Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Happy Birthday, Owen!

One year ago today, I was in the hospital making calls to family and friends announcing the birth of our son, Owen.  There is something strange and beautiful to me about those first days in the hospital with your brand new baby.  It's so bizarre, being in this place all by yourself with this tiny little being you're all of the sudden expected to care for, even though you've only just met.  The feeling of responsibility, intimidation, nervousness and excitement is impossible to explain but in that moment there's no time to make sense of it all.  You have to hit the ground running, that's for sure!  I know a lot of people hate it, but for me both hospital experiences are two of the most special ones of my life.  I even love the crappy hospital food simply for being part of the whole experience, honestly!  That's not too hard to say about Owen's birth because the hospital here is wonderful (although the food was still wonderfully crappy) and their general philosophy is almost exactly mine.  I didn't have any conflicts or bad feelings/vibes at all.    The hospital stay in Brooklyn after Zoe's birth was not ideal and I had some struggles but what stands out in my memory the most now, almost 4 years later, is the fact that those were the first few days of the wild ride I'm on with these kids now.

I realized today that I started this blog after Owen was born, so I never documented the birth story here.  I wrote it down in a baby book, but I'd like to get it all down here too...hope you don't mind:

I was having contractions for about 24 hours, but they were pretty irregular and far apart.  I wasn't sure when things would pick up, so in the morning I told Nathan to go ahead to school for the day.  I planned to be around friends all morning because I was pretty uncomfortable.  Not the most ideal situation to be in while trying to take care of your almost-3-year-old.  I spent the first part of the morning at our apartment with my friend Jessica.  While she and I sat at my kitchen table drinking coffee, we both agreed that we didn't think it was going to happen that day.  After Jessica and I parted ways, I spent an hour or so alone while waiting for my friend Gretchen to be able to keep me company.  Not much changed, but I knew I couldn't be alone.  Whenever a contraction came, I couldn't talk or look at Zoe for fear of scaring her and she kept asking me to do things I couldn't possibly do (put me in the baby swing, Mommy!).  When I got to Gretchen's house, I sat right down at her kitchen table and tried to hold a conversation while bracing myself through a contraction every 10-15 minutes or so.  I called the midwives to tell them what was going on and to see what their advice was.  They suggested I take a walk to try and get things moving along and if I wanted to, I could go in to the office a few hours later to have them check me to see what was going on.  I told Gretchen what they had said and she and I realized (I think in the same moment) that on some level I had known that all along, but was AFRAID to "get things moving along", which was why I spent the whole morning sitting comfortably at kitchen tables.  When I did that, I was able to keep the contractions somewhat at bay.  Anyway, all of the sudden Gretchen told me she'd watch Zoe and shooed me out the door.

I had been keeping Nathan up to date via text and told him this latest news, but I still thought it was too early for him to come home.  He just said "I feel like I should be there.  I'm coming now." and about 20 minutes later, he showed up.  He walked around with me a bit and I admitted that although the contractions weren't any more regular I was feeling pretty crummy in general, which made me want to go to the midwives office right away, even though it was earlier than they'd told me to come in.  I had already called my friend Mariah, who was watching Zoe for us while we went to the hospital, and she magically showed up about a minute after I decided I wanted to go see the midwives.  Nathan and I slowly walked to the car (amusingly, one of my residents saw us and was trying to ask me something, but Nathan thankfully told them in a beautifully discreet way that it wasn't exactly a good time and they immediately backed off) and headed to the office.

The office is right across the street from the hospital and Nathan and I went back and forth in our conversation, trying to decide whether we should go to the office or straight to the emergency room.  We decided on the office at the very last minute and shuffled on into the lobby.  I waited (VERY uncomfortably) for about 10 minutes before they were able to see me and I think they could tell right away that I wasn't feeling all that great.  I guess that's because when they asked how I was feeling, I said "Not Good."  Anyway, we went back to the room where one of the midwives kindly waited for a contraction to pass before checking me.  Then she looked at me with a smile and said "You're nine centimeters.  You'd better get to the hospital!"  We all had a good (short lived) laugh and Nathan and I went outside.  We laughed at the absurdity of it all as I TEXTED my friends saying "Nine centimeters!  Going in!".  When we got across the street to the hospital, I shuffled my way into the building, praying first that I would make it to the front door, then the elevator, then the front desk, then the room.  I got to the room, put my hospital gown on and promptly burst into tears.  I think I had been holding back so much emotion all day for Zoe's sake.  I had been so afraid of scaring her that I had put on a brave face and not let anything break through.  When I finally felt secure in my little room with Nathan, my midwife and a nurse, I knew I could say and do WHATEVER THE HELL I WANTED and they will have all heard and seen it before.

After chatting a minute and getting my IV put in (I had tested positive for Group B Strep) we started filling up the tub.  As I stood next to the toilet, getting ready to step into the bath my water broke and it was like 2 trains going in opposite directions had collided and I was standing right at the point of impact.  I felt scared and overwhelmed and could not move.  I could see the toilet next to me and all I could think was "You can NOT have this baby next to the TOILET."  but I just couldn't move.  Luckily, Nathan and my midwife helped me into the room and about 15 minutes later, little Owen entered the world!  (We checked into the hospital at 4:08pm and he was born at 4:56pm!) Okay, so yes--it was only about 15 minutes of pushing but they were the most hellish 15 minutes I could ever imagine possible.  I spent the whole time helplessly wishing there was some other way and honestly didn't think I could get my heart and soul behind this gargantuan task but low and behold, I managed to push the little guy out.  Then, what followed the most hellish experience of my life was one of the most magical, euphoric ones.  Nothing can possibly compare to the joy you feel after giving birth.  I'd heard so many parents of more than one talk about how before you have two, you can't imagine how you could possibly love another being as much as you love your first born but you just do. When you have the second one, your heart somehow just opens up--wide as can be--to welcome this new beautiful addition to your family.  I loved every single person in the room and couldn't stop marveling at how cute and tiny Owen was.  Nathan and I chatted with the nurse for a long time and just floated along on our own little cloud.

The year that follows this story has been one of plenty of challenges and joys.  Owen is my little monkey and I love him more than I can almost stand sometimes.  Zoe is an awesome big sister and I somehow love her even MORE as I watch her love her brother as much as Nathan and I do.  I'm not sure how we got so lucky, but I'm not going to question it.  I'm taking the struggles, the laughter, the exhaustion, the kisses and hugs, the sleepless nights, the feeding challenges and triumphs, the smiles and ear-splitting screeches all as one incredible blessing and enjoying this moment in our lives.

Happy Birthday, Owen!  We love you SO MUCH!!



  1. i remember sitting at your table that morning thinking, 'hmm, she's a lot moodier than normal.' ;)
    happy birthday owen love!

  2. You were 9cm and you were feeling just "not good!?!?!" Good grief, woman! I nominate you for ballsiest mama ever. Happy Birthday, Owen.

  3. @Jessica: It was a crazy morning looking back now, of course! Thanks for being there with me!

    @Nicole: I know, it was so insane! Granted the "Not Good" was an understatement but I was really shocked to learn I was THAT far along!