With all this talk of twins, I think it's time to focus on you and how you came into this world. For quite some time now, I've wanted to record the harrowing, exhilarating tale of your birth story. To this day, I never tire of hearing my own birth story from your Mamie. Writing about your story today will allow me to relive the most epic day of my life.
It was February 19th, 2011—your due date. I was so ready for you to get here. I was drinking all kinds of weird teas, I'd had my membranes stripped twice (don't ask, sweetie), I was eating eggplant and going on long walks. I knew that our time was near because my OB informed me that I was 3-4 centimeters dilated. I remember googling "3-4 cm dilated" and discovering that you could very well choose to hang out another week or so. Oh, the devastation. I wanted you to be here now.
So on that day, I grabbed our dog Sophie and went for a long walk on Freedom Trail. I walked for close to an hour, and towards the end I had to sit down on a bench and rest. I was physically spent—I wondered if an hour long walk on my due date was such a brilliant idea after all. But I shook it off and waddled on home with no problem. It was only later that I realized that I was most likely about 7-8 cm dilated during that walk. In other words, honey, I'm pretty lucky that I didn't birth you right there on Freedom Trail.
Your daddy was really anxious to meet you as well—so he was helping me think of more ways to make that happen. That night we ordered Savage pizza and I ate hot peppers from a Greek salad. (That's another old wives' tale trick—eat peppers to rev your body up and make the baby come.) Your Dad and I laughed at our seemingly futile attempts to get you here through our master pepper plan. After dinner we settled in and started a movie (I'll never forget that movie: Unstoppable).
Naturally, twenty minutes into the movie I had to pee. (That happens about 73 times a day when you're about to have a baby, honey.) As I walked into the bathroom, I felt a hot sensation as water dripped down my legs. Wait! I knew what this was! Unbelievably, mercifully, this was my water breaking! Hallelujah! I screamed for your daddy to come in the room and bear witness to the puddle on the floor.
"I have chills!" he said. We stared at each other in disbelief. This was really, truly happening.
Now, according to my birthing classes, this right here was the "pre labor" potion of our operation birth the baby experience. I knew this meant that I could relax for a few hours, maybe have a light snack, and watch for any signs of contractions. Who knew? We may not even wind up going to the hospital until the next morning, right? WRONG. DEAD WRONG, as it turned out, my sweet Viv.
Thinking we had all kinds of time, we made our way back to the movie. Twenty minutes later, I felt a wrenching cramping through my abdomen and back. I walked around, trying to shake it off because I just knew there was no way I was going into labor. Then, ten minutes later the pain came again, only worse this time.
"Maybe it's just gas," your Dad opined.
"Not gas—this is so, so not gas." I said, and I searched for my phone to call my OB. After the answering service assured me that they would page her, I lumbered upstairs to finish preparing my half packed hospital bag. BLINDING pain met me at the top of the stairs, this time bringing me to my knees. I screamed for your daddy. He ran up to help me and together we threw anything and everything we could think of into our bags. Meanwhile, the contractions kept coming, only now each one was getting more intense, and causing me to get pretty darn vocal.
I didn't understand! Where was my calm and mellow pre labor? Why was I already in so much pain? Finally, mercifully the OB called me back.
"I think I'm in labor," I told her. "And it REALLY REALLY hurts. Is this normal? What's going on?"
She assured me that it was normal—but that it was a bit surprising that the contractions had started so quickly and intensely. She then urged us to get moving and get to the hospital. So your Dad escorted me to the car and loaded our suitcases. As he started the car, he realized that he'd forgotten his wallet.
"I have to go back in—I promise I'll be quick," he said. I pleaded with him to hurry because I was feeling another contraction coming. I could tell that this one wasn't playing around. I watched your Dad run around frantically inside the house in search of his wallet, and I screamed. Later he told me that he could hear my car screams from inside the house. Finally he got back into the car and we were off.
Honey, I wish I could tell you that I was a little more brave and stoic during that time, but it seemed like yelling and screaming somehow alleviated the pain. I hollered the entire way to Piedmont Hospital, screaming things like." WHERE'S COLLIER? WHERE THE HELL IS COLLIER ROAD?"
"We're on Collier Road, baby," your Dad said, frightened. "We'll be there soon."
When we pulled up to the hospital, some wonderful gentleman appeared with a wheelchair, which was a beautiful thing since I couldn't really walk at that point. When the admin folks saw my pain face they quickly ushered me through, and was finally, blessedly placed on a table and examined.
"Well no wonder you're having a tough time," the nurse said. "You're 9 centimeters dilated, mommy."
That explained a good deal. The next bit is a little blurry, Viv, but I do remember that they situated me in a huge room and hooked me up to a bunch of machines to monitor your heart rate—and mine. Your daddy stood next to me the entire time and began to play some music in an attempt to soothe me. I could not seem to let go of his hand, and whenever another contraction came, I squeezed the hell out of his entire forearm as tightly as I could. The next day, his entire arm was purple and blue from my constant squeezing. He never complained though—I'm still grateful to him for that.
I tried to hold off on the epidural, Vivi, I really did. I knew you were so close to being in my arms! But as dilated as I was, you were still "stationed" a little high, which allowed me a small window to make the decision to go with an epidural, based on the agreement that I would stay completely still when they administered it. That was about the longest five minutes of my life. Sure enough, as they inserted the epidural, I had a massive contraction and had to hold still as best I could.
Agony quickly turned into sweet bliss. The pain dissipated and within twenty minutes, it was a whole new kind of party. I could focus! I could concentrate on my breathing more and listen to the instructions the nurses were giving me—best of all, I could barely feel the contractions. For the next hour and a half, I pushed and pushed. I'll spare you the graphic parts here, Viv. All that you need to know is that I finally got you out, your Dad cut the cord, and then you were laying on my chest and gazing up at me. I cried as I held you and stared into your eyes. Nine months of connecting with you inside of me, and suddenly, inexplicably, you were here. It was the most amazing moment of my entire life.
And I loved you from the moment we first locked eyes, Vivi. All that love that new mothers describe—that visceral, all encompassing rush of love...there it was. My Vivienne.
I can't believe you're turning two this month. I've always tuned out the well-meaning people who order me to "seize every moment!" and admonish how fast the time passes by, but they're right, dammit. And even as I wish I could make you slow down and stop growing up so fast, I'm already so proud of the little person you've become. You are our world, little girl.