After a week of contractions so mild that I could keep up a conversation through them, I was worried this baby would stay inside forever. On Monday, my midwife ordered a non-stress test to make sure Everett was fine. He was apparently all okay, but placentas wear down after a while, and after 41 weeks inside, my midwife & I were ready to meet baby Everett. So, on Tuesday I scheduled a pressure-point massage to induce labor. On Wednesday, I scheduled acupuncture for labor induction, and on Thursday, my midwife scheduled actual induction at the hospital. Following my friend’s good advice, I figured I would try the natural route before submitting to the chemical route. Also, it felt better to actually be doing something other than only passively waiting.
Monday evening, my mother arrived to help with the baby who wasn’t here yet. This actually worked out fine, though, because Tuesday morning, we went for a 2-mile walk on the beach so I could sway Everett out and she could enjoy California. Then we both got massages. My mother is 74 years old and had never had a massage. I was proud of her for daring to try something new. My masseuse gave me the most thorough ankle, thumb, and hip massage I have ever had, but it didn’t seem to change my sloooooooow-but-easy contractions until Tuesday afternoon, when I was picking Soph up from preschool and my emotionally-attentive daughter asked, “Mommy, why are you closing your eyes right now?”
“Oh,” I told her, “the baby is starting to squeeze out of my tummy, and I need to close my eyes to relax, to help the squeezes.” I hadn’t even realized it til she asked. Ben was already on his way home from work so it was perfect timing. We ate a light dinner, dropped Soph off at the neighbor’s for her long-anticipated sleep-over, and headed to the hospital.
There were some serious contractions in the car and in the hospital corridor on the way to the labor & delivery area. I think I scared the other hospital visitors by stopping to lean against the wall in order to relax into contractions. “Don’t press any other elevator buttons,” a cheerful lady admonished everyone else in the elevator, “This momma needs to get to labor & delivery first!”
Of course, once we got to l & d, the contractions subsided to once every nine or ten minutes. They admitted me anyway, because I was 3 cm dilated, more than a week overdue, and aware enough to tell them, “I am still smiling, so clearly it’s not imminent, but I think the serious part is coming soon.” The admitting midwife actually said she wished every couple knew not to bother going to the hospital as long as mom can still smile.
It did get serious quickly. Four years ago with Soph, we had taken extensive Bradley natural-birth-classes. This time through, we had tried to review the books, but without those class exercises, I was much worse at relaxing & breathing & riding the wave of contractions & imagining something peaceful & all. Poor Ben endured me barking at him, “Massage my lower-back now! No, stop, never touch my lower-back again!” He endured that with so much grace that the nurse told me later it was lovely to watch the two of us together.
The nurse was quite sweet at reminding me to breathe, bringing me a birth-ball, helping me stay mobile. She was good at emotional support but far less good at the physical aspect of her job. My arm now has two large bruises from her inept attempts to insert a hep-lock. The fetal monitor she attached was constantly falling off, requiring seemingly incessant fiddling. Worst was when, after a few hours, I told her, “It’s probably too early, but I’m feeling the urge to push.” She examined me and said I was only 5 1/2 cm dilated. Then, in the very next contraction, in the midst of my groans, I said, “No. Crowning.” At least she was alert enough to say, “Wait, what did you say?”
I don’t know how the whole delivery team got in that room that fast. My fabulous midwife helped me guide the baby out, laughing cheerfully at my screams.
Everett Lewinnek Love arrived at 10:57 pm on September 13th, after only 5 hours of serious labor. He was 8 pounds, 5 ounces; 22 1/4 inches long; blue-eyed, with a light covering of dark-brown hair and preternaturally long fingers and toes. He’s going to be a tall one. He’s got my nose.
It’s a good thing he arrived so easily, because it turned out there was a knot in the umbilical cord. The knot hadn’t pulled taut yet, so he was still getting everything he needed, but I haven’t yet dared to google what kind of complications could have happened, but didn’t. Instead, the nurses kept saying, “We don’t get to see many natural births without pain medication. That was fabulous!”
We got to go home by Wednesday afternoon. He’s a calm baby, still on an elongated schedule. This boy can nurse for an hour, then sleep for more than three hours, then be actually actively alert for an hour: it’s an elongated schedule that I love. I have told him he’s not supposed to be turning over yet, but he’s not listening to me. He has an adorable habit of waving his arms uselessly in the air while grunting, so we have started to call him Little Baby Dinosaur. He’s already gaining weight, getting a tiny double-chin that makes him resemble Winston Churchill, too, so I have been chatting with him about 1940s politics while reminding him that his hand does not hold the milk he is seeking. Our little Churchillosaurus is fabulous.
For those who want to see even more Everett photos, here’s a link.