I put Zoe to bed last night and after I turned out the light, she wanted to know how many hours until she was going to be 4. I told her and she fell asleep with a smile plastered on her face. This morning at 6am, she woke up and asked "Mommy, is it morning yet?" and I said "Yup! You're 4 now!" We hugged each other for roughly 5 seconds and then she promptly threw up on my pillow. Poor baby. It should be against the laws of nature to have to be sick on your birthday, especially when you are a kid. Luckily she didn't seem too upset about it. She was basically just low energy all day but we didn't have any plans anyway. At one point though, she did say "Mommy, I never thought I would feel like this on my ACTUAL birthday." We postponed the cupcake eating until tomorrow night and we had her birthday party a couple of weeks ago, so all is well but man what a bummer!
Anyway, when I posted Owen's birth story on his birthday I realized I painted a much more complete picture than I did in the actual baby book so I want to try and do the same with Zoe...it's been 4 years so I don't know how many details I'll remember but I hope you won't mind if I try...
It was 9:30pm, which was already not part of the ideal picture Nathan and I had painted for ourselves when imagining the birth of our child. We both had visions of walking around our neighborhood (still one of our favorite places) in the daytime or evening (we were "keeping an open mind" and not hoping for one or the other of course) with the autumn leaves helping us stay positive and calm....in our fantasy, we did a lot of hand-holding and hugging in the crisp fall air with an eventual cab ride over to our hospital. I did NOT want to ride in our car because the car seat behind the passenger seat made it impossible for someone as huge as me to fit up there so I would have had to climb in the back. I didn't know what was ahead of me, but I was 100% sure that it would totally and completely suck to be in labor and have to crawl into the backseat of a two-door sports car, so the plan was to call a car when the time came.
Anyway the contractions were very gradually getting stronger but I still felt pretty with it...at one point I told Nathan "Wow. If these are just the mild ones, I'm in big trouble" and we both laughed a little. It got to be pretty late so we decided to try to go to bed. I knew it would be best to try and get some rest so I laid down and tried to at least doze a little. I was doing okay until I started feeling really cold and shaky. I got into our shower and stood under the hot water for a really long time until I realized I couldn't stand in there all night long. I asked Nathan to bring me some warm clothes and I bundled up and we hunkered down in our little living room. I was feeling really awful, and not just because of the contractions. When I wasn't having one, I realized I couldn't stop shivering. We'd turn up the heat and I'd put on a sweatshirt and I'd be hot 1 minute later. So, I'd take off the sweatshirt and start shivering. I couldn't find any position that was comfortable...sitting, standing you name it. Nothing felt right. We were trying to time my contractions and I'd say "Okay another one is starting...I think.....and it might be going away, I don't know..." It was the middle of the night and we didn't have a clue as to what to do. So far this wasn't following any of the formulas anyone had taught us that help you figure out when it's a good time to call the midwife and go to the hospital.
We finally did call our midwife though because we were so totally confused. We told her about the contractions and she said they didn't sound like they were progressing quite far enough for us to go in yet...I then said "I just wish I could stop shaking" and she suggested I take my temperature. We did so and realized it was almost 102, so she told us to go right in. It was smack dab in the middle of the night now, coming into early morning hours of Thanksgiving morning and we called our trusty car company. I was shocked and totally crushed to learn that they had NO CARS AVAILABLE. I think we tried one or two more before realizing that we were never going to find a cab that morning. So I climbed into the backseat of our car and had the worst car ride ever. As I walked past my midwife in labor and delivery, I saw that she was holding a cup of coffee and I said "I'm so sorry!"...as I passed by, Nathan told me later that she looked at him and said "She doesn't look good." We went into a little room where they took my temperature and checked the baby's heart rate. It was going up and down like crazy so they got me into a delivery room right away. The next few hours were complete hell. I had wanted to do a lot of walking around and maybe sitting in a tub...trying different positions, listening to music--the whole nine yards. Instead, I was confined to the bed because I had to have 2 different monitors on to make sure the baby's heart was okay. I was alright with it though, because I trusted my midwife and agreed that it was all necessary...plus, I felt so terrible that I don't think I could have moved if I'd wanted to. They gave me something to help bring my fever down and when it eventually did I became so drenched in sweat that Nathan's biggest job became just mopping my head off every 3 seconds.
Contractions were the most unbelievably overwhelming sensation I could ever imagine. I can't think of any common example to give you that could describe it. The most accurate thing I can think of is to say that it's what I imagine sitting in an electric chair must feel like. It was so crazy. At one point, I said "WHO'S IDEA WAS THIS??" and poor Nathan thought I meant was it his or mine, but what I meant was "WHO THOUGHT THIS UP??" What a crazy, cruel thing to make us women go through, seriously. I was worried that I was scaring Nathan at one point when I looked him in the eyes during a contraction. I can't imagine what he must have been thinking and feeling in that moment. I also, at one point yelled out something that I'm sure has put me on some sort of Wall of Fame in my midwives office..during a contraction I said "FUCK YOU, MOTHER NATURE!!!!" and Nathan said he and the midwife had to look away for a second to hide their smiling faces.
After a while of that, I finally got to the point where I could push and I did so for about an hour. Luckily it kind of flew by because it was really really hard. I'm not sure how people push longer than that because I was so totally spent I could barely lift my head. Thank goodness she finally came out and, as I described in Owen's birth story, the relief you feel when it's over, coupled with the euphoria of finally being a parent after waiting all of that time (personally, my whole life) makes for some pretty incredible highs and it makes the whole battle worth it. It also felt perfect because we had this beautiful view out our window of the river and a a big tree with beautiful orange and yellow leaves. It was 9:01am on Thanksgiving morning and my midwife said "Hey, and I can still get home and bake my pie!" All was perfectly right with the world.
I can't believe it's been 4 years since I met Zoe for the first time. In the hospital on that first day, as he was holding her, Nathan said "We are going to have so much fun with her." and man, was he right. She is the most smart, funny, beautiful and wonderful kid I know and I can't believe she's mine. I can hardly remember how I felt about anything before she came along and I feel so thankful to know her. Thanks for coming our way, Zoe...I hope we are always what you need us to be and that you think of these early days as fun and comforting. I'm not sure I could ever pay you back for all of the wonderful things you've done for me in the last 4 years but you can be sure I'll never give up trying.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ZOE!!!