"Don't worry," she shrugged. "It's just the cat."
Umm, WHAT? She had a cat that could open doors by itself.
Because it had an opposable thumb. Ummmm.
Just want to e-thank this opposable thumb cat lady, because later that winter she sewed me one of those microwaveable rice bags and it provided a needed blast of soothing distraction from barfy back labor when I gave birth to our newest little lady last month.
Have you ever heard of a "fog-in"?
Apparently, they're common in the Midwest at wintertime and when they happen, no planes can land at our local airport.
Which means if you're, say, my mother-in-law flying in to help out as we have our second child, your 5-hour journey by plane will morph into 16 hours and involve a 4-hour late-night bus ride from Chicago.
It was four days after my due date. I suspect that subconsciously, I was holding on until hub's mom arrived. We had a few friends lined up to watch our toddler but I knew I wouldn't be able to fully relax and get "in the zone" if our cutie was at a buddy's house. I'd be preoccupied: How was she doing? Was she flipping out? Blahblahblah. Believe it or not, I'm not always such a Fretful Frances, but imminent birth-giving makes one worry. So I had joked with hub that I'd go into labor right when his mom arrived, and that we'd only spend three hours at the hospital.
AND IT CAME TRUE!
Hub's mom got here a little before midnight and the contractions (whoops, I mean, in hypnobirthing lingo, "surges") started in earnest an hour or two later. And suddenly they were two minutes apart, and I started busting out moves I'd only seen in books (kneeling, swaying, etc.) to take the nasty pressure off my lower back. Around 4:30 AM, we checked into the hospital and I attempted to get in the zone using all the non-cuckoo stuff from hypnobirthing (which, once you ditch the crazy, leaves you with some plain old relaxation breathing and some "I can do it!" mantras). I was determined to move through my nasty back labor because last time it had me feeling paralyzed on the bed for hours, so when the abrupt and homely nurse brought out the birthing ball, it was so wonderful that for a moment, I felt bad for noting how abrupt and homely she was.
And three-ish hours later, I puked, my water broke, I couldn't not push, and then my lady parts were ablaze and our kiddo was here!
I could talk about what a miracle childbirth is and how much it blows my mind that we have a new member of our family, or how freaking cute the big sister is as she surrounds the baby with books and toys at every turn, and is always copying her head bobbles and little coos, or how my heart melts when I think that THIS IS MY FAMILY, but let's be honest, you could just read my feelings and FAQ from last go round, but you don't care about that, you care about what useful info I've gleaned.
Things I learned:
- If you want to give birth naturally, you can do it. Whatever you decide to do, don't let anyone make you feel guilty. If you bear children in North America in 2010, chances are you can do it however you want. Hurray for choices.
- Apparently a bit of a pattern is emerging, as I'm two for two birthwise as far as 1) having daughters b) no medication except some Motrin after c) having nasty back labor d) going into labor at midnightish e) being due on a Thursday and giving birth the following Tuesday. Weird that those things were all the same, right?
- Even if the natural route went well the first time and you decide to go for the same strategy, the second time might be more terrifying just because once things get started, you know exactly what's coming. Consequently, in the thick of things you might panic a few times. But people have been doing this for a long time, and you can do it, too, so just remind yourself to grow a pair...figuratively.
- Giving birth might be the most empowering thing around.
- If during labor, there's a clock on the wall stressing you out, just take it down. It's okay if it's attached so hangs there awkwardly with cords sticking out and everyone that comes in the room asks what the crap happened on that wall. Just do it. You're in charge.
- Speaking of which, you're in charge. So do whatever you want! If you need to walk, walk. If you need a heated rice bag, use a heated rice bag. If you need a drink, ask for one. If you need a pep talk from your spouse, ask for one, and be as specific as necessary. When things get intense you might even whisper things like "Holy shit, honey. Holy shit holy shit holy shit holy shit." And he will know that this means you need him to say something encouraging.