesome big birthing room and switched to a comfy hospital bed. Yeah, I know, it really was comfy though.
The Rough Nurse who admitted me came in again, and introduced me to another nurse. This nurse was the one who (THANK GOD) would be staying with me for the duration of my labor. Rough Nurse said to me, “This is Kate, she’ll be taking over from here” and I looked upon her face and saw such a serene steady soul which I instantly knew would comfort me. I heard “Kate” and thought of my sister and was immediately at ease. In ordinary circumstances, I would have thought nothing of my nurse having the same name as my sister. But the aura with which she walked into the room was like God sent me my sister’s guardian Angel with her and I could have cried I was so happy to see her.
By now it was 4am and my contractions felt like I had eaten a pound of chili peppers straight, followed by 7lbs 9.4oz of ground beef. I had to go but it wasn’t comin! And it definitely wasn’t comin from the location which I was used to. yowza.
I started shaking so bad that even while I tried to breathe deeply and relax my body, I saw the hair that had fallen in my face shaking like there was an earthquake occurring inside my own being. I tried all the methods- walking, leaning, even sitting on the toilet to relieve the “pressure” I had finally discovered the books talk about.
Craig was there. His touch was a warm electric current that kept me grounded. I was seeing red. But when I looked at him, the clouds parted and I saw his face like the sunshine at the center of my vision. Craig was there , quiet, walking with me, gently rubbing my lower back, holding me and keeping me steady. I would have not have found the strength to be there without him at my side.
Craig was there.
And so was Blame It On The A-a-a-a-a-Al-cohol.
6am painstakingly approached and I was exhausted. Every 2-5 minutes, that terrible burning cramp came, grew til I thought I was going to pass out, and then disappeared. When it was gone, I could have tap-danced. But when it was there, the dragon was on FIAH!
6:15AM. I deliberated having an epidural. I asked Craig if he’d be disappointed in me. Of course he said he wouldn’t be disappointed and would support me no matter what.
I’d gone this far. I’d spent 24 hours having mini contractions. My water had broken. I’d spent 3 hours in real, active labor. I could feel Lexington’s head pushing on my cervix (which honestly felt like someone was stabbing me with a serrated knife.), but I wanted to rest. REST. I wanted to sleep! The pain, I was withstanding. I’d gone that far, for cryin-out-loud, if I could make it through all of that, I prob could have made it through the pain for the rest of the time.
But I needed to sleep. NEED. For that reason alone, as selfish as it might have been, I chose to be given an epidural. And so, a special nurse was called to administer the Epidural.
In she walked. Rolling into the room what looked like a large stainless steel toolbox on wheels, she said, “Hi, I’m Christine, I’ll be giving you your epidural today” And I swear she said it with such presence and confidence that I then knew Craigy’s baby sister, Christine’s guardian Angel was sent to help safely administer my epidural. It’s one of those thing that you just know. You just know beyond a shadow of a doubt that your own mind could not have the capacity to conjure up such an imagination during such an event. And Christine game me the epidural, with what Craig later described as a needle about a foot long… I dared not look, but I also dared not care… for the pain of a foot long needle down my spine was worth making the roaring, shaking contractions subside. I had one, final contraction which shook my body, my arms, my legs, my hair! and then it was gone. I could sleep.
Craig brought his mac out and turned on Lexington’s first movie: Winnie the Pooh. and then my favorite Disney, Emperor’s New Groove :) We both took a nap.
I woke up and I was able to feel the contractions, but with no pain. Strange. I could feel our Lexington pushin on out and it didn’t hurt. just loads of PRESSURE. Ah HA! The PRESSURE: It was like the kind of pressure you feel in your head when you dive off the deep-end at the swimming pool (only it was, of course, at my cervix) but an expanding pressure; as opposed to the crushing pressure you feel under water and a LOT heavier.
Kate said it was time to call-in my docta. And in he walked: A Bucky Fullan look-alike, down to his energetic and hilarious personality. He was as happy to see me as I was to see him, “Hiiiii!” he chimed on his entrance, “I’m so excited I’m the one who’s got you! The nurses and I were talking back at the office, and I think you’re gonna go at this like an athlete!” (When I first came to the hospital, my other doctor was on duty, but Dr. Sullivan had just relieved him by the time I was ready to push.)
How blessed I was to have such wonderful people around me!
Dr. Sullivan checked me and declared, “alright, whenever you wanna push, go on ahead!” He left me with Craig and Kate, saying he would return once Lexington’s head had crowned (reached the point of emerging).
There was no pomp or circumstance. It was just Craig, Kate, and myself…. And Blame It On The A-a-a-a-a-al-cohol….. The air was calm and quiet. And Craig held one of my legs while Kate held the other. I pushed for 1/2 hour. It took immense strength and concentration. I had to concentrate on the location from where I was pushing, because I didn’t want to …umm, poop… on the table. Yep, it happens. But I concentrated and pushed, and my face got red. That part they portray in movies is true. The face gets red. But I wasn’t screaming, or cursing or thrashing. Some might. But not this one. ;)
Finally Dr. Sullivan came in and observed that Lexington had a head full of hair. Now I began to be frightened. I dunno… of the unknown I suppose; The real realization that another human being was coming out of my body, and my world was about to be forever changed.
Dr. Sullivan and Craig asked me if I’d like to see with a mirror and I cried, “NO! I’m too afraid!!!”
I locked tear-filled eyes with Craig and someone other than him spoke to me. “BE NOT AFRAID.”
Tears emerged and ran down my face before I knew what I’d heard. And Jamie Foxx’s song was instantly replaced with a song I would otherwise have been annoyed by: “Be not Afraid”. A song the choir sings at St. Francis de Sales. I never would have thought to get that into my head. Someone else put it there.
I took a deep breath, regained my sense of calm and at 3:04 pm on Friday, June 12th 2009, I pushed our Lexington Anthony into the frightening world.
Craig and I looked upon his face and we were amazed by his presence. shocked.
What a challenge it was to do this! To be pregnant (I think the pregnancy is the hard part), and to give birth! I grew up looking to be classified as pretty, and independent, and anything that might encompass society’s ideal of what is a woman. Having a designer purse doesn’t justify it, being super skinny doesn’t justify it, having my own career doesn’t justify it, “The Party Don’t Start Til I Walk In” doesn’t justify it, being the jealousy of other women doesn’t justify it.
But THIS is what a woman is truly made for. This is what it means to be fully a woman, I believe.
The rest of the story is documented in my photo albums :)
“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.” Jeremiah 1:5