Today is Herr Meow's six-month birthday. Sometime after his nap, he'll probably get a little bit of cereal; altohugh to be fair, this is not his first foray into solids territory. On Saturday morning, brain full of Dr. Sears's advice, the Monsieur and I decided to feed the baby a few scrapings of banana right from our finger.
The Meow's reaction? He took it all in without spitting up, but without being overly enthused. He kept on making this pained, martyr-like grimace as if to say, "why must you make me taste this intriguing and possibly delicious concoction that I'm obviously secretly enjoying? We are not amused."
We skipped feeding any solids and figured we'd try again today.... so we'll see if he actually ends up with food all over himself like those pictures you see of kids who've been force-fed solids at their 4-month birthday-- and seriously, I oughtn't get started on how I feel about that and about seeing reclining feeding chairs and the like. I know I have gained no friends exposing my views on bottle vs breast, so I think that one would end up sending me over the edge and into total Nazi-militant-evil-woman territory.
Anyhoo... this post is about The Meow, whom I've known for six months-- and loved much longer, albeit not knowing who he (or possibly she, at the time) was.
I don't think I ever bothered to write a birth story on here. And I think I'm going to do the Cliffs notes version, which goes a little like this:
I'm pretty sure the labor started on Sunday the 27th or perhaps Monday the 28th. What do I mean by this?
Sunday was awesome.
We ordered birth announcements, we shopped a little and we went to our favorite restaurant to have brunch. I even ventured so far as to have a champagne cocktail-- a Pink Lady, with guava juice (delicious!)-- but I asked for more Pink and less Lady.
My stamina that day was legendary: I felt I could walk for miles and miles. It was quite a change from Thanksgiving day, where I felt like utter crap. Now piecing those details in my mind, I realize that Sunday must have been the day the baby dropped, allowing me to breathe again-- joy that would be short-lived as by Sunday night I was, Tums bottle in hand, utterly convinced that I was having the worst indigestion in the world. I was also blaming it on a poor, innocent piece of watermelon that had accompanied my eggs Benedict --because somehow the egg yolk sauce couldn't give me indigestion, in my mind.
Sometime in the early hours of Monday I moaned to my husband, "I'm not going to make it to December."
He was confused. I was right.
Monday came and went in an indigested blur. Despite my ominous words in the middle of the night, Monday transpired grumpily and uneventfully. I made appointments for the car --December 1st-- and tried booking a lactation class (unsuccessfully). I also tried to make an appointment with the midwife team --I'd be called back within the week. I hadn't seen the midwife team ever so they were very confused as to who I was-- and very booked, it turns out.
Tuesday morning dawned and the ickiness had not gone away, but I just figured that at this stage in the game it's normal to feel dragged down and like you'll hurl at any moment. Of course, there were these deadly and painful farts I'd been having since early morning. They did not feel good. They did not let me sleep much -- but I valiantly ploughed on ahead anyway. Again, if I'd made it through viral gastroenteritis --and believe me, the stomach pains in that one are NOT pretty-- this was just a very unpleasant indigestion that would eventually go away.
"But if I'm going to have such AWFUL indigestion, it might as well be labor. Jeez."
Sitting on the toilet for the 80th time of the day, my thoughts started turning toward the possibility that this might not be indigestion. A couple of online friends had a hunch. My cousin --wonderful human being that she is and who came bearing milk, orange juice and roast beef sandwich-- also had a feeling.
And by then I'm slowly starting to put two and two together, although reluctantly; after all, I'm a first-timer and we don't go into labor until AFTER the due date. I have a week and a day to go and this cannot be it.... or can it? I jumped in the shower: part of me does not want to deliver a baby with greasy hair and a dirty body; the other part actually dimly remembers the teachings of the Tuesday night Lamaze classes I was still hoping to attend that night: water helps ease the pain.
Into the shower it is. Shampoo, soap, conditioner all fly around me in a flurry. But oh.... that delicious shower head hitting right at the small of the back. I didn't want to have to get out but I did.
I slumped over my pregnancy companion, the Big V, and gingerly pecked at the keys of the computer. And that horrible gas... there it goes again.
And about 5 minutes later. Am I imagining things?
I need my mommy.
On the phone with Rev. Mom, we come to a couple of conclusions:
1. I am in labor.
2. My contractions are 5 minutes apart and last 30-45 seconds (this sounds kind of familiar... should I panic?)
3. There is no reason to panic
4. I need the father-to-be RIGHT NOW.
Somewhere in Pearl Harbor, Monsieur Meow is working out. He loves working out. He is religious and meticulous about this. And of course, he is thoroughly unreachable.
"I will not freak out. I will not freak out. I will not freak out"
Grabbing baby's bag. Check.
Piling mom and dad bag, Big V, reading material, snacks, and cell phones by baby's bag, check.
Taking possibly last pregnant picture ever. Check.
Petting cat, who's been watching human go insane. Check.
Calling husband and leaving increasingly more desperate-sounding messages on his voicemail. Check, check, check, check, check, check, check, check.
"I.need.you.to.GET. HERE. NOW!!!!!!!"
Honolulu is best in the rain. Not after the rain because it immediately gets muggy and disgusting. And not before the rain because the pressure drops and if you have sensitive sinuses you can get a bad headache. But when it's raining it's fresh and cool and you can see rainbows everywhere and the mosquitoes cannot fly. Therefore, a rainy day is ideal. The only problem with rainy days is that they are the equivalent of snow anywhere else: people drive crazy sloppy and get into silly accidents very easily.
The Monsieur is timing my contractions and driving.
I'm trying to pretend I'm okay while grabbing onto the car, white-knuckled.
The baby carseat rides behind us, unoccupied for the very last time.
I'm surprised I can remember this day so well. This is weird.
My friend calls and I tell her I'm in labor. She's in shock.
I'm in shock.
I'm walking into the hospital, carrying about 10 lbs. worth of things. Shouldn't I be in a wheelchair?
Into the elevator, check-in, and off to the waiting room to watch Frasier. Neither of us can still remember which episode it was, but Frasier is Frasier. It helps dull the contractions and attempt to ignore the wailing child in the waiting room. We look like the quintessential laboring couple. I stand through my contractions. I am proud. I am woman.
I am seriously getting cranky. Where is there a doctor or ANYONE to check me in?
I want to cry.
I am 6 cm. dilated and the baby is at 0 station. Needless to say, I'm not going to be sent home. All those cautionary tales of women going in for the false alarm and being sent home revisit me for one brief second. I'm not one of them. I get to stay.
I don't want the IV line.
They insist: if you want to be admitted, you need it.
I cave in. "But that's it. I don't want ANY pain medication and I DO NOT WANT an episiotomy."
The doctor has rolled her eyes behind my back: I can tell. She thinks I'm a right fool for shunning modern Western medicine.
Which I probably am, since I do not have a midwife lined up, nor a doula, and all I can count on for comfort is the nurse and my dear darling husband, who's been rubbing my back and telling me I'm doing a great job.
"I'm not doing anything," my mind protests.
My cervix is, I suppose. But I cannot control it. It's not really me. But I'll take the backrubs and the "good job".... it's keeping me sane.
Our nurse is called Jessie. She is bright-eyed, spunky, and is very pleased that I'll be jumping in the tub. She's also sorry she has to do the IV line, but do it she must.
Our tub doesn't work. Quickie room change. This tub works but the room needs to be fully spiffed up. It's a New Room, and I sigh a breath of relief. I wanted to labor in one with a tub and pink walls-- not a shower and Army green.
"She's using the tub!"
"And she doesn't want an epi. Isn't that amazing?"
"Let me go get the tub ready!"
Now that's service.
Into the tub I go, like a small whale. The water is warm and lovely and the jets feel awesome. For a split second I wonder if I'd enjoy it more were I not about to give birth.
My husband went to get stuff out of the car --miraculously we got a good spot when we first arrived. As he returns to hold my hand and coach me through, I smile and sigh. Laboring without him has been peaceful but not the same. Right now I love him more than I could ever love another person-- but do I have a treat in store!
I've been in the tub for a while and Jessie was worried that I seemed to have a fever. Of course, it could have something to do with the 100º water I've been sitting in for the past hour and a half, so she turns off the jets and mentions something about perhaps getting out, but I am not budging for a while. The contractions are strong but the lovely, lovely water makes them bearable. And I can kick my legs out when things get rough. God bless external monitors and nice nurses. And potatoes.
I change positions and just chat in between the Grizzlies. "This isn't so bad."
Only I'm the only one who hears it. A gush follows it. I'm startled.
"MY WATERS BROKE!!!!!!!!"
"Are you sure?"
What follows is gibberish out of my mouth. I want to say that I just heard it. That pop! I KNOW what it means. My amniotic fluid is currently gushing out onto the tub water. IT'S GONE AND I KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT AND YOU CAN'T TELL ME IT'S NOT HAPPENING!!!
The pain comes next. Cowgirl Jessie runs to make a notation: 18:46-- Amniotic menbrane ruptures.
It is decided --by committee-- that I should get out of the tub. I'm panicking a little and the pain has escalated. I cannot stay in the tub because of the dangers of infection, and I don't want to stay in the tub much longer because it's grossing me out a little, honestly.... Earth Mama I am not.
This means I have to get out, but I can barely move. This is embarrassing. And I'm freezing. The room is apparently very warm, but they turn the heat up some more for me. I'm starting to shiver and all I want is to land on the bed and have this be over.
Truly. Be. Over. Oh.... I want to push now.
Push. Push. Push.
"You cannot push. You're not quite ready and you'll hurt yourself."
Don't push. Don't push. Don't push.
Cowgirl Jessie goes to get the doctor.
Doctor thinks I have a little bit to go. I can be Earth Mother. I can try to labor on all fours. I will.
I'm on my side and it's getting more and more and more painful.
"Do you want pain management?"
I immediately look at my husband. He can read it on my face: I am getting away from my steely determination of a couple of hours ago. He still roots for me like a good, efficient cheerleader. "You can do it," he says. "You've made it this far, why not give it a try?"
"I'll love you either way."
He's a wise man.
The other doctor comes in-- Miss Overly-Cautious Resident.
"Too late: you're at 10. You oughta give pushing a try."
At first it's not so bad: pushing actually is not painful when compared to all those contractions, really.
Until the searing ring-of-fire pain comes. Apparently this is the pain of crowning, and it feels like someone is pouring hot lava over your cooch. And just as quickly, it's gone and replaced by the surreality of knowing that you're pushing something out that is rather large.
There is a small pause. Mild concern-- this doesn't register until my husband tells me later: baby's shoulder is stuck. Episiotomy is unavoidable. The doctor turns to reach for the scalpel.
No more baby's shoulder caught: doctor looks sad. The scalpel's reason for living is to cut. The scalpel is sad. The doctor is sad.
It's disco time.
Infant male delivered at 18:38. Placenta, ten minutes later: 19:48. Apparently the infant male was presented to me for my perusal, only that I neglected to look at his groin-- it's the blue bands with our names that tell me the sex of the baby. I'm still shaking with the last pushes and the violence over my legs: one nurse pushed on my right leg; the other, and my husband, pull back my left leg almost to my ear. I feel for rotisserie chickens everywhere.
A baby boy.
A baby boy, too cute and a little pruny.
Trying to nurse at my breast.
A baby boy, chewing on his tigey and begging to be fed. I ought to go.
Happy birthday, dear Meowser.
Happy birthday to you.