Tuesday, May 17, 2011
"My braxton hicks seem to be getting more consistent..." I said to Aaron, a little hesitantly, fearing I would jinx any possibility of actually going into labor.
I had tried everything to try and self-induce all week. All the safe, not-too-insane theories anyway. It was a full moon and I was banking on it like it was my last hope because I feared that if it didn't work then perhaps I was destined to be pregnant forever. I was a week over due. Discouraged, depressed, and depleted of any energy. I had gone to a weekly play date that morning and watched as all my friends held their infants and watched their toddlers play and wondered when my turn would ever come. If it hadn't been for their encouragement and knowing they had been where I was not too long ago, I may have lost it completely.
In hopes of distracting myself from getting my hopes up too high I jumped in the shower to try and relax. It wasn't more than five minutes before I stepped back out, breathing through a contraction I managed to mutter, "Yeah, definitely more consistent..." Aaron began timing them. They were about 5 minutes apart and about 30-45 seconds long.
"I think you should call the midwife, Faith." Aaron said with a concerned look on his face.
I tried to shrug it off, I mean I could still manage a few words during contractions, it wasn't anything serious yet.
"Let's not get our hopes up!" I reminded him.
But after another contraction, Aaron didn't even need to nudge me toward my phone. Taking a look at the call list I was thrilled to see one of my favorite midwives was on call that night. When she answered, I told her my situation. She told me I still sounded pretty upbeat and was probably still early on in labor and to give her a call when things were more consistent. I told her I didn't think it would be too long, and that we would head toward Asheville, possibly walk around Walmart if necessary, just to make sure things remained active. Her voice told me she thought I was a little bit crazy. I told her I'd give her a call when we were headed to the hospital.
"I really wanted to put in a load of laundry!" I said desperately, my arms full of things I was trying to put away in between contractions.
"The car is packed, Serenity is here, we need to go." Aaron argued. "Look at you. You can't even stand up right! Let's just go!"
The nesting stage had lasted so long, I wasn't sure how to let go without a fight. But I knew Aaron was right, I was being slightly neurotic and really needed to go to the hospital. We got in the car, each made calls to our moms, and headed toward Asheville.
"I change my mind!" I said after an exceptionally strong contraction while driving down I-40. "I thought I was ready for this, but I'm not! I don't want to do this again!"
Aaron squeezed my hand and told me I was doing great and reminded me I would have our little boy in my arms very soon. I clung to his words as another contraction began and tried in vain to keep my focus there until it passed. Things were happening so fast, my mind was struggling to keep up with my body.
"I want an epidural!" I cried desperately to Aaron, trying to catch my breath, barely noticing I was still squeezing the life out of his hand.
"What?" He seemed confused like he hadn't expected such a request and wasn't sure whether to take me seriously or not. "Babe, you can do this, you're doing great!"
He seemed to really believe himself. I looked at his face. He was so sweet. How was I blessed with a man so kind and patient? (I tend to get sentimental during labor) But, yes, I was serious.
"Pleeease!" I begged. "I promise I won't be mad at anyone! Just get the midwife-- I need an epidural now!"
Reluctantly, he left to call the midwife (reluctant only because he was unsure whether he was supposed to convince me to go al naturale or not). The midwife came in and asked me how I was doing.
"I can't do this!" I cried breathlessly. "It's too fast... I can't focus... I can't breathe... I am so dizzy... I just need an epidural!"
Very calmly she assured me I was doing great and that I had done it natural before, I could do it again.
"No!" I argued, then paused for another contraction.
"My hand tells me that was a really tough one." I heard Aaron say to the midwife, but his voice sounded far away. I felt like I was in a separate universe, yet could still hear the faint words of the people left in painless reality. How I envied them.
"Please, please..." I pleaded again. "I won't be mad... I promise..."
It seemed like an eternity before she agreed to get the paperwork going. She warned me I probably wouldn't have time.
"I don't care. I just need to try, I just need to try..." I repeated pathetically.
I had been up since 4:00 a.m. without so much as a catnap, I truly believed I did not have the energy to make it.
"Eight centimeters dilated," I heard my midwife say. "We need to move her up to the delivery room before she has this baby."
I began to cry as I realized my epidural would not be coming in time. My nurse came to my side, her sweet angel of a face smiled down on me and spoke sweet encouragement I could not understand but had no choice but to trust. When someone came to my door with a wheel chair she reprimanded them.
"She is not getting in a wheelchair!" she said matter a factly as she began unhooking my bed. "Don't you worry honey, no one is gonna make you sit in one of those."
I thanked her and blessed her kindness before losing myself in another contraction.
The lights in the hall were bright and I was thankful for any excuse to keep my eyes closed tight. Catching glimpses of sympathetic stares made me feel like a small child on her way to surgery. I needed to feel strong. To believe I was capable.
Time seemed to stop once we arrived in the delivery room. I guess we were there for about 45 minutes before Gabriel was placed in my arms, but it felt more like seconds. Or days. I couldn't tell. I remember the feeling of despair when they told me they expected me to move onto the delivery bed.
"What? No, I can't move!" I protested.
But they insisted.
I did the best I could, and ended up in some strange position, slightly crooked, half-sitting up, one leg hanging off the bed. I sat this way until my water broke.
"Water!" I half screamed. "There is water!"
I knew to expect it and yet the increased intensity of contractions and urge to push that followed made it scary nonetheless.
"Alright honey, you need to readjust yourself," my midwife told me kindly.
"No, no, no! Don't make me move!" I whimpered.
Aaron rubbed my back in encouragement. I couldn't decide if I wanted to cave into his arms or push him away.
"Please..." I whispered, shaking my head, feeling like a deranged person who desperately needed drugs.
"Sweetie," my midwife said in a voice so calm and comforting I was forced to meet her eyes. "You can't push him out if you're sitting on his head."
I looked to my nurse, who smiled and told me how wonderful I was doing. Then to Aaron, whose eyes told me he wouldn't let anything bad happen to me.
"Promise me you'll get a vasectomy when this is all over..." I pleaded desperately to Aaron.
He smiled and assured me he would.
I barely adjusted my body before the urge to push was so strong and scary I thought I might die. Focus! I screamed in my head when I found myself thinking about what I had eaten for dinner and how badly I wanted to throw it up. All I wanted to do in that instant was curl up in a ball and disappear. But the idea of moving was too much to bare, so instead I mentally slapped myself straight. My mother had given me advice earlier that day when I had shared my fears about pushing. I had been slightly annoyed at the time, mostly because I thought I would never get the chance to even use it (as I was convinced I would never go into labor), but also because it sounded so simple. But as encouragement was spoken to me from every direction-- Aaron, my midwife, and nurse all rooting for me, believing in me-- I began to believe in myself. The pain was more unbearable than I could have imagined and yet my mother's words repeated themselves in my mind. Focus. Breathe. Don't scream. Use every ounce of strength to push. This is the worst of it. The end. Gabriel is almost here. Somehow, it worked. Three contractions back to back. Less than 5 minutes later, Gabriel was lifted from my body.
I couldn't hold him at first. My eyes searched for him, saw him for a second, and then would not stay focused or open. I felt my body shaking uncontrollably. I could not move my arms which were still clinging to the bed holding me up in the most awkward way. Everyone was smiling and laughing but it was hard to hear anything over my own short, fast breaths as I began hyperventilating, unable to catch enough oxygen for my weak body. I suddenly noticed Gabriel was blue and not crying, but no one seemed worried. I heard my midwife mention something about the cord being wrapped around his neck, but she remained calm and even happy as she rubbed him and encouraged him to breathe his first. I wanted to reach for him, to speak, to ask what was happening, but I could not breathe myself. Finally, his screams reached my ears. I would have cried in relief had I been able to. Noticing my desperate state, my midwife made me look at her and told me forcefully, "Faith, breathe! You need to breathe!" I would if I could! I wanted to yell, but before I could realize what was happening, my body listened to her words and I found myself catching my breath, slowly easing my body down to rest. I was still shaking, but I reached for my son. My son! I was holding my son! I reached for Aaron who was already as close as he could get. We laughed, cried, and soaked up those moments like they were the last we'd ever share. Finally, my long awaited. Gabriel Quinlan.