Wednesday, April 29, 2015

21 week ultrasound pictures that I never got a chance to share

Dear Noble,
You're two weeks + two days old as I begin to write this and unlike the way most people feel about time and babies, I question how it has only been two weeks. How have you not been here with us the entire time? How have I lived my entire life without knowing you until now?

The last few weeks of my pregnancy were. . . frenetic (much like your birth would be). I feel like I never stopped moving. We moved into our apartment and immediately our days became a blur of errands, lists, unpacking, and cleaning. My mind wouldn't let my body accept defeat. I was determined to organize and scrub and shop and fluff until this place felt like home. When I was pregnant with Ev, I don't really recall going through a nesting phase. This time around, it was like an automatic bodily function. I couldn't help myself. Papa would come home, take one look at my ankles and force me to sit. Even then, he would leave the room and come back only to find me up again. Sometimes I would just be wandering and surveying what still needed to be done because my level of exhaustion made anything else impossible, but I needed to feel productive. During this time, I was willing you to stay in. I had no list of specific things that needed done before I could feel ready to go into labor. I just knew I wasn't ready. We all weren't ready. I also knew without a doubt that I did not want to go into labor at night. This was such a permeating thought that if I woke for any reason in the night, I would instantly feel a sense of panic. My eyes would shoot open at some arbitrary hour and my heart would race. I would lay in the dark hoping not to feel a contraction, but waiting for one. Funnily enough, the theme of this pregnancy prevailed with labor too - acceptance + letting go of control.

our last outing as a family of three

Fast forward to the Monday before your birth. Papa was off work, so we had plans to spend the last day of his long weekend (and what we knew might possibly be our last outing as a family of three) at the zoo. That morning, I began having light contractions that continued for a few hours. They were fairly sporadic, which would usually make one doubt whether it was the real deal, but so were my early contractions with Evie. Once again, I didn't know whether I was in labor. (Looking back, I think some progress was made and I walked around at that point for a few days.) Though I hadn't had a chance to anticipate or feel 'ready' for labor, I started to feel some excitement creep in with each contraction. I sat up in bed for an hour or so, timing contractions with a book in hand, but getting no reading done. My mind would drift from thoughts of meeting you to my list of things we needed done before your arrival and back to the book, where I would reread paragraph after paragraph countless times over. Finally I gave up and laid the book down, content to sit with my thoughts. Though a part of me wanted this to be it (I had almost convinced myself it was.), I was a bit disappointed at the thought of not getting to enjoy this last outing we had planned. I hated to sit at home all day waiting for labor to show up if this wasn't it, but I knew second babies were usually more unpredictable and had a feeling labor would go quickly this time around.

I decided to take a chance and told Papa I wanted to go anyway. He reminded me of my plans to go grocery shopping just hours before Ev was born, but obliged. I'd been given strict instructions to call the birth center at the slightest sign of labor, but I'm a stubborn woman and like to push my luck apparently. I promised I would call if the contractions didn't stop once I started walking around. Alas, the contractions did slow to a halt and we enjoyed a short walk around the zoo and a picnic in the grass. Ev has an infatuation with picnics these days and gets giddy at the mention of them or even at the appearance of a granola bar at the playground.

Going into this birth, I anticipated it being faster than my first and I assumed faster meant it would be easier. I had done this before. I had an easy birth last time. I (thought I) knew what to expect. Looking back, I realize how incredibly naive of me that was - all babies are different, so all births are probably different too. Though I was confident in my ability to have a natural birth again, I still had fears. The first thing I did after settling in at the birth center was share them with my midwife. The majority of my care had been elsewhere until just a week before you were born; whereas, I had time to build a connection with all the women that were a part of my care with Ev. Luckily, it still felt like a familiar place even after three years, and the midwife that attended your birth also assisted at Ev's. 'I'm afraid of tearing and losing too much blood again,' I blurted out between contractions. Melanie assured me she would coach me through delivery to minimize tearing and give me a shot of Pitocin afterwards as a precaution.

This is a very personal admittance, but one that I think needs to be included for the sake of the story. With each of my pregnancies, it's always been important to me that as the end draws nearer, I feel connected with your Papa and this time around, Evie too. That connection is a vital thing that I pull from during my labor. Thursday night, Papa and I laid in bed for quite some time, having a meandering talk about everything and nothing. It was the kind of conversation that had gotten harder to come by with an excited totter around and the exhaustion of pregnancy. Afterwards, we made love and fell into a peaceful sleep.

Throughout the night, I was awoken several times by a contraction here or there, but none of them were strong enough to completely pull me out of sleep. Then one approached and my eyes slipped open. I braced myself for what I had a feeling was the one, the confirmation that I needed to know I was in labor. The contraction climbed far beyond a peak I was ready for as I felt my face become flush and threw the sheets off. I jumped out of bed and took a trip to the bathroom to assess things. There was nothing out of the norm, no signs of labor other than the contractions and that my pelvic bones and muscles along the inside of my legs were throbbing, and had been for days. I could barely sit down. I had never experienced that with my past pregnancy. I walked into the kitchen to check the time - one something - and started to time the contractions. It only took two for me to decide the timing didn't matter. These were the real deal and this was active labor. It was time to go.


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