nor will my body for that matter.
Today is Parker's birthday. What better way to mark the anniversary of the birth of your children than by reminiscing about how ridiculously awful their entrance into this world was. Wait- am I the only one who does that? Surely not. I have always heard people say that you forget all about the pain once you lay eyes on those little blessings. I call bullshit. Was it worth it? Of course. Do I remember every minute of the hellish 17 hours of labor? Nope, but neither have I forgotten the pain!
Way back when I was just a child of 19 and preparing to give birth to Will, the hospital where I would be delivering required you to pay for your epidural in advance. Feeling very much like, 'this is what my body was created for', I opted against one. Right before I went into labor, I remember telling my mom that since she had five kids, I knew childbirth couldn't be that bad. Her response? "Oh honey, I was knocked out when you were born. The whole family knew what you were before I even woke up." Yikes. This did NOT sound promising, but again, I fully believed in my ability to give birth without an epidural- and I did. I did have a couple shots of stadol. I'm not sure in what dimension that is supposed to block the pain of your uterus turning inside out, but whatever.... Mostly they just made me see double. At any rate, I not only survived labor and delivery without an epidural, but it wasn't anything that I felt like I couldn't handle. I only lost my cool once- when I overheard my grandmother telling someone, "They might send her home." This was after they'd broken my water and inserted internal monitors. The mere mention of going home without a baby turned me into the exorcist. Sooo things I remember about the day Will was born:
1. Trying to stay focused on my 'focal point' while remembering to breathe. During much of this my sister was standing right in front of me with a sympathetic look on her face while she bobbed up in down in front of what I was trying to focus on. On second thought, she might have gotten snapped at too.
2. My mother repeatedly looking at the blood pressure monitor and then taking off running for the nurses. I had mild pre-ecclampsia. Let's just say, Mom didn't help my blood pressure.
3. Being hungry. Very hungry.
4. Finally having the baby and looking at Will for the first time. I was instantly hit with the feeling that he was his own person. My entire pregnancy I'd thought of him as an extension of me. Seeing him and realizing he was more than just my extension was amazing and oh so scary.
5. Begging for a cheeseburger, which I can be seen eating in the videos Vanessa shot. It was a long day for her too ;) But yes, most of the film from after Will's birth is people passing him around while oohing and aahing, and me sitting in bed shoving a burger and fries in my face while looking like a deer in headlights.
6. And finally, Will being taken to the nursery for the night and me being taken to a room to get some blissful sleep. Instead I stayed up all night waiting to lay eyes on my boy again.... Becoming a mother was sobering and scary, but the single, best moment of my life. It was love at first sight...
Fast forward a few years, and I'm expecting Parker. I'll never forget telling Will he was going to be a big brother, and more importantly his reply: You need to get fixed or something. You know like when we took the dog to the vet? Sadly our dog passed away while being spayed. I'm just going to assume Will wasn't thinking about that when he suggested that I go. I'd like to think that he changed his mind when he first held his baby sister, but I think I'd be fooling myself. Just a couple months ago he said, "When it was just me, I got 100% of your attention. Then you had Parker and I was down to 50%. When Jace came along I got 33.333333333% (I'm pretty sure that's the number he used,) of your attention, so it's a good thing you can't have any more or I'd be knocked down to 25%." That's my Willio... always thinking of others hahaha.
Anyway, while pregnant with Parker, I obviously had no intentions of having an epidural because labor and delivery with Will was fine. Throughout the years, I'd even scoffed at friends that had epi's because I thought they were weenies. It's probably occurred to you by this point that Karma would be biting me in the ass at any moment, and yes she did.
Labor with Will and Parker was remarkably similar. With both I started contracting at around 3-3:30 in the morning. Both were born within minutes of each other that evening. One at 7:39 pm, and one at 7:41. (Don't ask me which was which. These are the things I forget.) With both they had to break my water, and with both I was given pitocin to speed things up. Here is where things start to change- With Will I was ok with no epidural. With Parker, I would have traded her for anything that might possibly numb me. I didn't just think that, I actually said it at some point. Thank goodness no one took me up on the offer. I declined stadol because it didn't work with Will and just made things fuzzy. In the end, I went from 7 to 10 in a matter of minutes. Literally, 5-10 minutes. At some point in there they gave me a shot of something. When Parker came out I was pretty much high and afraid to hold her. I had to put a hand over one eye to try to see just one of her. It was bad business. This is where I start to forget, because I don't have a clue what happened for the next few hours, other than the only thing that was truly important to me was that Will be the first person to see her.
Sooooo after the horror of Parker's childbirth, I was NOT going to rule out an epidural when Jace came along. I hadn't firmly decided one way or the other, but it was definitely staying on the table. With Jace I had pre-e again, only this time worse. I started losing part of my field of vision, and so they admitted and induced me at 37 weeks, 5 days. At some point I did get an epidural, for two reasons- 1. Thomas talked me into it, probably so I'd stop yelling at him for just sitting in a chair eating anything he could find in a vending machine while playing on his iPhone, and 2. Because a lot of what happened after Parker was born was a blur, and I kept hearing these stories about women who had epidurals and had glorious, pain free deliveries and actually knew what the hell was going on. Even with Will, the end was just a blur of pain and 'Please God make it end', so I wanted to see what was different.
First off let me say that so far I universally hate military hospitals. There may come a time when I feel differently, but I wouldn't put money on it. With Jace, first of all no one knew how to hook up the internal monitors. Because I was on pitocin and magnesium for my bp, it was important to be able to monitor him... I don't remember how many people were crouched down there trying to hook it up, but I wouldn't be surprised to find out they were bringing in the cleaning ladies to 'have a go at it'. Then came the epidural man. I had been assured that he was the best in the hospital and I was soooo lucky that he was working. Well I'm not so sure, because it took him two tries to get my epidural in the proper place. He then started accusing me of my spine being strange, because clearly he couldn't have just made an error... I don't know if it is or not, but I do know that you don't accuse a woman in labor of anything if you want to keep breathing. Finally with monitors and epi in place, I drifted off to lala land, and I liked it. I can remember as I was drifting off to sleep thinking, "Why didn't I do this with the first two?!" Famous last words.
At some point they came in to wake me up and check me. I had completely stopped dilating after getting the epi. I'd been at 4 when I went to sleep and now 5 hours later, I was still at 4. They bumped up the pitocin, and that's when things started getting crazy. First the internal monitor started going crazy. I think it beeped for at least five minutes before I noticed because the epi had worn off... Oh yes.... Pain, like a mind-numbing, primal, someone put me out of my misery pain, took over my entire body. At this point they are trying everything to get Jace where he can breathe. I spent what seemed like forever on my hands and knees while they tried to reposition him. I'm positive everyone in the hospital was in my room. There were at least 10 people at this point. The horror of all horrors was the fact that my cervix started swelling, and so instead of dilating I actually went from 8 back to 7. I vaguely remember someone giving me a shot in my arm to stop my contractions because Jace couldn't handle them... All this time the monitors were still going crazy, and when I could think, it was, "Why aren't they just getting this baby out?!" Apparently that's because none of the doctors in the hospital at that time were OBs. Yeah... It was a couple family practice doctors. When the OB finally showed up all I can remember thinking was "Praise Jesus, Hallelujah". I think I kissed the anesthesiologist. By the time I hit the OR, everything happened so fast that Thomas walked in right as they were pulling him out. He was completely purple. Thank God he started screaming and turning pink immediately, but to this day I think, 'What if the OB had been any later?!"
So while Jace was off being weighed and measured and all that good stuff, I was left with the doctors who were trying to repair the fact that they cut through my cervix when the made the incision. Oh, and btw I could also feel them sewing me up. Not like, "OMG I have a knife tearing into my abdomen pain!" But I could feel stinging every time they stuck the needle in and I was petrified it would suddenly get worse. The anesthesiologist insisted that I could not be feeling pain.... Since I begged to differ, his answer was to shoot me up with some versed so I'd shut up and go to sleep. Worked for me. We'll skim over the fact that I was severely anemic in the hospital and yet no one checked my blood again before discharging me. That trip back to the hospital a couple days later to be offered a transfusion so that I could walk up my stairs without feeling like I was having a heart attack was fun. You know in movies when someone is bleeding to death and they say, "It's so cold..." Yes, it is.
Soooo how does all this relate to today, Parker's 11th birthday? Because despite ridiculous pain, having total strangers up in your hoo-ha, stretch marks, ever present maternal guilt, and saggy boobs seems like a hefty price to pay, but it's not. I would have given more. I still would. Each of my children is the best part of me and the best thing I ever did. I would die for them. I will love them forever, without fail. I will immediately think of them any time I count my blessings. They are my everything, and the fact that I have given them life, feels like nothing compared to everything they've given me. No matter how many mistakes I've made, no matter whether I deserve them or not, God has given me these babies and they are amazing and the most perfect children for me. They are funny, smart, and perfectly imperfect, and I could not ask for more.