It was a Saturday morning, and I woke up annoyed that the contractions I’d been experiencing with some regularity the previous day and into the evening had all but completely disappeared. My girlfriend had come over the night before, and we stayed up having “girl time” watching what I remember being a terrible Jennifer Anniston flick. But I was thrilled to spend this time with my gal pal, knowing I’d soon be deep in the thick haze of life with a newborn.
A newborn, and a very active toddler.
Emet was just a little less than six weeks away from being three and he was anticipating his new sibling with great excitement. Of course, he didn’t really know what adding a baby to the mix would entail, none of us did. But he was as eager to meet the baby as we were, and that was promising.
I’m pretty sure the three of us – Jesse, Emet, and I – woke up within minutes of one another and after determining the status of my non-labor, we decided to take a long walk to the Starbucks with the hopes that maybe things would get moving if I did. We strapped Emet into his stroller and set off for the coffee shop.
It probably took a little over twenty minutes to get there and there was a bit of a line. We took our place, I shifted my weight from one leg to the other, and whoosh.
Suddenly I was standing in a puddle of water. I looked at Jesse and, without saying a word, walked myself to the bathroom. Once inside, I felt the liquid and realized the viscosity was something other than urine. At first, I was relieved that I didn’t just pee myself in public, but then it dawned on me that my water had just broken and we had walked more than a mile from our house.
Maybe if this had been my first experience with labor, I would have proceeded with a little more haste. But I had spent more than 28 hours laboring with Emet, so I was in no rush at this point. I found Jesse and Emet, told them it was time to go, and we headed home. And for the next twenty minutes, I was the huge pregnant lady walking down the street wearing light grey sweatpants covered in amniotic fluid.
On our way home, I phoned my beloved OBGYN and told him that my water had broken. He told us to get to the hospital as soon as we could and to call him once we were there.
Again, I was in no rush whatsoever. We got home, I took a shower, I ate a little something, we called Jesse’s dad, packed Emet’s suitcase, and waited for Papa to come pick up Emet. Altogether, this took another hour or so? We got a phone call from my doctor who was a little miffed we hadn’t even left for the hospital yet, but I told him there wasn’t too much happening and we’d be on our way as soon as Emet had left.
By the time we got to the hospital, it was just after noon. My water had broken just before 10. In triage, a nurse accused me of confusing my water breaking with loosing my bladder. “So, you think your sack of waters has ruptured?” “Either that, or I’ve been urinating steadily for over two hours,” I replied. She was much friendlier after that.
We were admitted, and I was hooked up to the monitors. We made the phone calls and the visitors began to arrive – two of my dearest girlfriends and my dad, who was there to record the event. When he walked in the room, it was about 12:45 and he immediately asked what time I thought the baby would be born. “Do you think it will happen before 6? I have tickets to the fight tonight.” Classic Kevin, and I love him for it.
Things were moving along slowly but, as with Emet, they stalled completely. I started to panic, saying to Jesse that I didn’t want to spend another full day working without medication to end up with a spinal block and the threat of a C-section. Although Emet as born vaginally, it was extremely difficult because I had been prepared for surgery just before my body started to respond to the Pitocin. I had to be told when to push because I couldn’t feel anything from below my belly button. I did not want that to happen again.
This very short man walked into my room and introduced himself as Dr. Brokhim. “How can I help?” I explained that I wanted to have a natural birth, but that my labor had stalled. I shared my previous experience and how difficult it was for me, and how a shot in my spine scared me more than any threat of physical pain from labor.
“Never trust a tall anesthesiologist.”
His humor won me over instantly.
He offered me what he called a Walking Epidural, saying that I’d feel contractions, but that I’d be able to relax. I reluctantly agreed, after Jesse told me that he thought my getting the shot was more brave than stubbornly refusing something that could actually help.
If I had to guess, I’d say the shot happened around 3:45 PM. I’m pretty sure I was dilated to 4, which was about how far I’d been when we arrived. I remember contracting, breathing through them, and laughing with the folks in my room in between the rushes. The nurses came to check on me about an hour and a half later.
“You’re at a 10!”
I hadn’t even seen my doctor yet! He had told the hospital to give him a call when I was at 8 centimeters. I had progressed faster than anyone expected and so he had not yet been notified. The hospital offered to get the doctor on-call and I refused, saying that I’d wait for my own doctor, thankyouverymuch.
I sat in the hospital bed with my legs closed and my forehead pressed against the metal bars. I did not speak. The waves had become strong, and I could feel intense pressure. But I did not move. I kept a very steady focus on my breath, and I did not move.
My doctor finally arrived after what felt like a lifetime but in reality was about half an hour. I put my feet in the stirrups, and as he was getting dressed he said, “If you push good, I’ll give you a cookie!” He’d made a similar joke with Emet – whom he’d delivered nearly three years prior in the room right next door to the one in which we were now preparing for another delivery. Jesse and I both laughed at this little gift of humor, and it made all the waiting I had just endured totally worth it. Finally ready to go, he walked up to my bed and said, “Oh! Don’t push! Just cough.”
I coughed a few times. I could feel everything and I could see it, too, because for a few suspended seconds I was in my body and above it at the same time. I was in the room and over the room, caught in a space I’ve only ever visited for those brief moments between my baby girl being in me, and then on me.
A few weeks later, I would watch the video that was filmed of those few seconds and hearing the recorded sound of the breaths I remember breathing brought every single hair on my body to attention. Incredible.
She slipped into the world entirely without effort at 5:55 PM, in a defining moment of my life as a woman and a mother. I was initiated into a new kind of communion with my own primal maternal instincts, and credit the experience of bringing my daughter earthside with reigniting my own feminine energy.
Jade Eloise turns fourteen years old this day. She’s not a baby, and she’s not even a little girl. She’s a young lady on the brink of becoming a young woman. A magnificent, bold, creative, fierce, compassionate, genuine, kind, organized force of natural, beautiful, graceful, wonder.
Even science speaks of human life unfolding on a cellular level in cycles of seven years. Steiner discusses at length the incarnation of the human being as happening in stages of the same length. That means, at the age of fourteen, Jade has just completed two full cycles and is now embarking upon her third. It has taken me this long to ever write about her birth.
When it occurred to me that I had never shared her birth story, I thought for a long time about why. After much contemplation, it came to me that, more than any other I have held, I have had to really stretch and grow and dig and develop into the role of mothering a daughter. She’s been through two life cycles since the day she was born, and so have I.
Giving birth to my first baby made me want to be a better person. Giving birth to my girl made me want to be a better woman.
When I woke her up this morning, after she’d yawned and stretched and climbed out of bed, she leaned into me for a hug and she felt more substantial than she had yesterday. I had her stand straight next to me to see if today was the day she eclipsed me in height. Not quite, but closer than ever.
I’m incredibly proud of the young woman that is blossoming in front of my eyes, and I’m grateful to get blossom in my own womanhood right alongside her.