I figured out how to squiggle out my nipple to show you pictures of the baby being born, I know you’re super thrilled about that. It worked about 80% of the time. Some places I couldn’t be bothered.
I was thinking on what I wrote yesterday about Beck’s birth, and how there is so much more to say, but I’d written over 3,000 words and felt like it needed to stop because no one wants to read that much in one sitting anymore, right? Books, schmooks. So I stopped, and then I realized that this is probably what the phrase there are no words really means. In reality, there are ALL the words, but no matter how many you put down it’s just never right or enough or something.
So we’ll just add more words to the situation to really clear things up, ok?
When we got to the birth center Jay took a few pictures, just because I think he didn’t really know what else to do and the nurse and midwife had taken over calming me down so he got a teensy break. He asked if I wanted pictures, and I said “if they’re gross we’ll just delete them,” so snapping snapping snapping happened. This table was where I had a lot of the final contractions – it’s like a nightstand I guess, but was the right height for me to lean on and just wait for the pain to pass. I’ve read a lot of different descriptions of what contractions feel like, and for me they felt like the hardest period cramps ever that kind of culminated in my belly button and would. not. let. go. Terrible pain. They also had kind of a Charlie horse effect where I can still feel the pain now, a week later – like the cramps were so hard they injured the muscles, which I guess makes sense given that they were pushing a big kid out of a little hole. You can kiiiiind of see the nurse in this picture, she’s on the ground crouching in green scrubs by my right leg – trying to get a fetal heartbeat before, during, and after a contraction to be sure Beck was doing ok. WELL, because I was so far along in labor and Beck was basically in my hoo-ha the whole time we were at the birth center the nurse had a rough time finding the heartbeat at all, which made me lose it every time it took some time to hear how she was doing in there. She was always fine, and I felt so bad for the poor nurse that would have had an easier time if I could have just stood up straight for a few minutes.
It was also suggested to me to try to push on the toilet, which women seem to have success with based on gravity, or angling, or something. I was not one of those women. If anything, labor slowed slightly because maybe my legs are too short and I couldn’t bear down on anything correctly? This was the point in labor where the contractions were still short, less than a minute, with about 5 minute breaks in between. So, I’d have a contraction then lean against the wall and kind of doze off while things happened around me. The nurse was super efficient, everywhere I went there were cloths and pads in case it worked and that’s where baby came out. One of the things we liked best about the birth center was that they were game for anything and encouraged us to try lots of different things. Women just give birth in different ways, and in a bad half lying down isn’t always best. As it happened, I gave birth pretty much like you’d see in a hospital, but I really appreciated the options that were presented to me.
During the toilet contractions Jay thought a selfie might be in order, and miraculously I didn’t punch him. He might remember differently, but I didn’t have any of the “I really hate you for doing this to me” moments. I snapped at him a few times for not reading my mind about touching or saying calming things, but he handled it well and I apologized within 30 seconds every time.
By the time we figured out that bed would be best for me to make the most of the contractions and get Beck OUT, I was just so tired from being up all night and, um, hi, labor, so as I got closer and closer to delivery I’d let my head fall back in between contractions. When we were doing the exorcist maneuver with head-out-body-in, I did one last push but really halfheartedly with my head still lying down on the pillow, kind of staring at the ceiling. There was a weirdly shaped fluorescent lightbulb that dimmed and I stared at it really long and hard during those last minutes. Well, the halfhearted push was the one that got Beck’s body out, but I was hardly paying attention. I think because her head took so long to come out I assumed the body would be the same or worse, but nope! the head really is the worst part. As she came out Bethany realized I wasn’t paying a lick of attention and yelled (she probably didn’t yell, it’s just how I remember it), “Lindsay, look UP,” and there she was. And I almost missed it because I was so dang tired. BUT, due to the majesty of biology, as soon as the baby’s body is out a new flood of adrenaline goes all through the mama’s bod and THEN I was awake. And happy.
Here’s the blurry nipple stuff – I’m SO glad that Sam, the midwife coming on duty when I delivered, offered to take pictures for us. We originally had planned to have my mom in the delivery room with us for support and my best friend Heather there to take pictures (she did our maternity pictures), but since everything moved so quickly and was in the middle of the night it just didn’t happen. In the end, I had all the support that I needed in Jay and wouldn’t have changed a single thing about the birth.
After Beck was born (still nameless at this point) Sam took over and started working on getting the placenta out, which was super cool and strange. The umbilical cord stopped pulsing and turned white, and I was back to being crazy alert and trying not to drop Beck but also I really wanted to know what was happening because I’m all about blood and guts stuff. When umbilical cords stop pulsing they turn white like a jellyfish and are kind of gummy like the texture of raw squid or something. Jay cut the cord, and THAT’S weird because people start holding these super industrial medical scissors above your belly. There aren’t any nerve endings in the cord, but it’s still really strange.
My stomach kept contracting and I had to push a little to get the placenta out. It doesn’t hurt compared to what’s already happened, but it feels so. weird, like a big booger going through your vagina. There’s an image for you. Look at the organ that my body grew to filter crap and feed Beck for 10 months while she grew. COOL. Once the placenta is out a lot of people were looking at my bottom to assess bleeding and next steps. The placenta is supposed to detach cleanly, but if it doesn’t any any bits are left in the uterus they can start to hemorrhage (because the placenta is connected with blood vessels), so they look at the placenta to be sure it’s intact and then kind of stared into my vagina, which was gushing blood but in a normal way, not a scary way. So freaking weird. I had a little tear in the bottom of the birth canal (like….inside, so they couldn’t even really see it), so I had a few stitches which I think scared me more than the actual birth. I’ve never broken a bone or had stitches, and shots in my bottom made my blood pressure go up a g. ood bit for the next few hours. The shots were full of Lidocaine, thank GOODNESS, because while I was A-OK with an unmedicated birth I really didn’t want unmedicated stitches. No. Hell no. So, I got stitched up, still on the same bed I gave birth on, with Jay lying next to me in the bed holding Beck. She had started howling because what else do you do in these kinds of situations? and was looking around and just being great. I was asking questions and rehashing things with the nurses and it was kind of just fun and communal.
After I was stitched up and fitted with The World’s Largest Pad, Jay and I were left to snuggle with Beck. The nurses came in and out to check our hearts and blood pressures and temperatures (Beck – champ, me – high blood pressure for a few hours), and about an hour after I gave birth we decided to start texting family and a few friends. We Facetimed with our friends Rory and Jordan who had a baby in July and live in LA, and our families were totally freaked out because no one expected me to give birth that early, and I think most people thought there would be some kind of skywriting or Twitter feed announcing to the world that I was in labor. I considered the Twitter thing, actually.
From 7:43 until 3pm we had little bursts of these medical checks and hearing from people, all while trying to determine this kid’s name. We picked Beck by the time we left the birth center and decided on her middle name the next day. My mom’s name is Rebecca but Jay really liked Beck, and we didn’t want to do the give-her-a-longer-name-but-never-call-her-that thing. I was in favor of Rebecca for her full name, but Jay’s name is James and it’s a constant thing telling people that he doesn’t go by his real name. He wanted her to be called her whole first name, so we went with it. Jay’s sister’s name is Elizabeth, and it just fit beautifully with Beck, in our humble opinions. I resisted the Elizabeth for awhile because Beck has FIVE aunts that love her equally and we didn’t want to offend anyone else, but our sisters are all wonderful and kind and in the end Elizabeth was just the best choice for a middle name.
Our moms both came to visit in the birth center, but for most of the day we were alone. When we got home around 3 that day (14 hours after my water broke) we had my sisters and parents over for champagne and it was really wonderful to tell the story and stare at the baby and just be all together. It still baffles me that one night we went to bed like usual and the next day before we would have gotten home from work we had a baby and a new family dynamic, and that it was all fine. I consider us so, SO lucky in that respect especially. It’s so strange to think, though, that 14 hours is so short but that 14 hours has completely consumed my thoughts, both since I got pregnant and since it happened.
And now she’s here, and we’re learning that, and she’s eating like a champ, and gaining weight, and has already been to Panera and the pediatrician twice and out to lunch because we are food people and it’s been 70 degrees, so why not? I call her Little Bug and laugh at her faces and am already nostalgic for the last 7 days because OMG SHE’S ALREADY GETTING BIGGER AND WAHHHHH TIME IS GOING TOO FAST and I know that in five seconds she’ll be going to college and I’ll just die.
So for now, we snuggle.