Before I launch into TJ's birth story, it's important to know that Charles and I didn't take a single class or read a single book about giving birth. Oops. I mean, I read plenty of articles and blog posts that I found while obsessively scrolling through Pinterest, but beyond that? Nada.
So. Early labor began a week before I was due. I'm sure if I had taken one of those classes or read What to Expect When You're Expecting, I would have known to mentally prepare for the possibility of waiting an ENTIRE WEEK all while contracting and enduring terrible heartburn. One. Whole. Week. Whatever, totally worth it.
I make it to my due date. 40 weeks and I was begging to be induced. Did you know getting an induction is a little controversial? Again, this may have been something I would have learned in those very important birthing classes. Well, I couldn't wait. I was due May 23 and I was checking in to Labor and Delivery at Metropolitan Methodist the very next day at 6pm. Spoiler alert: I'm very glad I got induced.
Along with the normal IV fluids, they started me on a very slow Pitocin drip. Once upon a time, if you were getting induced, you would be given a butt ton of Pitocin right away to get active labor started, but not anymore. Slow and steady wins the race and also, apparently, helps you avoid a C-section.
At about 4am I felt my first contraction and not long after, a second. After those first two, my water broke. Did you know that when your water breaks, it just keeps coming? Like you're constantly peeing your pants? Oh, you did know that? Because you went to one of those classes? Yea, well. Shut up.
The contractions continued into the morning. Although they were pretty painful, I was working through them pretty well. Strangely, I didn't want to hold anyone's hand through the pain. I just wanted to bear down and push my fists against the bed below me. Finally at about 10am, I was told I could get an epidural whenever I was ready. I waited about 30 minutes and then begged for the juice. I couldn't handle getting my cervix checked during a contraction again.
The anesthesiologist came in and WOW. He was a character. This is coming from an actor, okay? He was impressed that I was listening to Adele and commented on how tall I was. He was truly the weirdest part of the experience, but also the best. Epidurals are your friend. Epidurals make (LITERALLY) all of the pain go away. After my epidural, I fell asleep. For, like, hours. It was great. I peed in a bag and wondered why people think labor is so painful. After I woke up, I threw up. It's important and embarrassing for Charles that I mention the reason I threw up is because he was talking to me with his two-day-old breath. I begged him to brush his teeth after that. Love you, babe.
After vomiting, they checked my cervix (once again, thank God for epidurals) and I was fully dilated at 10cm! Oh. My. God. It was time. We kicked out the grandparents and they got everything ready for the big show. Everyone was calm and organized, not like the chaos you see in the movies. We did some practice pushes. I had to ask what number we were counting to (it was 10) because, you guessed it! We didn't go to that class, either!
My doctor casually walked in, huge smile on his face, and we began. Charles later told me he had quickly looked up on YouTube how to help me through the breathing. He helped hold up one of my legs and pushed me forward and did the breathing with me. Guess what? It's not that hee-hoo stuff. It's a big deep breath and then you puuuuush! Actors and singers of the world: this is totally our kind of breathing. Somewhere, my college Voice & Diction professor would have been proud of the work I did that night.
Twenty minutes of pushing and all of a sudden, a BIG screaming baby was placed on my chest. Charles and I immediately joined him and started crying. We both agree that hearing our son cry for the first time is the best sound we've ever heard. A tidal wave of relief washes over you when you see your child for the first time. He was real and alive and beautiful.
Thomas James Cate. You were born May 25th, 2016 and weighed 9 pounds and 11 ounces. The first people to see you besides your parents, were your grandmas. They literally tore through the hospital room's curtains and ran to our side and shook and cried at the sight of you, little boy. Your grandpa (who we hope you will call Grumpy because he's not at all) and dad went and picked me up a Bill Miller baked potato. It was the first thing I had eaten in 24 hours. Your Uncle Dan and Aunt Laura came next, then Auntie Mary Beth and Uncle Trevor. Everything was and is wonderful because you had finally come. It was worth every minute of uncomfortableness, heartburn (ooooh, the heartburn), pain, and feelings of impatience.
The cliches are all true, folks. It was the day our lives changed. We love you, TJ.
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