So where was I? Oh yes… uterus of pure power and might. Where any good story should both end and begin.
So the epidural saved my sanity and this was the point where we called my parents and told them they could come on over. I didn’t want them hanging out while I was going through so much horribleness. It was, honestly, way more intense of an experience than I thought it would be, and I guarantee you it would have been upsetting for them to have to watch.
A lot of people sleep once they get the drugs because labor is so exhausting, but I didn’t feel like sleeping because I had gotten almost a full nights sleep like normal and had only been in labor for about 7 hours by this point (counting from when I woke up at home), so it wasn’t like the women who have hours and hours and hours before they even get to the hospital.
Once they arrived, we visited, and then I sent Kamel and them to the cafeteria so they could make sure Kamel ate something. This was at 11:30. A few minutes after that my lovely nurse checked my progress again – because the epidural has a tendency to slow down labor, the nurse wanted to see if we needed to start pitocin. My contractions had spaced out a little bit, but I was hopeful that the epidural had relaxed me to where I wasn’t fighting the contractions anymore and maybe things had continued to progress. Well… the minute she stuck her hand up there she audibly gasped and said, “You’re already at 8!!” My response, “Awesome!” (Remember the last check they had done, I was at a 4.)
See, here is the thing … my contractions were not like clockwork, they were sometimes at 3 minutes, they were sometimes at 5 minutes, and on occasion at 7 minutes. In general, “real” labor is very rhythmic and predictable. You move from 7 min contractions to 5 and then 3 and they grow in intensity. So from the charting of my labor it looked like I was still in the early stages, but the reality was – I was nearing the end. This part is a little frustrating for me, because I had been picking up a “oh this is your first pregnancy, we’re going to be here all day, why did she come in when she was only 2-3 cm dilated?” vibe up until this point. I had also felt like the nurses (who were actually VERY VERY lovely and kind) were sort of… rolling their eyes at my pain level, thinking I was still in the early early stages. Thankfully my body sure showed them!
So, I texted Kamel that I was at 8, but that the baby still needed to move down a little further so he didn’t need to rush back. By 12:30 I had begun pushing, and at 1:35 Gabriel Esmay Dupuis-Perez was born. And I’ll get to the awesomeness of delivery in minute, but here is where I want to talk about going into labor on International Women’s Day (pointed out by a lot of people in comments on Monday and on twitter on Friday!).
When I was in the hospital during labor/delivery and afterwards in recovery, nurses and the staff kept saying how amazing of a job I had done, how they wished their labors would go like mine, and how I had a really great “anatomy” for birth, etc etc. And before this point, I think subconsciously I had this idea that if I took care of myself, and if I just “relaxed enough” or if it was “meant to be” or whatever bullshit leaked in there from TV and movies, that my labor/delivery would go well. I really didn’t want a C-Section and even though I KNEW that on “some level” that was out of my hands, I also thought … and maybe not even an out loud thought … that as long as I did everything right, I probably wouldn’t need one.
My entire labor/delivery was under 10 hours from start to finish, and I had absolutely NOTHING to do with that. Nothing! I was just as surprised as the nurses – except that I knew my pain level must have meant SOMETHING. I fully expected this kind of labor: at home having contractions for several hours, eventually going to the hospital and being there for 12+more hours etc etc. Baby coming some time the day after the first labor pains. Ta da. But nope, he came very fast for first time pregnancies… which really makes me wonder what baby #2 will do…
So here is my thing on giving birth on International Women’s Day: I learned that my body, that all of our bodies, are not always connected to our brains, or our “selves”. That control is a lie. That we tell ourselves we have control over our bodies just to make ourselves feel like we get a say, when in reality so much of what happens in there (besides preventative medicine and living as solidly as you can, mind you) is totally out of our hands. And yes, I did something really cool – I was able to assist in a miracle! (Quoting Beyonce, yes, I just did that.) But ultimately I was a bystander to my uterus and her kick-ass-ery. So, what I’m saying is: I’m going to be more kind to the ladies. There is a lot of blame and finger pointing about bodies and what we do with them and how we sport them and on and on and on. It’s dumb. It is meaningless.
But what wasn’t meaningless for me was the experience that lead to this:
(Literally moments after he was placed in my arms.)
I started pushing at 12:30 and it was just Kamel on one leg and our main nurse on the other. A contraction would come, I would feel the pressure build, and I would take a deep breath while Kamel counted to ten. I would push with all of my might while the nurse said things like “That’s it! you’re doing so well! Push up to the sky! Yes! That’s perfect! Just like that!” I would then run out of air, gulp another breath and attempt to do it 2 more times within that contraction. At one point I reached down and felt the top of his head, just a sliver of him, poking out of me. That was surreal. And it was much softer than I expected. It didn’t feel like head, it felt like another labia… super interesting. After about 30 minutes of that the nurse called in my doctor who sat in the catcher’s position at the bottom of the table and two other nurses came in to assist.
The number one most powerful moment was feeling Gabe’s head – actually FEELING his head – at the verge of coming out of me, and being capable of making the choice to push 1 second longer for him to make his arrival. After that the doctor had me do one more little push but basically pulled his body from my body. That is a feeling I will never forget.
And then he was born.
And he had his cord wrapped around his neck twice, but we didn’t know that until later and it wasn’t a problem at all.
And Kamel fell madly in love with him at first sight and I got to witness that, which was also amazing.
Meet Gabe. The most anticipated man in my life.
His skin came out very scaly – something I didn’t expect. It is in the process of peeling now. Like a little lizard. And his hair was much lighter than I thought it would be.
He’s also really, really funny in this weird wild animal/old man kind of way. I call this: Grumpy Statue of Liberty. He breaths like a little pug sometimes and he sometimes barks in his sleep like a little dog grunt out of nowhere. He pecks at me like a little piglet when he is hungry, and is fascinated by his flailing arms that often look like he is doing MAGIC and casting spells on us.
After spending Friday, Friday night, Saturday, and Saturday night at the hospital in recovery, we finally got to take him home on Sunday. And that’s where this story really begins.