On May 4, 2008 at 5:27pm this happened:
She was due on May 8th, but she didn’t want to wait. Neither did I. I was bloated, swollen and cranky. Nothing fit, not even the larges, and I had resorted to wearing my husband’s old t-shirts. On that last day, the day I went into labor, he helpfully pointed out that the t-shirt I was wearing had a hole in the armpit. I was ever so grateful.
That evening I ate fish tacos at Friday’s. That’s right, the Friday’s right across from the hospital where I would arrive seven hours later, pointedly breathing through my contractions and hoping everyone would notice what a brave little soldier I was. But I had no idea all that was coming in seven hours. I did know that I was hot and tired and convinced that my feet were rapidly turning into water balloons.
Evie knew, though. Her movements, usually wild and erratic, had all but disappeared. Things were quiet in there but in a purposeful way. I noticed the quiet but didn’t pay attention. I had to clean the downstairs bathroom and freeze one more casserole. What I would learn, however, is that when Evie’s ready, she’s ready. Homegirl don’t wait for you.
Anyway, I ate my fish tacos and fell asleep on the couch watching Rocky Balboa. Typical third trimester Saturday night. I heaved and rolled myself off the couch around 11:30 and began waddling up to bed. Two things happened then, almost simultaneously: A sharp pain hit my lower back and Gill tripped over the bouncy chair my sister had just put together that night. I should have known then.
The pains kept coming at regular intervals. They would start dead center of my lower back and radiate out to my hips and down my legs. There was a definite peak to the pain, a valley and then nothing. That’s the crazy thing about labor pains, at least for me. There is intense pressure which builds, peaks, slowly lessens and then…is gone completely. Weird. I thought it would be different, but I don’t know how. Never had a baby before, yo.
The pains became stronger and longer. I kept telling myself, “You’ll be at work on Monday. This is not labor. You’ll be driving in to work on Monday.” Funny how after nine months I was still in denial. This baby is not really going to come out of me. She shall live in my belly forever and ever, amen.
After two hours of 16 minutes, 12 minutes, 11 minutes, 9 minutes, I woke Gill up. Then I sat up in bed because lying down was becoming uncomfortable. I felt a faint pop and then wetness. It’s labor, chica. This baby, like Billy Joel, is movin’ out.
Off to the hospital. We picked out a name for our daughter as we rushed (I did a rush-waddle) through the parking lot to the Women’s Pavilion. The pains had intensified, and it was becoming harder to breathe through them. I was starting to involuntarily cry out in pain when they peaked. I could see my future, and it wasn’t good. It was very, very bad.
When all of this started, when I peed on the change-your-life-forever stick, I wanted a home water birth with a midwife and lots of granola and sitar music. I wanted to really experience labor, man. It was my right as a female and all of that.
The first really painful labor pain hit me around 5am, leaving me writhing and whimpering on the hospital bed in front of most of my family. That’s when this brave little soldier got a damn epidural.
Skip ahead 10 hours. The epidural, far from being an evil black poison administered by cackling doctors, had allowed me to relax and let the contractions do their work. It was time to push. So I pushed. And pushed. I pushed for two hours. With every contraction I sucked in all the air in the room and bore down as hard as I could. I used every ounce of strength I had left to help my little girl move herself out of my body and into the world. I felt powerful and amazing. I found the femininity I was looking for, and there were no sitars.
Gillian Eve Langston shot like a chubby little rocket from her warm, watery home into the bright, chaotic hospital room, screamin’ her fool head off. I will never forget that rush of liquid and feeling the shape of her body as she exited mine. She weighed 8lbs 3oz and was 20.5 inches long. They handed her to me, my beautiful, screaming daughter, and the whole world was her naked body and her smell. I fell in love instantly, completely. I will never be the same.
Is Maggie crying yet? Just checkin’.
So, that’s Eve’s birth story. Maybe it won’t completely embarrass her years from now, when Gill and I, like, totally don’t understand her. Maybe it will make her feel beautiful, special and loved. It should.