Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Birth Day

From November 2011
I always knew I wanted a natural childbirth. My mom had never had an epidural, and my sister had bad experiences with them. That was the sum total of my knowledge on the subject. I read exactly two books before my baby was born: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth and Husband-Coached Childbirth. 

Through a friend, we found a nice midwife group and a sweet Catholic hospital, that had a rarely used water birth tub. And thus began my journey as Henry's mother.

From November 2011
He was born on a freezing, windy black morning on November 9th, 2005. It was all very surprising. I was naive going in, I "knew" it would hurt, just like you "know" you don't like lima beans. I hadn't ever tried having a baby, but I'd heard tell from friends. Just like you know you don't like lima beans even though you've never tried them.

From November 2011
It began at night with a stomach ache and suddenly, two days before my due date, there I was writhing in pain and utterly shocked at how I gasped out to Derek who was dutifully timing things to "see if it was real" as per the very VERY skeptical midwife on the other end of the phone, "I'm trying to RELAX but it hurts SO MUCH!"

The midwife being less than sure I was in "real" labor totally derailed my plans for a natural childbirth. If this wasn't "it" then how in the hell would I survive when it was?

From November 2011
Finally about 4am on November 9th, Derek had had enough. He put my shoes on my feet, fed the cats, and put me in the car. It was a 30 minute drive to the hospital. I barely made it. He barely made it. He patiently waited for me to contract in the middle of the parking lot and marched me past the night guard and straight to the Labor and Delivery where they were surprised to see us. I could barely breathe. I was dying right then and there, people!

They found my file with a quickness. "Are you still interested in a water birth?" the cute nurse asked. I just stared at her.

"Yes," Derek answered. The sweet boy. He was a busy grad student who hadn't had time to read Husband-Coached Childbirth, so in the months leading up to the big day,  I had given him verbal instructions.
From November 2011

"I don't want an epidural. Don't give into me right away if I ask. Make them check first!" And so, there in the throngs of "not real labor" ("Most first-time moms get sent home the first time, Honey," the midwife had said around 2am when we'd called) stood I, in the hallway of that Catholic hospital, with my husband volunteering me for some further torture.

So, instead of standing there in that hall demanding an epidural, I obediently followed the nurse into the water birth suite.
From November 2011

"If I'm a one, or even a two, I'm done!" I thought. "Screw this, give me drugs."

"Well, no wonder you're so uncomfortable!' the cute nurse said with her hand up...places.

"Why?" I managed to choke out.

"You're seven centimeters!"

Those words. They were balm to my harrowed, broken spirit. I was IN LABOR! Suck it! I was totally fine after that. Never again did drugs cross my mind. I could do this.

And that is how I managed to, just 1 hour and 45 minutes later, push a fat, healthy 9lb 5 oz Henry into the world in a water birth tub in the middle of north central Wisconsin, with 8 medical students gakking at my nether regions.
From November 2011

Henry has been this way his whole life. Surprising the heck outta me. I never expected him early, I was sure I'd end up induced at 42 weeks, so when labor started two days before that dreaded and thrilling 40 week mark, I could hardly believe it.

For weeks after his birth, I thought obsessively about it, how I had actually had a BABY! How could it be?

And so fast!

And now, six years later, when I really truly do think I know Henry better than he knows himself, he grows, becomes MORE himself. He's learning who he is. And even though I'm with him 24/7, I see most of his interactions, I'm still surprised by him.

Is it because he's who he is? Is it just that he's my first (my brave boy, volunteering to come first!) and we're parenting in uncharted waters every single day? Or is it both?

I don't know, but he is full of twists and turns I don't ever see coming.

This year, with the addition of a new brother, another move, kindergarten and more, he's grown, he's matured, he's still very much a little boy, but he's just very very Henry.

From November 2011
I'm so grateful to him for coming to our family. I don't really know how it's sorted out, who goes to who's family, but I'm certain our spirits knew each other. I'm certain that we were kindreds because when that slippery purple fat healthy baby wiggled his way into my arms, I was surprised. Surprised to see him. Sort of like, "Oh, fancy seeing YOU here."

It was never a "Nice to meet you" moment.

No, it was a "Oh how I've missed you!" moment.

Quite surprising.

Happy Birthday Henry. We couldn't do it without you.


BEK said...

Beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

Alice said...

Teary and writing this. I am so glad that you have Henry(that we all HAVE Henry). He has always surprised me and I love him so much and seem to love him even more the more I get to know him. How cool it is to see him growing. I cannot believe he is already six. I feel old but I love how interactive he is becoming. And goodness, he is so smart. He blows me away! Thanks for writing this awesome post. Motherhood is awesome. I can't wait for it! :)

Lori said...

I loved this! I love you! And I love Henry even more after having read this. Happy Birthday to your amazing little man! Squeeze him tight for me.


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