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The labor felt way too intense, not right, and I insisted on seeing the OB. She came, discovered I'd gone from 1 to 8 centimeters dilated in an hour and took out the Cervidil with raised eyebrows—apparently I'm one of those women who responds to Cervidil quite dramatically. I begged to be allowed off the bed but since the contractions had become so intense, she was concerned about the fetus. I bargained, and finally was allowed to stand next to the bed wearing the monitors. Kenzie raised the bed so I could lean on it, and I breathed a flutter-lipped breath through every contraction, holding my pillow over my head and squatting, leaning on the bed. Aaron and Kenzie were at my side, occasionally telling me I was doing great.
Labor didn't feel like something I was doing, it felt like it was happening to me. I barely had time to think, but at one point I did begin to wonder how I was going to stand much more of this, and still be strong enough to push when the time came. I looked up at Kenzie and said "I have doubts." "You have your ritual [meaning the breathing and squatting], just keep doing what you're doing," she said. So I did. I remembered hearing stories of women who got epidurals right before they were ready to push, and finding they slowed labor down. I wasn't interested. I also thought of a C-section, imagined the relief and dismay I'd have if this labor ended that way.
As I began to feel a strong feeling of pressure, the room filled with people and I was forced back onto the bed on my back. A male attending doctor came in pulling on latex gloves and announced that my OB was delivering another baby and he would deliver mine. I just shook my head no on the pillow, I didn't feel like a participant in the process, I could barely think, and I didn't fully understand that it was time to push. Then my OB walked in and the other doctor faded away.
My doctor coached me to push and Aaron and Kenzie were at my ears encouraging me, but somehow I still didn't understand what I was doing, and I had the idea I wasn't doing it right and it wasn't working. Someone told me to reach down and feel the baby's head, but it felt so soft and wet I simply didn't believe it was a baby. The burning feeling as the whole head emerged felt a little more real, and as I pushed a final few times I felt his shoulders slip out. Slimy and blue, and clearly too large to have ever been inside me, our son was like an apparition, suddenly appeared on my chest. The nurse rubbed him pink, he opened his eyes, and Aaron and I looked at each other. Leo Henry. Our son.
In place of a recipe, I thought I'd list a few of the foods that people brought/made for us after the birth. These struck the perfect balance between nourishing, comforting, and easy to deal with:
Fruit salad—this might be the top pick for those first few days postpartum. In fact, I'd like to nominate watermelon as the official fruit of breastfeeding.
Homemade pizza loaded with veggies and baked in our oven, with lots of leftovers to reheat, or scarf cold.
Washed salad in containers, ready to dress and eat.
Prepared veggies to reheat or toss into salads.
A big steak ready to broil for a few minutes.
Sushi platters—this is what my parents brought us the first night in the hospital, and it was so festive and delicious.