Today, in honor of my birthday, we're excited to share the first of many birth stories that tell us the history of childbirth.
Like many first-time mothers, I suspect, I felt as if had been waiting my whole life to have that baby. I was ecstatic. The entire extended family was, really- especially my mother. My due date fell on what would be her 50th birthday, and, although we all knew there was only a chance that the baby would come then, it added a sense of magic to the expectation and the waiting.
And wait we did...
March 10th came, and went.
We celebrated my mom's birthday with only the usual fanfare, no baby. I left her house that day with assurance from everyone that it wouldn't be long now, returning home to spend what I thought would be my last few days "alone". The days passed, then passed some more, as well as one, then two doctor visits, with a third one scheduled for the 26th at which time, I was told, some action would have to be considered. Nothing seemed to be "wrong" mind you, just that, well, it would be 42 weeks...
I was exhausted, and crushed.
Being who I am, I trusted myself- trusted the process of life and birth, and had my heart set on what was called in the late 1970s and early '80s a "natural birth," by which was meant no medication and, inasmuch as was possible for the health and well-being of all, no interference with what a woman's body instinctually knew how to do.
To that end, I had chosen my obstetrician carefully: the only one in the Greater Cincinnati area at that time who specialized in natural birth, having as well a team of certified midwives and offering a home birth option. As for his patients who would choose a hospital delivery, they were well-known for making things "difficult" for hospital staff: refusing to be "shaved", have enemas, (both still standard procedures in 1981) and wanting to do unthinkable things like get up and walk around during labor instead of lying (preferably) on their backs or sides strapped to a fetal monitor- all with the encouragement and blessing of their doctor.
Still, no matter how much I wanted things to go "my way", enough was enough. This pregnancy couldn't go on forever.
March 26th arrived, and still no sign of baby.
My appointment was scheduled for late morning. I moped around the apartment then got ready and went out to the car.
It wouldn't start.
I tried again; and again.
Trudging back up the stairs, (a second floor walk-up at 42 weeks!) I called first the doctor's office to explain my dilemma, then my husband to inform him that he would have to take the day off work the next day to get me to the doctor because he had finally put his foot down and said not another day longer. I got a snack, changed into comfy clothes, and lay down for a nap.
At about 2:30 pm I woke up, you guessed it, in labor. It was mild, but unmistakably labor. I called my husband, told him there was no hurry, to go ahead and finish out the day but not to get stuck in traffic just the same, haha;
I called everyone.
I sat around, I walked around, I breathed, I rested;
I waited some more. My sister came over to visit and my husband came home from work and finally, FINALLY, at about 7:30 pm we left for the hospital. Things were moving!
At the hospital I was in complete control. I was on top of it: I was nonplussed by the expected eye rolls of the nursing staff when they asked who my doctor was; I knew what I wanted. I knew deep in my bones that I could handle it. In short, I was ready! Apparently, however, I was not as "ready" as I thought. At 10:45 my progress was checked and the nurse said, smiling, that I was still at 3 centimeters and it would be a while. As she left the room, I closed my eyes...
... I sat bolt upright in the bed, grabbing for my husband's arm.
I was confused, and felt strangely panicked.
"I have to push," I said. It had only been a few minutes since the nurse had left the room. "No you don't," my husband answered, "She said it would be a while." I looked him squarely in the eye, every fiber of every muscle in my entire body telling me otherwise, and said
"I don't care what she said, I have to push. NOW!"
Needless to say, things got intense. He pressed the call button, ran into the hallway, ran back into the room and looked around frantically, not knowing where to run next. Suddenly there were nurses everywhere. I was re-checked, after which my water immediately broke. While they were trying to locate the doctor (who was "somewhere" in the hospital) the staff tried to hook me up to a monitor- don't ask me why- but finally gave up as I, determined, settled in for the final moments of delivery.
My doctor never made it back to the room in time:
one, two, three pushes, and the baby was out- 11:25pm on the dot.
It was a girl. And she was perfect: the most beautiful shade of pink I had ever seen; a mouth like a tiny bow; a head full of strawberry blonde hair. And the smell of her! The smell of new life! It was something no one had told me about, yet something I recognized immediately; something I will never forget. I trembled for hours afterwards. You know what I mean.
I named her Katherine; Katie, after my mother's best friend- one of the bravest and kindest women I knew. It was the end of waiting. It was the beginning of everything. I still feel that way.