Hello from the other end of the rainbow!
Because I'm so long-winded, and because I know that if I were a reader, I'd want every single detail, I'm going to split this into two entries: one to post on Monday, and one on Thursday. (Have I cleared this with my beloved editor? No! So here's hoping it works for her.)
It turns out that what everyone said was right: She would come at the perfect time. With more loving and knowledgeable support than most lucky people get exposed to in the course of a lifetime, I gave happy, healthy, painful-but-ecstatic birth to Lena Pearl this past Thursday--the 42 week mark--at 4:54 PM.
My doula Michelle and I spent much of Tuesday trying to get labor started--she'd generously offered to come over to see if anything she could do might help. She thought maybe my tilted sacrum and tight ligaments on my left side might have something to do with Lena's delay. So we did yoga; a lot of hip relaxing exercises; acupressure; a belly rub with blue and black cohosh; moxabustion (a Chinese herb that smells suspiciously like another herb, but you just warm it near your skin--no inhaling, I promise). She left on Tuesday evening feeling hopeful. I didn't, especially, but only because nothing had so far worked.
Wednesday dawned and it suddenly hit me: I was being induced the next day. I would be giving birth tomorrow. I thought this would be a good time to freak out. Yes, dammit! I finally admitted it in full force: I was scared. All of this waiting around for labor to start had drained my "bring it on" attitude. Aron took Sylvia to daycare, and I took advantage of the solitude to cry--a panicky crying, which lasted through a long, hot shower. When Aron got home, he gave me a wet hug and a useful pep talk: "What you're doing right now is more painful than what you're going to feel tomorrow. Let's go for a walk."
So we had a lovely and brisk hike up to a local Buddhist sanctuary called the Peace Pagoda (where, it turns out, Michelle is getting married this summer). We took in the long view of the mountain range, and the close-up view of tadpoles, frogs, and goldfish squabbling in the gorgeous pond. Our feet crunched on multicolored leaves on the way up and down. Every once in a while, I'd feel a pang of panic, and look quickly for Aron's eyes. "Worse than it will be tomorrow," he'd say, and I'd take a deep breath and hope he was right. (I also talked to a good friend, who gave me the same mantra she said she used when running a marathon: "I'm going to kick the ass of this race." She laughed and said, "'I'm going to kick the ass of this baby' doesn't sound right." I suggested "kick the ass of this labor" and that was that.)
That evening, I felt the contractions start. Not with a bang or a boom. More like, "Remember... this?" Like kind of painful period cramps--a dragging downward, a pressure like gravity plus a hint of pain. I didn't say anything, because I had so often thought something was starting in the past few weeks and then it hadn't. But I was woken up often with the discomfort overnight. I had checked out a website (spinningbabies.com) that Michelle had recommended, and it said that going onto hands and knees would intensify contractions and help the baby get in a good position. So up and over I went, probably ten times over the course of the night. My appointment to get my water broken was for 8 AM the next morning. What if I didn't need it? It was hard to sleep, for the combination of discomfort, excitement, and... yeah, okay, it was still there--panic.
My first baby
My mother-in-law came up on Wednesday, so everything was in place for Sylvia's seamless transfer to daycare on Thursday morning. I put her to bed on Wednesday night, and it was hard for me not to cry: my last night with her and her alone. I went over it again. "So, Syl, remember where I'm going with Papa early tomorrow morning?" I said, before launching into The Adventures of Polo.
She thought for a second. Her eyes lit up. "The hop-sital?!"
I smiled. "Yup. Do you remember why we're going there?"
"To see if the baby's ready to come out!" she hollered. And then a pause. "Where's Grandma?"
"Downstairs. She'll be here in the morning. She'll take you to daycare," I said, relieved that she herself--who's taking care of me? What will my day be like tomorrow?--was one of her first concerns. She is three, after all. It would be weird if she wasn't thinking about herself.
"And then I will see the baby?" she said, smiling and jumping now.
"You'll see the baby the next day," I said. "You'll come see me and the baby in the hospital."
"You're coming out, baby!" she yelled into my belly. "You're coming out so soon!"
Check in on Thursday! The continuation of Emily's birth story--and more pictures!--will appear then.
Join writer Emily Bloch each week as she chronicles her pregnancy--and now, life with a new baby.