My third trimester began bittersweetly. I finished my tenure at a company where I was growing comfortably (professionally, not girth-wise), finished decorating the nursery, and wondered what on Earth I would do with the next three-ish months of my free time. The dogs had a lot of cuddle time, Battlestar Galactica was watched (along with The Guild and several British series, including Robin Hood, Sherlock Holmes and Merlin), lots of baked goods were made, and mostly unimportant trips to Target were taken. All the blood pressure/ hypertension issues I had seemed to escalate and I was supposed to be on modified bed rest in September. For someone with an obsessive need to scrub baseboards and vacuum who has three dogs, bed rest of any kind is next to impossible. Any time I did lay down, Fletch took it as his cue to practice kung fu. We half-jokingly called him Chuck Norris. If he had been born with a beard, his name would have been Charles Norris Gwinn. For real.
I walked and did prenatal yoga every day that I felt comfortable enough to do so. Little known pregnancy pain- the hormone called relaxin, which your pregnant body produces to loosen joints for labor, can cause joints to loosen too quickly in some places. My knees gave out at random, and I had intense pubic bone pain when I walked or shifted position in my sleep. Ahh, sleep, or lack thereof. I started sleeping less and less. Our once generously sized bed could barely hold our entire family, given that my stomach and butt were in a race to see which could get the biggest. When I did sleep, I had five pillows: one for my knees, one for my feet, one for my belly, two for my head. In the wee hours of the morning, when the little guy usually got his hiccups for the eighteenth time of the day, I wished to fast forward a year so I could be back in shape (mostly), have a baby on a schedule, and feel normal again.
By October my face, ankles and hands had swollen considerably. At my baby showers I felt like an actual elephant in a room, worried I might step on someone and break a foot, or eat too much cake and have eyebrows raised. Those very lovely parties (with very lovely ladies!) ended up being the most fun I was afforded all month. I went to labor and delivery triage twice during October for significantly high blood pressure and was put on bed rest. Every weekly visit I wondered if they were going to tell me I had to stay in the hospital and plan for delivery. Part of me worried for the health of my baby boy, and part of me wanted to have the whole ordeal over and done. The week before Halloween my doctor told me to plan on having a baby within the next few days- almost an entire month earlier than his due date. The ultrasound technician told me, “I don’t know how you’ve been able to walk, he’s sitting so low.” I told her when I walked I felt like I had a bowling ball falling out of my hips, and she showed me why- his head was pushed up against my pubic bone.
Captain Laser Pants went with me to the doctor a few times through the course of pregnancy, but the man has a job, so I didn’t ask him to go to all of them. He went with me on the appointment on November 1st because we were pretty sure they were going to tell us that they were going to schedule a delivery for that weekend or the next week. What we weren’t expecting was the semi-urgency with which our doctor said we’d have a baby the next day. My fluid levels were low, I was having mild contractions, and my blood pressure was still disconcertingly high. The little guy’s heart seemed strong, and he was just at thirty-seven weeks, technically full term, so the doctors were playing it safe and taking him as early as was possible.
CLP and I stared at one another in disbelief most of that night. We watched TV, made dinner together, cuddled on the couch, and tried as much as we could to enjoy our last evening alone. We were both anxious, for different reasons, but neither CLP nor I slept much at all that night. We got to the hospital around 7:30 AM on November 2nd and settled in the delivery room for a day we’ll both more or less remember for the rest of our lives.
CLP walked to pick up some breakfast for himself as I was strapped into a bed with lots of scary contraptions and monitors. Pitocin, for those that are not in the know, is a drug to, well, basically “get things moving” if they aren’t doing so naturally. They gave me my big fat dose around 10 AM. Very shortly after I got my dose, I started having regular contractions that increased in intensity. My original plan was to have a completely natural birth, but since I was given a drug that I reacted strongly to, my contractions were basically on Red Bull- they were more intense, by a long shot, than if I hadn’t been given Pitocin. For the record, I handle pain pretty darn well. I don’t mean like, paper cut pain, I mean the kind of pain that takes your breath away. Btdubs, contractions on Pitocin are that kind of pain. I had one that lasted five minutes- I stayed silent and as still as possible, but my legs were shaking from the intensity. Captain Laser Pants looked on helplessly, but supportively (poor guy). The previous week my very wise sister had told me to consider my husband during labor- watching his wife go through something of this caliber would be very difficult for him. I opted for an epidural. I warned the labor nurse that I would most likely be allergic to the epidural, so she gave me benedryl in hopes that it would help the reaction. CLP stepped out of the room to get more ice chips and water while they stuck the eight foot needle in my back for the epidural. In minutes I felt horrifyingly itchy all over. My ears and eyelids felt like there were ants crawling all over them. I couldn’t scratch, knowing I’d leave marks all over my skin and achieve nothing. The nurse gave me something else for the allergic reaction, which helped tremendously. The next few hours were a waiting game.
We watched Anchorman and Elf (two of my favorite movies), dinosaur documentaries, and I slept. Around 5 PM, things started to get rolling. The little guy was ready to make his appearance in the world, and good Lord, I was ready to stop playing landlord to a lecherous parasite baby (whom I love dearly!). The bad news? He was face up. Again, for those not in the know, babies are supposed to pop out with their faces facing their mothers’ backs. After some unusual positioning, Fletch turned minutes before I started pushing.
Ok, so you know, my opinion of labor is very biased. Mine was incredibly easy. I pushed for fourteen minutes, no pain, no horror movie worthy effects, and ta-da! A baby. Other women have a much harder time. I really was only in labor for eight hours, if that, and as far as first time efforts go, I understand that to be very quick. They plopped this little guy on my chest, screaming and writhing, and my breath caught in my throat. I almost started to cry (gasp!), and couldn’t believe this warm, insanely loud little boy was something CLP and I made. I looked up at my husband (who had graciously stayed at shoulder level to avoid any sort of scarring images) with awe and love. Holy crap, we were parents.
The nurses whisked away my husband and little guy to make sure he was breathing ok. I was told he rolled over a few minutes after he was born, and they commented on his very muscular little legs. He was six pounds, six ounces, twenty inches, born at 6:05 PM, a head full of dark hair, and had a hair line just like his daddy’s.
They made me wait about forty five minutes before I could hop up, which I proudly did, and proceeded around the room with no assistance (yay!). The nurses wouldn’t let me walk to my recovery room, but I tried more than once. We settled in, ate a delicious Jimmy John’s dinner, and let the grandparents ooh and ahh over him. We were a family- a tired, hungry, family. My heart swelled every time I looked at the two most important guys in my life, and I felt complete for the first time.