Wednesday’s child(ren), part two
(Part one is here.)
We were wheeled into a dimly-lit (for the romantic ambiance) delivery room with a team of people, all of whom mysteriously vanished in 0.5 seconds, leaving us with a young tech. I remember saying to L at that point, “Where did everyone go? Where is the baby team?” because duh, that’s what happens when you go to the hospital to have a baby, right? You just go, and the baby comes right then? That’s what happens when I go to the hospital to have a baby anyway. Didn’t they know? Weren’t they told? I was very disconcerted at the amount of moaning and writhing I was doing with no baby team standing in wait. I also felt that the tech was terribly young and couldn’t possibly help me in any way shape or form. (Being in labor makes me very ageist.)
This was why Max’s labor felt like the longest and hardest of the three, though it probably fell more in the middle in terms of length and maybe even intensity—everyone left. In the other two birth stories, L and I were never in labor mode alone. There wasn’t time for that. And so when it became clear that everyone thought there was Time For That this time, it made me feel rather despondent. (Slash writhy and moany.) I also had the ridiculous and superficial thought that all the head-rubbing I was doing on my pillow while trying to make it through a contraction was going to make a horrible rat’s nest in my hair later. (Dear brain: why?) And even though I’m pretty sure I never actually thought the words “I am dying,” that is exactly what it felt like. Only, with contractions, you alternate between feeling wrung out but generally functional, and in horrible awful pain, the likes of which you have never felt in your whole existence. I can’t even think of appropriate words. Searing? Sure. Burning? Yes, there’s some of that. Nausea? Check. Rolling, rippling, body-heaving misery? Uh-huh. Plus a whole host of other feelings of high intensity. And there’s simply no way but through it, which, when it’s happening feels completely unpossible.
Here is where I pause to extol the virtues of L the Mighty Birth Partner, He Who Remains Calm No Matter What. I cannot say enough about his gift in this area. I am by all accounts a pretty independent person who doesn’t take to asking for help often, and even when I do, I am not very good at accepting guidance or support. It’s part stubbornness, part stupidity, but there you have it. So in our marriage, I often forge ahead with things when they’re hard, and don’t seek out L’s counsel as often as I might should. What can I say, I’m working on it. I’m working on it! But for those two hours, I offered up my back to L completely, and he had it. (Sometimes literally.) I trusted him implicitly, and each time a wave of pain would hit I would squinch up my eyes and flail around until I found some part of his body (usually his face, sorry L) to be my solid. And he would be my solid. He never left my side, never said the wrong thing, never patronized when I said for the fifth time “I can’t do this.” Basically, he was my drug. My epidura-L. He was amazing, and I will always always be grateful for the way he was present for all three of our kids’ births, helping ease them into the world in the way that he was capable of doing. Now, I’m no expert on relationships (hoooo boy understatement of the year), but that right there feels like quite a bedrock on which a union can stand. (Dear L, thanks for being my solid.)
Anyway! After much L-face-smooshing and hair-ratting and noise coming forth from my mouth (I tend to do a long tone in an “Ohhhhh”-sort of sound, like a low-pitched tornado siren) it became very veryveryvery apparent that my body was ready to push. I casually screech-mentioned this to L, who informed the tech, who said in a voice bordering on boredom that it wasn’t time yet. Please skip this sentence if foul language offends you, but everything in my body at that moment said THE FUCK IT ISN’T. But I also felt like I should follow the rules. (Dear brain: Again, why?) So I went against everything that all the nerve endings in my entire body were telling me and tried not to push. The tech, sensing that perhaps I was struggling with this endeavor, left. I think to go find a baby team? I don’t know, I was busy. The next contraction brought with it an even stronger urge to PUSHPUSHPUSH and L, who was also trying to follow orders (and who probably also didn’t want to be the only one there when the baby came rocketing out) helped me through it by letting me squeeze the bejeezus out of him and by reminding me to take short quick breaths. I think I was in the middle of saying “NO REALLY I NEED TO PUSH,” when my water broke with a GOOSH all over the delivery table.
At this point, details became hazy, so L will have to correct me if I’m wrong, but I remember him hitting the nurse call button and telling the answering voice that Hi, his wife’s water had broken? So maybe the doctor should be sent to our room? The tech came back in and a few other people as well. (I guess? Eyes were still in squinch mode, brain was occupied.) They were still advising me not to push, though at that point it didn’t matter what signals I was trying to send my body, it was just going to do its thing, thankyouverymuch. I could feel the baby coming out almost as if he was doing it himself. I remember saying “I can’t not push! He’s coming! He’s coming!” I was still on my side at this point, and realized that if I was going to get a person out of me, I would need to turn over. But at the time, that felt as possible as picking up the whole of the hospital with my two arms and holding it over my head. I think I said, “Should I flip over?” And when no one answered, I thought, “They don’t believe me that this baby is coming out.” I think I used the bit of righteous indignation that conjured up to heave myself 90 degrees to a back-lying position, and then I knew it was time. I could feel his head leaving me, as I flapped my feet in empty air, searching for some sort of something to push against to get him out. The doctor, fumbling to put on his gloves and hazmat suit put his arms out just in time, just as Max’s noggin slid out with almost no abdominal effort on my part. (Bodies, they know what they’re doing!) Unlike Noah and Rosie, who came out head and body in one sweeping motion, Max paused and waited for me to push his shoulders out (maybe he wanted me to feel like I was actively participating?) before arriving in whole at 3:08 a.m.— quiet, pink, cheesy and the biggest baby of our three, 8 pounds and 14 ounces. I loved him immediately.
Also? He had arrived on a Wednesday, just like his sister before him and his brother before that.
Noah, Rosie and Max, Wednesday’s children all three.
The old saying suggests that Wednesday’s child is full of woe, but I would have to disagree. More like full of whoa.
We are all here now. L, me and our Wednesday children three.