In honor of Mark’s first birthday, I’m sharing his birth story with you. It’s very long so my feelings won’t be hurt if you don’t read the whole thing! It’s so long, in fact, that I’ve broken it up into four parts. Here’s Part One.
(I’ve written this as a letter to Mark.)
Even though I was only one centimeter dilated, they let us stay in our assigned room. I was exhausted because I’d been awake since 4:00 with contractions and I was still having them. I rested while Baba brought in our bags. Then, he and I realized that we were going to be at the birth center for a long time and we didn’t have nearly enough food. So while he went to Safeway to buy us some more food and juice, I took a nap.
At 10:30, I was only 2 centimeters dilated. (I know this doesn’t mean much to you but what it told the midwives was that you were taking your good sweet time coming out!) Because I was dilating so slowly, they told us that we would need to leave for a few hours. Thankfully, my friend Emily’s parents live in Annapolis and they very kindly offered their house to us so that we wouldn’t have to get a hotel room or drive all the way home.
Before we left the birth center, though, Lucille told us that I had to have a non-stress test to make sure that you were doing OK inside of me. (I think this was basically an insurance thing to make sure they knew you were doing OK before they released us from their care.) A non-stress test meant that I had to sit in a chair with fetal monitors strapped to me. Although your heart rate was super strong and healthy, you were sleeping and wouldn’t move around. This meant that they couldn’t see “surges” on the test results. In order to pass the test, we had to have a certain number of surges too. They had me drink some really cold sweet (yucky!) juice, guaranteed to wake up a baby. It didn’t help. Katya, our nurse, even shook my belly, hard. You moved a bit and went back to sleep. Finally, after about 45 minutes (when it was only supposed to take 20), Lucille told us to go get some lunch, walk around, and try to wake you up. We were supposed to report back in one hour to have another test. I asked her what would happen if you didn’t wake up and start moving on that test.
“In that case, you’ll have to go to the hospital to deliver your baby, because now you’ll be considered high-risk.”
When she told me this, I almost panicked. I definitely started crying. I was definitely super worried and angry. (None of those being good emotions for getting a baby to come out!) I knew you were OK, I knew I was fine, I knew there was absolutely no reason for us to go to the hospital. And I didn’t drive 2 hours round-trip for every prenatal visit just to deliver in a hospital!!! Katya reassured us that she would do all she could to help us pass that test.
So we went to Safeway, got some lunch at the deli, sat in the Starbucks lounge area and tried to eat and calm down. I called some people (like Auntie Meggan and Nana, I think) who helped me calm down a little. In the meantime, my contractions were starting to finally feel really real. I had to breath a little through them and I wanted to be moving. I managed to choke down some food and then we went back to the birth center at around 12:30. When we got there, I told them that I still hadn’t felt you move, that in fact, during the last couple months of my pregnancy, you had never moved in the middle of the day. So they gave me a giant hunk of delicious chocolate to eat and told me to drink lots of ice water. I ate that chocolate, drank more icy-cold water than I could comfortably hold, and you still didn’t move.
Finally, they told us that we had to start the test. So almost in tears, I sat down in that chair, they strapped on the monitors, and you didn’t move. By this time, I was having contractions almost every three minutes and contractions are NO FUN when you have to remain motionless. You still weren’t moving. Baba and I kept looking at each other, wondering if we were going to have to fight to stay at the birth center, wondering what to do. At some point, Katya came in with a bag of ice and told me to put it on the top of my belly, right where your bottom was. This made you move a little bit! Clearly you did not like the cold. Finally, two other midwives came in to look at the test print out. They said that although you hadn’t moved enough, that my contractions were strong enough to make it a contraction stress test (not a non-stress test) which changed the requirements and that meant that we passed! One midwife also said, “Wow, looks like you’re having lots of contractions now.” To which I wanted to say [very sarcastically], “Really, no kidding? I hadn’t noticed. I’ve just been strapped in this chair enjoying myself for 45 minutes.”
So, all this testing started because they were going to make us leave but by the time the ordeal was over, my contractions were moving along enough so that they let us stay. So we didn’t have to go anywhere! It took me a few minutes to calm down and stop my tears and then as we walked back upstairs to the birth center part of the building, Katya told us, “I think you’ll be having a baby who sleeps a lot in the middle of the day.” She was right! You took super long naps through the middle of the day for several weeks after you were born!
to be continued…(part three)