Thursday, July 28, 2011

Meet Ben

A week ago today, I gave birth to my new baby boy, Ben. And here's how it all went down:

I was six days past my due date, with a looming induction scheduled for the next morning. I spent that Wednesday tearing my hair out between what I thought were more Braxton Hicks contractions, trying to decide if I was going to keep the induction scheduled, or cancel it and see if my body would go into labor on its own for another week. Sam had been two weeks late, and I had to get induced with him. I was really hoping to have a different kind of experience this time.

I did.

That Wednesday evening, I had pretty much decided I was going to cancel the induction. Sam got on his bike, and Mark, Sam's grandparents (Mark's parents) and I took a walk to the playground...with me waddling and having to stop every so often with a contraction. I laid down by the swing set, my head resting on Sam's helmet. We walked home and had dinner.

After dinner, I took a bath and watched some TV, still having contractions, but not regularly enough to know if it was really labor.

But about 9:30, I started timing them again on my lap counter (timing contractions is a good use of the lap counter, I've found!) as I tried to go to bed.

Three contractions, 11 minutes apart. Hmm. Three more contractions, 9 minutes and 30 seconds apart. OK, maybe this is labor. The next contraction was stronger than any of them had been. Me: "I think we're going to the hospital." A quick call to the nurse, a nudge to the grandparents who were thankfully sleeping at our house, a quick kiss on Sam's cheek as he slept, and we were out the door.

Nineteen minutes later (a speed record my husband is very proud of), we were at the hospital, and upon being checked in around 11:30p.m., I was 7.5 cm dilated. WUHOO!

I told the nurse that I'd love to have the baby naturally, but was open to the epidural and hadn't really decided yet. But since I was so far along, I decided to go without it for a while. A half hour or 45 minutes later, I was 8.5 cm dilated. An hour later, and with increasing pain and moaning per contraction, I was still 8.5. I was playing mind games with myself to manage the pain.

Each contraction was about 90-seconds long, I think, which was about 25 quick breaths so I was counting them out in my head, knowing that by the 25th, it'd be over. And I was picturing each contraction as running a 400 as hard as I could, feeling like I just might barf or fall over (I like speed work) when coming around the final bend, but knowing I'd be able to stop and recover once I crossed the line. And in between contractions, I went to Kauai in my brain. Warm air, clear ocean, green grass. That helped, despite the tsunami that I knew was coming...another contraction.

The doctor came in just after 1a.m. and said she could break my water, which she thought would help it along, to which I quickly agreed.

Water broken, three painful contractions about three minutes apart, and within nine minutes I was screaming, "I'M PUSHING!"

And from there I became a wild animal, screaming louder than I ever thought possible and probably scaring the rest of the labor and delivery patients to get every pain drug possible.

I screamed with every contraction, and I think it sounded like...well, like I was birthing an 8-and-a-half-pound human out my body. When the doctor and nurses came in and wanted me to move this way and that, I was thrashing about so badly that one nurse had to grab my head and tell me to focus.

I did focus, between screams, and about 15 minutes of pushing gave me my baby boy Ben. Hallelujah.

Immediately after, I wanted to break it all down, play-by-play, with Mark because I just couldn't believe what had just happened...something I find myself doing after a big race. Mark, on the other hand, was speechless.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Waiting for Godot

I'm in that strange state of waiting. Waiting for my body to go into labor, for this baby to emerge and join us, to meet this child, to see how life unfolds with a new addition. To say the least, it's a strange state to be in, and I feel like it's all a bit abstract, surreal.

Some women can run eight or 10 or whatever miles the final days of their pregnancy, forever holding the badge of honor that allows them to say, "I ran 12 miles the morning I gave birth!"

Not me. My activity, these at 40 weeks and five days pregnant, looks like this:

- Yoga: I do some light, prenatal yoga poses in my living room while watching the Tour de France. I have a routine, pulled from this great Prenatal Yoga Deck, that takes me about 20 minutes. And I usually combine this with one of the following activities. (It's rarely the only exercise I'll do in a day.)

- Aqua Jogging: I grab my blue foam thing and do 30-40 minutes of aqua jogging in the deep end of an outdoor pool, looking for drowning bees and lady bugs to toss ashore to dry land.

- Swimming: I'm swimming laps every few days. While I used to do sessions that totaled 2,000 to 2,500 yards, with hard interval sets within, these days I'm swimming a mellow 1,100 to 1,300 yards total. I alternate between swimming freestyle, pulling with a pull-buoy (which is easier on my round ligaments and supporting abdominal muscles than swimming without the buoy), swimming about 100 meters breast stroke (which doesn't always feel great on my adductors and hips), and kicking with the kickboard for 100 meters. It's the last 100, with the kickboard, that I think I need to stop doing. I'm having a hard time getting out of the pool at the end of my swims. My round ligaments/supporting muscles contract and ache when I'm trying to scale the ladder to get out.

- Prenatal Pilates:
For months, I was joining a few other pregnant moms for a great, 60-minute prenatal pilates class. I'm a little too uncomfortable getting into positions to continue the class right now, but did it up to my 39th week.

- Elliptical/Gym Workout: For the last few months, I was doing 30 to 40 minutes on the elliptical, once and sometimes twice a week. I'd do five minutes on level 1, resting my hands on the bars, 5 minutes using my arms (like taffy). Five minutes on level 2 while resting my hands, 5 minutes being a piece of taffy. Five minutes on level 3, no arms, five minutes of taffy. Cool down. Then I lifted 8-lb. free weights, doing bicep curls, upright rows and shoulder extensions. Then using one weight for tricep extensions. I do my 20-minute yoga routine, and do squats against the wall leaning my back against a fit ball for support.

- Recumbent Bike/Gym Workout: Yesterday, the 8-minute walk to the gym didn't feel great, so when I got there I opted for the recumbent bike over the elliptical. The seated position cramped my low-lying baby just a tad, but it seemed more comfortable that sitting on a bike seat. I did that for 25 minutes until the baby shifted and I had to pee so badly I made a mad dash for the Ladies'...then I did the weights and yoga like in the above workout.

- Hiking. My husband and I hit a local, semi-steep but totally emergency-vehicle-accessible (just in case) trail over the weekend. I waddled slowly, he walked next to me, carrying my water. We were out about an hour, but probably hiked 45 minutes.

- Walking. We take walks around the neighborhood, though this doesn't feel as good on my body as getting in the pool.

- Weeding. I've been working in the garden quite a bit, imagining being a farm worker 100 years ago with one baby on my back, one in my uterus, tending to the fields until my water breaks. It's hard work, but it hasn't made labor happen yet.

So you see, I'm not one of those women who can claim to have run miles the morning of giving birth. While I'm trying to stay active for the sake of my body, and my mind, my activity is a little more...on the light side.

But staying active in these ways, however random—aqua jogging, pulling weeds and Tour-de-France yoga—definitely helps me stay a tiny bit sane as I wait for baby Godot.