Today you are two. I've been telling myself that I would finally, officially, document your birth story. Later on, I'll add some pictures, but words will do for now.
The day before I went into labor was very busy. I took the day (Friday, May 14th 2004) off of work because I was heading to a baby shower at dad's school. It was a great day, although I was very tired. It was about two weeks before your due date and we'd had an ultrasound the week before. The technician said that I wasn't close to labor; there hadn't been any changes in my cervix. We still didn't want to know if you were a boy or a girl, but after that appointment your dad and I both felt strong girl vibes.
But back to that day. The shower was to be after school, so I spent the day with dad's students. I helped with reading and math. I fell asleep reading at his computer and tried to drink as much water as possible. Finally, the end of the day came and it was time for the shower! I remember that I was wearing a maternity skirt that I'd only had a couple of weeks; like this year, the weather had just started to turn nice. But my feet were swollen in my burgendy clogs and that was kind of uncomfortable. I was also wearing a white t-shirt with small stains on the belly. There were many gifts and wonderful cake. I have this memory -- clear as day -- of packing cake up in a basket and hauling it home on my lap. I even remember part of our conversation with the janitor.
People kept saying I looked like I was "ready" and that I had "dropped." I didn't agree, but I smiled and took their good wishes to heart. On the way home, we stopped at The Delta and picked up fried chicken, greens, macaroni and cheese and biscuits. It was so good! Dad and I were exhausted from the day. I remember I had on a blank tank top as we cuddled on the couch for awhile. We decided to turn in early, around 9:30 or so. All of the gifts remained piled by the front door: a bathtub, boxes of clothes, and bags overflowing with toys and books.
We got into bed and fell asleep immediately (well, not until I had piled up my 5 pillows around me). At about 1:00 a.m. I woke up with a start. It was not unusual to wake up in the middle of the night, but I was so awake. Did I feel a cramp? I got up and went to the bathroom. I think I was coming back to the bed (only a few steps away) when I felt sensation for sure. Dad rolled over and said "are you in labor?" like he had been every night for almost two months. I remember saying something like, "I'm not sure." I got back into bed thinking, "well, if I am, it will be at least another 15 minutes before I feel anything." But I was wrong; only a few minutes later, I felt another cramp. I wasn't sleeping, but I remained on my side, facing the wall. I told dad every time I felt something and, after a few contractions, I sat up.
It gets kind of blurry now, this next hour. Background is necessary. We had been planning to deliver you at home. We had a birth kit, towels and sheets at the ready. Your room was still the office. Your doctor was going to be out of town this weekend and said, before she left, "just don't go into labor this weekend!" But we had backups: two other naturopaths as well as a naturopathic student who would have come to the labor with whoever ended up delivering our baby.
So, back to that hour. Dad kept counting the contractions and soon they were 5 minutes apart. I didn't want him to call anyone because I was convinced it hadn't been long enough. I mean, it was only 2:30, how could I be that far along? At some point I was finally fully off of the bed. I remember dad washing dishes. Myra the cat was on the bed, concerned about the noises I was making. Dad convinced me (actually, he was calling the shots now) that he should call the backup doctor. The doctor was surprised to hear from us and wasn't really prepared -- he said he'd have to go to the clinic to get his emergency supplies first and to call the second backup. While all of these phone calls are going back and forth, labor is becoming more intense. I'm beginning to wonder how the hell I thought I'd do this without help of some kind. I could only breathe and moan, "okay, okay" over and over again. The 2nd backup doctor was not available; she was at an emergency c-section. The student could not be reached. The first backup was still hemming and hawing.
At some point, I went into the bathroom and threw up, probably around 3 a.m. Hindsight reminds me that this is a sign of transition, but I was out of my body completely, not thinking about where I was in labor. I was laboring alone, in our bedroom. My chest was lying across the bed, my belly hanging off of the edge. I think I was pressing myself against the wall, to create a counter pressure. It was amazing and surreal to be that out of control and totally in control simultaneously. I guess dad was there, trying to make contact. He was cleaning up my mess, too, and checking to see if I wanted physical attention from him.
Okay, so now it's just before 4 a.m. I'd gone into the bathroom to pee a few times, but I felt like I needed to do more. I was sitting on the toilet and I thought, "wow, this feels difficult." All of the sudden it dawned on me that I should feel myself. I reached down and felt the top of your head! Hair! I yelled to dad, "I feel the head, call 911!" And he did. I stood up from the toilet and waddled past our bed and toward your room (our office). I knew there would need to be more space to lay down. At the instruction of the 911 operator, he put down some clean towels and I somehow lower myself onto the floor. I was on my back, propped up on my arms because I wanted to slow things down a little. I was screaming and trying not to push when the ambulance arrived only minutes later. (One of the benefits of living in a questionable neighborhood is the fact that ambulances are always close by!)
Here I thought I was going to have a nice, quiet birth surrounded by women and soft lighting. But instead, I was in our office surrounded by our books, desk and computer. All of the lights were on. I was donning only a tank top and I couldn't see very well because my glasses seemed unnecessary. In the bedroom/office attended to me were 2 or 3 firemen and 3 paramedics. At least they were cute! One of the firemen (I remember because he had on his yellow pants) let me hold onto his arm and squeeze the bejeezus out of his hand while I pushed and screamed. I was so happy they were there, but it was just so strange. I remember clearly that I found the situation to be quite funny and I think I made a joke. Each time I'd push, they get really quiet and watch me. There was one paramedic waiting to catch the baby and the firemen holding my hand. I remember realizing, after the first "real" push that the baby wasn't just going to slide out. If I had been crouching, it may have been different, but when the pushing started, I was surprised and amazed by the power of the process. In between contractions, I really didn't feel much pain. When I pushed, though, I was on fire.
Eventually, we determined that we'd go to the hospital, as the backup was not going to make it to our house for any part of our adventure. In between contractions, they lifted me onto the gurney. Remember that pile of baby paraphernalia by the front door? It was kind of in the way and had to be pushed to the side for us to make it through. I remember laying on top of the gurney, wearing only my tank top, wondering if they were going to cover me with a sheet or something before they wheeled me out onto the street. They did, but just barely. It felt so strange to have the night air on my mostly-naked body. I think I managed to not have a contraction until we were all inside the ambulance.
We only live 3 miles from the hospital (and I'm sure of this because the bill indicates the mileage) so we set off. Having contractions while lying prone in a moving vehicle was very odd, to say the least. Dad tried to say something soothing to me while stroking my hair and I told him I was calm enough. Everyone laughed. I had a few more contractions and then, as we were almost to the hospital, I knew I was having my last push. At 4:33 a.m., 3 1/2 hours after labor began, you came out in one big push -- the sensation was so strange -- the round head, the feeling of bones, the sudden emptiness. The other EMT said, "It's a girl!" with tears in his voice and I was shocked. I really thought you were going to be a "Henry" but there you were, our Lucy. The EMT put you right up to me, to see if you would nurse, but we were all in shock. Somehow we were all rolled into the ER. I couldn't see anything clearly because I still didn't have my glasses on. The ER doctor poked at me and told me I'd torn, but it didn't matter. We were all healthy and I had my natural birth!
Our short stay in the hospital is another story and, although it wasn't what we planned, I was happy to have such an "easy" labor. We did not know it at the time, but your entrance into the world was an indication of how you have met milestones so far: you do it your own way and have been amazingly easy. Of course I could tell stories of the mistakes I've made, or fits you've thrown, but right now I'm simply remembering the miracle of your arrival.
I love you very much.
P.S. I know you will hear this story over and over, but I want to note here that the date of your arrival was auspicious. You were born on my grandmother's birthday. She was my dear friend and, although she passed away in 1998, I've felt her close to me. Before we knew you were a girl, we decided you should have her middle name. And then here you came, early, and on her birthday. I believe she may have been there, helping us along.