Time to talk about BIRTH. My nephew (The Cuz Man) was born on February 3rd at 7:26 AM to The Sister and The BIL. He weighted 8 lbs 8 ounces and was 19.75 inches long. I got to watch some of the labor and ALL of the delivery. My goal was to wait until I could formulate something poetic and poignant regarding the experience, but it turns out that’s nearly impossible. Watching someone push a tiny person from their body encompasses too many things and cannot be squished down into a tiny, neat blog post. Therefore, I present my thoughts in bullet points.
- Labor is a long and terrifying roller coaster. I don’t like being in it, and I don’t like watching it. The Sister started contracting around noon the day before she gave birth. When she called to say this was going to be it, I was SO excited. My adrenaline spiked and when they were on their way to the hospital, I insisted we follow suit (we did have a longer drive after all). We arrived shortly after they did at 6:30 PM. The Wee One and The Scottish were going to come along because we thought for sure we’d have a baby by later that night and then we’d all be able to head home. When I found The Sister in her hospital room’s bathtub having a painful contraction my heart sank and suddenly I felt sick to my stomach. I hurt for her and for what was to come and it was that moment when I realized this was a marathon for everyone else too, not just the woman in labor. I needed to settle in.
- Waiting is exhausting! We were at the hospital from about 7 PM to 7 AM. My family waited even longer for The Wee One to arrive (all day and half of the night) but still, 12 hours in a hospital waiting room is no picnic. A few people ran out to get snacks and we dined on vending machine food as the cafeteria was closed. At midnight we sent The Scottish and The Wee One home because our little guy was having trouble sleeping in his stroller and we had figured out it was going to a long time before baby arrived. Around 1 or 2 AM those who had to go to work emailed to say they wouldn’t in on Tuesday. The BIL’s parents are both retired, so no calling in for them! The Cuz Man is their first grandchild and they were so pumped to meet him!
- I have a new-found respect for what The Scottish went through while I was in labor with The Wee One, and obviously I didn’t do even close to the amount of work that The Scottish or The BIL did! The job of a support person is extremely difficult because of how helpless you feel. When I was in pain myself, I didn’t have time to think about The Scottish, but watching The BIL with The Sister I could feel empathy for them both. Being a support person is draining, it’s unnerving, and it’s a whole new kind of exhaustion that should really have its own name. I think it’s a fair statement (since I’ve been on both sides) to say I was only slightly less miserable than The Sister was, haha, OK fine, more than slightly. It doesn’t help that I am a terrible night owl. Throughout the evening and into the morning, I would go in to their room check on them both, as well as bring updates to everyone else. After The Sister got her epidural she and The BIL were able to get some rest and things slowed down. All of us in the waiting room had to laugh because when she got to 10 cm, the nurses told her she had to wait to push so luckily those two were able to doze for a bit but the rest of us remained wide awake and ready. We wanted to get the show on the road!! Of course it wasn’t our call. (Well, at least I looked alive and helpful even if I felt like death!)
- Pushing is the absolute worst. The Sister started off strong but ended up needing a vacuum assist after some 4+ hours of pushing. She passed my 2.5 hours and laughed in its face. Similarly to me as well, The Sister ended up getting pitocin to help strengthen contractions at the end, the difference being I was started on it before pushing after I stalled at 7 cm. The Sister knew not to ask early on if she was getting close because she had seen firsthand how slow the baby’s head could descend. I know some first-time moms personally who pushed for 30 minutes or less, but in both our cases, it seemed like just when we thought the end was near, it moved further and further away. The BIL and I did our best to cheer her on (I know how much that helped me when I was pushing) but I had to take a break at one point and left the room to go pump. The Sister was such a trooper. She fought dizziness and nausea the entire time and kept on going. She apologized for whining when she wasn’t even whining! Finally, The Cuz Man was born!
- Women are powerful. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but even more so while watching a birth I found myself completely in awe of what the human body can do. Sure, birth can be traumatizing, gory, and painful, but it is surreal, gentle, and amazing too. One second there is this tension, this apprehension, this stillness, and the next second there is a brand new human being in the room! It is truly indescribable. (My words do not do it justice.)
- Watching someone meet their child is gut-wrenchingly beautiful. The BIL cried tears of joy and The Sister looked mistfully smitten. The first few moments after The Cuz man was born I shed tears of happiness and relief, so much relief! I snapped photos of the new family. I admired my nephew.
The next day we all went back (after taking a short nap) to hug and hold him officially since he had to go to special care for a short time post-birth and we wanted to give the new family their space.
The Cuz Man is almost 11 weeks old! He’s a bit of a
fussy passionate guy but he’s starting to smile now and he’s even rolled over once by accident. We love him to pieces and we’re so happy he’s a part of our family.