Taped to the door of room 7 was a plain piece of paper that read “Shannon Michaels is breezing through this process with hypnobirthing.”
Now I’ve heard good things about hypnobirthing, but knowing what my sister was going through two doors down made me want to burst into Shannon’s room, kick her support person in the ankles, and begin singing ABBA at the top of my lungs.
I took all my frustration out on Shannon’s smug little sign because I couldn’t do anything for my sister. (Well, I did some things, but nothing that felt even remotely useful despite her claiming it was.)
For any of you unfamiliar, I have one sister who is 22 months older than me. She’s the best sister I could have asked for, we’re a swell little team with quiet voices and substantial noses. She’s never been larger than a size 2 in her life and the next most surprising thing after finding out she was pregnant was seeing her sprout boobs, real. live. boobs, around 5 months. (Pregnancy! Whoo!) She is a very petite person and her pregnant figure was nothing short of adorable and full of baby. From behind no one would have never guessed what was looming out in front.
When she said she was going to try for an unmedicated birth I thought “GO YOU! But you do remember bruising a rib coughing that one time right?” Unmedicated labor fit her M.O. so I wasn’t surprised. When she’s sick she drinks tea, I take NyQuil and say sayonara cruel world. When she orders Thai she asks for the tofu while I ask if there’s an option to get all the meat. She takes herbs, I take drugs. She drinks spritzers while I drink Mexican Coke. She eats beets and thinks they’re delicious. I like cheeseburgers, she likes miso soup.
She was there for my labor with Addie and knew what a pleasant person I became after my epidural so I never said anything more, she knew the option was there.
Her water broke just before 3 am on April 2nd. She had already been in early labor for what seemed like the entire week, and certainly since the previous afternoon (April Fools sucka!) She was big and uncomfortable but once we were all at the hospital she went straight into listening to her body, making all the adjustments, bossy demands and movements necessary for her to be (somewhat) comfortable. After several hours of swaying and groaning I thought “Hot damn, she’s OWNING this birth thing! No drugs for her! This birth is going to be powered by ice chips and counter pressure alone!”
She didn’t progress a whole lot. 2 cm when she arrived, 4 cm after several hours and only 5 cm after several very, very long and painful hours. She was exhausted. We all were, but she hadn’t slept for almost 36 hours and she hadn’t slept well in at least 4 months. I could tell she was scared, I was scared. I wished I could take it all away for her. That I could do it for her. I’d done it twice, I could handle it! Let me do it! But that’s not how this birth thing works.
She never said the words out loud, but we knew what she wanted, and truthfully it was getting to the point where we all knew that’s what she needed.
Her birth plan went from ‘Unmedicated Childbirth’ to ‘Kicking Birth’s @$$‘.
Even after medication she was still uncomfortable but able to rest. She was checked again we were all surprised to hear she had progressed to a 9 and the nurse said she’d be pushing within the hour.
“Is pushing hard?” she asked me.
“Nope. It’s like pooping.” I responded.
Oh, how I regret those words.
Her doctor told her most first time moms push for an average of 45 minutes to an hour. I stood to the side and thought “Pfft. You haven’t seen my family give birth. We practically SNEEZE babies out.”
After watching her push for nearly two and a half hours I was choking back tears and wondering what gold trimmed and diamond encrusted present I could buy her that would show her how very, very sorry I was for ever saying pushing is like pooping.
I’ll spare some of the more personal details that would make your bits clench in solidarity and say he made it out.
All 9 lbs. 6 oz. and 22.5″ of him.
My tiny sister birthed a baby that was nearly 9% of her pre-pregnancy body weight.
No one saw that coming.
I knew I liked her husband but boy if I didn’t fall in love with him even more as I saw the love he had for my sister and their new son during those crazy intense 12 hours.
In the end she got her baby. A perfect little man with a full head of dark hair, thigh rolls, a dimpled chin and chubby cheeks.
We had a talk tonight over sushi about how we have these things we get to keep.
We have husbands with whom we are madly in love with.
We have homes with mortgages in our names.
We have the jobs we dreamt of as little girls.
And now we have these perfect little children that we get to keep for as long as they’ll have us.
I always knew my sister was a good one, but I never knew just how strong she was until yesterday.
I love you sissy, and your little men too.