The Birth of a Mother
It's been a while since I have made an appearance int his space. In many ways a selfish break from the busy online life that truthfully causes me anxiety and fatigue some of the time. In other ways the last three months were a much needed time for me to process and prepare to become a mother. The transition from being a single entity to one that has broken off a piece of herself and placed it in another tiny human. It took the full two months to process and ready myself. Although no amount of time could have prepared me for the day that Morrison Reed made his appearance.
I will blog about my third trimester at some point, but thought it important to write out our birth story before key details escaped my memory. This will most likely be a bit long winded and a bit detailed. Read on if that's your thing.
Once 38 weeks hit I was really swollen and exhausted, so I was looking forward to the three day Labor Day weekend to get some rest, as I was still working. My mom decided to come and hang out as well. So on Friday evening I was ecstatic to start my time off! Mike and I decided to walk home from SoHo, my secret plan being to walk as much as possible to encourage labor. When we arrived at our building the doorman asked when I was due. "Not soon enough," I replied. He then told me about this miraculous eggplant parm recipe that was said to induce labor. I thanked him for the tip, and promptly looked it up. Sure enough there it was. A restaurant in Georgia boasted that 300 women had gone into labor within 48 hours of eating their eggplant. I quickly took down the recipe, and when my mom arrived i let her know that Saturday evening we would be in the kitchen.
After a leisurely brunch the next day, we went to the grocery to get the ingredients and headed home to start cooking. We followed the recipe verbatim, which means that in my desperation to have this baby I momentarily forgot about my vegan diet and devoured the cheesy goodness. It also happened to be my grandmother's birthday so I summoned her for help as well, by playing her favorite tunes and drinking out of her glasses. The day was leisurely and fun so if all of the superstition amounted to nothing I was glad to have spent the time with my Mom and Mike.
Sunday morning arrived with no action, and my mom insisted we walk into SoHo to get clothes for the hospital. We walked there, did some shopping, and then walked home. As we sat down to a dinner of Indian leftovers, I suddenly felt different. My unending hunger had vanished, and I couldn't eat. I brushed it off thinking I was just tired, but my mom called home to say she would be staying another night with us just in case. Feeling slightly crampy and strange I got my pajamas on. Mike, my mom, and I settled in to watch Big Fish and eat ice cream (mine was vegan of course) before retiring to bed.
Early Monday morning I awoke feeling slightly damp, and as I got up to use the bathroom two gushes of liquid poured out. It must be my water breaking I thought, and woke Mike and my Mom to tell them. We called the doula who told us to wait until later that morning to call the doctor, which I did. I was eerily calm knowing that this was the day Morrison was destined to enter the world. I had somehow known it all along, making jokes with my co-workers that he would choose Labor Day to be born just because of the pun.
I eventually made my way to the hospital where they told me the amniotic fluid test was negative. They suggested I walk around for a couple of hours and come back. I took their advice although my contractions were getting increasingly more uncomfortable. We left, and went to the diner to try and get breakfast. I quickly realized there was no way I was going to sit through a meal. I walked out to 58th Street to get some air, bending over when a contraction would come on. My mom, in a flurry of panic was able to secure a place for me to labor until going back to the hospital. As a side note that place happened to be the apartment of the president of the prestigious college that my mother works for... Morgane, our doula, arrived an hour or so later. I labored there for about three hours until Morgane was sure that she could hear me trying to push. It was time to go to the hospital again.
I, of course, had left my modesty along with my oatmeal at the diner, so when my mom suggested I just put on the "dress" ie. long tank that I came in with minus my pants I agreed. In the meantime my dad had arrived and met us at the door. The one block trek to the hospital began. I bent over every couple of minutes to have a contraction, with my entourage surrounding me so no passerby would get a show. Half an hour later I was finally given a room, after making a spectacle in the waiting room screaming with every contraction.
The first time I left the hospital I was 2cm dilated, and now when they checked was at 5cm. I labored on. I felt the urge to push and fought hard not to. This was the hardest part of the entire experience. A battle with something your body instinctually has the urge to do is unbelievably hard. Morgane informed me at my postpartum visit with her, that I had had something called premature pushing, which is actually extremely rare.
I was checked two hours later, and was at 7cm. I was progressing and the doctors and nurses let me do my thing. I found comfort in knowing that at this point, there was no option for an epidural or interference from the medical team unless something went wrong. I progressed 2 more centimeters in the next two hours, and was 9cm around 5pm. Although I had been in labor since 4am I wasn't tired. I didn't even think about it actually. My thoughts were on each contraction. They say to have a strong mental image to help you through. Ironically, my lost Catholic bible study resurfaced, as I pictured Mary Magdalene pushing aside the immense bolder that secured Jesus' tomb over and over again. I also concentrated on Mike's face as I squeezed his hands and blew air out in an attempt to suppress the pushing sensation that persisted.
At around 7pm the doctor came in to tell me there was a shift change. Dr. Langer took over wanting to check to see where I was. As she lifted the sheet to do the exam, she screamed suddenly. The baby's head was visible! A flurry of panic and action ensued as the doctor got suited up and delivery supplies were wheeled in. All at once a bright light flashed in my face as a chorus screamed at me to push. I had been suppressing the urge for so long that I had to quickly recalibrate my focus. I briefly looked down, and saw a glimpse of my baby's head. I pushed with all of my strength one more time, and there he was. My sweet angel was placed on my chest.
All at once I was both a mother and a warrior, completely transformed from the person I had been the day before. Morrison Reed, 8lbs 1 oz, born on September 7th 2015 at 7:18pm being the catalyst for the change. I had done it, just like I had wanted, without drugs or intervention. It was just me with the pain, yes...but also with every ounce of courage, drive, focus, and love that could be summoned from within. I had doubted myself a few times along my journey to become a mom, and reminded once again, that my will and faith in myself and my body always pulls through and never fails me. I now have the penultimate of love, light, and peace to show for it.