We have a birthday party to prep for.
I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around this circled square on the calendar telling me our baby is one. It’s been a whole year since his stormy entrance on a typical April Sunday. Blue skies one minute, snowstorm the next.
Everyday for the past week or so I’ve been thinking back to what we were doing this time a year ago. Waiting….but not so impatiently. Meeting friends at the Easter Sunday church service, hoping the baby would come so we could name him Pascal. (You think I’m kidding, but I’m not.) Visiting Bjørn’s grandma in the hospital when I was there for my standard ”low measurements” ultrasound on my due date. Running errands later in the week, enjoying saying ”two days ago” when asked when the baby was due. Predicting ”maybe on Sunday,” to the moms at barnehage. Visiting friends on Saturday, because life does not slow down for number three. And during all these days, through all the Braxton Hicks contractions and sore back muscles and fatigue, thinking ”I’ll know when it’s the real thing.”
Sunday morning (as predicted, ahem) I woke up around 5:30 with a contraction. And another one about 10 minutes later. And then still another one, about 12 minutes later, even after I’d peed. And then 10 minutes, then maybe 15… but they didn’t go away. So around 7:00 I woke Bjørn up and told him maybe we should call his mom. So we called his mom at 7:30. By 8:00 I’d had like one more contraction, and I told him to call her back and say never mind.
What WAS this??? All these long and irregular intervals… I flashed back 4 1/2 years ago to a hot Wednesday in July, sitting and timing contractions with my mom at our apartment in Minneapolis. This time, blessed woman that I am, I timed them out with my mother-in-law, while fielding questions from the boys and trying not to feel stupid when Karel asked if the baby was coming today and I had to say, ”I don’t know.” (He promptly pushed both of his hands forward in the direction of where the baby would eventually exit, to keep him from popping out on the couch, I guess.)
We called, they said to time them for an hour. We did, there was no change. We called again, and those kind kind midwives asked me if I wanted to come in. Even though they were having one of their busiest days. I said yes.
Forty minutes to the hospital, folks. I had a measly three contractions.
Anyway, they received us, talked to us, examined me, listened to my perplexedness at this whole situation, and then told me that sometimes, with the third one, labor starts and then stops and then starts again.
Please now envision the ”are you serious?” face.
Three centimeters dilated after 7 hours of irregular contractions. I started giving the ”are you serious?” face in my head to all the people who told me how fast the third one was going to go.
Because they were so busy, we were giving a room way way WAY down, two hallways away from the labor rooms. No big deal. We’re easy going. We’re just going to wait and see if anything is happening, anyway.
We ate lunch. I was just back at the hospital a few weeks ago, eating lunch, and I sat in the same spot. This time I did not grip the arms of the chair and lift myself off of it everyone five minutes because of intense pain, however.
We walked to the atrium of the hospital, bought some rolls and a magazine. Stopping next to a wall to breathe every five minutes.
We took the elevator back up, back to the room, waited for someone to come. The next midwife came on shift and asked if I wanted to be examined, so we walked down the two hallways, slowly, stopping to breathe through contractions, trying not to wonder if this woman has ever seen a laboring woman in her LIFE because if she had, would she really ask me if the contractions are painful? Do I seem like I want to walk this slowly and take this many breaks?
Three hours of hard contractions every 5-7 minutes.
When she asked ”Disappointed?” I did not respond. (Please re-ask the question above) When she asked if I wanted some pain pills, I said yes.
Slowly, painfully, back down our two hallways to our room. I managed to convince myself that if we needed to do this the long, hard way, I was going to do it the long, hard way. It was 4:30 p.m when we got back to the room and I swallowed the pills. ‘Baby by midnight’ was the new slogan.
And then the contractions sped up again. Every three minutes or so. I couldn’t do anything other than wait for/ dread them. I figured I wouldn’t be in the tub this time, like I’d been for the first two, and vaguely wondered when that transition happens of going from the clothes you came in to the much-more-appropriate-to-give-birth-in hospital gown.
But dude, the stretchy pants had to go. So there was one item of clothing off.
Fifteen minutes later, I put the call light on. I was all about doing this the long hard way, but if it was going to be that long and this hard, I was going to need some help.
Ten minutes later no one had come, and my nice light flowy tunic top had become TOO MUCH and was now on the floor. Right before the top came off there had been a contraction so long, and so painful, that I started laughing, because really, the pain was ridiculous.
I had it in my head, friends, that this baby wasn’t coming before midnight. It did not occur to me that I might be in transition stage RIGHT NOW, meaning imminent BIRTH.
It did not occur to me until 5 minutes after I had adopted my standard, lean-on-the-back-of-the-bed, on-all-fours birthing stance AND STARTED TO DO THE LABOR SHOUT that he was coming now. Which is what I shouted. There are probably children on neighboring pediatrics ward that had their dinner interrupted by the echoes of my ”HE’S COMING!!!!!”
Which is when Bjørn took his first active role in the arrival of his son and sprinted down the hallway to find someone. Anyone.
I, in the meantime, really thought I was going to have to catch this baby by myself. As in, with the next contraction (somehow my underwear were also gone…answering the question of how one undresses to have a baby: in spastic, desperate stages), I had my hand — the one not gripping the bed — ready to catch him.
Thankfully, he did not come just then, but the midwife did. With another set of ”are you serious?” questions. ”You didn’t think to let us know [this was happening]?” ” Do you want to have the baby here?” (”I don’t care!”) ”No, no, I don’t have any equipment.”
Then came my favorite. Please remember I have on a bra and tank top (sorry Dad) and am kneeling on a hospital bed with blood on my hand from trying to catch my own son.
”Can you walk?”
I’m doing the blank stare right now.
So they took the bed. With Bjørn at the helm, the midwife and the baby nurse (who kindly covered my naked bum with a blanket) wheeled the bed down one hallway, then another, to the delivery room. While I concentrated on not pushing I wondered if they actually knew that both beds would fit in the room. They must have, because in we went. I transferred to the other bed, there was a flurry of cloths and pads and whatever other birthing paraphernalia was necessary, but I got the green light to push. Water broke on the second push. Cai Ruben was born on the third. Time of birth: 5:18 p.m.
It was a bit stressful then. I was still on my hands and knees. The baby was still connected by umbilical cord, which had wrapped itself around his neck a couple of times. I couldn’t see him. I couldn’t hear him. I couldn’t reposition myself. I just had to wait, until we could maneuver leg over cord, bottom below belly, clean sheets in place of bloody ones…but then. Then we had him. Then he was there, on my chest, where he was supposed to be. Our third son. With round ears and dark wisps of hair, and eyes that we could already see were not going to be blue. And we three sat there, laughing with wonder and disbelief, through the shaking and stitching, the surrealness enhanced by the snowflakes pouring down from the skies that had just been blue.
We decided on his name that same day, I think. I wanted a name reflecting how we felt the day 20 weeks ago when the midwife slipped up at the ultrasound and told us we were having another boy. ”Cai” is from the Latin ”Caius,” which is thought to mean ”to rejoice.” And Ruben, of course, from the Hebrew Reuben:
”Behold, a son.”
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