on the day you were born (hugo’s story)

you were due at the end of the may. i was hoping june. i thought it would be fun to have a june baby.

on thursday may 23, a little over a week before you were due, it was health and wellness at your brother’s school. it was a beautiful warm day so calum and gus and i stayed at the playground to soak up the sunshine while we waited for the event to begin. there are no benches in the schoolyard near the playground, so i spent most of the time sitting on a curb. it was not comfortable, but it was better than standing for an hour and a half.

when it was finally time to go inside, i stood up and felt a sharp pain in my lower pain. that’s what happens when you sit on a cold hard stone for 90 minutes, i thought. but the pain didn’t go away and all of the people packed into that little school stressed me out. We have to go soon,” I said to papa. And then, “No. We have to go now. NOW!” your papa hustled your brothers out the door and we left. on the drive home, i didn’t feel better. i was stressed. and upset. my back hurt for the rest of the night.

the next day was a friday, when i went to the bathroom that morning i found blood on the toilet paper. it was 7:30 am. i was flustered and confused. i was only 39 weeks. i started at the paper for a long minute and then i thought about what to say to your papa, who was getting ready for work.

“Um. There’s bloody show.” i told him. “What?” papa was confused too. “What should i do??” he asked. “Go to work,” I said. “Check in later. Nothing is happening right now. I’ll call you if anything changes.”

i called the midwife and the doula for cal and gus and papa when to work. we took gus to school and then calum and i went grocery shopping. i remember feeling the same way i felt a few winter ago when we went to the playground a few hours before an impending snowstorm. something momentous was going to happen. and soon. but how soon, i did not know. and what exactly was not so clear yet either.

we got our groceries and came home and had lunch and everything was normal, if slightly foreboding. around 1 or 1:30 though, i called the midwife. “i don’t think i can come to the appointment,” i told her. “i keep thinking about driving all the way over there, and it feels like too much. it just feels like a long way. i feel too antsy. i don’t think i can sit in all of that traffic.” for the record, it’s not that far nor is there usually a lot of traffic at that time of day. “it’s okay,” she said. “i’ll come to you.”

when the midwife came, she checked everything, but i wasn’t really having any contractions. occasionally i’d feel a twinge in my back, but i couldn’t say for sure it was you coming. i’d say i’d call if anything changed and she went home.

that friday we were having friends over for a hangout. dora and joe and lucas and eamon came and we talked and the kids played. i started timing when my back would twinge. i was pretty sure they were contractions, but it was early. “i think we might have the baby soon!” i said. everyone was excited.

we had dinner in a little bit and after that i made everyone come with me to feed the cat down the street. “Pay attention!” i told papa. “You might have to do this tomorrow morning!” calum and gus got pieces of candy from the bowl in the foyer. i could barely squeeze by belly through the upstairs door.

on our walk home i was excited and nervous. i worried about sending papa for the cat. the contractions were getting stronger; i couldn’t believe we would meet you soon.

that night papa and i slept in the front room and tried to watch a movie. now i forget what it was called, but after a little bit i made him turn it off. i couldn’t concentrate. your papa fell asleep and i tried to rest. around midnight or 1 am i called the midnight after a particularly uncomfortable contraction. “why did you call?” she asked. “i just wanted someone to know it hurt,” i said. “try to sleep,” she said.

i got up early the next morning, around 6. the contractions were still a minute or so long and 4-6 minutes apart. you were taking your time. i walked down to feed the cat and back. it was a little bit rainy and i took a slightly longer way home, to move around a bit. but i was antsy to get home, too. i didn’t want to be out too long.

i helped a little with breakfast, i even ate a little bit, but then the doula came and papa and i went back upstairs. i was tired and so i laid down in the guest room and just tried to rest between the contractions. around 10 or so the midwives came and sat with me for a bit. after about an hour, audra said, “let’s see if we can get this going!” she sent us for a walk outside.

papa and i went to the playground and we walked around a little bit. it was kind of nice to be having contractions in the park again, like i did with calum, and like i did with gus. but there were getting longer and more painful, and it was hard to breathe through them standing up, and i wanted to go home. on the stairs i cried to papa that i felt rushed and frustrated that the midwives made us go outside. he said, “let’s tell them that we want to take our time.”

they said okay and they let us go back into the room awhile. we tried lots of positions. the midwives wanted me to walk around. and take showers and baths. i tried all of those things.

the doula and your brothers played games. and did iPad. and made you a birth day cake.

i texted divya to ask her to tell her cousin that i couldn’t teach her childbirth class the next evening. and i texted my aunt and uncle to tell them that we couldn’t see them the next day.

by the time night came again, i was feeling very frustrated. my back hurt a lot and i felt a lot of despair. “it’s just like with gus!” i told them. “no,” said audra, “it’s not. you can do this.” but i felt frustrated, like they weren’t listening. i didn’t feel like i could just relax and rest, that i had to try to do something.

the midwives wanted me to drink more water and to eat things, but i didn’t want any of them. i did my best to eat some peanut butter toast and some pear. and i sipped as much water as i could stand – not very much. i had to pee all of the time, and squatted on our birthing pads or over calum’s potty a lot. i did not like crawling into the bathroom.

in the middle of the night, the midwives worried that would get dehydrated, so they made me lay down for awhile and take an iv of saline. i did and somewhere in the middle i felt like i might have to push. i was so excited. i felt a small flush of water, and the midwives wondered if my bag of fluids had broken.

when the iv was down i tried standing up with a leg up on a try, opening my pelvis wide. go ahead, little one, i thought. there’s room to go down.

i was maybe around 4-5 cm by then. not very much at all for so much work (36 hours or so). my back was hurting so much, i asked the midwives it i could try a few sips of wine. papa went and got me a glass of white, but i couldn’t hardly stand the taste, and i worried about it dehydrating me.

the midwives tried shaking my belly with a sheet to help my back. it helped a bit but it was hard work.

papa stayed with me and help my hands, but he was tired too.

the next morning the midwives sent us out for walk again. we didn’t make it past the driveway. i tried to hang on the fence during a contraction, but it was too hard. i crawled back up the stairs.

the midwives ate all of the pastitsio i had made for us for after the birth. and all of our bread. and all of the eggs. and the fruit. and snacks.

i tried go up and down the stairs. i tried lunges. the midwives made me drink black and blue cohash (without telling me how bad it would taste first – very bad). they tried nippled stimulation with a pump.

audra tried breaking my bag of waters to see if that was holding things up. we thought it had broken before, but there it was, still intact. part of my cervix was sort of lipped over, so audra tried holding it back while i pushed. the water broke but you didn’t move.

tara thought of different ways to lay with my legs open or closed or crossed. or with my back against the wall (i couldn’t do it) or on my side my legs hanging off of the side of the bed. it was all too hard. i just wanted to rest and breathe through the contractions.

the midwives started talking about an enema – they were still worried about dehydration and thought it would give me some energy too. i didn’t want an enema, but i wanted you to come. i was ready to try whatever they suggested.

catherine went out to find an enema, but she couldn’t get one. “what else can we do?” i asked. i was in despair.

“it might be time to go to the hospital,” they said. i cried. not because of the hospital so much, but because it was the first time i had every left calum over night. it was late in afternoon now, after 4 (over 48 hours of labor now), and i knew we would be sleeping there. i was 8 cm when we left.

“call our friends,” i told papa. “see if they can take calum.” papa called dora and joe. “i left a message,” he said. “oh!” i said. “they are camping this weekend! try abra and daniel.” papa left them a message too. “try taylor and sai!” another message. “no wait! they are camping! try cherisse – wait! they are camping!”

“wait wait! i know! call our friends with the kids! they our kids like!” i remembered friends who weren’t camping. “I DON’T KNOW WHO THAT IS” papa exclaimed. “euan! and the girls! ari!!” tim and ari said they would love to take the kids and that they would be right over. abra called back and said she could take them too, but we said we had found someone.

far away at camping, all of our other friends now had messages saying, “when you get this call back!” they spent a lot of time at the edge of camp, waving their phones around and waiting for new messages saying, “we’re okay and we have a baby!”

papa and threw some things into a bag for gus and calum (not enough – we didn’t send pajamas or toothbrushes or underwear for calum) and ari and tim came. we explained we had to go to the hospital and ari and tim packed them into the car. i tried to give ari a hug good bye but then another contraction came. ari and tim took your brothers to fomu.

i packed some things for myself and for you. i remember looking the mirror and thinking, “how can i look as pregnant now as i did two days ago?!”

the drive to the hospital was fast and long. the contractions were awful and i felt every bump. papa let them valet park our car and we registered. everyone at the hospital was so nice. i was worried they would give me a hard time for trying to have a homebirth, but everyone was so sweet.

we were all tired and loopy on the way to the room. it felt like an adventure. i was relieved that the labor would soon be over. when we checked in i was about 9 cm.

the anesthesiologists came quickly and soon i was able to just rest. i was so so tired of all the pain. the nurse was so kind. she loved home births, she said, and she has asked to see any women who came in from one. she was so kind.

the first ob was silly. “you need to consider that you might have to have a c-section,” she warned. “you’ve had two vaginal births, so there’s no reason you should be having so much trouble having another.” “yes i know,” i told her. “let me have this epidural and if it doesn’t help then we can talk.” “i’ll give you two hours,” she said. her shift was over in two hours. she would be gone. “fine,” i said.

the midwives were eager for me to rest, so i did. i wasn’t as tired as i was tired of the pain, but could sleep, so i did.

at first the epidural wasn’t quite enough, so i asked for a little bit more. i could still feel something in my back and i was just. done. the anesthesiologist came in and injected some fentanyl right into my iv. it made the pain go away but it made me feel sick. i hoped i would feel better by the time it was time to push.

the new OB came in in a little bit and she was just lovely. “i know you had hoped for a homebirth,” she said, “what can we do to help you feel like this is the birth you want.” “oh!” i said, “i’d really just like to have this baby.” she laughed. “do you feel like pushing?” she asked. “not yet,” i said. “ok, she said. “i’ll be back in a bit.”

after a little more rest, the OB came in and asked if i would like to push yet. i hadn’t felt the urge, though, and i didn’t want to try and have nothing happen. and i was still feeling queasy.

the OB left and audra asked if i wanted her to check my dilation. “no,” i said. “i never want you to check me ever again.” she laughed and asked i wanted to check myself. no, i didn’t. but then i thought, okay, fine. i reached down and there was this mound at my vuvla. “oh!” i said. “maybe i should push.” “are you sure?” the midwives asked. “um. yes. i’m pretty sure there is a baby right here!”

so we called the OB back and i pushed. i felt you move and then i felt sick. “i’m going to throw up,” i said.

the nurse gave me a dish and i threw up. you crowned immediately. “touch the head!” pap exclaimed. “i don’t want to,” i said. “you do want to!” papa said. i glared at him.

i blew my nose and your came up to your nose. “just reach down!” papa insisted. i was glad i did. i felt your little face. i was going to meet you!

one more push and you were out. papa caught you and tried to hand you to me. your cord was so short, you only made it up to my hips.

“oh!” said the midwives. “that explains a lot.”

we waited for the cord to stop pulsing and then papa cut it. i took you into my arms and i fell in love.


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