Saturday, January 9, 2010

Jackson's Birth Story - Part 1

My own little family. November 9, 2008.

In the last post I mentioned telling his birth story when Jackson reaches five. If I was on top of it, I would have written it a few weeks after he was born, or on his first birthday. But today he is 14 months. And that seems like as good as time as any. Especially for an old fashioned procrastinator like me.

Jackson was due December 16th, a day before my own birthday. He had other plans.

It was Election night, Nov 4th 2008, and I was wandering around the Portland Convention Center, the results had just come in, and everyone was celebrating. My husband was in Florida for work, and though I was among co-workers and friends, I felt very pregnant and very alone. I was passing person after person with champagne glasses. I kept rubbing my stomach as a reminder that I had company. My Pepto Bismol colored "Another Mama For Obama" t-shirt was very tight across my belly.

I felt like a whale. I was tired from canvassing, er, waddling all day and I just wanted to be curled up on my couch, watching CNN, and drinking diet pepsi.

I could hardly think about heading home to get comfy, though, because all of a sudden I realized I was having a contraction. And another one. And another one. Every few minutes. Okay, party over, I decided to cut the evening short and head home. I made my way through the crowds of cheering people (who were not cheering for me, obviously) and walked in the dark a few blocks to my car. Everyone was in the streets now, cars were honking, arms were hanging out of windows, waving to each other in excitment. It was a surreal evening.

For those of you with a different political persuasion, don't worry, we're done with that part. Just wanted to set the background scene, because the energy of that night combined with the realization that I may be going into labor was a lot for me to absorb. And I thought it would be pretty cool if my kid made an entrance on such a momentous day. But it was not to be.

I was scared, and my husband was all the way across the country. My Doctor had warned me I was high risk for pre term labor because my appendix had been removed at 20 weeks. I wasn't due for another six weeks. I got home, convinced I was just having some early contractions, like lots of women do without going into labor. But when I went to the bathroom, I was startled to see I had lost my "mommy plug" (Sorry folks, this is a birth story, and you are lucky to be getting even that euphemism) and I was bleeding. I'm thinking, okay, holy crap, this baby is coming. Tonight. With my husband in another state, with twenty eight states between us, or however many there are between Oregon and Florida.

I drove to Urgent Care, feeling sorry for myself, and lamenting on the drab, unfinished state of the Nursery. There was no changing table, no diapers, no nothing! I was already messing up my child's life, and he wasn't even here yet. The room was four walls of wood paneling, hmm?

The nurse told me my contractions were real and coming 7 minutes apart. But I was not dilated and definetely not in labor. But it could start as early as the next day, or not for another 6 weeks. You just never know, she said. I left the hospital with more questions than answers.

Hormonal, crying wreck that I was, I called my husband to tell him the whole story, mommy plug loss and all. I told him to fly back right away because I would probably deliver tomorrow and the nursery wasn't ready and I wasn't ready and the baby wasn't ready and I had a lot of work to do this month, so this was not a good time. He was, shall we say, taking this news in stride, "I'm sure it's fine, you're not going to give birth tomorrow, it's just a false alarm." I think he was trying to calm me, but these statements made me completely LOSE IT and throwing away all logic and good sense, I became weirdly determined to have this baby indeed tomorrow. That will show him! (Did I mention I was hormonal and not thinking straight?)

I called my sister, who immediately got on board with Plan Freak Out and drove down first thing to help me construct baby furniture and prepare the nursery.

Before she arrived, I headed to Babies R Us to buy a crib and changing table. I already had one crib, but decided it was ugly and horrific and not good enough for my baby. So, this did not bode well for the very nice and helpful sales girl when she told me they did not have the changing table and crib I wanted in the SAME COLOR. "When are you due?", she asked. "Because maybe we can order one in the color you want." Choking back tears, I replied in a panicked voice, "I don't know, I don't know when I'm due. The baby may be coming right now! I really need this crib set today." She was a bit, uh, thrown back by my watery eyes and shaky voice. The Nesting Instinct had me in a choke hold and was not about to let go. I chose the medium-colored-wood changing table, settled for my crib at home, and moved on.

Because it seemed like the smart thing to do, I carried the 40 lb box myself across the parking lot and loaded it into my car. Carrying heavy furniture while trying to avoid pre-term labor. Check.

When I got home, my sister was pulling up, having driven straight from Washington. She started to assemble baby furniture on the spot. For some reason, this made me do three things:

1) Cry a lot, and thank her profusely for helping me.
2) Accuse her of doing it wrong and launch into a tirade about how I hoped she was prepared to take ALL RESPONSIBILITY for there being no place for my newborn child to be changed
3) Frantically apologize and beg forgiveness, and then start that cycle all over again.

I think I did this four times in a row, if I remember correctly.

At some point, I headed to the basement to do laundry. As I headed back up to the house, I saw my sister step outside onto the back porch with some recycling. Now, my basement can only be accessed by exiting the house, and going around to a door that leads to the basement. As her fingers turned the door knob shut, we were locked out. In the rain. At 9pm. With nothing but laundry and recycling. No cell phone. No keys to the car. We raced to each window, each door, trying to press, cajole, bang, break our way in. We finally sat on the front porch. My husband would be home in three hours, flying in from Florida. We would have to wait for him.

Wait a minute! We weren't locked out of the basement, and that at least was a roof over our heads, even if it was freezing and looked like the kind of place people are murdered and left to rot. We would make do! We sat on overturned boxes and huddled by the dryer for heat. We pulled warm towels out of it and draped them over our wet selves for warmth. My contractions had started again, and pretty painful. I needed to distract myself from worrying the baby would be born on this cold, cement floor. I remembered there was an old 13 inch TV somewhere among the items we never unpacked, and a box of VHS videos. We pulled out a dusty 'Royal Tenenbaums' and pressed play. Woo hoo! This had gone from nightmare to cozy girls night. A couple hours later, we heard stomping above us. Brent was home. Thank God! We ran up and banged on the door. I was never so happy to be in my home as that night.

Part 2 is coming. I promise. Not like that 'to be continued' situation on the Party Store post. (We all knew how that was going to end anyway).

Me and Jackson: 3 weeks old. (photo by the amazing Andy Utz)


  1. Thank you for using the euphemism.

  2. Thank you for writing these precious memories up and posting them!

  3. Bekah, only the Tobin sisters could turn a worst case scenario lockout situation into a cozy movie night. I am so glad I KNOW the Tobin sisters.

  4. Thanks for stopping by my blog... we dug out of the 39 inches and are set for 12 more starting tomorrow... great:(

    My youngest was born election day 1998. Only time I did not vote and I would have if I had not been induced and had to be at the hoslital before the polls opened.


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