Friday, June 23, 2006

Happy Birthday, Son #1! (A Birth Story)

You’re 11 today. I can hardly believe it. In part, because you’re still so small for your age and you do seem to act a bit younger than your peers. However, there’s no need to rush to grow up (being an adult has its privileges, but truthfully, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be!). Part of it is also because time flies.

You were a meticulously planned baby and it was a perfect textbook pregnancy (if there’s such a thing). Back when you were just an idea – no, a dream – I abstained from alcohol and over-the-counter meds (no prescription meds needed). I did everything ‘right’ during my pregnancy. You repaid me by making me sick, literally, for 4 months. Morning, noon and night sickness.

You took your own sweet time getting here, too. I started with pre-labor pains shortly after midnight on a Wednesday. My doctor said when my contractions were 5 minutes apart for an hour, then I should report to the hospital. (Fortunately, I disregarded that advice, or else you would’ve been born at home. Eventually. More on that in a moment.)

Since the contractions weren’t frequent or painful (this was pre-labor, remember), I decided to drive myself to work. I bought my stopwatch with me and made a whole lot of people very nervous. However, I only had 6 weeks’ maternity leave and I wasn’t going to waste Day One at home awaiting your arrival. Throughout the day, the contractions were sporadic. Sometimes 20 minutes apart, then five minutes, then 17 minutes and so it went. All day long. Some of the contractions were painful but most weren’t very intense.

The work day was over and I went home and continued timing my contractions. Still irregular and still not time to go, per my doc’s earlier instructions. Finally around 11:30 p.m. Thursday evening, the contractions were occasionally 5 minutes apart, occasionally 10+ minutes. I called my obstetrician’s answering service and the doc called back promptly. Keep in mind this has been going on for 24 hours. Since the contractions weren’t so strong that it impeded my speaking, and since they still weren’t regularly 5 minutes apart for an hour, I should continue to wait it out at home. Another sleepless night.

Finally, out of boredom, I showered around 2:30 a.m. While I was in the shower, I had two very painful contractions. That was enough for me! Grab the bag and a couple of magazines, I told Dear Hubby, we’re going to the hospital and if they tell me it’s not time, we’ll sit in the parking lot and read until it is! We arrived at the hospital probably a little after 3:00 a.m. – we weren’t rushing. They do a quick check and said I was 5 centimeters dilated so they were admitting me. Obviously we had a way to go until you arrived, but it was much more comforting to wait at the hospital.

Here’s the kicker. For 20 minutes out of every hour, I’d lie in bed with a monitor strapped to my belly. This monitor measured your heart rate (A-OK) and my contractions (one every 15 minutes or so). After the 20-minute monitoring session, I was allowed to roam the halls. BAM! The contractions were 5, 6, 7 minutes apart, for as long as I was moving around. And on it went for another 8 hours of so. I was in “back labor” which meant that you were facing forward so that the hardest part of your head (the back) was passing along the base of my spine. Ouch.

The doctor recommended a pitocin drip which she hoped would cause my contractions to become more regular (it didn’t). She manually broke my water, using this little crochet needle thing, hoping that would speed things along (it didn’t). Finally, I received an epidural and it was time to start pushing. I was supposed to push ‘with the contraction.’ Nice idea in theory but they had me in a bed, which meant one push every 10 minutes or so. They also had this nurse lean across my stomach to help push from the outside. (If I were to run in to her today, I’m sure I wouldn’t recognize her face, but I’ll never forget her elbow!). We were coming down to the critical mark. They didn’t want you in the birth canal any longer and were starting to talk about a c-section, but we were able to squirt you out eventually. You were born just after 1:00 p.m. on Friday, weighing 7 lbs 1 oz, 19.75 inches long. It took you long enough to get here but you were worth the wait.

Of course I realize now that you’re just destined to do things at your own pace. You were late in talking, but you found your own way to communicate (I’d like to thank you for abandoning your own language and adopting ours instead, by the way). You were late in starting to read, but now you’re reading so far above your grade level, it’s appalling. You look like you’ll be a late bloomer since at 11, you measure 4’4” inches and weigh just over 50 pounds. You’ve had your share of challenges – besides your speech issues, there’s the ADHD and those pesky seizures, although next month it’ll be 5 years since your last tonic-clonic (aka grand mal) seizure. Knock wood.

And yet, you seem to be so utterly confident in who you are. You realize that you march to the beat of a different drummer, and while others may not understand it, that’s their problem. You are the way God made you, you’ve said. So true. And although you occasionally have me pulling my hair out, God made you most beautiful indeed.


~d said...

My dear God. This is so beautiful A story a Mom can appreciate. A story your friend can appreciate. You are a model Mom, Elle*, whether you give yourself credit for it or not.
I adore you-I love how your family unit is so tight. A woman is the glue that holds the family together-Elle*, thank you for birthing three wonderful boys who will be phenomenal men. Thank you Elle* for this wonderful post. I am certain every other Mom will-like myself-allow herself a quick trip down first labor-memory lane.

Jules said...

That was elequent. Made me remember my babies stories. Funny how we can remember that down to the minutes but what we did yesterday and had for dinner is difficult to recall??

Elle*Bee said...

Aw, thanks, ladies. I wouldn't say 'model mom' though. There are some days when I come [thisclose] to losing it. I can be too nitpicky at times, and I'm trying to ease up on that. Still, I look at my two birthday boys and I think they're growing into fine young men - in spite of me. ha ha! (The jury is still out on my youngest. kidding! But he IS a handful.)

~d said...

Elle* OMIword-I am going to put this in writing...I HAD A WONDERFUL time today...(YIKES!) I really did. (ssh!)

Anonymous said...

Awww...that was so sweet. You should print that out and give it to him...when he's older? maybe? I really liked it. You are such a good mamma!