born August 9, 2009 at 8:02 a.m.
7 lbs, 10 oz, 20-3/4 inches long
in all ways perfect
Thank you for all the lovely comments to the last post. Jim put up that photo on a brief trip home from the hospital while Clementine and I were still there. We're all home now and getting settled in, getting to know each other, constantly amazed by this perfect little creature we created. Everyone has told us we wouldn't be able to even remember what life was like "before" and it's so true. Some time on Sunday Jim and I realized that we hadn't even had her for 12 hours yet and we were amazed. It seemed like days already. Another week or so, and we truly won't remember the "before." It's surreal, and yet very real. All the things you try to imagine while you're pregnant -- what it's going to be like -- and you just can't fathom it until the time comes and your little creature is in your arms.
We're so happy.
I wrote last week, when Clementine was a week overdue, that we were going in for a non-stress test on Saturday. Well, we did, and we "passed" -- or at least we thought we did, but our midwife told us that my amniotic fluid was low enough to be a little worried about. The OB recommended inducing (do they always?), but we really didn't want to. So the plan was to go home and drink A LOT of water and come back in the morning for another test. The hope was that I'd go into labor before the next test! Our wonderful doula, Kristen, who was also our birthing class teacher and is a co-owner of Zenana Spa (a wonderful spa in southeast Portland specializing in services for pregnant women), suggested I go in and have a prenatal massage which would stimulate the "trigger points" for labor. A massage sounded nice, labor or not, so I went.
The spa is such a tranquil, lovely place, with gorgeous copper lanterns and soothing music and the tinkling of fountains. The massage tables are set up with contoured body pillows to perfectly accommodate pregnant bodies in side-lying position, and it was very relaxing. I'd written on my preliminary paperwork under "what you're looking to get out of the massage" (or however it was phrased): I want to go into labor immediately, ha ha.
But guess what.
Ten minutes into the massage, something happened to my abdomen. Of course it took me a few seconds to recognize it for what it was: a contraction that was totally different from the "practice contractions" I'd been having for months. Seriously. A contraction! It was little, it was the first one, but it WAS a contraction. I didn't say anything, but just sort of waited to see if it would happen again.
And it did.
And when I sat up to switch to my other side . . . my water broke. Really. Right there on the massage table. I can't describe the giddiness and disbelief, after waiting "with baited breath" all week for some sign that things were beginning. And here it was: happening. So, I guess you could say I believe in acupressure now! Kiera the massage therapist got teary-eyed and said she couldn't take credit. This had never happened to her before, but it was just all so sweet and such a lovely place to have this happen, in this spa with gorgeous art photos of mamas and babies on the walls. Jim was down the street at a cafe and I called him to say, "You're not going to believe this, but my water just broke."
He scrambled back and we went home. I thought at this point that we'd have a while yet to wait before going to the hospital. I mean, since my water had broken, the "clock was ticking" but I still thought it would be some hours before my contractions picked up, but things progressed really quickly, and we weren't home for long before we decided it was time. We arrived at the hospital some time between 6 and 7 pm, and my contractions were already around 5 minutes apart and very powerful. I thought at this point -- hoped -- that I might be one of those lucky women who have short labors.
Err. Not so much.
See, things did not exactly go as we had hoped. I just didn't dilate. I mean, I was at 4-1/2 cm when we got to the hospital, and there I stayed, even hours later when the contractions were practically on top of each other. Oh yeah, and I spiked a fever. The baby wasn't descending, and I wasn't dilating. I wanted a nap in the worst way, and some time in the middle of the night, when my midwife recommended pitocin and an epidural, I didn't say no. Yeah, yeah, all my visions of natural childbirth out the window, but what can you do? Something was wrong.
And what was wrong, it turned out, was that little baby girl was stargazing, and not just that, her head was cocked to the side just slightly, preventing her from moving down against the cervix. (In one of the stories in Lips Touch there's a reference to a stargazer birth and its consequences, interestingly enough.)
So, the night was tolerable due the epidural (I so get it now about epidurals), and I slept some while the contractions continued, the pitocin trying to do its work. And in the morning . . . I was still 4-1/2 cm, my fever was up, the baby's heartbeat was getting a little erratic, and it was time for a C-section.
The thing is, beforehand I was so invested in the idea of this goddessy natural birth like I've seen in birthing videos, I thought I'd be really devastated if things didn't go like that for us, and I was at first, you know, going into the O.R., but after, and now, I really don't feel any regret. It went how it went, and Clementine is healthy and beautiful, and I'm lucky to have no pain from the surgery (not that I'm leaping around, mind you, I just don't have any pain), and so it goes. It's humbling, discovering your powerlessness, and through the experience I couldn't help but sometimes think of what it would feel like if I didn't know, every step of the way, that the interventions I'd sort of scorned in my mind were there, available, if I needed them. I mean, what would it be like going through a non-progressing labor without an O.R. and an awesome surgeon just down the hall? What would it be like to know that there was no way out but through, and that -- ulp -- you and your baby might not make it? So, thank god for surgeons. And this was cool: the only "boy" in the whole O.R. was Jim. The surgeon and anesthetist were both women, as well as all the nurses, and it was a room full of powerful women.
When the took Clementine out they showed her to me immediately and then Jim was able to be right there with her, touching her, while they cleaned her off and did whatever they do, and then he carried her to me and her cheek was against mine while they . . . did whatever it was they were doing on the other side of that blue curtain where my body was (weird). And then we were back in our room, and I had a perfect baby on my chest and she was doing just what she was supposed to, lifting up her head just a little, searching instinctively for nipple. Wow. Can't explain the feelings of these first few minutes and hours. It's impossible.
Such happiness. Off to the first doctor's appointment now. xoxo. Thank you for being here. We love you :-)