Here’s text message version of your birth story: born in the elevator! + joyful tears emoji
It’s sort of true. And easier than telling the whole story to people at church who pass in the hall and ask, “What happened?!” because whoever conducted Sacrament meeting on the Sunday after you were born announced your birth to the congregation using the words “elevator,” and “in a hurry,” and “wild story…”
I tried not to count down the days until your due date (February 26). This strategy worked with Stella. I was completely distracted and not expecting her to arrive at any moment in the weeks before she was born (eleven days early). I was not even a little distracted before Sophie was born (four days early) and spent way too much time waiting for the first sign of contractions and predicting when she would arrive. But having two other young children forces you to count down your due date so you can be prepared, just in case your water breaks at Safeway while you’re shopping for groceries, or while you’re giving the closing prayer in Relief Society, or while picking up Stella from preschool… I had long since reread Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth for all the reminders that grunting and mooing and singing and horse lips can distract from labor pain. I wrote my birth plan. And our bags were packed at the beginning of February. Once bags are packed, how can you not count down?
Your sisters were early. You were going to be early too. Maybe you and cousin Hayden would share a birthday since you shared a due date. In anticipation of another early baby, we made sure to have a childcare plan. The Real Amy was always first in line—she lives down the street, and Stella and Sophie love her, and she and I had classes together at BYU, so naturally Amy would be the one. When Amy said she was going to UT on a last minute President’s Day trip, I wanted to scream, “NOOOOOOOO! YOU CAN’T LEAVE ME!!! HE’S GOING TO BE BORN ANY SECOND!” But instead I said, “GO! Don’t put your life on hold for us. Have the best trip ever!”
And then I had a small a panic attack.
But if Amy felt fine about going to UT I knew you wouldn’t be early. And I was a tiny bit disappointed. But you didn’t care.
You were five days late.
On February 23rd I was dilated 3 cm and you were in a nice, low position. Even before the 23rd, the barrage of text messages from friends and family bombarded my phone.
My response: “No baby yet, but I’m at 3 cm, so any day now!”
Every day when I woke up, Dad asked how I felt.
My response: “The same.” Or “Totally normal.” Or “Fine.” Or “I feel like I could run a few miles and not have a baby today.”
Dad: “No contractions? Nothing?”
This went on for a week. Meanwhile, I tried all the natural induction tricks. Jogging/walking while pushing 100 pounds of stroller/3-yr-old/toddler up and down the hills of the 2.5 mile Reservoir loop, jogging/walking on the treadmill, squatting around the house, sprinkling red pepper flakes on everything I ate…On March 1st I unearthed the breast pump from a closet. I also considered eating massive amounts of pineapple, but after sitting down to eat the first one, Stella and Sophie swarmed the table and ate half of it anyway. Besides, I found I’d have to eat eight whole pineapples at a time to absorb enough bromelain, and that most of the bromelain is contained in the core. I didn’t feel like spending $50/day on precut pineapples, neither did I want to save a few of those $50 only to spend hours cutting pineapples myself.
In the evenings, I talked myself out of what was surely the best induction strategy possible: staying busy by starting a new illustration project (because it seems the second I make plans, they are inevitably thwarted).
Me: Come on, self, start a new drawing. You have so much work to do. Why not make progress on something?
Me: Ugh. Soooooo tired. Let’s just watch three hours of Psych again.
Me: Oh, fine. You win.
Sensing an imminent major paradigm shift, Stella and Sophie prepared for baby’s arrival by suddenly morphing into uber greedy/needy little fiends.
Stella adopted a penchant for hoarding her possessions (and everyone else’s) in various receptacles stashed around the house—perhaps a reaction to the anticipated presence of one more person touching, poking, and rearranging her things? Mostly she used plastic bags and empty cardboard boxes and filled them with laundry, Legos, water bottles, Trader Joe’s receipts, rocks from the park, paper plates, plastic spoons, blankies…the list could go on and on. But she didn’t just hide her junk piles in bags and boxes. She carried them around with her, refusing to go to the bathroom without dragging in a man-sized backpack full of dominoes and books and my good kitchen whisk. And she screamed every time anyone looked at her stuff.
At approximately the same time Stella started hoarding, Sophie decided she would never walk anywhere ever again. Her favorite mode of transportation: being carried. But only by the nearest pregnant woman, i.e., her mother. And also, she decided her favorite word is “NO” (it’s still her response to every question you ask her). And also, she resorted to getting attention in inconvenient ways. Such as wedging herself between my legs while I was cooking, and pulling out the entire drawstring of my sweatpants in one deft motion, then depositing it in the kitchen trashcan. Thanks Sophie.
Between Sophie mangling my pants, and having to carry Sophie everywhere, and Stella’s inability to walk five steps without hauling her bags of junk, I felt a little bit tired. Having a baby would be an escape—two whole days in the hospital without anybody crawling on me while I’m using the toilet or using my face for a chair while I’m trying to sleep? Yes please.
The last week of February and the first few days of March were rainy. On Friday, March 2, the potholes in our driveway were brimming with water deep enough to provide swimming pools for the neighborhood cats. It stopped raining for five minutes at the end of the day, when we were on our way to a friend’s house for dinner. We were late, as usual, so Dad made a quick getaway out of the apartment complex parking lot—mind you, we had just returned from the world’s fastest stop at Trader Joe’s to pick up a treat at the last minute to take to dinner. That is to say, Dad had successfully navigated his way around the cat swimming-pool-sized potholes only minutes earlier. BUT on our way to dinner, we heard the unmistakable pop of air escaping tire as we barreled over the pothole.
The second we pulled over, it started raining again. With a vengeance. Dad didn’t bring a sweater. We had no umbrellas. Youtube was teaching us how to change a tire—because, while Dad learned about tires in boy scouts, that was, like, 20 years ago—while I was on the phone with AAA trying to renew our membership so we could get same day service, just in case, and while Sophie and Stella were poking each other’s eyes out in the back seats.
Eventually, our friends rescued us, AAA was no help at all, and Stella and Sophie escaped with four eyes unscathed.
This digression about tires seems irrelevant. Except it isn’t. First thing on Saturday morning, Dad headed to Costco. Five hours and $700 later, we had four new tires. Now, I could go into labor.
I don’t remember what we did with the rest of Saturday. It was probably a long day that ended with power struggles at bedtime and Stella watching Mary Berry make opera cake.
And then, around 8 pm, a cramp. And another. And another. And another. By 8:30, it was clear you were on your way. I wanted to wait at least an hour to make sure contractions were close enough and consistent enough to call the hospital, because I was NOT going to have another 15 hour birth story in the hospital, darn it!
The next two hours went like this:
9:06: Amy and AJ, her husband, are alerted to be on standby. Dad washes dishes, clears the minefield of Legos your sisters left on the floor before bedtime, and finishes packing his hospital bag.
9:24: AJ picks up our car seats. Contractions escalate to one minute long, two minutes apart. The squeezing and stretching inside me is forceful enough to make me vomit. What am I thinking about while writhing on the floor in the throes of labor? Cleaning toilets. Chores got lost in the chaos of the day, and once again, I had postponed the house cleaning. But why clean the bathroom if I’m going to throw up all over it? Better wait until after vomiting…
I never vomit. By the time Dad is back inside, I’m too stunned by the force of contractions to think about cleaning.
9:42: I call the hospital.
9:44: I call Amy to tell her we’re leaving right now.
My brain is trying not to explode with each wave of pain, so I forget to say, “Drive faster, I’m trying NOT to push!”
10:02: Dad takes a picture of the parking spot in the garage. The closest parking spots to the exits re on the second floor, and we all know what taking the stairs does for your cervix…
A few minutes later: Dad grabs a wheelchair in the lobby, and just as he steers me into the elevator, I feel the stinging sensation they call the “ring of fire” (which I didn’t feel with Stella or Sophie) as your head is crowning. Thanks Gap maternity leggings, for keeping you nice and safe in my pants.
We run down the hall to the to the labor and delivery entrance. There’s a phone outside the labor and delivery doors. You have to pick up the receiver and tell the attendants your name before being admitted to triage. Dad picks up the phone to make the requisite phone call. There’s no dial tone. The security guard stationed next to the phone is a sedate, blonde haired, red lipsticked, blue eyeshadowed octogenarian just waking up from a nap who says rather unhelpfully, and more than a little too late, “You have to call and tell them you’re here…”
10:10: My water breaks all over the floor. Labor and delivery doors open and Dad dashes down the hall that leads to our triage room.
10:11: On the way to triage, I’m half standing in the chair because I don’t want to sit on you. I’m tugging at my pants, because the rest of you insists on sliding out right this second. And just as we roll into triage surrounded by a gaggle of nurses and midwives, there you are, 8lbs 3oz 21in, on the seat of the wheelchair at 10:11pm. Ta daaa!
Now, aren’t you glad we popped our tire on Friday instead of on the way to the hospital?