As we approach Sam’s one-week anniversary, there are a couple of elements of the birth story that I’ve not yet mentioned, but want to. But first, I can’t believe it’s been a whole week. Nor can I believe it’s been only a week. It seems a world ago that we were breathing through the contractions. At the same time, it’s been such a hectic whirlwind since, were there really 7 whole dark, night-like entities since then?
Stories. The first is about Carolyn’s labor. We had written a birth plan. It basically laid out what we wanted from our birth. I’ll try to find a place to post it, but the gist is that we wanted minimal medical intervention. This included not getting things like pitocin (a labor inducing drug), nor getting an epesiotomy (a pre-birth cut to make more room). We did not get our way with these things. However, one of the other key elements was no pain-relief drugs like demerol or an epidural. After all, what goes in mom goes in baby, and why start baby’s life with narcotics? I’m pleased to say, that thanks to our training in the Bradley method (see this post) we were able to accomplish this goal. Carolyn was, with my help and that of the doula, able to relax and breathe through the pain of labor. To be certain, it was easy to tell that it hurt, but she did an excellent job coping and communicating her requests for the next one (and her complaints) in between the contractions. While I’m not really surprised, I am very proud of her for what she managed to do for herself and our child. She describes the experience as being somewhat “trance-like”.
The second story is the one for which this post is named. One of the things that I did in the relatively early part of labor was read Carolyn various relaxation scripts, readings from the Tao, etc. These were intended to help her find her “happy place” or whatever. We had a few of these from the Bradley method instructor, and Carolyn had written a couple of her own based on her largely idilic experience in Cassis in the South of France. I was foruntate enough to get to share that experice for most of a 2-week period. So, I was really moved when reading her relaxation scripts that she’d written recalling various sensory images from that experience. Some time after the birth, our Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) told us that we’d made a nurse cry at the love she saw as I was reading Carolyn poetry. We certainly developed a little bit of a reputation in the maternity ward, and more than one nurse told us wistfully about what good patients we were, or if only all patients were like we were.
Later on, we were in the pediatrician’s office when a nurse said something to the extent of how lucky Sam was to have parents so in love. I took it as a complement, but as the nurse had barely seen us interact for 5 minutes, most of which we were either undressing Sam for weighing and measuring, or trying to comfort her from having been naked on a cold scale and table. In talking with Carolyn about these events afterward, we’ve come to the tentative conclusion that Altoona, being a town that time forgot, does not have many fathers who are able (or interested?) in being actively involved in the daily aspects of child rearing. While this is sad, it’s not as sad and scary as the idea that somehow Carolyn and I have an overabundance of love compared to the typical Altoid couple.