Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Fletcher Andrew Schultz

Fletcher Andrew Schultz was born at 5:05 p.m. on Sunday, May 23, 2010. He weighed 8 pounds 2 ounces and was 21 inches long.

At 10:44 a.m. Sunday morning, after the "brilliant" idea to try yoga and while I was relaxing with the first Harry Potter book, I felt a contraction that was different from all the other contractions I'd had so far. It had me falling from the couch to the living room floor and lasted a good 30 seconds before I could focus and wonder, "What was that?"

It wasn't until 50 minutes later that I felt a repeat. Contraction No. 3 was ten minutes later. Contraction No. 4 was seven minutes later. And from noon until 3:30, they continued at between five and six minutes apart.

Around noon I knew we were in labor. But you know what they say... especially with first labors, it's supposed to take hours and hours. So should I sit at home and focus on the pain, or go to Andy's cousin's son's birthday party and focus on hiding the pain from everyone there?

So we went to the party and arrived a little before 1:00. We hung around for two hours at most, me hiding labor contractions by digging my nails into my thighs, making bathroom trips that were a little more frequent than usual, and just generally hiding my face every five to six minutes.

Andy's grandpa did wonder why I was on my cell phone so much. Using the "memo" option was my easiest way to time the contractions.

On the way home, I wasn't sure if the pain was escalating or if I was just able to focus on it now. I called the hospital to find out when it's time to come in. They said to come if I felt I was ready for drugs or if my water broke. If I felt the need to push, I should definitely come in. Mainly, it was up to me.

Five minutes later, we were home, deciding to spend the next few hours getting the house and ourselves ready. I went upstairs to change into something less binding but, halfway through, found myself panting on the bedroom floor. This was not just the effect of me "focusing on the pain." Things were escalating.


I called for Andy but he was busy in another room and didn't hear me. I looked at Bella, who lay on the floor next to me, looking at me as if the world wasn't suddenly spiraling into an alternate galaxy of pain and panic. "Andy?"

In between contractions was no longer a pleasant time of relief -- now it was sore muscles and leftover pain and wondering when the next wave would hit. I got dressed quickly and got downstairs, gripping the railing like it was my lifeline.

In the kitchen, I hit the floor again. "Andy, we're going." "Now?" "We're going now." But there were still things that needed to get done, so I held on. A trip to the bathroom confirmed for me that I was leaking fluid.

Hurry hurry hurry.

I was back in the impossibly hot car, as Andy tossed a few things into the backseat. "I'll be right back," he said.

Oh God, not again.

I got out of the car and leaned on the frame, moaning. A young girl across the street was at her lemonade stand. I don't know if she understood what was happening, but I'll never forget seeing her there.

Andy came back and asked if I wanted a lemonade. He kept talking to take my mind off things. I kept babbling for the same reason. Metallica's "Hero of the Day" was on the radio as we drove to the hospital, and it's been stuck in my head ever since.

Andy said he was convinced this was definitely labor when I yelled at him to stop hitting all the bumps in the road. And there were no bumps in the road.

I practically ran to admittance when we got to the hospital, weaving around everyone in the waiting area, feeling their stares on me. The woman at the desk could see that this was serious. "Just sign here. Just sign here. We'll get you right up to your room."

They sat me in a wheelchair, which struck me as a horrible horrible idea, but I wasn't in a position to argue. Not when I was panting. A woman sitting in the waiting room with a baby said, "It feels like just yesterday..." A number of rude comments entered and left my brain. I'm glad they didn't leave my mouth.

I got to my room and they told me to put the gown on and said I could use the toilet if I wanted. That's when my water broke... really broke. The thoughts and sensations were entering and leaving my brain so fast it was hard to comprehend anything, but I do remember thinking, "Thank God we left that party when we did."

I got on the bed, Andy was brought back into the room, and the screaming began. We were already dilated to eight centimeters plus. "Does that mean this is going to happen soon?" Andy asked. The answer was affirmative, and he had that "really?" look on his face.

"Did you hear that, Lindsay?" Andy asked. To me, he seemed focused on making sure I knew what was going on and what the doctor was saying at all times.

The room of women told me to turn on my side. This time, I was the one with the "really?" look on my face. But I did as they asked and found that if I wrapped my arms around the bed railing, I could pull and grip with all the strength in my body each time a contraction came.

"Where is my husband?" He came around to the side so I could see him. "Can Andy have a chair?" Andy pointed out that he didn't need one, but I wasn't asking for his sake. I needed to see his face. I could not be strong enough to survive this if I couldn't see his face.

When the contraction comes, you feel it build like a wave, and then you scream. At least, that's how it was in my case. The nurse will coach you on taking deep breaths, and while they do help, there is nothing that can be done for this pain. Nothing natural, anyway.

We had entered the hospital around 4:00 p.m. One hour later, I had my son. The pain of the contractions during that hour was, in a word, bewildering. It was impossible to comprehend. While the three hours of early labor contractions were about the same as my terrible menstrual cramps (thank you, primary dysmenorrhea, for preparing me for this experience), this last hour was beyond words.

Screw it. "Is it too late for drugs?" I asked. Anyone who would willingly go through this is mad. There was no way I could get an epidural this late in the game, but they gave me a half dose of the analgesics, saying, "She's a lightweight."

After the next contraction, I was pissed. "Seriously? *pant* I am not impressed *pant* with these drugs." So I got the second dose and didn't notice a change at all, though Andy said my screaming was a little less.

Meanwhile, I'm gripping the bed railing with all I've got, and the song "I'm Henry the Eighth, I am" starts playing through my head. Delirious, I start singing to get through some of the residual pain. Andy laughs. The nurses think I've lost it.

Almost immediately after being told I was eight centimeters, it seemed, they checked again and we were nine plus and ready to push. Again, Andy had his "really?" face on. "Did you hear that, Lindsay?"

There are two layers of shocking, bewildering pain during Delivery. The Contraction and The Pushing. You push, and you don't feel the contraction anymore -- you just feel the terrible, ripping pressure of the push, and it consumes the entire "female" area, all the way down to the butt.

I'm forced to listen to the nurse counting to ten while I push with all I've got, essentially causing myself the worst pain I've felt. But I'm not going to half-ass this one. The more pain I cause myself now, the quicker this will all be over. And I'm no lightweight, no matter what that nurse said. By the time the nurse reaches "ten," I'm so thankful I can stop pushing and take another breath.

Until I realize that that breath brings back The Contraction, which is just as bad if not worse than The Pushing. Three times I would push during each contraction, then "rest." Rest is in quotation marks because this kind of bewildering pain doesn't disappear in between contractions, and the anticipation that there's more to come doesn't comfort.

Over and over and over again. Pushing, breathing, pushing. I've got an oxygen mask on. I'm grunting. I'm lost in how fast all of this has happened.

When they said they saw the head -- and asked Andy if he wanted to see -- I could only think, Thank God and How Long Until It's Out?

It could've been a lot worse, I know, so I was surprised when there was a relative cheer in the room that the head was out. I kept pushing to get this over with, and someone told me to stop pushing. "Stop pushing? Seriously? I can't push? What's happening? Why can't I push?"

"Let the professional," I think I heard someone say, as the doctor maneuvered out the rest of the body.

RELIEF. Such relief I've never felt in my entire life. I saw my son. There was pain, but no more PAIN. It was over. It was the beginning. My son. The most beautiful thing I've ever seen in my entire life.

I lay on my side as someone else took care of pushing the placenta out, and then the stitching began. Nothing on my body mattered at the moment. I thought being torn would be awful, but in that moment, I didn't care that I had been torn in every direction to bring that big head into the world. I just wanted to see him, and never stop looking at him.

Andy was able to watch up close as they cleaned him up and checked him out. It wasn't too long before I was able to hold him and a helpful nurse took our first family photo.

All that waiting for our baby... and within six hours he was here. It was the greatest trauma of my life. It was the biggest miracle of my life.

"Look at all the hair," is something we've heard non-stop since the moment his head became visible. But all I keep thinking is, "Look at how perfect."


Let's go home.

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