Maddie's birth was fairly uneventful, as Reese births go. I started labor on Monday night, and had contractions all night, fairly consistent, but far apart. By mid-morning it was clear that I was in labor, but it was progressing so slowly that I decided a walk would help. Rather than simply stroll around the block a few times, I hopped in the car with my mother and headed to Target. In Vancouver. As you do. To be fair, it was the only store left with the one curtain panel we were still missing for the baby's room, and my sense of reason was temporarily overruled by my compulsive need to finish that stinking room.
The Target jaunt did the trick (especially since we ended up having to go to the other Vancouver store, even further up the highway). By noon, I was on the phone with my doctor's office, playing the "How far apart are they?" game. The nurse tried to convince me to wait until my contractions were consistently five minutes apart, but all I could think of was how lightning-fast the end of my labor went with Lucas, and how my husband came very close to missing his birth because of it. So I headed for the hospital.
The first blessing was that my admission nurse was the same fantastic woman who delivered Lucas three years ago. I'm sure she felt good and stalked when I squealed, "KY!!!" as she entered the room. It was obvious from her blank stare that I had made less of an impression on her than she had on me. But we got to talking and she did actually remember us (or at least, she pretended to very convincingly). She was as incredible as I had remembered. She fought for me to be admitted, since I was still barely dilated even after hours and hours of labor. At that point, my worst fear was to be sent home - all the wheels had been set in motion and Ben's mom and sister were about to arrive at the hospital. So it was awesome to have someone in my corner, and she sweet-talked the doctor into letting me be admitted. (Second blessing: even though my own doctor wasn't on call, I got my favorite back-up).
I began the walking/bouncing/rocking/sitting routine to try and get my labor going a little faster. Ben's mom and sister arrived and they all took turns doing laps with me and holding my hands as my contractions became more painful. I had briefly entertained the idea of a natural birth, but within a few minutes of real labor I came to my senses. I toughed it out for a few hours, and by the time the anesthesiologist came I was good and ready for the drugs. The epidural did not go smoothly, and it took about forty-five minutes to get the darned thing in. That meant forty-five minutes of sitting completely hunched over, trying to breathe through my horribly congested nose while I endured a number of contractions (I was just getting over a sinus infection and strep throat, just to add another layer of fun). The process also triggered a migraine (of course), and soon my nurse and doctor were discussing the best way to treat it. Color me surprised when Dr. Suzuki decided that the best option was just to get that baby out. Since I was still only about 4 centimeters (I know!), I was giving Pitocin, and shortly after the doctor came and broke my water. The contractions were coming fast and furious as I quickly progressed and headed into the dreaded Transition. And then...
My epidural wore off.
Now I know this happens, and it's happened to a number of you (and even more of you are crazies who don't get one in the first place), but seriously. It sucked. To go from all of that pain, to virtually no pain, to insane pain in a matter of minutes, was just kind of awful. It was all I could do to close my eyes, breathe as deeply and slowly as possible, and try not to think about what it was going to feel like to push. The anesthesiologist was called back to give me a bolus dose, but it never took. Before I knew it, I was ready to push. The doctor did give me a topical numbing agent in my lady parts at the last minute, and thank goodness - I can't imagine how it would have felt without that. As it was, I was De.Ter.Mined. to get that child out of my body as fast as possible. I'm something of an efficient pusher (less than thirty minutes with both of my boys), but this time, I pushed harder than I thought possible. I could feel the veins in my head and neck threatening to burst, but I would not stop. And in the span of eleven minutes, my sweet baby girl was here. Ben was able to help again with the delivery, his mom and sister were right by our side for her first breaths, and I was once again overcome by the blessing of welcoming a new baby into the world. There is simply nothing like those very first moments of life taking place right there on my chest. What a loving Father to design new life to begin in this way.
Maddie has been part of our lives for a week now, and already it's hard to remember life before her. She is, so far, a very easy baby - eats well, sleeps as well as any newborn. This is, in our minds, our last baby, and I am definitely feeling a sense of loss and grief at the idea that we won't have these firsts again. But I'm trying to use that to just thoroughly enjoy every moment with her, even when she's gassy and squirmy and crying at 3:00 a.m. I don't want to think about the dishes and the laundry, about how my older children are probably being ruined by watching endless episodes of Wow Wow Wubbzy, or about how in the blink of an eye this tiny, perfectly innocent little girl will be a tantrum-throwing toddler or about to head to kindergarten - or beyond. I just want to hold her, and hold her, and hold her some more. And thank my God that he let us have her, for as long as we can have her. I am in love, friends.