For the second time, just months after birthing I got pregnant again. Now, this time, with this third pregnancy in as many years, our parents were all secretly (some not so secretly) thinking that we were just being reckless and irresponsible. And they could have been correct about that, except that having children forces responsibility on a person like nothing else, so we were quickly becoming exactly the opposite of that stereotype. In particular, Family Man’s father spoke out and told him he was making a big mistake. Thankfully, their doubts barely put a dent in our spirits for a moment. We accepted the blessing of this child gratefully and prepared as best we could.
By now we had been living in the basement apartment for a while and Family Man was commuting five days a week. This guy had hired Family Man to help him get an internet start-up company funded. The two of them put together the beginning of a new kind of community-based knowledge/search engine which received hundreds of thousands of dollars of funding. (This is how Family Man got started teaching himself these computer coding languages.) So the founder of iLeonardo used that funding they had raised to rent an office and hire more employees and Family Man was commuting to work there on weekdays.
With this baby, I wanted to have a VBAC, Vaginal Birth After Cesarean. I did tons of research on the internet verifying for myself that it would be the safest, simplest, most natural option. Because our home is too far from any hospital to do an emergency transport if something did go wrong, we decided to play it safe by planning to deliver at Marin General Hospital.
I now had a history of premature birth (technically I had premature labor with both of our previous births). My doctor wanted to give me a synthetic hormone drug to prevent premature labor. So I did plenty of research about that, including hauling home a huge notebook my doc lent me from a field conference she had been to on labor and birth which included a section on this, relatively new, drug. I read the pages about the drug, looked at all the graphs and numbers, and researched hormones and synthetic hormones online. And I decided that our baby was perfectly healthy and would not be needing regular doses of synthetic hormones in utero, thank you very much. Against the advice of my well-meaning doctor, I refused to take the shots. And everything was just fine until exactly six months along, just when I had gone into labor the last time. At six months, I got these terrible pains in my lower back and we feared the worst, that I was going into early labor. Family Man drove me in a hurry to the hospital, where they ran tests and discovered I had a painful kidney infection, and was not laboring at all. Phew! That was an unbelievable relief. No two people have ever been so glad about a kidney infection!!
The remainder of the pregnancy progressed healthy and normal. Then my only worries were, one: our landlords were doing some extremely loud construction on the upstairs, their part of the house we were living in (not ideal to bring a newborn baby home to) and two: my due date was very close to our son’s second birthday. My sister and I had been born exactly two years and two days apart and I always thought that was just grand growing up. When we were little, we would have one big birthday party, on the day in between. But I did not want my kids to end up sharing a birthday. I was very determined that they should not. Fate was with me on that one. I did not go into labor until four days after the birthday.
We went to Marin General Hospital, just as planned. My doctor did not do deliveries there, but Marin General had on its side a good rate of VBACs and a supportive staff for VBAC births. The baby would be delivered by a nurse-midwife, no one specifically, just who ever was on staff. I hoped it would be someone good, I honestly trusted that it would be, though why on earth I was so trusting after what I had been through the previous year, heaven only knows. I can say I have no recollection now of the nurse-midwife’s name. We did not get to know each other and she was not particularly warm to me.
Apparently birthing mothers usually scream or cry or make a big huge fuss I guess. I have never watched anyone else give birth. I had my two very different birth experiences to draw on and Family Man for support. Obviously we mainly focused on what we had learned from our first homebirth as he helped me work through increasing levels of discomfort and pain. I was not screaming enough, because the nurses basically left us alone the whole time. I can tell you, it was tremendously painful. Only Family Man was there to help me breathe and he is an amazing man, but he is not a midwife. I broke down near the end and asked for a mild painkiller. At that point, I just knew the baby would be fine and I was in sooooo much pain.
Well, I should have known and if I had not been right in the middle of giving birth I might have, that I was probably transitioning or very close. The pain meds did nothing to alter how I was feeling anyway. Birth is a process through which there is only one way out and the baby was beginning to arrive. When it was time to start pushing, the nurse-midwife came in and announced that I could not be standing, because she had a previous slipped disk in her back and needed to sit, with me on the bed. Or had we talked about that some time earlier? Anyway, I would be on the bed if that was necessary, but sure as heck not on my back. So, I squatted on my hand and knees with my back end toward the nurse. Lord, was I naked? That seems extremely embarrassing. That’s birth for you. I guess I will imagine that I was discreetly covered with something, though I really can’t remember. Only twenty minutes of pushing (and oh, my goodness, it feels so good to push that baby out after hours of contractions) and our baby boy arrived! He was born on October 17, 8 lbs 2 ozs, by far my biggest baby yet. He looked enormous to me, I could hardly believe him. The next morning, his paternal grandparents came with his big brother to see the new baby.
Our two-year-old was playing with a bouncy ball in the shower to keep him busy while we all gazed adoringly at the new baby, when he accidentally tripped the emergency switch, calling the nurses into our room. Ooops, sorry about that!
We refused vaccines and eye drops, allowed him to get the vitamin K shot in his foot and went home soon afterwards. The construction was still going on for several weeks and that gave me a really hard time. Sometimes I would try to endure deafening noises of huge bolts being drilled into concrete right above us, crying with my baby in my arms, praying this wouldn’t scar him for life. Other times, I would pack up my kids and spend hours whiling away the time at my in-laws house where I was never quite comfortable either. Our son is a happy, well-adjusted child now; I don’t think the noise caused any permanent emotional damage, but I will never quite forgive the landlords for putting us and our children through that, just so they could have the work done before their second child arrived, just weeks later.
In spite of it all, our boy was a sweet, happy baby. A good sleeper and always easy going. I started calling him my little angel (and I still do).