Saturday, February 12, 2011

Birth Story

Husband and Boy#2,  Feb. 12, 1988
 (Warning: This post contains bodily fluids. There. You've been warned.)

The most shocking moment of my life occurred 23 years and seven hours ago as I sit here at 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning. That was the moment when I "rolled over" in bed, gasped, and poked Husband in the side.

"Honey! Honey! Wake up! My water just broke!"

Honey was at that time on faculty at Small College and had been up late grading tests. To to his everlasting chagrin (because I don't plan to ever let him forget this), he opened one eye and mumbled, "It can't. I just got to bed."

It wasn't as if we didn't know we were having a baby sometime in the not-too-distant future. You know those women who gestate their unborn children as tidily and efficiently as kangaroos? I was not one of them. I didn't carry high or low; I carried all over. "Rolling over" is in quote marks in the first paragraph because that maneuver at that point looked more like the breach of a particularly clumsy orca.

Anyhow, we knew Boy#1 was getting a sibling sometime in the future, but the due date wasn't for another month. The sure and certain indication at 2 a.m. that whoops! The due date is today! was perhaps the most shocking moment of my life. No birthing bag was packed, the friends with whom we were going to leave One during the birth had a flu bug going through their house, and the hospital was an hour away. 

But Husband and I are nothing if not a well-oiled team. We immediately dropped into the roles that have worked well for us for 27 years now: I washed my hair and he handled everything else. (What? No way was I going through labor with dirty hair.)

This is where the squeamish might want to close their eyes and scroll down a bit. Boys, I'm looking at  you again.

As everyone who has gone through or witnessed a birth knows, sit-coms are not a reliable source of education as to what actually happens during that miraculous process. The Friends actresses sit up in bed in their pristine hospital gowns, make funny but charming faces, pant a few times, and voila! Twins!

They don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' no babies. Birthin' babies, it turns out, involves an impressive amount of fluid, and this amount is not exhausted on the initial "Hey! My water broke!" moment. I realized as I stood at the sink washing my hair that bath towels would be my friends during the trip to the hospital. I folded several into diapers of appropriate orca size and stuffed them into place under my maternity jumper.

Husband called other friends who could wrangle One for a few hours, dumped One's top drawer of clothes into a suitcase for the subsequent days he would spend at Grandma's house, plopped our beloved first-born into the carseat for the one-hour trip to nearby Big City, and we were off. (I could write an entire post about the puzzled delight One had at going bye-bye in the middle of the night, but I'll save that.)

Fast forward one hour. By this time it was 3 a.m., and we had deposited One with friends and were pulling into the hospital emergency parking lot. Signs on every lightpost screamed that parking in this lot was for EMERGENCIES ONLY!, but labor was starting in earnest and I didn't want to wait for us to find a different lot.  Husband opened my car door and I ponderously swung my legs out. The orca diapers, lacking any kind of fasteners, dropped to my knees.

"Oh, dang!" I wailed at poor Husband, who was beginning to show some signs of nervousness that I was going to give birth right there on the frozen asphalt. I tried to make modest readjustments, but it was no use. Finally I thought "It's 3 a.m., we are the only people moving for blocks around, the heck with it." I turned my back to the ER entrance, hiked up my skirt to approximately shoulder level, and refolded the towels. Husband was scandalized at the level of exposure I was displaying but I was unconcerned. "It's okay--no one saw that," I reassured my prince.

Fast forward again six hours or so. By now labor was well-advanced, the epidural was in place, and we knew we would have a baby in the next few hours, but there was a lull in urgency.

"Do you suppose I ought to move the car out of the emergency parking lot?" Husband asked the labor nurse.

"Naw," dear Audrey replied. "They have high-powered video cameras on those lots and they're watching every time anyone comes in or out. They know you're in labor."
Grandpa and Boy#2

I looked at Husband. He looked at me. Without saying a word, we were reliving the moment when I mooned the security staff, and realized that this moment was probably being immortalized in the Wesley Christmas party blooper reel.

Now, as I look back over the 23 years I've been Two's mother, I think of the beautiful blue eyes that we saw for the first time that day, and remember how my father happened to be in the area and held his hour-old grandson right there in the delivery room. The shock of that morning, and the chaos of the preceding hours, and the...exposure? Oh, so worth it.

Happy birthday, Two. I'm glad I'm your mom.


  1. LOVE THIS POST! I need to get crackin' on my "One"'s birth story. It's only 1/3 typed.

  2. I love that I commented on this seven years ago. I saw my name, saw the comment, and said, "yep! That's me!"