January 10, 2013
I think every child loves to hear the story of the night they were born. My twin sister and I never tire hearing my mom talk about making it to the hospital in the nick of time during a snowstorm in the middle of Chicago when we arrived. Or putting herself into labor by scrubbing the bathroom floors because, as she puts it, “She wanted those babies out of her.”
I planned to go all natural with Margaret, which I talked about here. I wasn’t against Western medicine during the process, but was the most afraid of an induction via Pitocin followed by an epidural because I thought it would take me into too hard of a labor too fast and something my body wouldn’t want to do. I wanted to be in control of what I needed and when and be flexible during it all, but have enough sense to change course if necessary.
Let’s just say no amount of meditation, yoga, or aromatherapy candles could prepare me for the physical pain of birthing a baby. Labor and delivery looked like a war zone with me playing the role of fallen soldier. Vomit, blood, oxygen masks and screams of agony were all there. And then, I felt nothing.
Let me back up a bit. When my doctor scheduled an induction for seven days past my due date, I knew I had to pull out the big guns before that. On my due date I started doing natural inducers. You can read more about that here. On Wednesday, three days past my due date, at 4:15 p.m. I went in for an hour of incredibly intense acupuncture. At 3 a.m. I woke up in a really emotional state. Woke up my husband and had a mini-meltdown about being a mother, working, and all the changes in our life. He calmed me down, and I fell asleep for a couple of hours. A short time later, just before 6 a.m. Thursday morning, my water broke.
The plan was always to labor at home for some time. I spent several hours very comfortable with Otis, my mom, and Dan around me on our living room couch. In just three hours, by 9:30, contractions were coming faster and it was time to head to the hospital as Atlanta rush hour was thankfully ending. My mom couldn’t have been happier, as she was a Nervous Nelly with us deciding to stay home for the beginning parts of labor. I don’t remember much about the car ride except the Driving Miss Daisy in the Jaguar going a whopping 20 miles per hour in a 45 for what felt like an eternity of the trip. I cursed the day that biddy was born. I think every woman can vouch that contractions in a moving vehicle aren’t for the faint of heart. Actually it’s just about the worst idea ever. I’m certain my mother was appalled at the truck driver potty-mouth daughter she raised.
Once inside the hospital I scared every man, woman, and child on an otherwise uneventful elevator ride and proceeded to sit on the floor of labor and delivery upon arrival, just to let them know we weren’t kidding around (and my blood pressure had dropped making me feel like I was going to faint). Now seems like a good place to say nurses (other than one lone Nurse Ratched at check-in) are saints. They truly are. Between my labor and delivery nurse, Lucy, and several night nurses, particularly Carolyn and Meghan, I wouldn’t have had the positive experience that I did.
When we arrived at the hospital just after 10 a.m. I thought for certain I’d have a baby by 3 p.m. at the latest. That’s how fast and hard labor was coming. I was dilated to a six when I was admitted. But, I then stayed stuck between eight and nine for hours. Finally, around 3 p.m., I got an epidural and felt absolutely nothing (except for a little pressure during contractions). It was HEAVEN. There were a few scares with my blood pressure going shockingly low and me needing to breathe oxygen for a bit. For as much planning as I did with music and candles, I wanted none of it. I wanted the room absolutely quiet.
Another thing we planned was my husband’s role. I was very adamant about where I wanted him to stand (my shoulders up), but when it came down to it modesty went out the window. He played a very active role and was the most encouraging voice I could’ve asked for. About 5 p.m. it was time to start pushing. After about an hour my husband put on a playlist called Little Miss Seith upbeat—and upbeat it was. The music helped so much! It charged me through that last hour of pushing (I won’t hold it against her that it took that long), and the mood in the room was actually really lively. No joke, our doctor and nurse were singing along to Mumford & Sons.
Margaret Ainsley Seith came out to the song, “We Are Young” by Fun followed fittingly by Lady Gaga’s “Born this Way.” That moment is one I will remember for the rest of my life. I was crying. Dan was crying, and Margaret was crying. We’re now nine weeks from that day. It does go by fast. And it’s worth every ounce of everything it took us to get here.
So far, motherhood hasn’t defined me, but I certainly like the feeling of knowing I’m hers and she’s mine, already seeing the world through her eyes, and making all the small stuff seem just that. She has already changed me–for the better.