My friend Fran just gave birth to her first child, and her story is just so joyful and full of love that I had to ask her to share it here. Fran did a ton of reading and research about birth during her pregnancy and was incredibly focused and positive going into labor. She was determined not to let fear rule her. I think her knowledge and confidence definitely paid off, because the experience turned out to be powerfully rewarding and blissfull. You can also read this story (and see a ton more adorable photos of the happy family) on Fran's blog. Thank you, Fran and Mike and Avery!
Dear Avery Dale,
Here you squirm next to me, a warm baby bun who less than three weeks ago was snuggled up inside me, and we couldn't be happier. You have been a pleasant surprise to us from the very beginning, so we should have expected nothing less for your birthday.
Since I had been dilated 2 cm for a month, Dr. K didn't think that you would come on your own. He offered to induce me the week before you came in case I was sick of being pregnant, but I still felt great, so we scheduled another appointment with him on the 21st. He said that if I hadn't had you by then, we would need to schedule an induction for the week after that.
Around midnight on the morning Saturday, the 15th, I had a few intermittent contractions. One every hour or two - nothing to produce any level of alarm or excitement. They went away during the day but started back up when we went to bed that night. We didn't manage a lot of sleep Saturday night and Sunday morning, but once again they stalled out Sunday morning. Your dad had the idea to load Dante and me up and fill my car with gas, just in case.
Contractions came and went all day Sunday. We started timing them, but nothing was really consistent: 30 minutes here, 20 minutes there, 40 minutes, 12. I'm not sure when exactly we could consider that I officially went into labor with you, but I need to decide soon so that when you're older and we're fighting, I can say something like, "I was in labor with you for 36 hours!"
Your dad and I curled up in front of the fire on the couch and watched movies. The last one we watched before we went to bed was Chicago. Mike didn't really want to watch it, but since the only position I found comfortable at the time was on my left side with my head in his lap, and every now and then I'd squeeze his hand, signaling the beginning of another contraction, I guess he figured he's let me watch whatever I wanted to. He actually liked it more than he expected he would.
Since you are our first, we thought I could go on like that for DAYS. So your dad turned down the lights and drew me a luxurious warm bath with Chamomile Epsom salts. I floated around in that for an hour and still had six contractions. He sat on the edge of the bath and rubbed my back. We laughed a lot.
Statistics say that less than 15% of women's water will break before they're in the hospital and in active labor. We will just have to add that to your growing list of surprises. At midnight on the morning of January 17th, a contraction rocked me out of bed. You did not mess around, Baby Girl. I jumped up and sprinted to the bathroom yelling, "MY WATER BROKE!" Mike was right after me, timing that contraction which lasted a good three minutes. When it was over, I realized I was sitting on the potty, panting, leaning my head against your dad's waist for support. The fact that I didn't care that he saw me in that position told me it was time to head to the hospital.
Your dad loaded up our bags and Dante and Kearney while I tried to gather myself in our bedroom. Contractions were coming every 3-4 minutes at that point, and he found me on my knees, resting my upper body on the chair of my dresser. He brought me a ginger ale and helped me to the car, where he had put towels down in the passenger seat. When he paused in the driveway to go turn out the garage light, I told him it was time to head out: when we returned a few days later, that light was still on. We dropped the pets off at Mom's house and headed for Woman's Hospital.
Once we were at the hospital, we were greeted at an admission desk by a nice nurse who wanted us to fill out paperwork. I said, "Mike I'm going to let you fill out these forms while I sit here in the floor and barf, OK?" The nurse decided it was a good time to put me in a room. I had to agree. It was 1:30 AM, and I was 4 cm dilated.
We labored on together until 4 AM. Your dad never left my side. We kissed and cuddled, and he and held my hand. Sometimes the only thing that made me feel better was reaching my left hand (the one with the IV in it) around behind his neck and leaning my forehead against his.
When a contraction came along, I would squeeze him, and he would start talking me through it. He had a wonderful analogy of the steps up to Prague Castle: he would describe our memories of Prague and say, "You are just taking another step up to a wonderful experience. I know it hurts now, but you never have to go up this step again. It won't last forever, and you are doing a fantastic job." After he'd used this analogy for 5-10 contractions, I snapped, "ENOUGH WITH THE STEPS. Shut up about the steps! I don't want to hear about a step ever again."
The epidural at 8 cm was lovely.
On the day we married, your dad and I met in the sanctuary for some quiet time with just the two of us. It was sacred and holy and unbelievably special. That's what the epidural did for us: it quieted the roar of contractions to a manageable level: I could still feel you coming, but I was more in control. Your dad and I talked and laughed. He helped me put on some makeup. Before we married I gave him one last chance to back out, but this time I let him know there was no way he could back out now. He assured me that there was no way he would ever want to.
Nurse Tina held my mother's leg when she delivered me, and she held my leg as I delivered you. Your dad held my right leg and supported my head. He and I pushed together for about an hour. Pushing you out is one of the best, most rewarding and satisfying feelings I've ever had in my life. Dr. K. caught you. The minute I saw you, I sat up and took you from Dr. K and brought you to my chest. Our world stopped turning and was completely absorbed in your hot, wet, slimy body grabbing at me and holding on tight, which I was happy to return. Your dad said you were a wriggle worm, which I'd known for months.
Dr. K. said I looked like I'd been in a fight.
You came at 9:03 in the morning of Monday, January 17th. You weighed 7 pounds, 7 ounces (almost exactly in between your dad's and my birth weights) and were 19 3/4 inches long.
The days since have been happier and more exotic to me than our honeymoon was. I will cherish forever the sweet moments in a dimly lit hospital room. Your dad and I would lie side by side in my narrow bed with you in his arms. 9 PM was your witching hour when you were inutero – you were definitely the most active then, and you are the most alert for the day at 9 PM now that you’re here. You become so animated and excited about breastfeeding that you make me laugh out loud.
Even through the recovery of birth and sleep deprivation, the experience of you has been sheer bliss.
I believe that your birth is another happy succession in life: your daddy and I met, then we dated, then we fell in love and became engaged, and then we married. Each event was happier and more fulfilling.
And so far you are definitely the apex of our lives.