Today is my son's ninth birthday. Good heavens, it doesn't seem like it can really be nine years since I was first holding him and trying to eat breakfast cereal left-handed as I held him in my right arm.
Did I ever tell the story of the day he was born? That was a busy week.
The weekend before he was born, we had to go in and talk to a lawyer late in the evening (on a Sunday) after my husband got home from his National Guard drill.
We were being sued due to a traffic accident that had happened over three years earlier. A boy had tried to cross about five lanes of traffic and he ran his bicycle into the side of our car. About a year later, we got the notice that his mother was suing us. Maybe you've heard the ads: "Were you in a traffic accident and it wasn't even your fault?"
So the day before our son was born, I had to go up to payroll and ask if taking time out to appear at the trial would count as a paid legal day, or if I would need to take vacation days. I had to take my lunch hour and go to the lawyer's office to pick up the subpoena and show it to someone in payroll to prove I wasn't just making all this up.
Then after work I had to drive about half an hour on a hot sweaty day to my pre-natal appointment at the nurse-midwives' practice, then another half an hour home. By that time I was so tired I decided to skip my nightly dog-walk.
Around 3 in the morning I woke up right on schedule to use the bathroom. But my back ached too much for me to fall back to sleep when I got back in bed. Eventually it hurt enough that I got up, and sleep-fogged though I was, after a while I realized I was in labor.
I didn't quite qualify for what is called a "precipitous labor", but it was certainly short. Hard. Fast. About as fast and painful as falling off a precipice!
But at the time I walked up and down. I tried to draw a hot bath as one of the midwives had suggested, but the contractions were too intense (read: painful) for me to sit in it. Pacing didn't really help, and at around 5:30 I woke my husband up.
He called the on-call midwife for me. Of the three in the practice I was going to, the one on duty that morning was the one I had never met. But she was also the one who had founded the practice, and one of the longest-practicing certified nurse-midwives in Michigan. She talked to my husband and talked to me, and then told him to bring me in to the hospital they used, where I had already filled out all the pre-admittance paperwork.
My husband asked me where I had the things I was going to bring to the hospital. I didn't have them ready. At that point I had no leftover energy or concentration to worry about them. He grabbed the book I had been reading, William and Martha Sears' The Pregnancy Book, and some odds and ends like my hairbrush.
Out in the van, I discovered it was too uncomfortable for me to sit down in the seat. We ended up putting down a vinyl shower curtain and a blanket in the back seat of the van, and figuring if we were pulled over because I was not wearing my seatbelt, the police probably wouldn't keep me for long!
I rode half kneeling, half on all fours. At some point my husband took a different route than I usually drove, one that wound up and down bumpy gravel roads -- you really must try this while in labor some time! -- and up and down unfamiliar hills. I remember looking out the window at cornfields and thinking, "I have NO idea where I am."
But my husband never gets lost. By 6:30 in the morning we were at the hospital, and I was thanking heaven for pre-admission paperwork. I still had to sign my name to at least one form. And as they got the room ready, we learned I had beaten the midwife to the hospital.
My water broke seconds after I started to get on the delivery couch for an initial exam. The Ob-Gyn nurse said to me, "Oh, you're fully dilated! Do you feel any urge to push?"
There are certainly things people say to you during pregnancy that you take as positives then that you might not at any other time. Phrases like "You have an excellent pelvis," said in a warm, approving tone, and welcome words like "You're fully dilated."
In any case, fully dilated, I ended up standing there while they brought me a fresh hospital gown and a clean drape, and by 7am the nurse-midwife, Linda, was there.
One of the reasons I had picked this particular practice was that they were supportive of my desire to have a drug-free birth, if possible, and still have all the support of the hospital equipment right there handy just in case.
Showing up at the hospital fully dilated after about three hours of intense labor supported the whole drug-free idea, since I was at the point where if I'd had an epidural, they would start backing off so I'd be able to push. The Ob-Gyn nurse told me it was really too late for one. Since I wanted to try to go without one anyway, no one was pressuring me to do something I didn't want to do while I was busy trying to have a baby.
Meanwhile my husband was flipping through The Pregnancy Book trying to catch up to the stage of labor I was in, and telling me to slow down.
The only breathing technique I used was one I learned from our little dog, Sky. When we went to bed, Sky would curl up on her bed on the floor, give one deep, sighing breath, and go to sleep. Each time a contraction eased up, I would think of Sky and take a deep, sighing breath.
I labored sitting up for about another two hours. They seemed very long at the time! I remember seeing the nurse spread a sterile blue drape and thinking that it wouldn't be long, and having the midwife ask where the other nurse was, "Because I need her in here!"
At 9:04 in the morning, our son was born, a healthy 8-pound child with a head of soft black baby hair.
Some time after that I remembered to tell my husband that he'd better call the lawyer and let him know that I probably wouldn't be in court on Wednesday. And later that morning, after he called, we found out that the trial was cancelled and the whole lawsuit withdrawn (or whatever the legal term is) because after three years of legal proceedings, the boy's mother refused to let him testify.
So we celebrated both the birth of our son and the lifting of a weight off our minds.
Happy birthday, 9-year-old son!