It's our last weekend, most likely, before the baby arrives. We kicked it off with a double-feature Friday night, lots of sleeping in, and now a day of bumming around Beachwood, shopping and laughing and just being together with nowhere in particular to go.
Saving up our appetites for what we're calling our "last supper," it's 3:00pm on 4th of July and we're at Borders bookstore with tummies growling, having not eaten since breakfast. Shannon is off in the gaming section and I'm browsing biographies and memoirs, laughing at Russell Brand. I lean down to reshelve it and suddenly it is quite apparent that we need TO GO.
Waddling over to Shannon, I try my best to not look like a very pregnant chick whose water just broke over a comedian's tell-all.
Rushing home, we're excited and nervous and, damnit!, hungry. So in between checking our overnight bag and freaking out about the fact that I am having this baby TODAY (i.e., one week early), we're stuffing our faces with snack foods so that I have some sort of energy for the impending labor. Ahhh, last supper indeed.
I'm feelin' good, not in any pain, and we check in without ado at University Hospitals. I'm gowned, IVed, and scoped to make sure everything is A-OK. Bouncing on my birthing ball, I'm riding out each contraction, holding onto Shannon's hands because, let's face it, I can't sit on one of those balls even under normal circumstances.
Five hours into this I start to realize that, yes, contractions DO get worse, and goddamn I'm going to need to see someone about the epidural. We opt for the low-dose, as I don't want to numb this experience completely, but I also don't want it to be clouded over by pain that I'm not seeming to manage too well on my own. Pain management during labor is a completely individual and unique decision, so even though I went in with the intention of going all natural, I don't regret getting this done at all.
Unfortunately, my doctor couldn't be there for the birth, so in comes a large abrasive black woman who proclaims to be the one who is going to deliver this baby. OK, stranger. Have at! I'm fully dilated and ready to get this show on the road.
Five minutes and two pushes into labor the doctor starts talking to the two nurses flanking her sides. "She's not doing this right. She better get it together or we'll be here all night."
I'm in labor, not deaf. I CAN HEAR YOU.
And also, I've never done this before, lady, and it's been five freaking minutes. Can't a girl get a fighting chance?
"I can do this!" I yell, pushing my little heart out. And Shannon, being the wonderful husband that he is, echoes my sentiment and repeats to everyone in the room that YES, in fact, I can do this.
"Come on, Lauren. You need to get it together. If you can't push better than this we're going to have to give you Pitocin."
I'm sorry, who? Did the strange doctor just call me Lauren? (Coincidentally, the name of the nurse on her right.)
Always one for manners, I manage to grunt out: "I'm sorry. I'm normally a very nice person, but you all need to SHUT. UP..... RIGHT. NOW. And my name is AUTUMN."
Once the medical staff stopped telling me I couldn't push a snowpea out of my hoo ha if I tried, I looked down at the mirror to see our baby girl's head starting to crown. Amazing! A few more pushes and she was lifted up into the world. After only an hour and five minutes of pushing. Total labor time from when my water broke: 11 hours. Suck on that, Dr. Rude. Nobody tells me I can't birth no baby.
Shannon cried, I cried, Daphne was pretty upset about this whole "cold air of the outside world" thing, but somehow in that hospital room we became a family. It was so thick I could touch it. She was placed on my chest and never before have I had such a strong urge to protect something. The strange border of fear and love that I knew I would now always walk.
We're two weeks in, and no matter how many times people tell you that the first two weeks will be the hardest of your life, you don't know truly what that means until you're living it. And it has, at times, been unbelievably hard. I'm not ashamed to say that I've been suffering from some post-partum blues, but my mom and dad and Shannon have been patient and helpful and I could never have gotten through these weeks without them, especially since we have two other kids in the house a lot of the time.
But I look at her sleeping, as she is now, and know that all of the tears and change and worry will have been worth it. Always. Because she is perfect and healthy and gave us new eyes on the world.
Daphne Josephine Spalding, July 5th, 2011
7 pounds, 2 ounces