What an amazing week it’s been for us – we have a daughter! Even as I write these words part of me almost doesn’t believe that she’s actually ours and I find myself waiting for her “parents” to come and take her home. But they won’t come because WE are her parents! Every minute I spend with her I fall in love with her just a little bit more as she learns how to do very simple things like eat, look at us and even communicate with us with her cries. Even just one week old, we can already see this is a strong girl who’s got her own ideas on what she wants to do. A true Dragon Baby!
The last few weeks have been a weird mix of emotions – anticipation, nervousness, annoyance (just get her already!), and excitement. To take our minds off these things, last Saturday night we decided to go out for a nice dinner together, partially expecting it would be the last time we’d be asking for a table for two! Little did we know just how close we were. Cynthia looked amazing. I mean come on, look at that picture. Does this look like a woman that was less than 12 hours from delivering a baby? Most woman will hate hearing this but looking at her right now as I write this it doesn’t even look like she was pregnant! Maybe she’ll share her fitness tips with us at some point! As we’ve been known to do, we ordered some adventurous food – chicken liver pate, meatballs made of wild boar and the gumbo included rabbit, pork belly, andouille sausage, okra, and jasmine rice. This dinner plays an important role in the story later on…
We got home at a reasonable hour watched some t.v., had a little desert and were in bed around 11PM. Around 2:30AM Cynthia pops out of bed faster than I’ve seen her move in about 6 months heading for the bathroom. “I think my water just broke!” I’ll never forget the feeling of excitement and nerves that I felt right at that moment. Holy shit, this is really happening!! Little did I know at the time my “feeling” was also the onset of the 24 hour stomach flu. Yup. Bad news. For the moment though, my job was to keep calm, remain in control and get us ready for the trip to the birth center. And bake some cupcakes. Yes, bake some cupcakes. Why you ask? Well, we spent two consecutive Saturdays at a childbirth class where they told us that especially for first time moms the early labor process is pretty slow. Play a game, watch a movie, go for a walk and yes, bake a cake. We thought we had some time. Well, little baby Abigail had other ideas. As you can see by the official Operation Dragon Watch scorecard things were moving along quite quickly. We called the birth center and they told us to arrive around 4:30AM. So I got our stuff together (which was a stressful experience since you have to bring all your own food to the birth center), called our families and called us a taxi. And I had to make a some very uncomfortable trips to the bathroom. This was not how I was hoping to feel on this of all days.
The taxi driver wasn’t phased at all by the fact that he had a woman in active labor in the back of his taxi and in a weird way that made me feel more comfortable since I had in my mind that all taxi driver training programs covered backseat births. I could see that things were progressing however. Cynthia had gone from being able to have a conversation while the contractions were happening to not being able to say a word. We arrived at the birth center before the midwife on call arrived so we were literally sitting on the front porch with all our bags and Cynthia is active labor for about 5 minutes (which felt like about 30). The midwife arrives gets us in and examines Cynthia and declares her at 8cm. I naively ask “8 out of what” and quickly learn this baby is coming VERY soon!! At this point Cynthia is holding up better than me. I’m all sweaty, lightheaded and my stomach is in turmoil.
We make it up to the birth center room where 3 different nurses and midwives attempt to insert an IV about 6 different times forcing Cynthia to stay in a very uncomfortable position on the bed. Once the IV is finally in, Cynthia asks to be taken to the bathtub. Hmm, this wasn’t in our plan but at this point I’m game to try whatever will help since things are really starting to intensify. I have to say, I never really understood the whole water birth thing and thought it was just some kind of hippy thing and I guess it kind of was. But man, it looked awesome. That is until one of the midwives suggested I get in with her to help. The tub was just a bit too big for Cynthia to brace herself and if I got behind her it sure would help her out. Ok…I think. At this point I realize I don’t have a swimsuit or anything like that so what am I going to do? Luckily I did have a pair of track pants that I could roll up and jump on in. No mind you, I’ve had to leave the room about 5 times to deal with my stomach issues and the thought of getting into a 100 degree pool of water did NOT sound in any way appealing. But I couldn’t say no so I got in. I was helpful for about 10 minutes until I started getting really lightheaded, sweating profusely, and nauseous. I had to get out of the tub and as I was doing so almost passed out. While Cynthia was going into her next contraction I was literally doing the army crawl out of the bathroom. I asked the midwife for a bucket to which she replied “are you kidding me?” I made it out of the room and proceeded to vomit up the entire dinner from Saturday night and them some. Bad news. I had to leave for a few minutes to get my act together and I kept thinking I heard the baby cry and it was killing me to think I would miss her birth.
I managed to barely clean up my act to get back and support Cynthia. I’ve never seen anyone so strong and determined in my life and not once did she even mention the word drug. She had her mind set on delivering this baby naturally and damn it, she was going to do it. You think you know someone pretty well once you’ve been together for awhile but I saw a determination within Cynthia that even I didn’t know existed. She was amazing. Finally, at 7:58AM – yes, just 5 1/2 hours after her water broke, Abigail arrived! Watching her float up in the water and seeing Cynthia grab her and place her on her chest was breathtaking to see. It was beautiful. Abigail was beautiful. Her eyes were open from the first minute and when Cynthia spoke she would move her eyes in her direction and she would do the same for me. She was even able to lift her head ever so slightly and move it to the side. I always wondered what it would feel like to witness the birth of my child and honestly I couldn’t have predicted the wave of emotion that came over me. I was in love!
If you want further proof that the woman are going to run this household this picture proves it. Cynthia managed to push out an 8lb 12.5 ounce baby in 5 1/2 hours, Abigail is just chilling out and I look like shit! Unfortunately, the midwives took my temperature and I had a fever which meant I wasn’t able to hold Abigail after this picture. That was about the worst news I think I had ever heard in my life. That is until they told me I should really go home and stay away from her altogether since they were afraid I had the Norovirus. Are you kidding me? So I left. But just for a few hours because I couldn’t stand to be away from my girls. Of course, this triggered enough precautions that you would have thought there was a hazardous waste spill in our room!
What made this experience even more special was sharing it with my parents and Cynthia’s mom. My parents were there just about 30 minutes after we arrived with some food and moral support (they didn’t know at the time that food was a BAD idea). It was great having them there. I spoke to Cynthia’s mom who was in New York City at 4:00AM and she got on a bus and was with us before 11:00AM. She’s staying with us for the next several weeks and I honestly don’t know how we would have survived the first week without her.
The rest of this post are just a few pictures we like so far. You’ll hear Cynthia’s side of this experience soon and even I can’t wait to read it!