Monday, November 28, 2011

Robin's Birth Story

While I'm basking in the sweetness of my new baby, I've asked some friends to share their birth stories at This Heavenly Life.  I'm so happy to share Robin's birth story today!  If you've never met her, you must remedy that now; Robin is an outstanding writer and storyteller, a generous and supportive friend, and the best kind of mother.  You NEED Robin in your life -- get started now at her blog, The Not-Ever-Still Life

I have two daughters followed by a son, so I'm feeling very simpatico with Sarah right now. My oldest is in kindergarten as well, and my second child is three (and three quarters, she'd insist I add), but my baby boy is 19 months old, and the allure of birth stories is something I haven't considered in a while. My boy's birth was my most tense, a dramatic one following freak blizzards and week-long power outages, but I've already written that one before. This is the birth story of my eldest, the story that took me from person to mama.
I had an enviable pregnancy. I know this because my girlfriends mocked me. "Are you sure you're even pregnant?" I had a few symptoms: my breasts were sore. I fell asleep typing, twice. At work. In the middle of a busy office. No biggie. But I never threw up and my ankles didn't swell and my skin looked great and my fine hair grew thick and I never had to wear those beach ball maternity underpants. I just more or less went about my regular life in my low-rise jeans for almost the whole thing.
My blood pressure was low and my weight gain was unremarkable and my body chemistry never went wonky, so I had the 20-week ultrasound to confirm that she existed (she did), and then we measured my belly and laughed at hiccups in my pelvis and bought pink onesies and a new house and our first video camera and assembled a crib and I kept working. I was making my (childless) supervisor nervous, he told me more than once, but I felt fine! I kept working. I kept working and had minimal medical supervision.
At 40 weeks and 5 days, that moment happened - you know the one - the one where the fake contractions and the weird sensations and the warm-up maneuvers prove themselves all to have been just for show, because good grief SOMETHING IS HAPPENING down there and YOU'RE ABOUT TO HAVE A BABY!!??
My moment happened at the gas station. I was a mile from home, and I stopped to get gas. Stopping to get gas was fine. Standing up out of my car to pump it, though -- totally different story.
I stood up and something uncorked, although my water didn't break, but I swear to you some..thing...unattached itself inside. It felt like when you pretend that you know how to use a yoyo so you unleash it once, fine, you feel good about it so you do it again, and that pretty sparkly circle comes right back up to your hand all nice and obedient, and you get cocky and thrust it down with a sparkle in your eye and it drops - thud - straight to the ground and looks up at you; no, GLARES at you - I'm not moving. I like it down here and down here is where I'm staying and if you want me ever to come back up you're going to have to wind me up yourself.
My baby, or my uterus, or the very last ligament that held my center of gravity up at a reasonable height on my not-so-tall body - it pulled a sullen yoyo on me. I knew our daughter was ready to be born.
I got gas and drove home, because that's what you do when you've already driven to the gas station, and I changed into comfy pants and waited for my husband, because even though I knew, I still didn't believe that I knew-knew. My every instinct was screaming "go time!" by my brain was saying second-guess brain things like "but you feel so not-different..."
My internal monologue tends to argue with itself under the calmest of circumstances, and these were not those circumstances.
But that's okay, because my husband did no better! He came home and changed out of his suit and got on the computer and I said something tragically sitcom-cliche-ish like, "honey, it's time to go to the hospital" and he said "okay," and kept typing whatever he was typing. And then I had to say with faux-annoyance, even though I wasn't really annoyed at all, just amused because we're such live-in-our-heads types, both of us, that of course we'd forget to go to the hospital: "BABE."
And then he looked up, finally, and said: "oh. Oh!"
And then I insisted he wait for me while I take a shower.
We went the the hospital eventually, and just like my pregnancy, I had a really uninteresting labor. I did pretty great, I must say. Around 5am the nurses offered to check me again, which you know is just code for seeing how many fingers they can squeeze inside you, and declared that I was there! Ten centimeters! Lookin' good! And then the nurse spoke the fateful words that I will never, ever forget.
If I tell you that on the eve of delivering my first child, a nurse spoke some fateful words, are you imagining "congratulations, you're going to be a mama" or something prosaic like "it's time to push!" or something encouraging like "you can do this?" Maybe that's how it happens sometimes. But in my story, you're imagining wrong.
"Hang on. I think I see your baby's butt hole. Don't push. I'm running to get the doctor."
And she ran, and I felt the need to push, and was told not to do that.
So it turned out that in my low-intervention pregnancy, we had had no late-stage ultrasounds, and my skinny baby's scrawny butt felt enough like softish newborn head that no manual check had ever provided that information, either. Suddenly we were concerned about her oxygen levels and her cord placement and five minutes after "I see your baby's butt hole," I was in surgery.
Oh, was that not how I had planned for this birth to happen. But I will tell you this: she was born at 6:01am on the 26th of January, and as the doctor lifted her out of me and we heard her indignant screams, he declared "that's the loudest baby I delivered all month." At the time, we thought he was just congratulating us by way of letting us know that strong screams mean a healthy baby. In time, though, as we looked back at my pregnancy and her birth, we've come to decide that he was neither exaggerating nor speaking reassuringly; rather, she truly is the loudest creature we know, prone to speak her mind, wear her heart on her sleeve and in her vocal cords, and make us remember each and every day that just like when she was born, she will do things HER way at HER pace when SHE is ready. And we should accept her as she is, and love her all the more for it.
And having made us learn that lesson from the get-go, I think she prepared us for parenthood in the most effective way possible.

Dear Sarah,
Truly the world didn't have enough of your flavor of Heavenly yet - thank you for fixing that for us. We're all so happy for you. Also, of all the things I've written online, one of my very favorite pieces is a pep talk at Simple Mom for becoming a third-time mama. I want you to read it because you're going to be so great at being outnumbered. Much love and happiness to your new family of five.


  1. A birth story that makes you laugh is a good one. Glad all is well with your firecracker of a daughter. :)

  2. I seriously guffawed right out loud at the nurse's comment although I bet it wasn't funny at the time.

  3. oh man, robin! i had no idea! talk about the same kind o pregnancy and birth experience! although nobody saw my baby's pre-born butthole. lol!!!

    congratulations, sarah!!


Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?