In the song, “Defying Gravity” from the musical Wicked, Idina Menzel sings “Something has changed within me/Something is not the same.” Girl, I feel ya.
Being an only child, I will never get the opportunity to be with a sister while she was having her baby. Therefore, I’d have to have a close friend who would fill the role. Fortunately, I do!
Callie and I weren’t close during the majority of her first pregnancy and I definitely didn’t spend much time with her while she was in the hospital with Abby. Since then, we’ve become very close; she’s my bestest homie. So when she got pregnant again, I was lucky enough to be a part of every step of the way. And I mean every step.
I’ve learned so much about being pregnant that I’m more convinced than ever that I won’t be having kids for a while… But being the curious kid that I am, I’ve loved being able to ask questions I NEVER considered before and learn about a process that women my age would have already been pros at a hundred years ago. I consider myself extremely fortunate.
Sometime during the second trimester, Callie asked if I would video the birth. She wanted to see all of her hard work and all the cool stuff she did (significantly later from when it actually happened, of course). This freaked me out. Majorly freaked me out. I couldn’t quite wrap my head around being in a delivery room while a 8lb. bowling ball with extremities passed through a 10cm opening. Then there’s all the fluids to consider. And consider them I did.
Finally I got to the point where I was okay with it, and was actually looking forward to it. It may not have been that big of a deal to her for me to be in there, but I felt honored to get to be part of something so momentous, so life-changing. It went from being something that made my uterus run towards my rib cage out of fear to being one of the most special opportunities of my single adult life. I rapidly embraced the idea of getting to skip school and other responsibilities for a day in order to watch a wrinkly, purple, gooey baby be brought into the world.
Fast forward to the third trimester: Callie’s miserable. She’d already been through a rough first trimester, then in the third, she was fighting kidney stones, bronchitis, and general big-ness and discomfort from carrying around said bowling ball. She began having Braxton-Hicks contractions, thinking she was going into early labor, and her mom even flew out from Colorado early to be with her. Then NOTHING. For weeks we waited and wondered and lived with several false alarms. This is how Abby dealt with the insanity:
This pretty much sums up how we all felt. We wanted that baby to get out of the womb already! The world really isn’t all that bad! We promised!
Finally Callie gets an induction scheduled for March 1st. There was light at the end of the tunnel! Hallelujah, amen!
I had no idea what to expect, but I got to the hospital around 8am, prepared to be there all day but hoping things moved rather quickly. This is what I found when I arrived in her room:
Just hanging out. Playing Bewjewled on the iPod Touch. La-di-freakin’-da. They finally hooked her up to an IV of oxytocin, the hormone that gets all things labor-related rolling. And still, we waited. (And enjoyed this amazing view from her room):
Contractions started coming more frequently and more intensely but nothing to write home about. Then, Dr. Hardinburg came in. She checked Callie then decided to break her water. (Remember, this is the first time I’ve EVER been witness to anything of this nature. Am perma-freaked the entire day.) So what do you think they use to break the water? A hand? Nope. They bust out a plastic poker-thing and, well, poke the…whatever it is that gets broken. (I told Callie we should have thrown a crochet hook into an autoclave and saved the $40 her insurance spent on the plastic thingy, but I was too late. I’m sure the Dr. would have been for it, too. Right?)
So now, the water’s broken, hormone has things going, delivery should be soon, right? Ha.
After a while longer, Callie’s contractions get worse and worse and she finally decides to get the epidural going. (Nothing natural here, folks!) Callie’s mom, Sue, and I left the room while the NA took care of business. When we got back, this is what I found:
A happy, calmer, sedated version of the Callie that was previously not-so-happy and much less sedated. (Contractions? I’m having contractions right on top of each other? What contractions?)
And now we wait some more.
Fast forward again to about five 0’clock, when active pushing begins. This is what you seen in the movies, and if you’re really brave (bored? stupid?), on A Baby Story on TLC.
[Let me interject here and say that once I agreed to film and be in the room, I was convinced that I would pass out, or at the very least, be sick at some point during this day. But every time an opportunity came around for me to be grossed out or weirded out, I turned into this curious observer and I COULDN’T GET ENOUGH. I really thought I would have a much harder time with the body doing its thing, but I was completely amazed the entire time. Granted, once things got rough for Callie it was harder to deal with, but that was because she was my friend and I cared about her. If it was a stranger, I have a feeling I would be all science-y about it and actually enjoy it. (I enjoyed going through it with Callie, but it was kinda hard to see everything that was happening through my tears…)]
At first, the active pushing wasn’t so bad. But, as the baby moved down the birth canal, you could actually see something roughly the size of a softball pushing against her body. Really cool, really freaky. Everything was getting really intense, the Dr. had been called back from her office, and we were getting ready to have a baby.
Callie had to keep pushing, as once the baby FINALLY decided to join us on the outside, she wasn’t slowing down. The doctor checked in and concluded that it was going to be a little while yet before the baby actually started crowning. (We didn’t agree with her, but she is a doctor…) The nurse kept encouraging Callie to push if she felt that that’s what she needed to do, so Sue and Andy grabbed a leg each and helped her through the contractions.
(The whole time this is going on, I’m just trying to stay out of the way, yet be in a spot where I can see everything. I’m a little freaked, but really it was curiosity and excitement that took over.)
After a few more minutes of pushing, guess what? The baby crowned! Instantly everything became real and tangible, and not this elusive possibility for me. There was no more maybe, this baby was here!
The head started to come out, but the nurse told Callie to STOP! The nurse ran out to get the doctor, somebody yelled her name, and an instant later Dr. Hardinburg busts into the room. She looks to get some gloves on, realizes that THERE IS NO TIME FOR THAT and gets ready to be the wide receiver for the Adams’ family football team.
After that moment, everything happened so fast, I could hardly figure out what to do. The bed was surrounded with nurses, Sue, Andy, and the doctor, and I definitely didn’t want to be in the way. So I stepped back (I couldn’t film that part anyway-hospital policy) and just waited. I did get to see Cate get laid on Callie’s chest and lost is from there. Cried like crazy for the next couple of hours. Cate really wasn’t as ugly as some of the babies that we’d watched on A Baby Story earlier in the day, thankfully. (I know there is some serious irony with that, but I just can’t dwell on it. I’m pretty sure that’s not what I’m going to want to watch when I’m about to give birth. Give me some What Not To Wear people!)
Callie and Cate started their bonding thing while the doctor took care of the afterbirth. I totally watched this and took pictures of the placenta, though I’ll do you all a favor and not post them there. 🙂 (Just let me know if you want to see them, it’s pretty cool!)
Everything started winding down, I went to grab Arby’s for Callie, and Cate was cleaned, weighed, and measured. She weighed 8lbs 2oz and was 20 1/2in long. She really is cute and even has distinguishable features! I expected her to be much squishier, but so far, not too bad.
Andy holding Cate for the first time, right after her dramatic debut:
Later, after I left the hospital for the night, Callie had some complications, which you can read about here. Long story short, she is fine now and trying to regain her strength. She did so amazing yesterday and was much calmer than I ever thought anybody would be. I am so proud!
This whole experience has taught me a lot about myself, as lame as that may sound. I feel like I’ve crossed some primal threshold into full-on womanhood or something. I now know that I can handle being in a delivery room while someone I love is pushing all that through there… And it makes me feel like I can too (someday far, far into the future). I’m so blessed to have that family in my life and even more privileged to have witnessed their child being born. It wasn’t what I thought I would see, I didn’t feel like I thought I would, but I have definitely grown up in the past 36 hours. Kinda cool.