Oh, to have had this third baby first. The anxiety spared, the confusion muted. It's yet another gift of The Milkman: I don't tweak when he cries, I coo right back. I don't sweat the YEARS OF DOOM AHEAD WITH NO SLEEP, I know that he will eventually sleep and I crave his sweet little toes tickling me all night long as he looks at me with his wide awake & dreamy as-all-get-out eyes. I pump milk. I'm not afraid to leave him for a night of work. I let his sisters snuggle him up and change his diapers. I don't think they're going to hurt him. He's just that great; and I'm just that much more grateful to have him.
There's this song that I've been running my heart out to these last few days. A song that I listened to on the day Lincoln was born. A song I knew I wanted (needed?) to listen to on that day.
So yesterday, at 5 miles an hour on the treadmill in my basement (whatever, YES! I run on a treadmill, not the ground, sue me) I'm listening to the end of a "This American Life" story, gearing up run like mad (as mad as I can) for my last 20 minutes and I pop on "Into the Ocean". Within seconds I am sobbing and singing at the tops of my lungs. Snot running down my face, arms floppy; I'm running. Re-played it 3 more times and finally, with my sleeve covered in my mess, I stumbled off the treadmill and cried some more on the basement floor (briefly noting how relieved I was that we had poured concrete on said floor a few months earlier).
And then today: I'm nervous as a turkey on the 2nd Thursday of November. I have no idea how I'll react to "the song" or if I'll react at all; I'm such a tease. In any event, I CAN'T WAIT to get down there. And whaddya know? Today? Today, I laugh like a maniac when I hear it. Laugh like Santy Claus. I felt great and crazy and great. I felt like a billion $$. Just amazing.
So, here's the story I've been thinking I'd write for the past 3 months. The story intermingled with some song lyrics that will live preciously in my brains for ever and ever. (Doing this, by the way, reminds me of an assignment given in the 12th grade AP English class of my high school. Everyone looked forward to this assignment; it was like, legendary, you know? The assignment was just that cool. 2 years before I was to get "The Assignment", a kid named Austin Cooke hit it so far out of the ballpark that no one wanted to do it again. Ever. He annihilated the thing; nothing left for anyone else. What he was charted to do (like hundreds and hundreds of seniors before him) was this: Pick a song, any song in the whole wide world and interpret its meaning. Wow. This was the eighties. Pink Floyd, Run DMC, Motley Crue... HOLY SHIT, right? Well old Auddie Cook picked-- are you ready? "Hotel California" by the Eagles. He dissected the masterpiece line by line and by the end of day that he turned it in the whole friggin high school knew about it. Intense. I know.)
My water broke at around 3:45 on Saturday 11/15. I was sleeping and was woken up by two things: A very strong and painful contraction that I realized had been going on for a *long* time and a bizarre sensation in my vagina, like something soft and squishy pushing out and then getting sucked back in. Right after that: POP! GUSH! I went to the bathroom, put on a pad, woke up the husband with the news and went back to sleep. By 9am NOTHING had happened, I was bummed.
I wanted something, anything to have changed. The midwife came anyway, at like 11 and my contractions were still infrequent (10-20 minutes) and moderately uncomfortable. Big whoop.
Chris and I went out for a walk sometime around this point and I hoped so fucking badly that we'd have to run for the house, he carrying me in his arms over the threshold with just enough time for me to deliver on the kitchen rug. But alas, NOTHING.
Each contraction continued to bring a RUSH of amniotic fluid that began to trouble me at noon or so; I also thought there was bit of meconium in the fluid... I was also absolutely freezing although the day was turning out to be freakishly warm, windy and spitty with rain.
Now floating up and down
I spin, colliding into sound
Like whales beneath me diving down
I'm sinking to the bottom of my
Everything that freaks me out
The lighthouse beam has just run out
I'm cold as cold as cold can be
It's around 3 and still nothing. My midwife is reading People magazine (the Obamas are on the cover, can you blame her? Little Malia and Sasha! Soooo cute!), I'm massaging my nipples at her insistence and Chris is (no shit) rubbing the outside of my little toe. NOTHING.
At 4 we decide to start ramping things up with some cohosh; 12 hours ruptured, possible meconium and positive GBS, we need action and we need it now. I'm mandated to continue abusing my nipples; my husband a ruthless (but loving; I mean the guy taped towels to the toilet seat for me) lieutenant, making sure the midwife's orders are being carried out.
By 6, our efforts have paid off. I'm still losing a lot of fluid with each (now quite regular and intense) contraction, though. I check in with the baby often. It moves for me when I need it to. I'm getting tired and start losing my bearings. I'm so incredibly tired and getting desperate for it be over.
I want to swim away but don't know how
Sometimes it feels just like I'm falling in the ocean
Let the waves take me down
Let the hurricane set in motion... yeah
Let the rain of what I feel right now...come down
Let the rain come down
By 8 or 9 or so I'm moving from the bed to the toilet to contract. It hurts and I'm more tired than I imagined possible. My girls are home from the neighbors and they pop in to see me. I remember this. I remember my lovely neighbor coming in to see me as well(her breath smelled like garlic and wine and it was awful). But I don't remember what any of them said or what I said (if I could have said anything at all)
I'm treading for my life believe me
(How can I keep up this breathing?)
The next several hours are a haze (thankfully!). I hurt so much. So much searing muscle pain with each contraction. I truly believed I'd be injured for the rest of my life during this birth. My midwife is insisting that I labor on my left side and Chris is doing his best to encourage me. The pain is excruciating. Truly. She tried to give me a remedy to help me sleep through the contractions but it didn't work. It sucked. The baby was kicking my ribs and ripping apart my pelvis and I was miserable.
I can't pinpoint the time, but I have memory of the moment I felt like a wild animal: Puking on myself, guttural, reaching between my legs & hoping for blood. At about 11pm, I got my blood and I tell my midwife that I feel the baby pushing on my perineum. I'm sitting on the toilet at this point and she and Chris usher me to the bed
Not knowing how to think
I scream aloud, begin to sink
My legs and arms are broken down
With envy for the solid ground
I'm reaching for the life within me
How can one man stop his ending
I thought of just your face
Relaxed, and floated into space
Lincoln was born at 12:17 on the 16th of November. My uterus was so tired from all the fluid, the 9 lb baby and the hours and hours of labor that he needed to be pulled out after I delivered his head. I had nothing left after his head emerged and I heard him cry (!). He was also presenting with a fist and part of a shoulder; dude was huge and BUSTING his way out.
When his whole self did finally emerge, he was bluish and still, what we call a "smurf" in the biz. Since I had already heard him cry, I wasn't in the least concerned. He told me he'd be ok over the past 20 hours and I believed him. In just 15 seconds or so, he was yelling and squirming and being put to my breast. It was over.
Now waking to the sun
I calculate what I had done
Like jumping from the bow yeah
Just to prove I knew how yeah
It's midnight's late reminder of
The loss of her, the one I love
My will to quickly end it all
Set front row in my need to fall
I never thought I'd have another baby (I know, I know I KEEP SAYING THAT) but once it settled in like concrete footings that one was indeed coming, I got sad. Sad for the loss of Penelope as my baby. Giddy that I'd be able to try and have another homebirth. Terrified I wouldn't be able to endure labor again. Determined to try.
Great fucking song, eh?