Shall I address the elephant in the room? Yes, it’s been slightly over a year since my last post. Yes, I feel guilty. But, yes, I have some seriously good excuses … um … reasons.
There was the baby-being-born thing and then the baby-being-new thing and then the BABY-PLEASE-SLEEP thing. These were followed in quick succession by the seriously?-I –have-a-pseudo-aneurism?-hilarity, the successful-surgery-to-remove-it-relief, the moving-back-overseas-from-London-to-Los Angeles giggles, and the OMG-I-don’t-like-Los Angeles-anymore psychosis. Finally, we were devastated when our beloved Daffodil of previous posts passed away in October.
While all of this has given me food for writing that should last at least the next 20 years, it certainly didn’t give me any time to actually put pen to paper, so to speak. Until now. Now is when my beautiful son is snoring peacefully in his crib, the kitchen is clean and the laundry sitting on the couch waiting to be folded can wait. And wait. And frigging wait. Because I hate folding laundry. And if I wait long enough, my husband will come to the end of his very extensive patience and possibly fold it for me. Yes, he will be giving me dirty looks the entire time but the end result will be the same. Folded laundry. Yay, husband!
Anyhoo. In order to really catch up everyone up fully, I suppose I should start with the birth of my baby boy, Bennett. My husband and I read every book possible in the nine months leading up to his birth. One of these books was about hypnobirthing. One chapter in, we were sold. This was so … us! We would have a peaceful, meditative birth. There would be gentle music, soft lighting and preferably wind chimes. We would quietly welcome this little soul to the world in the most simple and natural way possible. We took the class, we practiced the breathing, we did the meditations. We bought the birth ball. And we proudly told everyone of our plans.
My mother was, as always supportive. As was my aunt. I found out later that they were turning to each other after speaking with me and saying things like, “does she fully understand what this will entail?” I told my girlfriends and was given tons of atta-girls. Knowledgeable Girlfriend from the previous post, who delivered two children sans epidural, said it could be done. I note now that she didn’t say it would be enjoyable. She simply said it could be done. And it’s worth it to point out that with her second child she WANTED the epidural, but that the little munchkin decided to make a surprise appearance in triage, so an epidural wasn’t in the cards for that one, either. But I was so sure that I would be able to meditate myself into a deep and peaceful state in which I would (and I have to roll my eyes just writing this) not feel a thing. Dear Lord. When my other Dear Friend proudly told me she’d made it through six hours of labor with her 10 pound baby without an epidural, I actually had the thought, “really? Only six hours?” Forgive me DF. I knew not that of which I thought.
Bennett made us wait. He was 6 days overdue and, considering that my doctor was convinced I’d have him three weeks early, this made me a very impatient mommy. Towards the end I was hobbling around with sciatica that could make Mother Theresa swear and the conviction that these extra days of pregnancy were going to lead to an 11-pound baby. Something I was certain my previously little body was not made to handle. My mother came from Los Angeles to help and was probably more impatient than I was. She kept looking up from English Home magazine and sighing, “waiting for Bennett. Just waiting for Bennett.”
My girlfriends kept me sane by feeding me “labor-inducing” foods and giving me such excellent advice as, always keep your stomach full because you never know when labor will start and then you may not be able to eat, and always go to bed early because if labor starts in the middle of the night you sure as hell don’t want to be tired. I was able to adhere to the latter but messed up on the former. The night I went into labor, I wasn’t terribly hungry and ate a fairly light meal of a few vegetable raviolis in a light sauce. And, boy did I pay for that 10 hours in, starving and sucking on “sugar pills” like my life depended on it.
When labor kicked in later that night, and by “kicked in”, I really mean KICKED IN, I was rested but already hungry. But because my contractions went from zero to 100 in about 10 minutes, there was no time for a cheeky nibble. When I tried to wake my blissfully unaware husband, he refused to budge. The “HEY, SPARKY! IT’S TIME!” that I barked at him in between contractions (coming about three minutes apart) went over great. We called the hospital and told them that the contractions were close together but coming unevenly, three minutes apart, then four minutes apart, then two minutes apart and so on. The lovely Irish midwife on the phone took all this information and then said cheerfully, “not to worry, loves. It’s early days yet.” Byron glanced over at me, writhing on the bed, and then replied carefully, “perhaps not?” She was not to be moved. Her advice was to go have a nice bath and call in a few of hours when the contractions began to even out. So my husband and mother drew me a bath. I didn’t make it the 10 steps from the bed to the bath before I was doubled over with a contraction. I got in the tub. I had another contraction. I stood up. I had another contraction. I said to my husband, “get me to the #$%$^#*& hospital and get me a &#&%$#! epidural.”
Byron called a car and carefully instructed me that he wasn’t telling the driver that I was in labor because he was paranoid the driver wouldn’t take us if he knew. So basically mum’s the word. Pun intended. I could give a class on how to be mute while in labor. The drive to the hospital through London’s deserted 2:00 a.m. streets is one I will never forget. It was so quiet. (Seriously, I was like a church mouse. But that driver’s door handle is probably still slightly bent.) So still. And so magical. Even through the haze of pain, it was the excitement and joy, the knowledge that our son was coming, that colored everything and made it one of my favorite memories of the birth.
I gave birth at the most lovely hospital I’ve ever seen. It’s a private hospital in central London for mothers and children and it’s amazing. My friends refer to it as a hotel. And that’s not far off. We were met in the front (where they have valet) by the bellmen who took our bags and brought us up to the birthing floor. When I stepped off the elevator, the happy sight of two midwives lined up to greet me, take me to my room and, most importantly find me that epidural was a close second for my favorite moment. My room was on one of the upper floors, with floor-to-ceiling windows that looked out over the London rooftops. It was huge. I had a midwife assigned to me, Kathryn (Irish), who bustled about making sure I was comfortable and asking if she could ring up the wait staff to bring my mother and husband any tea. We were in England. Tea makes everything better. Once I had the epidural, which only involved slight panicking on my part when the needle went in, all was well. Especially as Kathryn kept singing, “here comes the sun, here comes YOUR son” as the sun came up.
When active labor started the next morning, I had to chuckle to myself at the thought that, as directed by the hypnobirthing books, I shouldn’t need to push. I was trying the techniques, but at some point my doctor (also Irish and lovely) asked if maybe this might be a good time to start actually pushing. And I really wanted to. Now, maybe I wasn’t doing the hypnobirthing thing right from the get go, but I can honestly say I’ve never worked so hard for anything in my life. And I’ve never had such an amazing reward for doing so. Our son was born (weighing in at a happy-for-mommy 6.5 lbs) at 1:46 in the afternoon of a very cloudy London winter day. We were, and still are ecstatic. When he had been wrapped in his blanket, Kathryn handed him to me and then whispered a Gaelic blessing over his little head. I melted.
The next two days were a blur, but suffice it to say, I had the best birthing and hospital experience I can imagine. About two minutes after Bennett was born, I turned to my husband and said, “I’d do this again tomorrow.” My husband, looking haggard and shell-shocked replied, “perhaps we wait a bit?”
I was moved out of the birthing suite and to another lovely room, where they brought in a bed for my husband, the menu belonged in a five-star restaurant and the wine list was extensive. We had our own personal midwife on call 24/7. There were Molton Brown bath products and when we left we were given a bag filled with a bottle of champagne, Molton Brown products and a teddy bear for Bennett. I never wanted to leave.
But we did leave and we thank God every day since that when we arrived home my mother was there to greet us at our flat. She was a whirlwind of amazing in those next days and we couldn’t have done it without her. And the next few months were a blur of sleepless nights, Bennett making his little “fishy face” and his little “uuh” noises that we thought were genius and, finally seeing his face wreathed in smiles for us. Bliss.
So there it is. One of the many excuses … no, seriously, REASONS, that I’ve been remiss in my blogging. Won’t happen again. Okay, maybe it will