Fall has always been my favorite season. Maybe because it’s so short, you only have a few weeks in North Carolina after the summer humidity wanes to feel the crispness. Fall means football. It means sweaters and boots. Fall means the holidays are coming. A new year is on the way. Fall is full of anticipation. Especially Fall 2010.
The day had arrived!
Through the hospital window I could see some of our little city. The sun was shining through the leaves. Most of them had started turning yellow and red by the morning of November 2. I had my heart set on October, but now now that it was November it felt right. No one else in our family had been born in November. It was going to be her month.
Monday, November 1 the OB agreed to let me be induced. It was the world’s biggest relief. I was done
. I didn’t sleep much at all that night. I had planned to set the alarm for 5:00am. Rex Hospital was supposed to call between 6:00am and 8:00am to tell us when we could come in. Greyson said to just try to sleep as long as we could and let them wake us up. I agreed, and then instantly regretted it when they called us right at 6:00am and asked us to be there at 7:15am. But, it wasn’t like we needed to pack
. That had been done ten times over. We quickly showered and I ate my “last meal”. Just some toast with peanut butter and milk. They told me to eat light in case I puked. Surely I would puke. I was the car sick kid. I’m the woman who feels sick getting blood drawn.
I had planned this amazing last moment in the house before Greyson and I left for the hospital. I knew when we returned the whole house would have changed. I thought we would pray, and cry. But, frankly we are who we are, and we were running late. Greyson was practically pushing my round, weepy body out the door as I kissed Ginger goodbye and took a longing look at our two person home for the last time. I still wanted my moment though. Crying, I asked Greyson to stop as he pulled out of the driveway. I sobbed out a little prayer for a safe delivery and successful transition into parenthood. He was very sweet to listen to my blubbering for a few seconds before stepping on the gas. We wouldn’t be parents today if we didn’t hurry up.
He dropped me off and went to park the car. I went up to the labor and delivery waiting room. An episode of “Saved By The Bell” was on the TV. I took a moment to enjoy Zack’s antics waiting for Greyson and the nurse. I didn’t sit. I figured I’d be down for awhile. I wanted to stand up. Greyson came to find me standing, laughing at Screech. Then a pleasant middle aged woman introduced herself and said, “Let’s have your baby today!” Let’s do it.
Let’s labor, baby!
In the labor and delivery room I took my final pregnant pictures and got in the gown. I was Beta Strep positive so I had to get the IV of antibiotics. After all the needles the Pitocin started at 10:00am. We settled in for what the doctor said would be a very long day. I was “starting at square one” the nurse said. As you all know, I don’t talk about my cervix on the Internet. “Square one” is a good way to describe where I was at. You get the drift. I hadn’t had any painful Braxton Hicks contractions during my pregnancy so I didn’t know what to expect. I watched contractions come and go for the next hour as the little ticker tape spit out my progress. It hurt, but not too bad. I read the newspaper as Greyson downloaded new games on his iPhone. He ran and got some lunch. It was gonna be a long day, or so we thought.
A couple hours of ice chips and daytime television later, IT HURT! DEAR GOD! All women since the dawn of humanity weren’t kidding. It really did hurt, and it didn’t stop. There was less and less time between each wave of pain. Greyson was impressed I continued to correctly answer trivia questions on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” through contractions. The nurse told me when you induce labor with Pitocin often there is shorter time between contractions than with natural labor. They aren’t just faster, but also stronger. I would’ve liked that knowledge beforehand, thank you. Maybe it will be a question on “Millionaire” soon. I’ll get it right.
When I couldn’t take it anymore they offered the epidural. I didn’t accept it right away. I mean, I had only been contracting a few hours. Had I suffered the pains of labor long enough? Would this slow down progress they already said would be slow? Was I really paying my dues as I made this womanly right of passage? The doctor and the nurse looked at me like I was insane. A little while later I decided I was indeed being insane and all that was really stupid. I concluded I would be no less a woman for taking quality, medically-safe pain relief when it was offered. Plus, it FREAKING HURT!
I had never been so happy to see a guy in scrubs as I was when I saw the Anesthesiologist. I couldn’t even tell you what he looked like really, just a blur in scrubs with a Blackberry. But, I do remember him talking on his Blackberry. “I really hate these new catheters. They are not working as well,” he said. Wait, what? The tube you’re going to insert in my spine isn’t the one you’re used to? Fantastic. I braced myself anyway. The nurse held on to me and I felt the sting of the needle in my back. (Which by-the-way was nothing compared to all the other pain. Don’t be afraid of that, it was no sweat.) They waited the proper 10 minutes to see if if worked. Umm…no. It still hurt. They gave me a big ol’ dose of the numbing stuff. My legs started to tingle. Tingle…a few minutes…tingle….numb. My legs were no longer mine. But, I could still feel contractions in my abdomen. Fantastic. This would be great if the baby came out the bottom of my foot, but let me assure you that’s not where it comes out. The Anesthesiologist came back blaming the new catheters. They had to take out the epidural and do it again. He apologized profusely. I think I said, “Dude, I don’t care, just fix it.” They did. Fantastic. I was comfortable, but had no use of my legs. Apparently you should have some feeling in your legs. Not me. I felt terrible for the nurse having to move me around. My heart went out to every paraplegic.
Thank God I got the epidural when I did. Otherwise, it would’ve been too late. I really wanted it so I could rest. I just wanted to take a nap. When I was finally comfortable, the look on Greyson’s face was that of total relief. I wasn’t aware of it at the time but, he really was very worried and upset when I was in pain. I was relieved because he was relieved. The doctor told me to rest up. She left and I fell asleep.
About 45 minutes later the nurse woke me up to check my progress. Her eyes got really big and her mouth dropped open. “Wow! Good job,” she said. “You’re ready to go.” “Excuse me?” I replied. “You’re ready to have this baby.” I looked at Greyson. I looked back at her. “You mean to push?” (No Amy, to pull. Yes to push, genius.) The doctor came in to tell me she was leaving and the next doctor would probably be delivering my baby. The nurse stopped her and told her the news. After a double check and equally surprised look on the doctor’s face, she was gearing up to deliver our child. I wasn’t sure whether to feel like an overachiever or a cheater. You hear the term “going from 0 to 10″. That was pretty much me, and I did it in .75 hours.
They call labor “labor” for a reason. Even with an epidural, it’s work. Pushing was tough work. We started at 4:00pm. Greyson and I had “Modern Family” on DVD playing in the room. The volume was low, but I enjoyed a little smile every now and then between pushes when I glanced up at the the screen and saw the antics of the Dunphys. Dads are a big part of delivery at our hospital. They help support one of your legs. The nurse has the other. In my case, Greyson was a huge help to the nurse because I had absolutely no use of my legs. When they told me to grab the backs of my knees to push, it felt like someone else’s legs. That’s how dead they were.
As for my abdomen and pelvis, I wasn’t in pain, but I could feel enough to push. I could feel what was happening to my body and where her body was. I could feel my baby differently from how I had felt her during the rest of pregnancy. It was bizarre and thrilling, and for me…it was so quick. I didn’t puke. The doctor joked that I shouldn’t tell my girlfriends I only pushed for 35 minutes.
Our “Somebody” arrives
4:35pm. In an instant I felt her body leave mine. The doctor lifted her up. We heard her let out two or three cries. We laughed. Of course our baby would come out with something to say. I said, “Oh! Happy Birthday!” They laid her on my chest on a blanket and she looked at us all wet and wide eyed. I said, “Hey, I’m Amy. I’m your Mama. This is Greyson. He’s your Daddy.”
I looked at Greyson’s wet eyes. I was crying too. It was just so amazing. She was here. All my hang ups about afterbirth and umbilical cords faded instantly. I touched her head, not at all worried about her being cleaned off. It didn’t matter. She was ours. Everyone else disappeared but me and Greyson and her. For a few precious moments we were just quiet. There were no doctors and nurses. No DVD player. No IV drips. No epidural catheters. No Zack. No Screech. No peanut butter toast. Nothing else that had happened that day or the previous nine months mattered. It was just us for that moment. Our new family was more than I could have anticipated, more than I can write in a blog post.
The nurses scooped her up as the doctor attended to me. The nurses called Greyson over to snap pictures. I memorized her stats as quick as the nurse announced them. She was 7 pounds, 13 ounces, and 20 inches long. Greyson said, “I guess I can call people.” “Well, let’s name her first,” I said. “Oh yeah!” He said and dutifully pulled out the little piece of paper he’d been carrying in his wallet for the last week. I held her. The list had about five names on it. He read them out, saving Charlotte Eva for last. He knew both of us had our hearts set on that one. It fit. Charlotte Eva. The nurses agreed.
Greyson and I joked that our baby was more beautiful than any other baby. In our eyes she is.
Fall has always my favorite season. Maybe because this fall, her season as a newborn, is so short I’m appreciating it more. Now Fall means wrapping up our little one before walking in the crispness. It means football snuggled on the couch with a baby. Fall means our holidays will never be the same, but better. It means new year is on the way. A year we get to watch her grow. Fall is full of anticipation. It’s her season. The season of Charlotte.