Will decided to overstay his welcome in the good ol' uterus, and so on a Wednesday, Steven and I arrived at the hospital at six in the morning, ready for my scheduled induction. I had been so very sure that I would go into labor on my own and have a completely natural delivery without pain medication, so sure that Steven and I were both surprised at my acceptance that my desires weren't going to happen this time around. Up until probably the Sunday before the induction, I was adamant that I wasn't going to make it to the induction date, but acceptance and relief at the acceptance that the very best thing was going to happen for both me and the baby washed over me and I felt at peace with it all.
Anyway, so it was with quiet acceptance and the feeling of standing on the edge of a very tall, beautiful cliff, that we entered the elevator. Trepidation isn't the right word, maybe it was just that this time around Steven and I felt the intense sacredness of bringing a being into the world and our demeanor wasn't giggly or goofy (as we both get when we're excited) but more reverent.
We walked around L&D for a while in my goofy gown and ankle socks, waiting for the doctor to arrive. I snapped this photo in the bathroom right before I changed.
The nurse came and did all of the prep stuff and we bit our lips and looked at each other with deep breaths and raised eyebrows. This is it.
A resident checked me and I was at a four. She told the nurse to go ahead and start the Pitocin and so it all began.
For the first hour, we read (we're re-reading the Harry Potter series) and talked. The contractions were no stronger than the ones I'd been having for weeks, though maybe more regular. I could still talk and breathe through them, so I knew I still had a while.
When the doctor came in, he broke my water and within ten minutes the contractions started to get serious. My hands and legs started shaking and I felt a little panicky. It can't be time yet! I kept repeating to the nurse, "There's no way I'm in transition. No way." She brought the doctor back and he assured me that my shaking was probably just due to the new, intense pain that was now accompanying each contraction. I was only at a five.
After a couple more contractions, I asked for the epidural. The pain wasn't nearly as bad as it would get and I was completely in control, but I also knew how quickly things could escalate and I felt good about getting the meds early on.
Time wore on and I started to feel more intensity and a small amount of pain with each contraction. I was at about a six when all of a sudden, I could feel way more than I wanted to but only on my left side. I rolled over, hoping gravity would force some of the medication back into my left side, but right as I did so, I felt the smallest urge to push.
I looked at Steven, wide-eyed, and whispered, "Steven, I have to push. Get the nurse."
Somehow I always end up completely alone for a moment or two right during the most intense parts of labor. I love it. I felt this thrill of the reality that I was about to meet my child, but also fear of pain, fear of not being strong enough, fear of the finality of it all. It's hard to explain, but I'd become so attached to this pregnancy - a pregnancy that wasn't supposed to make it past the first trimester - that now that i was suddenly confronted with its end, I was afraid. I prayed out loud to be carried through and to feel brave.
When the doctor came in, I rolled over onto my back and closed my eyes through the next contraction, willing myself to relax. It's hard to relax through that kind of intensity! When the contraction was over, he checked me. He looked skeptical and I was sure he was going to say I was only at a six, despite the fact that I'd begun shaking (my tell-tale sign of transition). Instead, though, he said something like, "Looks like it's time to have a baby. Fully dilated."
I was incredulous even though I thought I'd been sure it was time. Funny how that happens.
Steven and the nurse (whom I absolutely adore - Erin B., you are the best) took each of my legs and I closed my eyes. I put one hand on my belly and when I began to feel the tightening at the very top of my abdomen, I knew it was time. I began to push and the pain was swallowed up. The first two pushes were weak sauce. I wasn't giving it my all. By the third contraction, I meant business. I pushed with everything I had, and began to feel the pressure of the baby's head close to the surface.
"I can see the top of the head," Steven said softly as the contraction eased up and I gulped back air.
I started to cry. "Can you really?"
My eyes had been closed this entire time because I didn't want to see anything that would scare me. I kept them closed until right after the fourth contraction when I heard some rustling around. The doctor was putting on his protective blue smock thing.
"One more push and we're getting this baby out, Brooke," he said, "Maybe two, but let's try for just one. When I say push, you push hard. When I say breathe, you just breathe-" he took some shallow, quick breaths to illustrate what he was saying, "And then when I say ease, you just push really gently."
"Is it really time?!" I asked. My eyes were all wet with tears, and I felt scared again. I looked at Steven, who was standing to my right. He nodded and smiled at me and I felt brave.
"If it wasn't, I wouldn't be putting his on," the doctor said, indicating his smock.
"Okay, I'm ready," I said, feeling the contraction coming.
I pushed, so hard. I didn't let up. I found something inside of me that I didn't know was there and it propelled me into this sphere of invincibility that I've never felt before. Suddenly I felt immense relief and the doctor was urging me to breathe as he'd explained. I stopped pushing, breathed, and tried to ease.
"Brooke, put your hands down and hold the baby's face," the doctor said.
"I can't see," I murmured. Someone pulled my hands down and I felt the nose and lips and chin. I started to cry again.
With a final, small push, the baby was out and on my chest in seconds. I pulled him right up to my face and laughed and cried as Steven told me that it was a boy. I finally opened my eyes to see the most beautiful chocolate brown curls, button-nose and kissable lips.
"Do we have a name for him?" Steven asked.
We both kind of shrugged and left it to be decided later.
It's impossible to describe the feeling in the room when a baby has just been born. Everyone feels it, the doctor, the nurse - they may do it all the time, witness dozens of births a week, but they feel it. I could see it in their eyes that they knew that they had just been an integral part of a miracle.
A couple of hours later, my mother-in-law brought Gage and Kjel to the hospital. Kjel's immediate reaction was, "Oooh, a baby! I habbit?"
Gage was awed and kept looking at my stomach, no doubt wondering if there was yet another baby in there. (I'd forgotten to tell him that it takes a while for my stomach to get back to normal.)
Steven asked me what I thought when he announced that it was a boy.
"I felt like Mrs. Chicken in The Wolf's Chicken Stew."
He raised an eyebrow.
"At the end, when she realizes that it was the wolf all along. She says, 'Oh, so it was you, Mr. Wolf!'"
That's how I feel about Will. Oh, so it was you, Will! The little pillar of light inside of me that made every moment in the past ten months a little more sacred, a little more special. I felt you pulling me through some of the darkest moments, when I felt certain that I'd never meet you - that thought never stayed long though, because I always felt light drown out the darkness and I wondered where so much light could possibly come from.
Oh, so it was you. I love you.