Thursday, January 15, 2009

A rather exciting birthday story

It's time for the third Birth Day story, this one about our son. He never asks me to tell this story, but it's really the most exciting one of all.

For this baby, Cosmo and I attended childbirth prep classes so that Cosmo could be in the delivery room with me.We learned about the birthing process, breathing and relaxation techniques to minimize the need for drugs. Cosmo would be my coach. A bit of historical perspective here: 33 years ago this was kind of cutting edge, at least in our circles. At first Cosmo was reluctant, but eventually he acquiesced and came around to the possibilities We were looking forward to the birth of our baby feeling so very well prepared and competent and tres moderne.

On the day before our son was born, I visited the doctor who assured me that everything was just fine. The baby was in position, all was well. We were actually 11 days away from my expected due date so we scheduled an appointment for the following week.

The next day I felt rather strange, but didn't put the clues together for some time. I took a bath and in retrospect know that as I sat there soaking, I actually watched the little scamp do a cartwheel and flip himself around but I didn't recognize that was what had happened at the time. Then I started to have recognizable contractions, and began slow chest breathing.

Things sped up rather quickly and I lay down and proceeded with different breathing patterns and noted the time between contractions. Teed couldn't have been cuter or more innocent as she lay beside me imitating the Hee hee hee hoo patterns. Next came a call to the doctor and his recommendation to get to the hospital when the contractions were 10 minutes apart. We were getting closer.

One complication: Cosmo was on the road, and I was unable to contact him (remember, these pre cell phone days) So I called my neighbor who in turn called another neighbor and within minutes they were at my door with a plan. One would drive me to the hospital while the other stayed at the house with everybody's kids (four in all).

I gathered my things, placed my bag near the door and we three women sat together hedging our bets that Cosmo would get home before the contractions got any closer together. My friends were advocating for us to leave sooner rather than later, but I was dragging my feet to wait for Cosmo. I began to feel like I was losing the battle and maybe risking a bit too much for a romantic notion, so I went to use the bathroom in one last stalling tactic and was prepared to leave without him after that.

When I came back I turned the corner from the hallway in time to witness Cosmo walking through the door, briefcase in hand, road weary look on his face, and to hear Teed announce in her typical self assured way "Mommy's having the baby." "Yes," answered Daddy, "She's having a baby. "No," insisted the imminent big sister. "Mommy's having the baby right now."

At that, Cosmo caught sight of me and noticed the suitcase at the door all at once. Our eyes met and I confirmed Teed's news report. Yes, right now. We have to leave right now. I could see the look of disbelief, and I knew this guy would have liked nothing more than to be able to at least take off his tie, wash his face, maybe stretch a bit or relax in his favorite chair, but that just wasn't in the cards.

The neighbor ladies/ friends/comrades-in-arms/sisters joined forces and pushed us out the door with assurances that all would be well on the home front and that we needed to leave NOW. We had about a 30 minute ride, but it was now rush hour, and it was January in upstate New York, so it was rather slow going. When Cosmo indulged himself the luxury of stopping at a convenience store for a pack of cigarettes, I admit to feeling both sympathetic and incredulous.

By the time we got to the hospital the contractions were really close and everything sort of became a blur. A quick check in an examining room confirmed that our little guy was feet first. We went straight to a delivery room and they told me the doctor was on his way. Looking into that godawful overhead mirror I could see that a little blue foot had emerged and then the doctor was there telling us that while a C-section would be preferred, there wasn't time, so we'd have to do our best with a vaginal delivery.

Suddenly a battalion of nurses surrounded me on every side, the doctor was giving orders, somehow they all seemed to know what they were doing and I was feeling helpless scared and absolutely not in control of the situation. The one thing I knew was that Cosmo was sitting at my head, holding both my hands, squeezing with all his might. I can't remember the exact words he spoke to me, but I knew that although he was just as scared as I was he was pushing through that fear and saying things to make me feel like everything would be fine.

Time was suspended while nurses pushed on my belly, the doctor gave commands. The cord was wrapped around the baby's neck. I was so afraid. Would this baby be ok? Mysteriously, order emerged from chaos and suddenly, a tiny cry.

I barely caught a glimpse of him before they whisked him to the other side of the room for a thorough exam by a neonatologist. After what seemed like an eternity, I was able to hold him and look him over myself. A perfect baby boy. Once again I can't say exactly what words Cosmo spoke to us both, but the message of love he conveyed was loud and clear: our son was fine. All was well. We were a family of four.

By the time we brought little 'Nando home, the area was in a deep freeze. Cosmo's mom had arrived and had the household running like a well oiled machine. Coincidentally my dad was in town on business so he was also at the house that day to welcome us home.

After the visiting grandparents went home and Cosmo returned to work, I set out to run a household and be mom to two kids. At the time it seemed like more than I might be able to handle: balancing the needs of a preschooler and a newborn. Eventually I figured a few things out and set some realistic goals; like any day that I could have all three of us bathed and dressed and have a dinner prepared by the time Cosmo got home from work, I'd consider a success. The crock pot became my best friend.Eventually I raised the bar for my expectations and ventured out into the world to do errands, go on excursions, live a life.

Our baby boy suffered from colic and had trouble sleeping. We walked the floor plenty of nights and at times thought exhaustion might get the better of us. Now looking back, it seems like the time has flown by and I don't know how it's possible that 33 years have passed. My son is a grown man now with a family of his own. He's a wonderful husband and father and successful in his career.

Happy Birthday to the boy who came into the world feet first and has been tackling life on his own terms ever since. I'm so very very proud of you.