Carson Paul Kaiser is in the world!
The day he came, I started feeling contractions around noon, and I had students arriving in a couple of hours for a tutoring session. The pain wasn’t yet of the crippling, debilitating variety that I knew was looming, so I debated waiting it out and letting my students come. Distractions can be good.
The only problem is that Annabelle came so quickly that I had her in the wheelchair, and I didn’t really want Carson’s birth certificate to list 680 N as his place of birth. When I called the hospital, the nurse advised me to come right away. Andy still had twenty minutes left of class before lunch, so I asked the nurse if he could stay and finish. She said he could if I wanted this baby to be born at home. So Andy went ahead and left class early.
Annabelle had school, but she was excited to skip and stay with her aunt. For someone who only goes to school twice a week, Annabelle embraced truancy pretty quickly. What will that mean for next year when she has to go five days? I try not to think too hard about that.
After we dropped off Annabelle, the contractions started getting intense. Andy and I had been here before—rushing to the hospital, hoping to make it in time. Both times I had this growing fear. What if I got Andy all worked up, screaming that the baby was coming any minute, and the nurses checked me and said, “You’re two centimeters dilated. Drama queen.” Then, when I was in between contractions and not writhing in agony, I’d feel very silly.
But, lucky me, I was 9 ½ centimeters dilated. Since everything was urgent, Kaiser prioritized by giving me lots of forms to sign that I could not read, and they probably now own my house and soul. But that’s okay because after I signed them, I was allowed to go to the labor and delivery room.
Once there, the nurses helped me onto a bed and cheered me on. “You’re doing great!”, they said, instead of “Here. Have an epidural.” In fact, none of them mentioned an epidural. So I didn’t either. But I thought it very loudly.
“Do you want me to break your water?” one nurse asked because I did not get a fun movie scene where my water dribbles all over, and I shriek while everyone points.
“I don’t know,” Andy said. “Last time, the nurses broke her water, and she and the baby got an infection.”
The nurse looked at me. “It’ll go faster if I break your water.”
“Break it,” I said.
Then, after several minutes of me swearing in my head because I am too repressed to do it in front of strangers, Carson was in my arms. He was beautiful and perfect and crying and traumatized. Labor is such an intense experience that after it’s over, I’m amazed that I am not the only person in the world who’s done it. More amazing is that the nurse who delivered me rushed downstairs after helping another woman do the same thing just moments before. While my body is twisting in the worst pain I’ve ever felt (except, you know, the two other times I’ve felt it), the nurses are saying, “Great job! Way to go!”, as if what’s happening to me is the most natural thing in the world. And I guess it is.
But despite how common a miracle it is, there is nothing like that moment when they put the baby in my arms, and I am overwhelmed by how much I love him, and he looks like a little bundle of perfection.
Now that the hard part of giving birth is over, I can enjoy my cuddly little boy and, like every other mother in the world, pretend to forget that he ripped and clawed his way out of me. Then I will love him while he wakes me relentlessly. How quickly they learn to progress from physical to psychological torture. Cute little buggers. They grow up so fast.