What makes a birth story a "story"? Drama and surprise? Swift, unexpected developments? Long, laborious battles? Shrieking and wailing, like those actresses on the screen with the impossibly skinny hips? What if there was absolutely nothing remarkable at all about the birth other than a beautiful, healthy, sweet baby boy slipping into the world?
This time around, our baby boy arrived exactly when he was ready, which turned out to be seven days after the official due date. Labor started around four o'clock in the morning. I expected the contractions to start off mild and far apart, allowing me to rest some more and perhaps putter around at home. However, these early contractions were quite intense and about four to five minutes apart. Since this was my second pregnancy, the doctor advised us to slowly make our way to the hospital. We bundled Juniper into the car and drove her to my parents' house. At this point, the contractions were three minutes apart, so we went straight to the hospital and settled down to wait out the labor. It was about two hours before the doctor arrived and determined that I was 4 cm dilated. He expected at least six more hours of labor; I knew it would be much less than that.
Another hour passed by. After only three hours of sleep that night, I was exhausted. I was actually dozing off in the few minutes between each contraction, only to be jerked awake by the pain. I was still only 6 cm dilated, so the doctor gave me a low dose, short-acting pain killer. He warned me that it wouldn't do much, though I was hoping it would take the edge off enough to let me nap a bit. Sure enough, the shot did nothing for the pain, though it did make me even more sleepy. I was so tired that I drifted off for a little while. I was still aware of the contractions, but in a more distant, dozy kind of way. When the medication wore off after about forty-five minutes, I actually felt refreshed and ready for what was ahead.
Shortly after 11am, the nurse announced that I was 9.5 cm dilated. She suggested that I try a little test push to see if I could push through to the full 10 cm. I tried a little push. She yelled, "Stop! Stop pushing! Your baby is ready! We have to get the doctor!" All of the sudden, the room was full of nurses setting up instruments and trays and sheets. Lights descended from the ceiling. The doctor hurried in, interrupting some discussion of whether or not there was enough time to procure his preferred gloves. There was not enough time. This baby was ready to meet the world. After what seemed like ages though was really only minutes, the doctor sat down, with his less-than-perfect gloves, and readied himself to catch our boy. The nurse told me I could push whenever I was ready. I pushed a little, getting myself used to this new kind of pain, expecting many, many more pushes, steeling myself for a marathon of pushing. On the next contraction, I pushed as hard as I could. And that was it. Another push for the shoulders, and our baby, our boy, rushed into the world all breathy and screaming and pink with health.
On October 27, 2010, at 11:40 am, Owen Heath was born without fuss, without complication, and with as much peace and calm as possible. He was 9 lb, 4 oz and 21 inches long, healthy, alert, hungry, and entirely perfect. Twenty-four hours later, we were home. Thank you, little boy, for this story.
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