The Grand Entrance of Miss Moira
The due date came and went. I bided my time playing solitaire and labeling the spice jars, but the waiting game is not an easy one.
Although my entire pregnancy was normal in every regard, I simply did not go into labor. So the midwife sent us to the clinic to get checked, and while nothing indicated any problems per se, the doctor there decided that, at eight days overdue, it would be best to induce labor. She instructed us to arrive early the next morning.
Herr Fritz and I spent our last evening washing, packing and cleaning the house to prepare for our baby's imminent arrival.
We checked into the clinic around 8am. At 10:30am they fed me a pill to help initiate labor contractions. Fritz and I wasted some time goofing around while we waited for something to happen. I had a couple of painful contractions after lunch, but nothing regular. At 2:30pm they fed me another pill and within thirty minutes, labor had begun.
At first, my contractions were irregular and only uncomfortable; the real pain began a couple of hours later. Around six o’clock, I undressed and got into a big hot tub. The midwife had dimmed the lights and put lavender oil in the water and as I lowered myself in I immediately noticed that the pain was much less intense. With happy relief I told the midwife "sehr besser" in my best German accent (very better). In between contractions, I laughed with Fritz, saying “they were right, this IS painful...ha ha ha!”
At seven, I was no longer laughing. I began to vocalize my pain and the midwife pulled me out of the tub for a cervix check: 2cm dilated. Convinced that the baby wouldn't arrive until the early morning hours, my morale dipped. Already I was exhausted - not having slept the night before - and with contractions coming every three to four minutes, there was no mercy in sight. I gripped the side bars of the tub and told myself over and over “never again…I will never do this again.”
The hours passed but there was no longer any perception of time. As the pain got progressively worse, I wondered if I would survive. I prayed for a break – just ten minutes – but the waves of pain were unrelenting. I could no longer speak. I tried to breathe as deeply as I could but couldn’t resist the urge to cry out.
At a quarter to ten I suddenly needed to use the toilet, but nothing came out. I returned to the tub and as I was about to get in, my water broke. It seemed like there was blood everywhere. The midwife returned and I begged for pain medication; it was finally too much and I felt desperate for it to stop. I was brought back to the examining room and an IV with pain medication appeared. The head midwife checked my cervix again and said it was time to move to the birthing room. I was nearly fully dilated and there would be no time for pain medication after all...
She asked me if I could walk and I said NO. They wheeled me in and instructed me to kneel on the bed with my face to the back wall. By now I was screaming during contractions and after one warning not to push, the two midwives in attendance told me to go for it.
I felt a burning ring of fire as her head began to emerge, an experience not unlike passing a turd the size of Texas. But it was heartening to know that the end was near, and in just about 20 minutes, our little baby was finally squished out.
Herr Fritz told me it was a girl. Sweaty and trembling, the midwife helped steady me so I could turn around and hold little Moira. She was a bit purple and so tiny that I was nervous to hold her. We looked at her in amazement, examining her tiny hands and feet. She looked at us and cried. When I saw tears in her eyes, I thought about the difficulty of being born, of all the new limitations she would now face. But she was perfect in every way and although we were all of us exhausted by the experience, Fritz and I spent several hours marveling at the new little person in our lives.
She began to nurse and my uterus began to cramp and, for the first time in nine months, I was allowed to have a single ibuprofen ™ for the pain!!!!!
Fritz and I stayed the night and went home the next afternoon. Mo slept really well that first night, waking up only once to nurse. (But turns out that was just a fluke.)
As for me, I emerged from the experience relatively unscathed. There was no need to worry about all the hideous post-birth difficulties I had heard about. There were no complications, no tearing, no stretch marks and minimal bleeding, praise the Lord!
And let me say that I am hugely relieved not to be pregnant anymore!! I lost 10kg during the birth and immediately began returning to “normal.” I no longer harbor irrational fears of soft pretzels, milk chocolate or sunflower seeds. Toilet visits have dropped from 30+ times daily to only six or seven. I’m back in the clothes I wore at 4 months pregnant, and climbing the stairs is only nominally difficult. Best of all, that pregnancy-induced psychosis has finally gone..
Now there are a whole new set of challenges. Moira is less than three weeks old but already I have a perpetual backache (from carrying and holding her) and I’m learning to function on little sleep (a good night is one with a three-hour stretch). And typing this is a slooooooooow process. As it is now I am holding Mo in my left arm and typing with my right hand..
Stay tuned for my next installment called: Babies 101: A Crash Course
Until then I leave you with a couple of pictures from Moira’s first bath last Sunday (top)…
ps I will try to get to my emails now that this update is finished..