This week we’re sharing our (baby) stories here on Modern Mrs Darcy. This week is devoted to childbirth, but like so much I talk about here, it’s not just about childbirth: it’s about our hopes and our dreams, our beliefs and our fears. It’s about focusing on what’s truly important. I’ll be sharing a little bit of my own story each day this week. You can read all posts in this series here.
My friend and I sat on the baby pool’s edge, watching our kids splash each other–and watching the commotion. Twin Mom was screaming at her 5 kids, who appeared to be trying to drown each other. My friend–who had 3 kids like me–grabbed my arm and said, “If I ever act that crazy, shoot me and put me out of my misery. Promise?”
I knew Twin Mom’s story: the IUD she’d had put in after her third baby slipped, and she’d gotten pregnant–with twins. Twins who were now throwing tantrums in the baby pool.
And that’s when I realized–I was late.
When I saw those two pink lines on the pregnancy test that night, I cried. We finally had all the kids sleeping well. Our baby was down to one nap. But now we’d be starting over from the beginning, again.
But my imagination quickly adapted, and I was soon anxiously anticipating Baby #4.
My doctor agreed to induce me at 39 weeks, and we showed up at the hospital on an icy January morning. I knew the drill. The nurses hooked me up to a zillion monitors and started my pitocin drip. We flipped through lousy options on daytime tv, waiting for something to happen.
I was praying for another miracle birth: have a few contractions, break my water, deliver in 10 minutes–just like with Baby #2.
My nurse said, “Honey, I’ve seen your chart. It could happen.”
Bless you, I thought.
I remembered this nurse from my first delivery 7 years before. We’d rubbed each other the wrong way back then. She was the nurse on duty when I arrived at the hospital in early labor. I told her about my birth plan and desire to go natural, and she told me that we could just wait and see how things went. I immediately wrote her off–clearly she was not on my team–and was glad to see her go off shift an hour later.
I was so clueless back then.
I made slow and steady progress, just like my last delivery. My contractions became rhythmic; my doctor broke my water. I started thinking about an epidural.
Timing an epidural right is tricky: get it too soon, and you may stall your progress. Wait too long, and you might not get it at all. Once I requested an epidural, it would take 30-45 minutes before I’d get some pain relief. They’d have to get the anesthesiologist, do the prep work, administer the drug, and wait for it to kick in.
I was at 4 cm. When a contraction wasn’t demanding my attention, I was making calculations, trying to determine how long this misery would last and if I could make it through.
But as they got more intense, I asked the nurse to get me the anesthesiologist.
She found him, but came back with bad news: there was a line. There were 3 women on the floor who’d requested epidurals at the same time, and only one anesthesiologist.
My husband said quietly, “you’re doing great. You’ve done this before. You’ve got this.” But I had done this before, and that was what scared me.
When I got to 7 cm, my nurse walked to the doorway and called, “she’s close: get her doctor up here.” I thought it was early, but the prep team swept in and prepared for delivery.
Then it was time to push. I was terrified.
But just a few pushes later my doctor whooped, “It’s a boy!” and plopped my baby on my chest.
He didn’t cry. He just stared his big eyes up at me, taking it all in.
The nurses whisked him away to get him cleaned and weighed and measured, and he wailed his protest.
It was only then that my nurse confided, “Honey, I knew when you first walked in that you weren’t getting that epidural you wanted. I saw your chart and your babies have just come too fast. I knew you weren’t gonna make it, but I also knew not to tell you that.”
Thank you, I said.