My little “Taco Baby” was born six months ago. Having him “on the outside” has proven to be substantially more enjoyable than being pregnant with him, too.
When I was about 25-weeks the midwives and one OB were concerned that his belly was measuring too small in relation to the rest of his growth and his fetal age, so I was placed on very close monitoring. I had many ultrasounds, a few non-stress-tests, and weekly Doppler heart-rate monitoring. Every possible test they could imagine before becoming invasive was administered, and the boy passed each one. I felt helpless, though, so as an effort to “do” something, I increased my protein intake significantly, and boosted my overall calories (more tacos!).
After a month of pigging out, the doctor informed me he had grown, but his little belly had not. In fact, his abdomen was now in a dangerously low percentile.
I left the midwife feeling dizzy with panic, and I had to pull my car over as I began to cry hysterically. I’ve wept plenty of times in my life, but usually it’s a slow, somber, moaning cry; or an angry, burning, ugly cry. This was a tense, amputated-limb, going into shock cry. Otherwise, “hysterical”. I called my husband, of course, and told him immediately we must name our son.
Around this time I watched a segment from More Business of Being Born, where an associate of Ina May Gaskin drew an analogy between prenatal technology as a flashlight in the darkness, and our maternal instincts as our adjusted night-vision (with moonlight). The flashlight is brighter, obviously, and helps us focus on one object at a time with more clarity, but the natural night-vision soon gives us an ability to see many things as a whole. I chose to trust my instincts, and I began to feel confident that Spencer was healthy.
Month after month he continued to grow, moving continuously within me. Day and night he moved and the word I felt to describe him was playful. There was a fun-loving aspect to his movements, and not a restlessness. He seemed so normal to me. My favorite was the ultrasound images, where every week he had something in his mouth — a hand, finger, foot, or the umbilical cord. Spencer just seemed like he was enjoying himself where he was.
At last, under the deadline, his size caught up and I was taken off the “high risk” status. Now, if only I’d been paying attention to the results of my strep-B test…
The due date came and went, and my sister and mother attended to me and my family as we waited impatiently for something to start. At a half-past midnight on a Tuesday I awoke with the commonly-described, “dull, achy pain”. I told my mother, and my husband, then laid back down and stared at the ceiling until I just couldn’t pretend to be going back to sleep.
My sister came from her hotel as I took a shower, then she braided my hair. My husband and mother soothed me with massages at each contraction to help me relax, and I listened to Neil Halstead music. We got to the hospital at around five in the morning, and that’s when my serenity was dashed.
Natural childbirth in a hospital is not easily accommodated. The natural-birth mother does not arrive to a hospital with enough lead-time to complete administrative paper-work and tests. The natural-birth mother gets there in time to start pushing.
I don’t want to go into all the hairy details I remember, because it’ll piss me off to focus on that. I do remember going to the bathroom just to have a contraction in peace.
The real frustration was that I needed an antibiotic for my positive strep-B status. The line wasn’t placed properly, and I received a full dose of antibiotic, which was more painful than the late-stage labor pains I was experiencing. I honestly felt as if my hand had been smashed with a sledge-hammer. It didn’t really matter, though. The baby was nearly there.
At 7:20 I began pushing and Spencer was born at 7:42. The pain was less fierce than with Grayson, because I didn’t have back-labor, but I felt weak, and like my pushes were ineffectual. There was no easy way to do that.
This is him! He’s here! This is the moment! ~ My husband kept reminding me.
For an hour we held him, I nursed him, we massaged his skin and waited for his cord to stop pulsing. My in-laws arrived to the delivery room, and the baby was taken for some tests. This is the other part I don’t want to remember, because they kept him for too long and I started to panic. Mike went to get coffee, I think, so he wasn’t there, and I just wanted my baby back! Silly hospitals. They thought I needed to recover or something. What I did, was go to the bathroom, and then walk down the hall to my recovery room. Bring me my baby!
Mike brought pizza in for an early lunch as Grayson came with my sister to meet the playful, happy guy… but he brought me a big nasty cheeseburger. I should thank him again for also bringing the cheese-fries, and the Coca-Cola. In a few hours he opened his eyes at last, and my friend Yoko was there to capture that.
Now, six months later, he’s fat and hungry a lot. He loves to smile and eat, and he only fusses — never cries. He lunges for his bed at nap times, and started sleeping through the night at five months old.
Also, he looks like me.