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Thanksgiving post: This one's a troublemaker

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Sugar Bowl Mix: Thanksgiving post: This one's a troublemaker

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving post: This one's a troublemaker

I wrote about Caroline's birth in an essay on Literary Mama, but never wrote Katherine's birth story. Caroline got a beautiful first year scrapbook and Katherine's lock of hair, hospital bracelet and other keepsakes are still sitting in a box six years later.

So I'm sharing Katherine's birth story here, in Thanksgiving week, with you, because all birth stories are worth sharing and because I'm so thankful for Katherine's birth. After you read Katherine's, please share your childrens', if you care to, and link back to Sugar Bowl Mix. I love reading birth stories. Each one is its own extraordinary miracle.

When I was pregnant with Caroline I lived in fear of the delivery. I was terrified. I was a wimp for pain. At the birthing class at a San Francisco hospital I was the only one who stood up when asked who wanted the epidural in the parking lot. After watching a graphic, bloody birth movie starring a long-haired-Haight-Ashbury-1970s-hippy screaming in agony, the birthing instructor spelled out all the reasons why we should delay the epidural as long as possible and really, best of all, skip it altogether.

I tortured myself with Discovery channel's Birth Stories. One episode in particular haunted me: a woman whose birth plan dictated skipping the epidural changed her mind as she was pushing out the baby. She screamed and cried, pleading and begging in a high-pitched little voice: "Is it too late to get the epidural?" It was.

But then an extraordinary thing happened. My water broke, we went to the hospital and I endured back labor for nine hours with no epidural and it wasn't scary. Yes, it hurt. A lot. But I discovered I have a high tolerance for pain. And when I finally got the epidural it wasn't very effective and that last half hour of pushing was one major BURN-fest. But I survived. It wasn't terrifying.

I came to realize that for me the delivery was a piece of cake, though not chocolate cake. It was the nine months of pregnancy that was hard. When I was pregnant with Katherine I had to wear a pregnancy girdle belt for the entire pregnancy because of bad back pain. Not fun. When I was four months along I came down with a kidney infection and had to be hospitalized for two nights. Tim was in New York and we had no family in town. Not fun. The Braxton Hicks contractions started a a few weeks later and never stopped. Not fun at all. Sciatica set in at the same time. Maybe the worst thing of all. I still have it six years later.

After discovering the baby was breach at thirty-six weeks I decided against the C-section and had her turned. When my OB warned me it would be "a little uncomfortable" I knew I was in for it. Five minutes of my OB pushing and shoving my baby's bottom and I almost passed out from the pain. I'd go through fourteen hours of back labor again before I'd repeat that. But my baby was turned and the C-section averted.

When I was a week overdue I begged my OB to induce me. I couldn't take it a second longer. And didn't she know I had a wedding to attend in Carmel in ten days and my mother-in-law and niece were arriving in two days? I needed this baby out! I did everything I could to naturally induce the delivery short of drinking witch's brew. Still no baby.

Finally, eight days overdue and I got word that I could come in and be induced that afternoon. Hallelujah! By tomorrow I would no longer be pregnant! I rushed to Target to buy a last-minute changing table, I rearranged Caroline's room, rearranged the den, cooked, watered the plants, folded baby clothes and played with Caroline.

I rushed around all day, in major nesting mode, so elated at the thought of meeting my baby and not being pregnant anymore, but suddenly, as we drove to the hospital that afternoon, I remembered that while delivering babies wasn't terrifying, it wasn't a piece of chocolate cake.

At the hospital I waited for forty minutes while two women were checked in before me. One woman, in active labor, winced and groaned, paced, leaned over and finding no relief crumpled on to a chair, sobbing. A reminder of what lay ahead for me.

Finally, settled in to the delivery room, hooked up to various contraptions, with Tim-I've done-this-before-call-me-when-you-need-me reading a book by the window, a nurse came in to check me.
"You're five centimeters dilated and you're having major contractions," she said.
"Oh, these aren't contractions," I said. "I've been having these for months. They're just Braxton Hicks contractions."
"Honey, you're in active labor. How have you not gone insane with those huge contractions for months?"

Four hours later with no induction necessary, my contractions fast and furious, I was pushing hard. The OB arrived, ready to oversee the delivery.

Suddenly, my baby's heart beat dropped. A lot.

"Get the vacuum!" the OB shouted to the nurse.
"Vacuum needed in room **," the nurse called on the intercom.

I didn't want forceps or the vacuum. At any cost. Now, I lay there, helpless, a vacuum on the way.

The room was very quiet.

This is one of those moments. One of those defining life moments, I thought. What happens next will change everything. Everything. I breathed in hard. It hurt.

'Where's the vacuum?" the OB called out, her voice panicky.

The nurse called for it again. I appreciated her calm voice, her methodical movements. I breathed in long and deep again,  thinking the extra oxygen would help my baby.

Four people in surgery gowns charged into the delivery room in a blur.

The OB struggled with the vacuum.

"Shit, "I heard her say. Really? I remember thinking. Did she really just say that? Now? In this moment?

Then my baby was out. One of the surgery gowns grabbed her and flew over to an area I couldn't see under a bright light.

"We're going to make sure the baby is okay," I heard the OB say, in between heavy breaths. I didn't know who she was talking to.

 I haven't heard her cry, I thought. I waited, holding my breath, willing my baby who I couldn't see to cry.

I looked to Tim but he was watching the surgery gowns check our baby.

Then, just like that, a loud, forceful cry went up.

"There she goes," someone said.

I let my breath out. Hot tears slid down my cheeks.

They placed my baby, wrapped tightly in a hospital blanket, in my arms. I looked at her full head of black hair, her little, serious brown eyes and her round, red face. She didn't look anything like her sister. She didn't look anything like I expected she would, but I knew her already. I knew my baby who had  grown inside me, kicked me, punched me and hiccupped every night at nine o'clock. I knew her.

"Hi precious," I said.

"Watch out," the OB said, "this one's a troublemaker."

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At November 23, 2010 at 8:31 AM , Blogger Carol said...

That was really beautiful! Thanks for sharing her story. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

At November 23, 2010 at 8:38 AM , Blogger Shanee said...

I'm your newest follower from the Tuesday Blog Hops! Come check out my blog at:

Have a great day!

At November 23, 2010 at 4:04 PM , Blogger Ron Cooper said...

Hi! I’m following you now from Totally Tuesday. Please follow my blog of inspiring quotes and poems! I also post on my “Inspire” Facebook fan page three times daily. Thanks!

At November 23, 2010 at 4:25 PM , Blogger Liz said...

so, is she a troublemaker?

wow - so the turning was worse than back labor. that has to be INSANE pain! you poor thing!

At November 24, 2010 at 6:51 PM , Blogger 2 Kids and a Coupon said...

Great story! Following you from the Tuesday blog hop one day late.

Kim @ 2 Kids and a Coupon

At November 26, 2010 at 9:29 AM , Blogger Cheryl said...

How sweet is that? I just got all teary! My second child was born at home - accidentally. That was quite a story and yes, she still has a flair for the dramatic 5 years later!

At November 26, 2010 at 11:18 AM , Blogger Carrie said...

That is a beautiful story. She looks like a sweet heart.

So, is she a troublemaker today? Was the prediction correct?

Visiting from Red Writing Hood

At November 26, 2010 at 11:26 AM , Blogger The Drama Mama said...

Such a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing!!

At November 26, 2010 at 2:31 PM , Blogger Angelia Sims Hardy said...

You're right. Birth stories are the best. My heart was thumping on that one. You did good mom! She is a beautiful baby! Both your girls are just dolls. :-)

At November 27, 2010 at 5:48 AM , Blogger Kim said...

What a beautiful baby!


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