It was on a night just like tonight...
Three years ago tonight I went into labor for the last time. 11:30 p.m. I woke up to a contraction and less than three hours later, Jamesy Doodle (not his real name) had been born. Though he and his older brother were born four and a half years apart, the similarities between their two births is striking:
- Both labors were roughly two and three-quarters hours long.
- Both babies were born in the early morning hours (12:50 a.m. and 2:07 a.m.)
- Both times I went through transition en route to the hospital (7 cm and 9 cm upon arrival; I know, I know...why didn't I have a home birth?)
- Both births were intervention free, including my personal triumph -- no I.V., until the episiotomy
- Both boys had meconium present and therefore took brief detours to the warmer before reuniting with me
- Both labors had a pushing stage of 40 minutes
- Both times I was sure I was having a daughter and laughed at the news I had a son
- Both times, I cared less about the baby's well being in the first moments after birth (even as pediatric residents were sticking tubing down my baby's throats) than about my personal relief at being done with labor
- Both times I was inwardly pleased at how "in charge" I felt once I was in the hospital: the first time telling the nurse who said I needed to take off my shoes that "if you want them off, you're going to have to take them off;" the second time snipping at the midwife, "Can't you do ANYTHING about this pressure?" (her answer was breaking my water...ahhhh)
- I spent both labors in virtual blindness, as I didn't open my eyes until I was pushing
- Both times I was certain that that birth would be my last
- Both times my husband was my only companion and he gave me all the support and calm that I needed
And yet, as you hear all the time, no two births are the same. And so it was with these.
- 1998's labor started with my water breaking; 2002's started with contractions and my water didn't break until right before I started pushing
- 1998's labor found us timing each contraction and my husband secretly alarmed that they were coming every two minutes as we drove to the hospital; 2002's labor found us preoccupied with finding someone to come stay with our boy (3 calls, 3 answering machines -- at midnight?!) instead of the frequency of contractions
- 1998's labor was practically painless once I started pushing; 2002's labor had back pain right up through my last push and in the breaks in between pushes
- In 1998 I had no idea what I was doing with breastfeeding and the baby and I worked hard for many a feeding to get into synch; in 2002 the baby went happily to breast as soon as we were reunited and nursed for 25 minutes
- In 1998 we couldn't get the baby to stop crying for about 10 hours after he was born; in 2002, the baby went to sleep for about six hours after his first feeding
- In 1998 I was scared to take the baby home; in 2002, I couldn't wait to get out of the hospital
I have such positive memories of both boys' births I occasionally get sad that I won't get the chance to "do" birth again. I have to trust, however, the sentiment behind my first words uttered after my younger son was born: "Thank GOD I never have to do that AGAIN!"
Happy Birthday Mr. Doodle.