I’ve been thinking a lot about Clare’s birth lately. Partly because her 2nd birthday is coming up next month and also because we have another birth around the corner. I wish I could remember the time before we knew there was something wrong, but I can’t. I try so hard to conjure up those feelings I must have felt in my pregnancy with Clare – hopes and dreams and expectations of what having a little girl would be like, of what watching Jamie with a sibling would be like, of being a perfect little family of four. Even now, being pregnant again, some of that blissful ignorance of pregnancy is gone. Because now I know these things CAN happen to us, that we CAN be the people who are the statistic, that 1 in 10,000. Don’t get me wrong, there is still much joy and anticipation and wonderful hopes and dreams with this pregnancy, but everything is colored a little differently now. I am so excited for the birth of our baby boy and for Jamie and Clare to have a little brother. Jamie cannot wait to have a brother (since we have a bunch of friends who are also having babies right now, hopefully he will not be shocked when Baby Simon comes out and pretty much does nothing but sleep, cry, and eat). Yet, at the same time, I feel guilty when I look forward to having another baby, to experience a typical babyhood again. I feel as if I am saying Clare’s babyhood was not enjoyable - but hey, it was rough! So I find myself remembering Clare’s birth often – those last hours and moments before the world was painted a different shade for us.
Clare’s pregnancy was pretty easy. Other than the normal pregnancy aches and discomforts, I had no medical issues. Nine days after my due date had come and gone, I agreed to be induced. I was not keen on the idea of Pitocin (the drug used to stimulate contractions), so my doctor tried other more natural methods first. When none of that worked, I was given Pitocin. You never forget any of your children’s births, but Clare’s is still in the forefront of my mind. Her delivery into this world was so different from Jamie’s. My labor with Jamie was a grand total of 24 hours (almost to the minute). It was long and slow. I had an epidural and all the women in our family hung out in the delivery room all day with us (the men were there, too, but they were vanquished to the waiting room towards the end). It was one grand party. When the evening snack cart came by, everyone loaded up with chips and soda, and then settled back in to watch the end of the show. After almost three hours of pushing, Jamie was born. Everything seemed very drawn out. Labor was physically exhausting, but not all that painful (once the epidural kicked in). I was joking and laughing up until the end.
Clare was a whole different ball game. Pitocin kicks your labor right into high gear with no build-up. From the beginning, contractions were strong and painful. I had an epidural during Clare’s labor as well, but it made no difference. Progress was still somewhat slow, however. My dad had to catch a plane two hours away that night so he was frequently asking my doctor when she thought the baby would be born. He didn’t want to miss the birth, but he also didn’t want to be driving at midnight, if it was going to take all night. At 8:35pm, I was still only at 7cm. My OB stated that we were looking at an April Fool’s baby at this point, so my dad decided to leave. Clare had other plans, though (a pattern we saw from the beginning!). She must have figured enough was enough. Who cares that Mommy isn’t fully dilated? Who cares that Grand Dad just left the hospital? Who cares that the OB wasn’t back in the room yet? Who cares that the nurses kept saying “don’t push”? She was coming! At 8:52pm (only 17 minutes later), Clare was born. In many ways, I feel as if that is part of who Clare is. Nothing happens until she’s ready, but when she’s ready, watch out!
I am entering that phase of pregnancy where I am ready to do this all over again. I am big and uncomfortable (I think we’re headed for a nine-pounder). Two of my close friends have already given birth (and the third, with our newest godchild, is any minute now… we’re still waiting for the phone call!), and seeing those sweet new babies makes me long for my own. Labor is hard, but I am actually looking forward to it. (I think…)