My Sweet Rose is 7 years old today. She's incredibly clever, focused, determined, talented and always ahead of the game. She's given me 7+ years of surprises, beginning with the pregnancy! Her big sister was a mere 7 months old when I found out I was pregnant again. Leaving it up to nature worked a lot faster the second time around.
39 weeks into a relatively easy pregnancy (if being pregnant when you already have a baby can be considered easy), my husband was making me dinner. He's an amazing cook and even though it was just roasted chicken, it was going to be delicious.
They say the second labor is usually shorter than the first. My first started with contractions 5-minutes apart and only lasted 9 hours. It would have been faster if not for an overzealous setting of pain control from otherwise wonderful Singaporean nurses.
Since someone would need to watch over Nature Girl when her sister came along, I had a good friend on-call as a back-up in case we had to head to the hospital before my parents could make it from Detroit to Grand Rapids. My mom had come up earlier that week as I'd been having contractions on and off, but went home when the baby was a no-show after a couple of days. She left on September 7th. My due date was still over a week away.
From about 7pm on the evening of September 9, 2006, I started having contractions every 20 minutes. I put my 15-month old first-born to bed and helped my man put the finishing touches on dinner. Around 8pm, just before dinner was ready (it smelled really good), I mentioned the contractions to my husband. They were getting stronger; having had fruitless contractions all week, I didn't want to tell him until they were actually regular.
As we sat down for dinner (it looked delicious!), the contractions suddenly started coming much harder and closer together. Your brain gets a little foggy in that kind of pain, so the events of the next two hours are a little fuzzy, but clear enough. Yes, I wrote two-hours.
I couldn't eat, so between contractions I called my mom instead and told her they'd better jump in the car. By 8:30, I called my friend and told her it was a high alert! My parents were on their way, but things were moving along quickly.
Minutes after I hung up the phone, something happened. Some fluid I thought must be my water leaking. No big burst, but something was going on and the contractions were now just a few minutes apart and I could barely walk. I still tried to clean the kitchen and load the dishwasher. I didn't want it to be messy when my parents arrived even though I couldn't stand up straight anymore.
I called my friend back sometime around 9pm and asked her to come over right away - I think I had 3 contractions during the 5-minute (or less) phone call. She arrived in 15 minutes flat. My husband grabbed my bag (I was prepared this time around) and helped me into the car around 9:20pm.
At some point, I can't remember if it was before we left or on the way, I called my doctor's service to tell her we were on the way. I would have the on-call doctor, they told me. No problem.
I can remember being on Michigan street around 9:30pm, just 5 minutes from the hospital. We stopped at a light and I noticed the pain of the contractions easing. Not the timing; the pain. I remember thinking very clearly to myself, "Uh oh, I'm in transition."
Transition, if you're unaware, is that short period of time between your body getting ready to push out a baby and actually doing it.
My husband dropped me at the ER door, they put me into a wheelchair. I think he went and parked the car, and then we were on our way up to the maternity ward. They checked me, confirmed that I hadn't actually broken my water yet, but I was dilated to a 6 or an 8, I can't remember.
It was around 9:45pm when we got into a delivery room. The doctor was on her way. The nurse asked me if I wanted an epidural. I said, "Yes!" Labor really hurts. They said they would check if the anesthesiologist was available. About 10 minutes later, still having brain-freezing-abdomen-stabbing contractions every minute or so, someone came in and started talking at me (yes, at me) about forms and epidural, blah blah.
I remember saying something like, "Never mind, the baby's coming!" Then hearing the nurses say, "Don't push! Don't push!" and me saying, "I can't help it! She's coming!"
I swear I hardly pushed at all. Sweet Rose tore straight out of me (literally - ouch!). It was like one long stream of contraction without any pause for relief and at 10:05pm she was born. The doctor arrived 10 or 15 minutes later.
After the usual Apgar and clean-up, they placed Sweet Rose in my arms and I nursed her with an ease that only comes with experience. They left us alone (my husband went for well-deserved cigarette). I remember mumbling to my new, little baby and sometimes realizing none of it made any sense. I think I was in shock and I was glad it was just the two of us.
From the pregnancy to the birth to her crawling at 6 1/2 months and climbing at 7 months, Sweet Rose has rocked my world. She's the child that pushes my limits like no one else can. I have to frequently tell myself that the things about her that can drive me nuts are the same things that will be exceptional qualities to have when she's an adult. So bite your tongue, mom, and find a way to parent without stomping them out.
Because she's amazing. Happy Birthday, Sweet Rose.