So..."one year ago today" (or maybe "right around now" would be a better end to that phrase) Dan and I were getting ready to celebrate my birthday. We don't really do much usually just go out to eat and enjoy time with family. But last year I was hoping against hope that my birthday present would come in the form of a stinky little ball of joy, i.e. Ruby. Well, little miss didn't decide to grace us with her presence on that day but she did follow 5 days later on the pleasantly round date the 20th. Those of you that know me really well know I have a thing for numbers--specifically that they be round, or better yet divisible by 5, or better still divisible by 10. So wasn't it kind of Ruby to oblige my OCD? I think I'm getting off topic...actually where was I going...
Oh yes! I was talking about "one year ago today." Right, so what I wanted to write about was Ruby's birth...a rare pleasant memory, at least for me, of that category. I could go on and on about this because it was clearly a pretty big deal--birth of my child and all--but I'll try to stick to the actual nitty-gritty. Don't worry that doesn't include gore ;) Wow, I am really rambling, huh? FOCUS! Anyway...I went into labor on a Sunday morning. Thankfully I had very mild contractions throughout that day. I called the midwife, took a nap, walked over to a friend's house to watch a movie and eat some pizza. What movie did we watch you ask? Predator...that's right Predator. In the evening my contractions were finally becoming more regular but were still spaced far apart. Unfortunately they did become pronounced enough that I couldn't sleep but I encouraged Dan to do so because I figured that we were in for a long day tomorrow! And sleep he did...until around 3am when I woke him up to rub my back :)
An hour or two later after timing my contractions we realized they were around 5 minutes apart so we made another call to the midwife and headed to the birth center. No hospitals for me, or so we thought. Now I had been going to a doctor as well as the midwife to make sure that everything was fine with the baby. I was OK with birthing in a hospital if there were any problems but none had been found and so all natural it was. BACK to the story...It was probably around 5 or 6am by the time Dan and I started driving and we stopped at a gas station to pick up some juice and donuts. I think I took 2 bites before I realized that was not happening. At the birth center things went pretty smoothly for a long time. I was having intense contractions but kept my focus and was handling them pretty well. Until I hit transition and 9 1/2 cm. I'm hoping I don't have to explain all of the birthing stuff but if anyone has questions there is this remarkable tool called "Google."
OK...Transition: HELL! But my husband--oh let me tell you about that man. He saved me time and time again. Now I can't attest to what he was truly feeling but when I was in doubt and in fear that I would not have the strength to carry on, I only had to look in his face to find strength. He looked at me as though he knew I could do this. His face beamed with pride and confidence and in him I found power. And not only did he provide me with this invaluable emotional support but physically he was present as well. Continually massaging me and holding me. Providing hours of counter-pressure to my back while we sat in the birthing tub. In a word he was...wonderful.
Another player in this little show was my sister. Her role during the birth was also invaluable. She would tag team with my mother who was also there. She also supplied the updates to the rest of the family in the waiting area. In addition to this she was a ROCK! She was calm and present 100% of the time. My mother (who I will get to later) was not so calm...albeit very present and absolutely necessary. But when I needed to feel as though everything was going to be fine, I had my sister to reassure me. She would run from task to task with a kind of assertive confidence that still impresses me to no end. I only hope I can help her in the way she helped me when little Croissant makes his entrance :)
Now, I must have been 9 1/2 cm for 5 hrs...at least it felt that long. I was pushing periodically throughout this time but no progression was being made. Well, except for my blood pressure which was climbing higher and higher. It was to the point that the midwives were on the phone with my doc asking if they needed to take me in. I insisted that I wasn't going anywhere and decided that as soon as I hit 10cm I was going to get that baby out! And I did :) It took lots and lots of pushing (so much that I broke some blood vessels) but come she did. After around 36hrs of labor she was born. My absolutely perfect baby girl--who throughout the entire pregnancy I was convinced was a boy--came into this world!
(Sorry for the quality it's pulled off of Dan's FB)
It was the greatest moment of my life. To feel her coming out of me, it was nothing short of miraculous. I kept crying tears of joy. In between sobs I would look into my mother's eyes and say, "I'm going to be a Mama!" Sometimes the phrase was repeated as a question but in that moment I've never felt closer to her. My mother looked into my eyes as my child was being born and I knew--I finally knew what that meant. That look she'd given me for so many years. And I was finally able to appreciate the love she had for me because I felt more complete than I ever had before. Immediately after Ruby made her entrance, in spite of the pain I turned to my mother who was holding me and I said, "I want to do this again!" I ignored her look of, "ARE YOU NUTS!?" and insisted that indeed I did!
So now Ruby was here, and at first things were very scary. She wasn't breathing, she was blue. I was terrified but Dan tried to keep me focused on him. Eventually my midwife had to give up on collecting cord blood to help her assistant with Ruby. Unfortunately we didn't collect enough blood to save, but clearly Ruby was the priority. After what seemed like ages Ruby started to breath and cry...but her cry wasn't right. It still isn't I guess. I've been told by my friends that she cries oddly--kind of muffled and quiet I guess--but at the time I just shrugged it off as wet lungs or something. I didn't really care. I was in heaven. My baby was here and she was alive.
We were awarded some very precious hours with her before the, pardon the expression, shit hit the fan. She breastfed, snuggled, and slept. Everyone slept actually, except for me who was still in a state of bliss as I lay in bed with my child. I will always remember those quiet moments as the last time before...how do I say it?...the last time my life was on the track I had anticipated. Before I became I mother to a child with exceptional needs. Before pulse-oxes and CHDs and 22qs and scars and pain and G/J tubes and pallet concerns and speech delays and low muscle tone and respiration rates and CHOW and on and on and on... For a long time I couldn't think back to those moments without breaking down. I hated looking at her birth pictures when she was in the hospital all those months because it reminded me of what I'd lost. Finally, I can look back with gratitude. I am so thankful for her birth and every detail of it because it was the one thing that actually went right...besides Ruby of course, who in spite of all of those things that I became so familiar with, or perhaps because of them, is still perfect :)
This is what Perfection looks like...in case you were wondering