Neither of my birth stories is super interesting.
I mean, the part where they handed a rope to my husband and had us play tug-of-war was sort of unique. Feet in stirrups, lady business hanging out for all to see, and the nurse wanted us to play tug-of-war? Two hours in to what was ultimately four hours of active pushing, and every time the doctor came in she assured us the baby would come any minute now…
“Maybe this will help,” the very kind and encouraging nurse suggested. After about two rounds, we politely declined to continue this particular strategy. You can save the rope for the next hospital field day, I’ll go back to just the regular pushing, thank you very much.
The second time was Braxton Hicks for weeks. Two days before my due date I finally went in. Anyone else go in too early and get sent to Maternity Wing Purgatory? Maybe it’s technically called triage or something like that, but they are kidding no one. “I swear the contractions were closer together before I got here…”
Then the walk down the hallway trying to “move things along.”
“We can’t admit you till you’re four centimeters… why don’t you just walk the halls?” Up and down, up and down the very short corridors in a very short gown — the ultimate walk of shame. Sent home at 1 a.m. “Sorry,” we said to the brother-in-law who was woken up to come stay with the toddler. “Looks like it’s not going to be tonight.”
Except 15 minutes later there was a trickle down my leg. And then a small gush. The doctor sounded exasperated when I paged him again.
Back in purgatory, and this time they swabbed my parts. Holding the swab up against, I don’t know, some sort of litmus paper, and the nurse couldn’t quite determine if it was the right color — amniotic fluid or pee? And as I desperately tried to find a hole to crawl into, there were suddenly two nurses comparing the swab and the test paper. “I swear to God I didn’t just pee myself…”
Aside from a few anecdotes, neither of my birth stories is super interesting. Or all that unique.
But in the end, they came.
The first time, four hours of pushing, three attempts with the suction, and the threat of C-section gave way to a push from what must have been the depths of my very soul, and in one fell swoop my son came sliding out. Coming into our world with fierceness and determination, stopping my heart in its tracks.
And the second one… feet over the side of the bed, seconds away from the epidural needle going in. “Um…” The nurse signaled for the anesthesiologist to wait. “I think I have to have a baby. Like, right now.”
My husband was ushered in, and less than five minutes later our worlds were changed for a second time.
I think the desire mothers have to tell and retell our birth stories is almost primal. Perhaps it is because the births of our children mark a moment of reckoning. Be it a first or last baby, a birth is a moment of transformation that, no matter how ordinary, is always extraordinary.