I am pleased to announce the newest addition to our little family:
born September 20, 2012
9 pounds, 3 ounces
22 1/2 inches long
While the inspiration for her older brother’s nickname, Seabass, is perhaps a bit less lofty, Sweet Chuck (or S.C.) is named after a term of endearment for the Princess of France in Shakespeare’s comedy, Love’s Labors Lost.
…the king would have me
present the princess, sweet chuck, with some
delightful ostentation, or show, or pageant, or
antique, or firework.
I chose this name above all others because there is something in this child’s mild temperament that is so lovely and sweet, I couldn’t go and give her just any funny ole name.
That being said, I’m delighted that her name also references Chuck Norris, because she, like Chuck Norris, can kick something fierce. I know this from several months’ intimate experience.
Anyway: The birth.
Forget banana bread, enchiladas, castor oil, or twiddling nipples. The sure-fire way to send an overdue woman into labor is Cumin and Ancho Chicken. This meal involves rubbing chicken thighs with 3 tablespoons EACH ancho chile powder and cumin, then frying it in a little bit of vegetable oil. Now, I love spicy food, so the heat on this chicken wasn’t a problem for me. The rest of my family, however, was coughing and sputtering the entire time I fried the thighs, just from the scent of chile powder in the air. I’m pretty sure the dog even coughed once or twice.
As I slaved away in the kitchen, I took a total of three bites before I realized I was contracting.
“Um, I think I should announce to the group that I’m undergoing contractions,” I said.
“You are not,” replied Jake, who was working on some home improvement project in the living room. (I seriously think he remained unconvinced that we were having a baby until she slid out of me. In fact, he even left the garage open later that night, in case he wound up with “time to work on stuff.”)
“MMMMMmmm, yes I am.”
Even so, I managed to sit at the table and share an entire taco of spicy chicken with everyone before feeling the need to walk. As Jake and I walked the neighborhood, I used a fantastic app called Full Term to record the length of each contraction and average the distance between each of them over time – rather handy when you aren’t sure if you should leave for the hospital. (E.g. sweet husband asks “Are the contractions two minutes apart and lasting 60 seconds each yet?” To which demon wife yells “I DON’T KNOW I’M TOO BUSY EXPERIENCING THEM AND WANTING TO DIE OH AND P.S. I HATE YOU FOR DOING THIS TO ME.”)
Anyway, after walking for a bit, we returned home so that I could hop in the tub and do my business in a warm bath. I didn’t realize it, but Seabass was still awake and being put to bed by his Grandma. As I moaned and swayed through another wave, I felt four eyes boring holes into me. Sure enough, I looked up and found that Jake and Seabass had snuck into the bathroom to watch me.
“Mama doing?” my precious boy asked, tentatively.
“Oh sweetheart, Mama’s just taking a bath,” I said, “Nothing to worry about!” But I could tell he was unconvinced. I gave him a brief kiss, told him I loved him no matter what, and then shooed them out of the room. I was in labor, after all.
After the bath, I managed to get dressed before heading to the living room to moan on the exercise ball a bit. Jake decided to call the doctor, who heard our tale and told us to depart for the hospital whenever we were “ready.”
“Are we ready?” asked Jake, pretty well spun-up at this point, but still a little unsure that I was in labor.
“Let’s do this,” I grunted.
From this point on, things are a little bit blurry. I remember being in the car and having a couple of long contractions, walking up the stairs to the hospital birthing center and trying to smile at the nurses, who whooped and giggled that a baby was about to be born. (God bless the nurses of French Hospital! What an amazing group of people.) Our main nurse, Marian, informed us that the tub room would be available after she cleaned it and filled the tub – in about an hour. Until then, we were welcome to use a temporary room.
Hearing her say that I’d need to wait an hour before going to the tub room was like dying a little death. I can’t do this for another hour. It was right around then that my contractions started to get more intense. And by intense, I mean moaning became yelling. From my “temporary” hospital bed, the nurses asked me to get up and go to the bathroom to pee into a cup or something crazy. When I did, my water broke with a vengeance, all over Jake’s shoes (I’m 0 for 2 on that, by the by – yessss, fist pump). My contraction then went out-of-control painful. “Should we keep moving toward the bathroom?” asked Jake, trying not to slip in my amniotic fluid.
“Nope – she needs to back in the bed,” said Marian. “This baby is about to be born!”
Everything started moving really fast at this point. Someone asked that the midwife be called, even though I’d planned on delivering with a doctor. Stainless steel tables were wheeled around the bed. There were A LOT of people in the room. Oh, and my yelling became screaming. Like, at the top of my lungs, in the manner of a woman being stabbed repeatedly with a rusty garden spade.
The mysterious Sandra arrived and introduced herself between two soul-crushing contractions. “We’ve called Doctor M, but he won’t be here in time. I am the midwife who will be delivering your baby.” It turns out she was just about to leave the hospital after an earlier birth. This was to be the last labor and delivery of her 30-year career.
It’s incredible how a light at the end of the tunnel – a finish line – can inspire me to complete a task. When Sandra told me she would be delivering my newborn child in a matter of minutes, my body and mind rallied in such a way that cannot be described. One pushy contraction (“GET THIS BABY OUTTA ME!!!!”), two pushy contractions (“UNBELIEVABLE PAIN!!!”) and suddenly the head was crowning. I refused the offer of a mirror or the opportunity to touch Sweet Chuck’s emerging head, just wanting to be done with it all.
The stinging, searing pain of an emerging baby came upon me as I did a handful of little, grunty pushes. And the next thing I knew, she was in my arms, crying a lusty, beautiful song of entry into the world.
Though it’s been done in much, much less time, I find it incredible that, from start to finish, my labor lasted less than three hours. First contraction around 6:15pm. Dilated to 8 cm when we arrived at the hospital. Last push, 9:10pm.
Emotions of every strain and color are colliding in my little world. The sheer joy of new life. The pain of recovery. The guilt of abandoning Seabass. And the guilt of sharing that Sweet Chuck is, indeed, so much easier than Seabass was at this stage. Of course, the fat lady hasn’t sung on that one quite yet. There’s plenty of time for our little Sweet Chuck to become Chucky instead.