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for keric

may 28, 2007 was a warm, muggy memorial day, and i spent most of it pouting at home. by my original count, i was 43-plus weeks pregnant, but as my pregnancy stretched further and further beyond 41 weeks, i started doubting my dates, and the only thing i became sure of was that i was way more pregnant than any woman ever deserved to be. my hips hurt constantly, i dealt with braxton-hicks contractions for the first time in three full-term pregnancies, my blood pressure was creeping up, and i got to chase around a 2.5 year old for good measure.

i did venture outside briefly, during the evening. dustin's parents, whom we had spent sunday with to celebrate the holiday because dustin was scheduled to work on monday, emailed me let me know that i had forgotten séan's (loaded) wetbag at their house. i assured them that i was perfectly fine with picking it up, and please don't worry about washing the diapers because i'm very picky about my laundry routine and yes, it's okay, i'll come get it tonight! i loaded séan up in the minivan, we made the 10 minute trip there, dustin's mom brought the wetbag out to the car, and we went back home. and séan pitched a fit because we went to grandma and papa's house but didn't go inside.

once we got home, he eventually calmed down, and a little later, he fell asleep on the couch. i spent the next couple of hours staring at the tv without really watching it, because i was having contractions that were starting to edge over from annoying to hurting, but only barely. by 11pm, i was really irritated and just wanted to go to bed. if we're having a baby tonight, fine, whatever,i thought, but i'm at least getting a nap first. i picked séan up from the couch, and off to bed we went.

and here we go...

at 2am, i woke up suddenly and completely, but didn't know why until about 5 minutes later, when i had a definite contraction. it didn't hurt, but it had a beginning, a peak, and an end, and several minutes later, it started all over again. i stayed in bed until a couple more contractions convinced me that i wouldn't be able to sleep through them any longer, then got up and headed for the computer room. i was sad to see that dustin hadn't gotten home from work yet, but decided against calling him. who knew what my crazy uterus was up to at this point? i downloaded a couple of games from the yahoo website, set my music playlist on "random" and settled in until dustin arrived home about an hour later. i told him what was going on, but also told him to not get too excited. and he settled in on his computer to play everquest 2(i think?) until further notice.

i eventually swapped out my office chair for the footrest to my glider rocker so i could move as necessary when i had contractions. and then i went from sitting on the footrest to kneeling on the floor beside it and resting my upper body on it and rocking during contractions. and when i couldn't concentrate on yahoo's word games any longer, i just rocked and breathed to frou frou and depeche mode. after half-dozing between some contractions, i really took notice of how very tired i was and decided another nap was in order. and then i thought to myself, you know? i haven't showered yet today, and there's no telling when i'll shower next. i think i'll shower first, and then nap. and that's what i did.

in the bathroom, i had kind of a rough time. the contractions were hurting enough that i was moaning through them, but since we're in an apartment with walls thin enough that i can hear my neighbors peeing in their bathroom while i'm brushing my teeth in mine, i couldn't sound off the way i really wanted to. not at five in the morning! but i made it through, washing and drying and lotioning and brushing my teeth and combing out my afro, with lots of pauses for muffled moans and hip-swivelling.

i gathered up pillows and blankets, and once i was on the couch, sufficiently propped up and covered, i fell asleep before i could really wonder if i'd be able to actually sleep.

and here we go... again?

i had left my music playing while i napped, so when i woke up with the peak of each contraction, i was treated to snippets of depeche mode, dot allison, earth wind and fire, and frou frou. by the time the jackson five wormed their way into my brain, i was rested enough to take this laboring thing seriously. by then, dustin had also caught a cat nap, and had moved part of the sectional out of the way, brought the glider rocker out from the bedroom, and put a mattress pad and several towels on the floor. this nest is where i stayed for the rest of my labor.

i plugged away, moaning and breathing through each contraction. i took a page from my previous labor and endured each contraction on hands and knees, while i lay on my side in between them. eventually, getting up for each contraction was too much work, and i just propped myself up on the couch, while i tried to heed dustin's reminders to yell into the pillows. occasionally, dustin would tell me how far apart my contractions were, but i didn't really care-- i knew they were getting stronger and stronger, and i would be incredibly pissed if i didn't get a baby out of it! he soon left off with the clock-watching because back-labor had set in, fiercely, and i put him to work rubbing my back.

i noticed it was getting lighter behind the vertical blinds covering the glass doors leading to our patio, and i knew i had a decision to make. séan would be waking up soon, and i had to figure out what to do with him. we already had plans in place with both dustin's sister and my dear friend cass, so the question wasn't who to call? but rather do we call? and when? as my back hurt more with each contraction, i decided that i really wanted to have dustin's undivided attention, and so told him to call amber to pick up séan.

as soon as i made the decision, séan woke up. dustin went to call amber, and get him dressed. that period of time while waiting for amber was weird. as soon as i could hear séan up and about, my contractions slowed down and lightened up considerably. séan came out to the living room and giggled at and copied the sounds i was making. i found myself working to be present for him, while being glad that he would be leaving soon in safe hands.

when amber knocked on the door, i lay down on the floor so she couldn't see me-- later she said she had no idea i was in the living room only a few feet away from her. i was struck by and appreciative of how respectful of my space she was. she didn't step foot over the threshhold. she whispered the whole time. and since séan absolutely adores his auntie amber, he was happy to go with her, so the transfer was made smoothly.

as soon as amber and séan left, labor cranked back up immediately and dustin worked hard on my back. i was shocked and pissed at how badly my back was hurting. after an especially painful contraction, i started crying. "why does it have to hurt so bad?! i don't want it to hurt this bad!" dustin, bless him, kept rubbing my back while saying something i don't remember now but was at the time kind of comforting and totally non-threatening.

the real thing

the first time my body pushed, i thought it was a mistake. a trick on me, even. i couldn't bring myself to believe that i was almost done, especially since the grunty contractions happened only sporadically at first. but after a few more grunty contractions, i was willing to start working with them as they came. suddenly, my body heaved as if it were turning itself inside out. my back screamed, and i growled, and i pushed, pushed, pushed out a turd.

i was mortified, and mad, and wanted to cry again. all that agony for a turd?! i apologized profusely to dustin as he went to get more towels and clean up the mess. more heaving. more turds. one more mind-bending, back-torturing heave, and out came a gush of fluid that i couldn't control. if that's pee, that would be par for the course at this point, i thought. "is that your water breaking?" "i don't know." more heaving. "looks like it to me." "okay." whatever.

up on my knees, leaning my upper half on the couch, i grunted and growled my way through another pushing contraction. i felt the baby slide through and down, so far and so fast that i rose up on my haunches in surprise. one more push and he was completely out, on the towels between my knees. and when that push was done, i leaned back down on the couch and just breathed, enjoying the blissful feeling of no more contractions, because the baby was finally out.

the baby was finally out? the baby was finally out! i started laughing as i backed up to see what i had actually pushed out. it was so tiny! it was so chubby! it was so quiet! "wake up baby, wake up! wake up baby!" i pulled a piece of the amniotic sac off his face, laid him on his side and started rubbing him all over. he was unbelievably hot and soft and gooey. dustin reached in to lift a leg. "it's a boy!" "what? oh. okay. hey, baby, hey! wake up baby, wake up!" and he started crying, so soft and high-pitched that my first thought was that something might be wrong with him, but no, he's just soft-spoken like that. and i laughed even more to hear it.

and after

dustin started calling people with the news as soon as he threw some towels in the dryer to warm up, which i found highly amusing. there i was, covered in gook, baby still attached to the placenta, which i hadn't even pushed out yet, and dustin's already on the phone! talk about fatherly pride! i wrapped keric in the warmed towels, got him latched on, and that's where he stayed for the next 45 minutes while i birthed the placenta, and made phone calls of my own. later on, i would joke that keric finally decided to come out because he was hungry.

i tied off the cord after his first nursing and dustin cut it. then dustin finally got to hold his newest son when i went to shower. but not before i slipped on to the computer to post a quick birth announcement.

i did notice that i bled more with this birth than i have previously, and ate a couple of chunks of the placenta to keep it in check. i felt totally wrung out, and it was a couple of days before i could walk from one end of my apartment to the other without feeling winded. and during my post-birth shower, i was very happy and relieved to discover that i didn't tear at all. having been through it twice before, i wasn't at all looking forward to the healing process.

at a visit with the family doc a few days after his birth, keric michael turned out to be 7 pounds 3 ounces, 19 inches long, with a 14 inch head circumference-- a linebacker to his petite elder brother's horse jockey, and a vindication of his unreasonably long pregnancy. :-)

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