it's all relative

Seven years ago on March 12th, at about 9 pm, I went into labor. I started out with contractions 5-7 minutes apart which lasted all through the night. They were more of the "Oh my, someone is starting to descend through my pelvis" kind than the "Oh shit, someone has made his descent through my pelvis" kind and having done this once before, I knew that I didn't need to go to hospital just yet. I merely knew it was starting. I didn't wake Josh up, I just watched an assload of Law and Order re-runs and let gravity do it's thing. At about 9 am, with almost no sleep, the contractions stopped. Dead stopped. Ha ha stopped.

I could have died.

This is where I should mention that I was already a week overdue. Not so bad for me, really; B was 2 weeks late. My uterus is hospitable and my kids are lazy.

Anyway, I could have died. I got up, had some breakfast at the diner down the street, smoked a couple cigarettes (YOU spend 12 hours in fruitless labor, and then see what you're willing to smoke) and then ran down to the apothecary shop.

The apothecary shop is where you can buy Blue Kohash. Blue Kohash is this root that, in tincture form, drank like tea, will put you face to face with labor. Fast. If you mix it with some other clever herbs, you can suddenly be not pregnant if you find yourself in the position where you ARE pregnant and you're NOT so happy about it. But that's another story. Back to the Kohash.

You really shouldn't use it unless you are overdue and in the middle of a stalled labor. I was both, topped with a big ol' scoop of pissed the fuck off. So, I bought the Kohash and headed back home. I started drinking it about 10:30 and then I waited. And waited. And waited. By 1ish I figured I ought to take a nap. At 2:30 ish I woke up fully, completely, horrifically painfully in labor.

We got to the hospital around 3 pm on the 13th. I was 3 cm dilated, which kind of shocked me. I thought for sure I'd be further. You see, for all you guys who read this, labor isn't considered labor until you're 4 cm. I felt like I was pretty close to pushing, and it turns out I hadn't even really started. So, we waited. And waited. Later that evening, I agreed to let them give me some pitocin (a drug that induces labor) and they threw in an epidural so I could sleep. I slept. I woke up. My dad and his wife had shown up, video camera in hand, ready for the big moment. After the debacle that was B's birth, which we'll get to in 31 days, I had decided that the only people who were to witness T's birth were Josh, my OB and if my dad stayed very, very quiet in the back of the room, he could tape it for me. I was VERY clear about this. Of course very clear means very little to my relatives, and my dad and his wife were right there, in my face, bugging the shit out of me. I was tired. I was in an incomprehensible about of pain. My labor was not progressing. My epidural was almost worn off. I was exhausted. And my parents would not shut up. About this point I started in on the contractions that I couldn't stay conscious through, and I started passing out. At one point, I asked my parents to put a sock in it so I could focus and they YELLED at me for being so rude. My doctor (bless his heart) kicked them out of the room.

By this point I was 8 cm dilated, so things were getting close. T's heart rate had dropped to the low 40's, which is not-so-good news in baby-world. It's about the point where they start saying words like "emergency" and follow them with words like "c-section". If you know me, and know my family history, you'd know that every Feeley* woman having a baby sees numbers in the low 40's and hears words like "emergency c-section". It's just how we have babies. I was not worried, but the poor little resident sure was. When he said c-section I told him to take a flying leap and he laid out my options. I could A) have the c-section or B) try to push the baby out at 8 cm. He said it seemed like the cord was maybe wrapped around the baby's neck and that one way or the other, that kid had to come out. Now. I opted for push and stretch.

The plan was: I'd push. He'd have both hands on my cervix and as I pushed he'd stretch my cervix around the kids' head. (Childbirth sounds FUN, doesn't it guys?) I'd already had one baby, so my cervix should play along with this. This actually sounded like an OK plan to me.

By this point I knew that something wasn't right. I knew the pain of childbirth, I knew what I was up against. But this pain, this was different. This was bone on bone pain. He wasn't low enough. He wasn't moving with contractions. He was carving his intials on my spine. It wasn't right.

So, we got ready for the pushing and the catching. My dad came back in with the camera. Josh damn near threw up. We braced for failure and a kid who came out the window because the door just wasn't good enough for him. And I pushed. One tiny, little, see what your cervix is doing push. My OB wasn't even in the room. This one was a trial run. And then, and then.....

I felt something. I looked down and I SAW something. Imagine sticking your fist into a mold of Jello. Then imagine turning your fist upside down. Imagine what that would look like from the view above the Jello. That is was my abdomen did. It was better than Sigourney Weaver in Alien. I gasped. Josh gasped. The doctor gasped. My little baby, right at crunch time, flipped over. And when he flipped over, he fell out.

Well, he started to fall out. The doctor grabbed my ankles and held them as high in the air as he could. He handed them off to Josh and with an order to me to "hold it", he ran to get my OB. She came in the room a minute later, lowered my ankles and told me to relax. I exhaled, and out slid a brand new baby boy.

Two days of labor, one-half of a push. He really is all about the build-up, my little TXU.

In case you're curious, the problem was that he was facing up. He should have been facing down, as all babies should be, but he doesn't do ANYTHING he's supposed to. His eyebrows got stuck on my pelvic bone and nothing anyone could have done would have gotten him out. He was born with a great big V-shaped bruise that sat right in-between his eyebrows and if he gets really mad, you can still see it today.

So, TXU, that is how you came into the world. You made me work for it, and you still do to this day. You were the "save the marriage" baby, but really you only ended up saving me. I waited for you. I rhymed and schemed to get you. I craved you and I have to have you and I am so in love with you that it hurts sometimes. You are a great big pain in my ass; you are stubborn and whiny and calculating and slow and self-centered and you are the most beautiful, perfect child I could ever dream of. You make me laugh harder than anyone in the world. You have an unbelievable amount of kindness in your heart. I look at you and I can still recall with perfect clarity the feeling of your tiny little head, and then your shoulders, and then your hips moving through me and out into the big, big world. I hope I never forget it. You really are my favorite.

Happy birthday, baby boy. Happy first day of seven. Your momma loves you.


*Yes, I have revealed a bit of personal information there. I come from Feeley women. You won't be able to find out anything about me with that information; I've known it my whole life and I still can figure out who the hell I'm related to.