When I look at my son, I see the circle of life. I see humanity. I see mortality. I am all heart. One giant heartbeat. I physically ache with this new love. It consumes me, and it hurts.
I went to bed on the night of March 15, 2015 as I had for months. Convinced I'd be pregnant forever. I was past my due date of March 12, and my induction date was the night of March 19th. I'd grown tired of waiting, I felt good, so I'd just finished making plans to resume life the next day. I was supposed to head into my on camera reporting gig for a couple of shoots, and was even going to attempt to see a play that night. The waiting was killing me, and I needed to keep distracted.
At 2:30 in the morning I woke up with painful contractions. I wasn't sure what was happening at first. Is this what contractions feel like? I gave it some time. I didn't want to wake my husband yet. We'd just been to the hospital two nights ago with a false alarm, and were sent home. I started timing them. 10 minutes apart. Is this how painful contractions really are? I thought I was supposed to start slow and ease in. This felt intense right off the bat. I woke Matt. He held me through each one and tried to keep me calm. It was nearing an hour. It was time to go.
I was checked, told I wasn't dilated enough to be admitted, and to take a walk around the hospital for an hour. We slowly strolled, me in my hospital gown and booties. Recalling what the contractions felt like now, two weeks later, makes me feel sick. They were coming regular, and would reduce me to leaning against the wall, praying for them to pass, at a loss for how to get through them. It would start slow, seize up, and slowly vanish. Over, and over, and over. I was exhausted. How could this be happening but they couldn't admit me? Isn't this what I'm supposed to get the epidural for? I didn't plan to feel any of this. When the hour was up I was checked again. They still wouldn't admit me. They could give me a shot of morphine for the pain and I could go home, or I could walk another hour. Both seemed unbearable, but I had no energy to get dressed, go home, and come back. Another walk it was. By the end it was crippling. I thought I was going to be sick. They were coming at two minutes apart. I cut the walk short by fifteen minutes. I had to lay down. They checked me again, and I was dilated enough to be admitted.
Matt called my parents. This was it. All I could think was, "you just get through this. There is no way out. You just get through."
This is all so hard to put into words. I don't know that I'll ever be able to do my story justice. To really share what I experienced.
I find doctors and hospitals a little traumatizing. I hate IV's, I hated having my cervix checked over and over. I hate the invasion and discomfort of it all. I'd been terrified of the epidural and of childbirth for as long as I can remember. When the anesthesiologist came in for the epidural, my parents were across the room. Matt held my hands and I didn't know how hard I squeezed them until after the fact when he told me I nearly hurt him. I don't know how I'd describe it other than I could feel and hear the tube feeding into my back, it seemed to take longer than I expected and it was, well, gross. However, I'm glad I got it. I knew that for me, I needed to.
I wasn't feeling the effects and I told the nurses I was worried it wasn't working. "Have you tried to move your legs?" One asked. I hadn't, and when I did I was surprised that they were totally falling asleep. A catheter was placed, and pitocin was started.
I felt some painful contractions through the epidural, but not many. My parents and Matts parents were in the room most of the time. I was checked at some point and dilated to a 5. The next time I was checked I was at a 10. Things were happening quickly. Next came "rest and descend", before it was time to push.
I almost forgot to mention that my doctor was off that day! Another doctor in the practice would be delivering my boy. This seems like something that would be a worst fear for a new mom, but it was hardly an issue when it all happened. The doctor who delivered him was great. I had to trust, and I did.
It's a bit of a blur, but the next part happened something like this. A nurse was getting me ready to assume the pushing position, and to everyone's surprise, she could see the top of they baby's head! He was coming fast. I remember them telling the Dr. to hurry, and the Dr. asking if she needed to run. A nurse asked Matt if he wanted to see his baby boy's head of black hair. "What? Black hair?" I asked. I hadn't pictured that. Matt hadn't planned to watch, but he said yes, and actually went to look. I asked for a mirror, and they brought one in for me to see the birth. Matt had a leg, and maybe my hand, and ended up watching the whole thing in the mirror as well. At first I told him not to look, but he said it was okay. I pushed 4 times. He was here in 1minute 36 seconds. The Dr. said I'm in the upper 99 percentile. The nurses said how rare this is for a first time mom. It was incredible to see him come out. I felt no pain. It was magical. Again, I can't explain the feeling, the vibe of the room at that moment. Absolutely sacred.
It was a strange sensation as they pulled him out of me. I felt like there was so much coming out. They said he was a big baby, which was a 180 from all those weeks we worried he was too small. Something happened that last month and he packed it on. Matt cut the cord.
Here he was. Charlie. That's Charlie. Looking nothing like I'd imagined. I was laugh-crying as he was placed on my chest. "He has dimples!" They said. He didn't cry long. I couldn't believe this was who was in me. This was him. It was the most surreal moment of my life. I knew him, but I didn't. But I loved him. Nothing can prepare you for this. Our sacred hour went over. Two hours later we let parents in. "Oh my god, oh my god," my mom said over as she rushed in. He was so beautiful.
It gets vague for me here. I've lived a lifetime since his birth. I never could have imagined how much I'd love birthing him. I never could have imagined all the trauma that was coming next. There is still a big lump of sadness smack in the middle of my chest. I still have to try to separate the birth experience from all that followed, so it's not tainted. I refuse to let the beauty of it be atken away from me. But it runs together, and it's hard. All I could think as it started spiraling downhill next was, "I can never go back to who I was before Charlie, I can never go back to who I was before Charlie," on repeat.
It's true what they say. All of it. How permanently, drastically, and instantly life is changed. A true transformation in the most literal and purest sense. I was reborn, as was my partner, as were my parents.
Before I tackle the next part, which I don't have time to do tonight, I need to make sure you know he is healthy and great after our rough start. He's sleeping peacefully next to me at this very moment.
It's hard to find the time to get this all out, but I'm going to aim to finish the rest of this tomorrow.
Thanks for reading, for the love, and support.