The night before Gregor arrived I sat in my bed with a young adult fiction book ("Looking for Alaska" by John Green, if you must know), and my laptop open, with facebook pulled up. I smiled and "wrote" on my facebook:
"Sometimes I feel like I am going to be pregnant forever, and then I go to bed."
I couldn't help but to laugh at it, because I did feel like I was going to be pregnant, forever... or like I had already been pregnant forever. I didn't remember what my body felt or looked like, not pregnant. I had become really comfortable with my belly - maybe too comfortable. I frequently walked around my home in nothing more than underwear and tee-shirts.
In some ways, I loved being pregnant, and while this pregnancy had not been as easy as my first, I was still very happy. Even if I didn't always let on that I was, or seem overtly enthusiastic about it all. I had aches, and swelling, and I kept finding tiny stretch marks hiding where they thought I would never look (I shouldn't have!). But, I loved how this baby felt different than Chloe had felt inside me. I loved nesting. I loved seeing my belly grow and I loved how ridiculous it looked and felt to me. So while I was tired, and growing more uncomfortable each day, I was trying my hardest to be patient and trying to savor my last days of pregnancy.
But, yeah, there was part of me that just wanted this baby to be out.
That night though, I felt pretty okay about being pregnant for a few more days. Maybe even a week or two more. I had passed the thirty-eight week mark, and while I thought I was ready, I knew that I had it in me to wait a bit longer, if I needed to. I had come this far, and I could make it. I was in a good mood.
I read that book until I reached the back cover, turned the light off, and went to bed. I slept the entire night without waking up even once to pee. When I did wake up, it was still early. I remembered that it was trash day and threw on some pants so that I could drag the trash-can and recycle bins to the curb. It was beautiful outside. August had been pretty hot and muggy, but on this morning it was the perfect combination of cool and sunny. I thought about taking Chloe to pick peaches. She had been asking to, and because of the weather, and how uncomfortable I had become, with contractions coming and going each day, I hadn't been able to take her. I stood on the front porch and decided when she got up I would take her to the orchard and pick peaches.
I thought about the name "Peach" as a middle name for a girl, if we had a girl. We had two girl names picked out, but coming up with a middle name for either one was a struggle. If I were to go into labor on the full moon (which had already passed by that time), and we had a girl, her name would have been "Audrey Moon". I really liked the name "Holland" though, and I let the name "Holland Peach" roll around my mind for a bit.
I went back up to bed and called Christian, who had worked overnight and would be coming home shortly. I let him know that I took out the trash, and mentioned the name "Holland Peach", and asked him if he could bring me home something for breakfast - a bagel or something. He said he would be home shortly and we hung up. I laid in bed for a bit longer, until I heard Chloe call me from her room, announcing that she was up. I sat up in bed and my body began to leak.
The water trickled out of me slowly. I froze for a second, still trying to figure out what was going on, and then I waddled as quickly as I could to the closet to get a towel, and then to the bathroom. I cleaned up quickly, as Chloe was still calling for me from her room, threw a hand-towel in my underwear and waddled in to get her. We both went to my room to call Christian and let him know my water had broke. Then I started to strip the bed and clean up. Chloe asked me if I peed the bed. I told her I hadn't, but that my water broke. She replied "Oh, you got to fix it!". I laughed, and more fluid trickled out.
It was about eight in the morning, and my water had broke around seven. But there were no real good contractions happening, and nothing good enough or frequent enough to get me counting them. So I walked around the house cleaning up, then grabbed some pads I had bought from out of the car, and replaced the hand-towel. By the time Christian came home, I had called my midwife, Pat. I decided I wanted to hang out at home since my contractions weren't very regular or painful. Pat told me to let her know when I felt the need to head to the hospital, and that she would call them now and let them know to expect me at some point that day.
I continued to clean up around the house and watch a bit of television with Chlo. We took turns bounding on my birthing ball. Christian tried to nap in the basement, since he had worked all night and was most likely going to be up most of the day and evening. My contractions continued to be pretty far apart and be completely unimpressive to me. Pat called me around noon to ask how I was doing. I told her that nothing had changed, and we decided that I would continue to hang out at home. While I was very content to be laboring at home, if you could call it that, I knew that my clock had started at seven that morning. I knew that if my labor didn't pick up on it's own that I would need pitocin to make it happen... and I wasn't too keen on going that route.
I decided to take a shower and see if that would help get things going. I knew the whole rationale behind the shower is that it helps you to relax. Maybe watching Chloe was keeping my body from relaxing and progressing like it should. I woke up Christian and asked him to watch Chlo while I took a warm shower. Chloe is used to taking showers with me, and so she was kind of ticked that I was locking the door and kicking her out, but I knew I needed time alone. Christian handled her tantrum, and I stood under the hot water. Hot showers during pregnancy are just pretty great, even when you are not in labor. They are just really, really, great.
And it did the trick. Once I got out of the shower I felt my contractions start to pick up and become time-able. I got myself dressed. I was still able to move during my contractions, but they had undoubtedly picked up and were coming about every four to five minutes apart. I called Pat to let her know and she told me if I wanted to head over to the hospital that she would meet me there. So Christian and I got ourselves together, and my mother-in-law headed over to watch Chlo. While my mother-in-law and I talked before we left for the hospital I started to feel my contractions become stronger. They were demanding me to stop doing whatever I was doing at the minute, and when they did I took the time to sway my hips a bit and breathe. I said goodbye to Chloe and started to cry. I have never been away from her overnight, and knew that this was the end of something good... and the end is rough, even if it means that something else, a whole different something good, is going to begin.
Chris and I drove to the hospital together. Since we had Chloe we rarely went out without her... we joked about how it felt like a date. We got to the hospital around five and made our way up to labor and delivery. I had started to feel more and more fluid leaking out with each contraction, and when I changed into the gown in my delivery room I noticed some bloody show. One nurse hooked me up to a monitor, while another asked if she could start an IV, and a third asked me a bunch of intake questions. As a nurse it felt awkward to be on the other end of everything... as if I could better relate to the tasks of the nurses surrounding me, than the role of the patient.
They got me all set up with wires and tubes; my contractions were about three to five minutes apart. Pat arrived very shortly after and checked me. I was three centimeters and 100% effaced. Pat reminded me that getting to five centimeters is the toughest part, and told me and the nurses that I could drink plenty of fluids, have my IV caped off, and walk around, being monitored only intermittently. I was thrilled about this. Chloe's labor had kept me confined to bed, unable to move from a side-lying position, and I had needed pitocin to keep things moving along. I knew that walking and moving would only help everything progress.
Christian and I walked the hallways. I drank water and chewed ice chips, and I knew he was exhausted. Just one week before he had been in a hospital with a close friend who he lost the following day to cancer. He was a very brilliant and sweet person, and Christian often refereed to him as being "lovable". We talked about baby names and Christian mentioned naming our baby after him... but while I thought the world of his friend, if our baby were a boy, he was Gregor, just like Christian had named him before we knew for certain I was even pregnant with Chloe. Our boy name had been chosen almost four year before our baby would arrive. We spent time talking about his friend, and I thought about how people leave and enter this world so quickly... they are here, and then they are not, and then they weren't here and suddenly they are. I asked him what his friend's middle name had been, but Christian said he never heard him use it, and in all the years of knowing him, never found out. We talked about how his friend's birthday would have been the following day, and how odd it was that our baby would possibly share the birthday.
We were able to walk around for forty-five minutes at a time, and then needed to go back to the room so I could be monitored for fifteen. Each time we came back it seemed that my contractions had grown more forceful, and would last longer than before. It must have been around seven-thirty or so that I felt my labor has started to get rough. We had been walking the hallways and watching Jeopardy on the television in the small lobby outside the elevators. Christian told me it was about time to go back and be monitored. I went back to the room and decided to try to use the bathroom. Once I was on the toilet I felt like I had to push, and every time a contraction came I felt my body pushing without me ever intending to. I had the hardest time getting up and out of the bathroom because the contractions came so quickly and frequently while I was there. Part of me wished I could just stay there... damn hospital birth.
Once I finally got out of the bathroom and into the bed to be monitored I let my new nurse know that I felt like I was pushing without trying to. She suggested that Pat check me again. My contractions were about two to three minutes apart, and I was four centimeters. I had more work to do. Once I was able to get out of bed again I decided I would walk around the room. The contractions were pretty strong and frequent, and I didn't want to be seen out in the hallways of the hospital like this. Chris was exhausted and sitting in a chair in the room watching television with me between contractions. Whenever I would have a contraction he would look at me, ask if I was okay, and do whatever he could do to help. I would often sway my hips during contractions and whisper "f-ck, f-ck, f-ck...." or just groan. Sometimes I would squat down, and when I did that I could feel the baby move lower and my body begin to push. My back began to hurt and I made Chris push on my lower back with his fist during my contractions. I stood and walked in that room until I felt like I couldn't stand much more. I could feel that my legs were starting to shake and thought they might give out of me... So then I went back into the bathroom.
In the bathroom, I felt like I could have the baby right there, and I think Christian and my nurse both feared this, because they knocked on the door what felt like every ten seconds, and attempted to coax me out. The small space of the bathroom felt oddly comforting to me. While I didn't really want to leave, I eventually came out and managed to get back into the bed to be monitored. Pat came in to check how I was doing, and talked with us for a while as a labored. She reminded me that she had written for some pain medicine for me if I wanted it. I told her I was going to ride it out. I had reached five centimeters. The contractions were ridiculous, and while I had every intention of getting back out of that bed when I had gotten in it, once it was okay for me to leave the bed again I realized that I wouldn't be able to get myself out. The contractions had become too forceful and hard, and I didn't think I would be able to get out of the bed quick enough to do it between contractions. So, I breathed, and groaned, and squirmed in the bed.
At about nine, I decided to take the pain medicine. It would be a bit of nubain and phenergan, two medications I knew about and had even read up on.. and that I knew would make me feel a bit drunk. It was the same medicine that I had been given when I was in labor with Chloe, but I knew this time that none of this was going to slow down. Labor was progressing so quickly (yet, it felt not quickly enough), that nothing would slow this down. And nothing slowed down. Right after I got the pain medicine I felt a little bit tipsy, and told Chris to go get something to eat while he could. He hadn't slept of eaten most of the day, and I knew I was going to be alright without him there for a few minutes at that point. I didn't fall asleep, but time kind of blurred during the next hour or so while I labored. I felt all the contractions, but I just felt that they all blended together into one huge contraction. I remember resting my head against the rail of the bed after each one, which seemed like the only thing that differentiated having a contraction from not having one.
Labor grew more and more intense and I felt like the time between contractions lessened and lessened even more. Pat had checked me at about ten, and I was seven centimeters. I don't remember being checked after that. I just remember that as I started to feel that I was going to start pushing, I noticed that a couple more nurses had shown up, and that Pat was getting all set to catch the baby. I don't remember talking about pushing, or announcing that I was going to push, or even Pat saying much about it... but I knew what my body was doing, and what it was about to do. My body and mind recognized all this, and there stood Pat at the end of the bed, and my husband at my side, assuring me that I knew what was happening, and whenever I felt ready, to go ahead.
With the next contraction I began to push. Slowly, but forcefully. I groaned and remember feeling frustrated that the baby had not come out with that one push. (Looking back now I feel like I can just count that first one as a practice push... right?) During the next one I pushed again, and I could feel that the baby was starting to come, but had not yet. Nobody said anything as I pushed, and I only remember my nurse encouraging Christian, who was standing by my side and holding my hand silently, to give me some ice chips because I looked dry. I remember him looking around quickly for ice-chips, and then putting them up to my lips as another contraction came. Nobody was saying anything, and I could only head myself groan as I pushed. I pushed during the next contraction and on the following one I felt the head. One more push and the body came as well.
I felt the warm hefty weight of the baby on me. I heard Pat chuckle, telling me that there was no denying he is a boy! I looked at Christian, and we both looked at our Gregor. I held him on my chest and breathed. The nurses were scurrying around the room, and eventually they turned down the lights and Gregor looked at me.
I delivered the placenta, and Pat apologized for not needing to give me any stitches this time around (yay!) While Pat and I talked and laughed and hugged, Christian did a little texting to our families to let them know that Gregor was here and well, and found the middle name of his friend who had passed was "Ian". We named our baby boy Gregor Ian.