Aren't the late summer mornings of early September just about the most beautiful days of the year? This particular Tuesday morning was the day after Labor Day, and, unbeknownst to us childless types, the first day of school. I had been in labor since around five in the morning, and at about 8:30, we headed off to the hospital to deliver our first baby, as nervous and jittery as any first time parents have ever been. To our great horror, we discovered that our well planned route to the hospital was slowed considerably that morning by school zone after school zone. We would drive a few blocks, trying our best in our anxious hurry to stay within the speed limit, only to have to slow down to twenty agonizing miles per hour as we passed through flashing lights, crossing guards, and hoards of little kids off to their first day of the 1989-1990 school year. It seemed like there were more schools on our way that morning than I had ever noticed before.
Oh, if only we had known there was no rush. As much as I might have been hoping for a speedy labor, there was no possible chance of me not getting to the hospital on time. It is a good thing that at that moment, I didn't know I had a very long day ahead of me.
We were well prepared though. Mitch was four days late, and we had already been waiting nine long months for him. I was so sure he was going to come early. I so much wanted him to be born on my mom's birthday, the 30th of August, and I just knew if I wanted it bad enough, I could make it happen. No such luck. It was my first run in with the fact that babies have minds of their own, and by the time we had made it four days past my due date, I thought I was going to explode from the anxiety of it all. I had packed my hospital bag several weeks before, just like the parenting books had instructed me, and I had double checked to make sure I had every item on the list: extra pillows, extra film and batteries for the camera, robe, slippers, extra socks, a change of clothes, diapers, baby clothes, car seat, blankets, snacks, all of my makeup, a hair dryer and curling iron, phone numbers of everyone we would need to call, extra change, pen and notepad (whatever for, I have no idea) and a baseball. The baseball was to massage my back in case I had back labor. We were prepared for anything. I think it took us two or three trips to load everything in to the room with us. We must have looked like we were planning on staying for a week.
I was determined to have a natural childbirth. Upon arriving at labor and delivery, the nurses determined that yes indeed, I was in labor, and I was already dilated to a two. And I only had to get to ten. I could do this! We had been to four weeks of childbirth classes, and Dan was ready to coach me through this, just like we had learned. My determination held firm until two o'clock in the afternoon, when after what seemed a lifetime of contractions that really HURT, pacing the hall, and discovering that it is nearly impossible to breathe through a contraction with only your poor clueless husband as a coach, my nurse told me I was dilated all the way to a three. A THREE? In five hours I had progressed one centimeter? And I had to get to a TEN? Call that pain doctor, and call him now.
Well, I had to get to a four before I could have the epidural. And of course, then the anesthesiologist couldn't get there for another hour. And I was on the verge of hysterics. Dan was tossing the baseball and reading his Sports Illustrated. The nurse finally took pity on me, and got in my face and got me breathing right and got me through the next few contractions. By the time the anesthesiologist showed up, I was back in control, and feeling like I could do this, but I felt too dumb to say so, after the doctor showed up. So I had the epidural. Half way through the procedure, after he botched the first attempt, we found out he was a student. Or a resident. Or something other than a full fledged anesthesiologist. He finally got it placed, and by the time he was done, I was out of my mind again. He must have turned it up on overdrive or something, because in a few moments, I could feel nothing. After eleven straight hours of pain, it was heaven to me to be numb, but turns out I was a little too numb. I couldn't move my legs, let alone feel them, which when you are about to give birth, is not a good thing. My OB, when he showed up, was none too happy with that anesthesiologist.
Anyhow, right after the epidural was in, things started happening. I think it was because I was finally able to relax and let my body do it's job. I don't remember how long I had to push. I remember the nurses having to get my legs into position for me, and I remember thinking, holy crap, I don't want to do this, but there is no other way out. I do remember a lot more pushing than my later babies, but I couldn't feel a thing, so it didn't really bug me. What I remember most is at 6:09 pm a beautiful bald coneheaded baby boy with huge blue eyes being handed to me. I remember being completely overwhelmed by his uniqueness, and by the fact that he was just himself, a whole new person. His eyes were wide open, and taking in everything around him. We immediately noticed, in spite of his baldness, that he had a perfect blonde cowlick right in the top center of his forehead, and we knew that he was going to have quite the hair do one day. The doctor was shocked that baby Mitch weighed in at nine pounds even. Just a few days before, he had told me to expect a seven pounder. Mitch looked tiny enough to me. The moment that I laid eyes on him, my life changed forever. Instantly, I could not remember a time when I didn't know that face. Instantly, I could not recall what my life was like before I knew that little person. I didn't know that I could love somebody so completely at first sight. And every day since has been a new adventure.