Wednesday’s child(ren), part one
When you are waiting for a baby to be born—and I mean the kind of waiting that you do right up at the end, the nitty gritty, the this-could-happen-any-moment-or-maybe-next-week kind of waiting—you play out a million and three scenarios in your head. Well if it happens tomorrow morning, the kids will be in school so that will be easy and how cool would it be if his birthday were May 2? I like May 2, it seems very simple, straightforward. Yes, tomorrow would work great. Or, Oh man, if it happened tomorrow I wouldn’t have x, y and z done and also I might have him on the interstate, and have I put a note in Noah’s bookbag saying so and so can take him home in case the baby’s born? Also, where are my monkey slippers?
My mind tends to dwell especially on all the cool things that make a birthday seem “right,” like, you know, your first two kids have an even and an odd birthday date, so this kid should be even to balance things out; or some cool slash important thing happened on this date making it rife with significance; or my first boy was 11 days early, so boy two should come 11 days before his due date, to keep the trend. Etc. It gets a little silly, actually.
But on May 8, Max’s due date, something kind of weird happened—Maurice Sendak died. Now, I am a Maurice Sendak fan, but we had not picked the name Max based on his iconic Where the Wild Things Are. However, the fact that he passed on the very day we were due with a Max? That’s some cosmic happenstancing right there, that is. In fact, after I heard the news I texted one of my co-workers (who knew the name we had chosen): “DID I KILL MAURICE SENDAK???” I briefly considered that maybe that meant we were supposed to name him Maurice. We would call him Mo. (Haaaaahaha, NO.)
So of course the news of Mr. Sendak and all the quotes from Where the Wild Things Are flying around the internet had me convinced that larger forces were at work and THIS WAS THE DAY. It made so much sense. I mean, it was my due date, for crying out loud! I had already had one early baby and one late baby, so an on-time baby would give me the due date trifecta. (After which, I would RULE THE WORLD.) I was only two days in to my maternity leave, my bag was packed, my mom had already arrived for older kid duty—it was perfect. But by dinner time, nothing had happened. No twinges, no aches (besides the normal hefting-around-a-whale-sized-body kind), no broken bags of water. And so I decided that I should go on a nice encouraging walk once L came home. (Warning: link contains spoilers.) I walked farther in one stretch than I had walked in months and months, and with purpose! In flip flops. But my mood was good and the weather was nice, and I was sure the jaunt would end with amniotic fluid on my feet or at the very least some nice cramping. (I’m sorry, were you eating while reading this? Maybe take a pause on that.)
And so, as I readied for bed, I conceded that Baby 3 was likely not destined for Exact Due Date Greatness. This was a bummer for several reasons, but mostly because one of the things I was hoping to avoid was the post-due date morning realization that I was post due date, a downer of a feeling that I had already experienced once and was not eager to repeat. But still: spirits were fairly good and I went to sleep thinking I’d just one-day-at-a-time it and hope for the best.
At 12:45 a.m. I woke up, but not with a start. More like with a “Eh? Come again?” So I lay there for a few seconds, thinking it was probably indigestion. (Sidenote: this is not unlike the time that L presented me with a ring-shaped box on the steps of a very picturesque building at our alma mater and my first thought was, “Oh! He must have gotten me a nice necklace or something!” My brains, they don’t work sometimes.) But the next sensation made my arm whip over to where L lay sleeping and rest heavily on his bicep. And then I squeezed. L, a veteran of the middle-of-the-night labor wake up call immediately said, “What,” clear-voiced and alert like he hadn’t already been in REM sleep for an hour. I said, “I feel … something.” To which he replied, “Like labor something?” I told him I didn’t know, but that I was going to the bathroom to assess the situation. Once in the bathroom, I sat there (yes, ON THE TOILET, stay with me) long enough (1.5 minutes?) that L came to check on me. “This doesn’t feel like bathroom feelings. It feels … different. I feel nervous.” That was all the talking L needed to hear. He went to wake up my mom.
I immediately stood up and unplugged my hair dryer, because I knew it was one of the things I had not put in my hospital bag. This is actually a step up from what I focused on immediately after my water broke with Noah: that time I decided to get in the shower and shave my legs. Without being too graphic (even though I already talked about sitting on the toilet, sorry guys) I’ll just say that smooth legs aren’t going to help you much in the looks department when you’re in push position. (Similarly, I ended up using my hair dryer for about 2 minutes tops at the hospital, and it was long enough after the birth that someone could have easily brought it to me from home. But gathering while I was in labor it made me feel like I was remembering things, and therefore very in control of the situation and kicking ass. And so it served an important purpose. Or something.)
So after waking in bed with an Eh feeling and then assessing my not-indigestion in the bathroom, I had one actual “L come over here so I can hold on to you” contraction before we got out the door to the car. (You know after last time L wasn’t going to be doing any messing AROUND, y’all.) This, I believe was L’s greatest fear: the getting to the hospital. So much so, that once we were there and inside the doors to the medical center (literally three minutes from our house), I think he felt a little bit like, yes! We did it! Except, no. There was a lot more doing that had to be done. At this point, it was a little after 1 a.m.
I don’t want to turn the story of Max being born into a diatribe against this particular hospital’s policies, but I do have to mention one of the most unpleasant parts of the whole process which was this: I checked in at triage, and after signing some papers while pausing every minute or two for a contraction, I was told to come back to where I could be assessed. L was not allowed to come with me. I told everyone who would listen that this was my third baby and that my other kids had come really quite quickly, but still: not allowed. NOT ALLOWED TO COME WITH ME. You guys. They took me to a room, handed me a gown, strapped a blood pressure cuff on to my arm, and then LEFT ME ALONE IN A ROOM IN LABOR. I didn’t even have my phone. I had no way to contact L at all, except through them, and also the television was on, loudly, and I couldn’t figure out how to turn it off. BECAUSE I WAS IN HARD LABOR. I really could type on and on for many more caps lock paragraphs about how I feel about that, but like I said: this is not a diatribe, this is the story of Max coming into the world, and so I will leave it at WTF.
I was checked by a nurse? Tech? Janitor? I don’t know, because I was beginning to enter that part of labor where you go into the zone. When they said I was at 7 cm, I almost cried. This was the least progressed I had ever entered a L&D room (Noah: 8cm, Rosie: uh, pushing) and so it felt like surely I would be there for hours and hours. If L’s greatest fear was getting to the hospital before the baby, mine was having a labor that was the opposite of the first two: long and slow.
There were what seemed like a football team’s worth of people with me in my tiny room, but still none of them were my husband. Finally they let him come in, and I immediately grabbed his hand, with plans not to let go until I traded it for a delivered baby. The football team deemed me thoroughly assessed, and so I was wheeled in my hospital bed down the brightly lit hallway in my scanty gown, moaning through my contractions, towards the delivery room.
(Stay tuned for part two …)