(Part 1 here)
**As a disclaimer, I should really be sleeping right now. All three kids are napping simultaneously, and the house is awash in white noise via the washer, dryer, dishwasher, and sonic spa 'ocean waves' setting pumping out tropical vibes to the dormitory wing. Basically we're living high on the energy-consuming hog as we ring in day 2 of Christmas…God bless America.
I don't desperately need a nap, however, because my angel of a third born slept for seven! straight! hours! last night (Knocking frantically on wood as I type this) and I feel good. Reaaaaal good. Listen up readers, if any of you out there in blogland are on the fence about baby number three, go for it! I honestly and truly feel like God has patted my dear head and handed me a human/angel hybrid to raise, perhaps as a reward for the two sleepless wonders who proceeded this latest edition? Perhaps I've just hit the genetic lottery? Perhaps I'm too stupid to realize it's only day 11 of this honeymoon, and hard times are a 'comin?
Whatever the case may be, this baby is amazing, and I am completely and utterly obsessed with her. I would go so far as to say she has given me a greater capacity to love her two older brothers as well, but they have each woken up at least once per night since she arrived, so I won't give them any such shout out. (But it might just be true.) So third baby…do it! Just do it and don't look back, it's joyful chaos, I tell you. And I can already feel and see myself relaxing/lowering my standards/calming the eff down … this baby is all around good for my soul, good for my marriage, and good for our family. End PSA.
So the birth story, where were we? Oh yes, the anesthesiologist. She finally showed up, and wouldn't you know it, so did my 1 minute apart, 90-second long contractions. Do you know what my least favorite thing about labor is? Aside from the hideous expression 'second degree tear,' that is? It's that 3 minutes of hell on wheels where you are supposed to 'arch your back like a cat, that's a good girl, push your back toward my hand, now hoooooold still.'
Oh, I'm sorry,
seismic tidal waves
are slamming through my body
tearing me apart (labor: a haiku)
And I should hold still for you? Maybe if you had arrived 2 hours ago when I had requested your presence, milady. So we did the epidural dance, she and I. A jab here, a shuddering jerk there, and a whole lot of writhing and sweating. At one point once she'd placed the initial line I felt a hideous electric shock travel down my left leg, which started involuntarily twitching, Riverdance style, and it was at this point I found the only true moment of terror in this labor experience.
Oh God, what's happening, this is that rare 'reaction' they warn you about on Babycenter.com, the epidural isn't going to work, I am going to feel everything, I just sustained major nerve damage on my left side, they can't cover up my pain, aaaaaaiaiiiiiiiiiii…..
Or something along those lines. Undeterred, the good drug doctor proclaimed my reaction 'weird,' before asking if I had any inflamed or injured discs in my back (I didn't until you just skewered one with your needle, lady) and then telling me she was going to 'back up' and 'try another point of entry.' One more cat curl, one more stick, this one not directly into some sensitive nerve junction in my spinal cord, aaaaaaaand sweet, cold relief. So sweet and so cold, in fact, that I shook for a good 15 minutes after she left, and I ended up feeling a bit on the numbish side from about the sternum down, soooooo, effective, but not my best anesthetic experience to date. (I was, however, able to hop out of bed 40 minutes after delivering and walk to the bathroom like nothing had happened, so it wore off quickly.)
So I'm drugged. I'm feeling the burn as the second round of my strep B + antibiotics course through my IV, I'm strapped into multiple monitors and I have a rolled up towel under one side to distribute the happy juice evenly…and I'm so, so calm. It certainly isn't the empowering warrior-princess birth I've read of countless times on crunchier websites and in Ina May volumes, but it is wonderful in its own right. I was just so, so grateful and aware of the blessings of every detail of this delivery, from being in America with a vehicle to take me to a hospital with real, certified doctors (and an effective, if somewhat inexpertly applied, epidural) and a private birthing room and room service and my good, holy doctor and I could have gone on and on (and I probably did, poor Dave) but let's just say that it was one hundred million times better than the Italian medical immersion experience we'd been planning on. To infinity and free cable and beyond.
Back to business. I was approaching 'complete' and the nurses started a little confusing argument about whether or not my water had broken. It has always been a fairly obvious event for me, so I was confused over there confusion, and they were confused over not being able to determine whether Evie was still living in her bubble world or not. When my doctor finally arrived (toting a gorgeous icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe, whom he positioned at the foot of my bed) he assessed the situation, looked quizzically at the nurses, told them he was going to break my water as it was very much still intact, and went ahead with that plastic knitting needle I've heard so much about. Both times before my water had broken on its own, so this was kind of a weird new sensation. Not unpleasant or painful, just odd. Afterwards everyone kind of set things up in the room and then turned to me expectantly.
Dr.: So, should we start pushing?
Jenny: Um, if you want me to?
Dr.: Do you feel like pushing?
Jenny: I mean I don't have a lot of feeling, but I could try to push if you want me to
Dr.: Would you like to have the baby now?
It was as weird as it sounds. I laughed and decided that yes, now would be a fine time to have a baby, and, warning the entire room that I was a 'bad pusher,' we commenced.
I think, all in all, it was around 30 minutes, maybe less, but it was the strangest sensation. My babies tend to hang out super high until the very last minute, so it's only right as they're about to crown that I feel anything close to a real 'urge to push.' This time, however, I felt it much more acutely than with the boys' deliveries. I had instructed Dave to put Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide" on a few minutes earlier, and now Dave Matthews was playing into the otherwise quiet delivery room. Really touching details, these, but they're ones that stick with me. All of a sudden my 'bad' pushing became quite effective, and in one contraction out came half a little dark head of hair. All the nurses oohed and aaahed over her luscious locks, and I determined that it would not be pleasant to wait 60 seconds for another contraction and went ahead and delivered the rest of her by sheer force of will, I think. My doctor laughed and said something like, 'Oh, she's going for it!' and then, oh that wondrous moment, she was here.
I couldn't believe it, even after 3 kids it's still the most shocking thing in the world when they put that squirmy, squishy baby on your chest (well, stomach, her cord was so short she couldn't even reach past my belly button!) and you realize that there was another human being inside of your body. And all you really did was cooperation with God's timing and His design plans. And okay, maybe upped your caloric intake and popped a few prenatals. And then boom. Baby. Perfect little slippery naked baby, not even crying, just looking around and grimacing and blinking her dark, dark eyes under the harsh fluorescent lighting and wondering what she'd gotten herself into.
She did eventually cry, and she also looked straight at her daddy as he whispered to her while they checked her stats.
Apgar of 8/9, weight at 6 lbs 6 oz (my smallest by more than 2 lbs!) and a petite 18.5 inches long. They brought her back to me and she nursed like a champ for more than an hour, hooting and squeaking in between sips like she'd been doing it for years, as if she hadn't just miraculously transitioned from living under water, breathing liquid, and receiving nutrition through a feeding tube in her belly button for goodness sakes…what a miraculous, intricate and immensely effective design. Who could have written this program?
Only Him. There's no other sufficient explanation for the miracle of new life, whether it transpire in a hemp-oil scented hot tub in London, a yurt in Siberia, or a LDR suite in North America. Miraculous, tiny Genevieve, we're so glad you're here. And mommy is so happy you came 10 days early and 2 lbs light. What a sweet, considerate little girl. I love you to the moon and back, and I'm so glad I get to be your mama. Remind me of all this in 12 or 13 years.