It all started when I was 39 weeks and 5 days. I looked a little somethin' like this:
After enduring two weeks of false labor every night, Wednesday the 23rd came upon us, and things went a little differently. Starting at 11:00-ish, shortly after Jimmy Fallon's monologue, the lazy, lolly-gagging braxton hicks contractions I had grown accustomed to ignoring began to morph into attention-demanding contractions that quickly came to be 5 to 7 minutes apart. I got super excited. Stephan doubted. I convinced him by humming seriously through a few contractions. He relented and took a shower so we could go. During his shower, I called Jojo, my wonderful labor coach, and we decided that it would be wisest for her to met us at the hospital. I'm very glad my parents had previously volunteered to have the boys spend the night with them that night, that way we didn't have to wait for anyone to come over before we could leave.
We arrived at ETMC, were admitted, and I changed into the
You see, friends, the contractions I had been enduring up to that point had been very manageable. I could sway and hum or moan softly through them with relative ease. But at the same time, they were very uncomfortable and I was not looking forward to them getting worse. Well, shortly after we got situated, my water did, indeed, break, and things did, indeed, progress quickly. For the next three hours, I alternated between laboring on my knees, bent over the back of the propped up bed, and sitting on the bed, trying my best to relax through the contractions. Either way, the contractions quickly, quickly intensified. I went from humming serenely, to moaning determinedly, to more, well, impressive vocalizations. In truth, towards the end, I felt bad for anybody that might have been inhabiting a neighboring room in the ETMC L&D ward that night.
The contractions were so intense and so arduous that I would actually drift off a little in between them. I wasn't quite napping, but for a few moments, I would experience peaceful respite, only to regain full awareness to the swift and painful pressure of a new contraction. I dreaded each coming contraction. I wanted it to be over so badly. I prayed that it would be over quickly. And, just when I thought I was about to lose my last, straining grasp on all the labor-management techniques I had read about and practiced for weeks beforehand, I felt that tell-tale pressure, the sign of impending pushing. I got excited.
Jojo the Marvelous paged my nurse to come check me. She did. I was at a 9-10. She also found another membrane that was preventing baby girl's head from full-on engaging the cervix. With irresponsible flippancy, the nurse suggested she break this new membrane, assuring us that that would cause Belle to make her debut very soon after. So, she did. Boy, she was right.
I felt that second gush of water, and then all hell broke loose.
You know how labor and delivery is portrayed in every single movie and tv show? With the dramatic flailing and screaming and crying and wailing and gnashing of teeth? Well, friends, as a result of my two previous, drug addled deliveries, I thought all of that to be rubbish and hogwash. Hollywood dramatizing a natural, beautiful process for laughs. I humbly realize now that, yes, some deliveries are just that. Because that's what I did.
My water broke a second time, and then, like a sledgehammer to the cervix, the absolute, uncontrolled need to push took over me, and I lost any remaining shred of cool I had. The nurse, realizing her mistake in not coming at this in a more prepared manner, scrambled to page my doctor and have that table covered in medical equipment moved in and set up, all while urging me to *try* to breathe and not push. If I could have laughed, I would have. I couldn't stop that madness. I felt Belle's head right there, ready and wanting to be free. I wanted her to be free. My whole body wanted to be done with this whole pregnancy thing, and it was not going to let up until my tiny occupant was evicted!
For 7 grueling, blurry minutes, I alternated between yelling through pushes, panting in between pushing, and looking at Stephan and Jojo with tear-filled, beseeching eyes, willing them to read the message I was trying to convey, since my words no quit not work stop then. MAKE IT STOP! MAKE IT STOP, MAKE IT STOP, MAKE IT STOP! Is what my eyes said. At one point, Stephan nearly lost an eyeball when, in my crazed state of no control, I may or may not have lunged for his face with my nails. Good for him, he has ninja reflexes.
At last, when I thought things could not get any crazier, There was Dr. Willis, suited up and ready to tell me what to do to make it end. She got to the foot of my bed just in time to catch Belle's head. Let me tell you, dear readers, the relief I felt from delivering her head alone was astounding, but I wasn't' done. Dr. Willis looked at me with absolute calm ( while I was yelling mindlessly at no one in particular), and said, "Take a deep breath and push very hard." She spoke with such assured conviction that I managed to gather my wits, gulp down a huge lungful, and push like I had not pushed before. It took two tries, and then, I felt it. With a slippery slurp (ew and wow! Almost worth the whole, painful experience just to feel that sensation), Belle came free.
I cried tears of joy, no longer tears of pain. Stephan cried tears of joy. Belle cried because that's what healthy newborns do. My body rejoiced in the sudden onset of peace for my weary muscles, for I now experienced complete relief. But then, I no longer cared what my body was doing or feeling. That didn't matter anymore. For soon after the relief set in, Dr. Willis placed my very new daughter on my chest and into my eager, waiting arms. Arms that had been waiting months and months to hold her.
Oh, readers, she was perfect! She was here and healthy and soft and warm and had hair and that new-baby smell...she was everything I was hoping she would be. For two hours, I nestled her close to me, trying my best to soak it all in and imprint the memories forever in my mind. For all the dramatic, painful, craziness that was her birth, it was worth it. So, very worth it.
So, sweet Belle, just like I said to your rebellious brothers soon after their births (rebellious, because they didn't listen to me), take your time growing up, baby. Don't grow so fast. Time moves so quickly and these moments don't last.
And thank You, Father in heaven, for the blessing that is Belle Meisie Du Toit.