The Birth of Emerson
That was the label on the DVD I gave my in laws and they didn't watch it for weeks. Until finally we told them, "It's totally vagina free. Did you think we were really going to show you the birth BIRTH? Please. That's for paying audiences only!" And so they sat back, relaxed and saw my little mash up of our 9 months of pregnancy, set to a Jason Mraz song. Totally rated G. And maybe it will see the light of day here too if The Good Doctor will allow it. Warning, it's me plus 41 pounds. 39 of which are in my face.
This post is a whole 'nother enchilada. Someday, when Emmy's old enough to be known as Emerson, or the artist formerly known as a symbol, and she asks about the day she entered the world, I will use my microscopic iPod implanted in my molar and chomp twice to import this entry directly into her brain. Yes, the world will be THAT futuristic when she eventually asks about this.
You were born on a Sunday at 9:36AM. You weighed 6 pounds, 15 ounces. They measured you at 18.5 inches but Daddy and I think you were really 19 inches. We were expecting you on April 1st but you said, I pity the fool born on April Fool's...and arrived a full four days later.
We went into the hospital on a Friday. Morning. Asian Grandpa and Grandma drove the car, with the carseat all ready to go in the back, just in case. I was just supposed to have a check of my fluids, but when they were super low, the nurses said, "OK, we're admitting you!" Mommy thought "Sweet! I did my hair and makeup just in case and boy does it feel good to be pretty and prepared!" Cut to close up of Mommy all disheveled with matted curls and raccoon eyes Sunday, when she finally started pushing. There is literally one picture Daddy took where we look super...and it is the ONLY picture of Mommy post birth that is in any sort of circulation. I was Puffy McPuffington from all the fluids so we hid all the other pics to avoid having to explain to you why we let a crazy homeless lady into Mommy's hospital bed to cuddle with you.
Back to Friday. By 1pm, Daddy showed up with Taco Bell burritos and a Frutista. He was all smiles, mostly because he got out of work early. We all made guesses on when you were coming. We were all wrong by about 2 days.
Nothing was really happening naturally. We had plenty of time to take in the hospital environment. You were snug as a bug in your fluidless womb with no intentions of coming out. So at about 9pm Mommy got the Cervidil first. It was supposed to help with The Ripening. Which sounds like a title for a Hillary Swank horror movie. The Ripening was supposed to take 12 hours. By Saturday morning, not much had really happened. The Ripening was more like The Still Waiting for the Cervix to Dilate. So Saturday morning, the nurses started the Pitocin drip. That too, was going to be slowgoing, by design. As the nurses said, "no one's in any hurry now. " Except for me. The bloated lady who gained 41 pounds, only 7 of which were actually baby weight.
White Grandma and Grandpa came to visit. We bounced on the big ball and showed them the relaxation techniques the nurses taught us. We chatted about how Mommy hadn't felt the slightest contractions yet. They were monitoring your heartbeat and my heartbeat and everything was going peachy. Daddy was very proud of you for being so strong and steady.
But by Saturday afternoon, I started feeling the contractions. Know what they felt like? They felt like Mommy had to go poo. A steady pressure on my lower back. I went to the bathroom 47 times, each time almost ripping out my IV because I kept forgetting it was in my arm. And each time I would tell Daddy, I think I have to poo. And each time I waddled back to the bed going, "Nope. Nothing came out." And he would shake his head and help me get back in bed without tripping over my IV line. THAT was my labor pain. It was more like intense lower back and upper butt pressure. In waves spaced about 3 minutes apart. It wasn't crampy. I didn't feel sharp pains in my abdomen or across my belly. It was just poo pain. Like when you have to go really bad but you're in the middle of a book store looking for a magazine and your friends are waiting in the mall and you have to clamp down and just wait for that urge to go away. Daddy says he has no idea what I'm talking about but I swear, that's what I felt.
When I just got so tired of those poo pain waves, I asked for my epidural. From a doctor who also trained at the same residency program as Daddy. A very handsome, capable man. But somehow, he put in the epidural, and it only numbed a very small portion of Mommy's left thigh. Very small. So small that when the nurses put in my catheter, I felt it. Something you're really NOT supposed to feel. A tube going in your pee hole. Not supposed to feel that. And the poopy pains continued. So Mommy was getting pretty tired. By about 9pm, I told Daddy, I don't think this is right. So another anesthesiologist came in, who also happened to work with Daddy at his residency program, and she had the benefit of knowing where my pain was, and that the first epidural wasn't doing anything. She took it out and poked another hole in my back. This time, IT WORKED. And that was magic. The poopy pains disappeared. I could see the contractions on the monitor, but I didn't feel the waves of pressure anymore. I could take a break from bracing myself for each contraction.
Saturday night, we went to bed exhausted, still wondering when you were going to arrive. Mommy was slowly ballooning into a pufferfish and Daddy was stretched out on the special sofa bed that was just long enough.
Sunday morning, we woke up about 5am. The nurses were doing the cervix check and The Ripening was just about done. By 7am, the nurses gave Mommy the all clear to start pushing. Asian Grandma and Daddy were there to cheer Mommy on. I felt like I was wearing leather pants. My legs were super heavy sandbags that I couldn't even lift. It was a little scary feeling that way. I couldn't walk or even move my lower body.
And at that point, since I felt like I was wearing leather pants, I didn't care who was in the room. An anchor I work with told me I would lose all inhibitions during the birthing process. BOY was she RIGHT. I was like, hey who's that? Oh a visitor across the way? Invite him in! This is a miracle! Let's all celebrate together! I'm about to GIVE BIRTH! I'm wearing leather pants, what's the big deal? I am so glad Asian Grandma and Daddy were there to censor me. I was delirious.
So there I am, pushing my brains out. Breathing and pushing. One two three, timing my push with the contraction. And you were...not coming out. You would sort of get there, and then decide, no, no, no, not yet. Not ready. Going to stay in here. Thanks anyway.
But two hours later, after I'd pushed the bejesus out of myself, the doctor came in and did a check. She said you had turned face up, and that there was no way I was going to be able to push you out. She started to prepare us for a C-section. Daddy and I looked at each other and almost started crying because we were so tired and so emotional and so thrown for a loop. A scheduled C-section is one thing. A C-section after pushing so hard you get 5 hemorrhoids is something else. Plus all the mental preparation after thinking you're going to deliver your baby, then suddenly facing a surgery; it was all a bit much. Daddy was a rock though. He started preparing me for what to expect, how the surgery would be done, how they were going to prepare my anesthesia. We were both taking deep breaths. Lots of them.
But in comes the nurse who I will never be able to thank enough. Though I tried to do my part, 7 days post partum, I wrote a letter to the birth center, and the hospital CEO, to sing her praises, casually mentioning my reporter-ness just so he would pay extra attention. I also gave a 5 star Yelp review to the hospital and my nurse. That's how serious I was about this miracle worker. I don't just 5 star everybody.
We had amazing care throughout the entire Friday through Tuesday stay, but at that moment, Nurse Christa made the biggest difference in my birth experience. Nurse Christa. I like to call her Nurse Jesus Christ-a. She was a saint. She thought above and beyond what the doctor suggested. Nurse Christa wanted to try one more thing, and that after that, if it didn’t work, we’d have the C-section. So Mommy got on her knees, and pushed a few more times. And then Mommy got on her side, and pushed a few more times. And after half an hour, you flipped! Just like that. Face down and ready to come out. The doctor came back into the room, incredulous, and happy we avoided the surgery.
9 or 10 pushes later, and you were out! It was unreal. You were crying but not obnoxiously, just enough to let us know your lungs worked and you were awake and none too happy to be out of Mommy’s comfy womb parts. Then Daddy double punched the video camera because he was so loopy and then he told me you were a girl and I was secretly sooo happy because even though I said I didn’t care, there was a tiny teensy part of me that was wishing ever so silently that you would be a girl so we could gang up on Daddy and play April Fool’s jokes on him to get him back for the one time he gave Mommy an anxiety attack by having his friend leave a message that Mommy was going to be evicted for hiding Romeo in her apartment.
So then Daddy cut your umbilical cord and they put you on my chest and you stopped me from shivering uncontrollably from all the hormones and meds. And Daddy hit the record button again, so we only missed a little bit.
Honestly, I didn’t know what to feel when you first touched my chest and I was hugging your Brand New Body. It was so different from anything I’d ever experienced in my life. I’d only held like 4 other babies before. And suddenly there you were. All mine. I thought I would instantly feel a major bond and instant love, but it took me a while. My brain was still computing all that my body had just been through. And my heart was just opening a chamber, with a little door labeled “Baby Love” and that took a while to boot up and ever since then it’s been processing all the new emotions that you introduced into my system. Baby Love is like Cookie Monster. It talks in the third person and says, Baby Love is getting bigger! Baby Love is hungry. Baby Love is happy! And Baby Love seems to be growing every day.
I was crying a little because I was so happy. You’d already done really well on the first two tests of your life. 9’s on your APGARs. The Asian parent in me tsked and worried that you didn’t score perfect 10’s but I let it go since you promised to ace your SATs.
Your birth and near emergency C-section were full of incredible highs, scary lows, and the most sacred and magical feelings when you actually came into the world. I felt like we did it. WE DID IT! You, me, and Daddy, with Asian Grandma’s help. We welcomed you into the world and you did everything right. You were breathing, crying, wiggling, and ready to suck the colostrum right out of me.
The first day was bliss. We watched you sleep like a porcelain doll. You looked so peaceful and I kept checking to make sure you were actually breathing. Daddy finally got some sleep that night. You were a little burrito baby swaddled in a papoose in a plexiglass case. Perfection.
Then came Day Two...We'll tell you that story another time, Emmy.
P.S. Your daddy says hi.