(apologies in advance for the garbled tangle of words below - someday I will write this story in beautiful prose - someday when I have time!)
Two weeks ago, I thought I knew what it would be like to labor. I thought I knew what it would be like to give birth. I thought I knew what it would be like to be a mom. I thought I knew what the future had in store.
I knew nothing. And on July 6, 2011, my life changed forever - twice. At 5:35 pm, I became a mother. And at 8:00 pm, I became a mother to the most special boy in the world.
More about the last part later. This is Hunter's birth story.
I started going into labor on July 5. Tanner had the day off, and after the first "oh-my-goodness-is-this-it" thrill abated when my contractions backed off, we hopped in the jeep and spent the day at the beach. Tanner fished, and I scrambled over rocks in the Pass, awkwardly balancing my pregnant belly as I jumped from boulder to sand. I waded in the hot shallow water collecting hermit crabs until the sun went down and we left for home.
The contractions picked up again at midnight. Tanner, typically, was unwakeable, and I paced the floor for most of the night, startled and a little scared at the strength of the contractions. At seven AM I tearfully hollered Tanner into wakefullness: "Your baby is coming and I need some SUPPORT here!"
An hour later we were on our way to the Birth Center. The 30-min drive took 3 hours because I remembered all the things we HAD to do before Baby - like return library DVDs, get groceries, pick up laundry, etc. I think I was delaying the inevitable! Tanner put up with me beautifully, panicking only slightly when I announced my contractions were a minute apart as he went to return the library stuff. I have this enduring picture of him racing into the library, throwing the DVDs in the vague direction of the desk with the announcement of "My wife's having a baby!"
Once at the birth center things settled down to the steady rhythm of labor. Tanner, calm, quiet, loving, coached me thru every contraction. We kissed, I looked deep into his eyes, and thought of how much I loved him and our baby. I knew I could do it, till suddenly I started to get sharp fire-jolts of bck pain which cut off my breath then released it in a scream.
After that the labor turned into a nightmare of the worst pain I've ever had. I tried to fight it, I did, but it went beyond my threshold till I could only sob "I can't do this. I can't. I can't." Tanner led the midwife and birth assistants in a struggle to lessen the back pain, but nothing worked. I started to fade out, to enter this quiet, peaceful dark world inside myself. Tanner said later that I literally was passed out between contractions.
Finally, the back labor shut down my contractions, and at that time, we decided to transfer to the hospital. I never wanted that. I never thought labor would be too much to handle. I cried all the way out to the jeep. I still feel the sting of that failure.
Once in the Jeep racing down the freeway at 80 mph, everything changed in a split second. The contractions roared back. The backpain screamed to the base of my brain, sheer white hot pain. I started to PUSH. I remember only one thought clearly: Don't tell Tanner I'm pushing! I didn't. ;)
At the hospital I literally fell out of the jeep into the wheelchair, flopped out of the wheelchair onto the bed, and before the nurses even checked me, the baby started to crown.
Time started to move very slowly, then.
PUSH. I could feel the stretching, the head moving down. I could hear my voice, a guttural bellow as I strained, out of control, just wanting the baby to be BORN!
PUSH. "We can see the baby's head!" Between the blinding, full-body intensity of the pushes, I reached between my legs and felt - hair. Skull. Baby.
I started to cry, but not from pain. I pushed. The baby's head filled my palm, hot and soft and crinkly. "Almost there!" PUSH. PUSH. PUSH!
There was a pop. A burning sensation. Then, like water flooding out of a burst balloon, my baby flowed into this world on a tide of water, on a river of joy. I remember Tanner, bending over my body to see the tiny pink-blue squiggling body. I remember his face, his eyes full of tears, his hand squeezing mine as he whispered, "It's a boy."
And then the tiny wet form of my son was placed on my chest. I looked down at his crumpled face. At a wee nose. At two wide, startled eyes. At a form so familiar and yet so strange. He opened his tiny mouth and bawled.
The tears poured down my face. "Oh, my beautiful baby. Welcome to the world, little Hunter! Oh, my baby. My beautiful little son. I love you. I love you. I love you."
In that moment, my life changed forever.
A few hours later, I would learn something that would change my life, all of our lives, even more. But that's for the next post.
Hunter - July 6, 2011
5lbs, 15 oz