23 April 2009

One Decade Ago

Picture it. April 22, 1999.

I am nine-plus months pregnant. It's my first child, and I know it's a boy, and I know his name will be Spencer James.

My original due date was April 15, and that day has come and gone without so much as a water breaking, a single contraction, not even a mucous plug loss (tmi).

Without wanting to go ballistic too badly and rip my hair out, I barely can keep from screaming out loud, "Child! Come out! Why don't you want to meet us as much as we want to meet you?"

A week past the due date had gone by, and I was back at the doctor's for a postdate check. Everything was fine, but my anxiety must have been surely evident, as the doctor decided to schedule an induction the next morning.

I cannot remember what Brent and I did on our last "just us" night, or if we slept well or not , but I remember checking in to the hospital promptly at nine o'clock the next morning. Within a half hour, I was tucked into my own room, decked out in a hospital shift and a terry cloth robe (brought from home). Various tests were administered, IVs were hooked up, and an ointment whose name escapes me was applied to my cervix (to "ripen" it, according to the doctor, like I was a piece of fruit). The medical team could have probably taken out all my major organs and I could have cared less...I was meeting my son today!

The first few hours were spent excitedly playing board games with Brent, reading books, doing crossword puzzles...after all, I wasn't feeling anything yet, so needed some activity to pass the time. Even around dinnertime, nothing seemed to be happening. It was probably somewhere in the early evening when the Pitocin drip was administered, since obviously my body was not responding to the gentler methods of labor induction. Well, that little drug seemed to be the ticket, because the contractions started shortly afterwards. At first they were mild, and I nearly scoffed with laughter at those who said labor was scary and painful. Brent and I were able to get up, stroll the hallways, and I'd stop every now and then to wait for a nice, rolling contraction to pass.

Then, the fun began. Late in the evening, the pain kicked in and soon, I was leaning heavily on the wall to help the contraction pass. Brent applied pressure to my lower back in earnest to ease the hurt, but before long, that became an exercise in futility as well. I was crying, breathing, panting, and Brent flailed helplessly, doing the best he could to alleviate my suffering.

The worst news came at three in the morning, after I'd been in hard labor for about four hours: I was only dilated to 2 centimeters. All that work (it felt like to me), so little had been accomplished. I was ready to give up, and so I did something to this day I do not regret - I asked for the drugs.

The anesthesiologist became my new best friend. Shortly after the spinal injection, I blissfully fell asleep. Four hours of sleep did the trick. I woke at eight a.m., still feeling fine, but the nurses had news for me - I was fully dilated and ready to begin pushing. Bring it on, I thought.

I felt no sensation in my legs and lower body (that was some epidural!), which hindered my pushing, something I did not know at the time. The one step forward-two steps back cycle went on for about two and a half hours, and at 10:43 a.m. on April 23, Spencer James Nelson finally arrived in this world, much to his father's delight and mother's sheer exhaustion.

And it has been ten years since that day, and that little infant who, for several months, would only fall asleep if he were swaddled burrito-style, has now entered the double digits, and is well on his way to becoming a young man.

He is our eldest, our easy baby, our rough-and-tumble toddler, and the child whom I continue to be proud of every day. I watch him and marvel at what he can do, and count myself very lucky that he is part of my world.

Happy 10th Birthday, Spencer.

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