Tuesday, March 07, 2006


Tristan's story

Four years ago today, I became a mom for the first time. And since you know how Tristan was conceived, it only seems right that you know how he came into the world. Except I went looking for his labour and delivery story in all my old files, and I can’t find it anywhere. Bear with me as I make this up as we go along.

Tristan was due on March 4, 2002. On March 3, 2002, we had a flood in our basement. We had to haul everything – desk, computer, boxes, bookshelves and books, TV, futon, the works – up the stairs and find a place to keep it while they dried out the carpet and repaired the drywall and the paint.

On March 4, CBC TV called and asked if we would be interested in being interviewed for the evening news broadcast on the subject of embryo adoption. We were!

On March 5, I was still quite impatient.

On March 6, I woke up around 4:30 in the morning to mild cramps that seemed to come with regular frequency. Only after lying in bed for 90 minutes timing them did I finally begin to believe that perhaps they were contractions. I finally got out of bed, and a little after 6:00 that morning, lost my mucous plug. (Nothing says “Good Morning” like a mucous plug.)

I woke up Beloved (nice of me to let him sleep, eh?) and took a shower, relieved to finally be on our way to meeting Tristan for the first time. After my shower, I was puttering about making breakfast but Beloved was insistent that I call the L&D unit and get their advice on whether to come into the hospital immediately or not. As much to calm him as anything, I made the call.

Remember I mentioned the basement had flooded three days before? Right. The contractors also had some labour scheduled for that day. I was sitting on the couch in the front room, describing to the L&D triage nurse on the telephone the events of the morning to date, when I looked out the window to see them coming up the walk with their arms full of paint cans, ladders and whatnot. I hollered sweetly called to Beloved to answer the door while I retreated to the future baby’s room (perfectly prepared for baby’s arrival for months but now overflowing with excess furniture from the basement) to finish my call with the nurse.

She had just finished telling me that all sounded well and I didn’t have to worry about coming in until the contractions were so strong I couldn’t talk through them (and I had to keep saying “Pardon me?” because of the crashing of contractors coming up the stairs) when I began to leak.

“Um, excuse me?” I interjected into the end of her instructions. “Um, I haven’t been incontinent at all during this pregnancy, but um, I seem to be leaking.”

“Oh!” she said, the smile evident in her voice. “Well then, that changes everything. Why don’t you come on down and pay us a visit?” So Beloved made a quick call to a friend to come over and babysit the contractors while I packed up a few last pairs of underwear and my toothbrush into my overnight bag, while the contractors used a very noisy saw to cut a six-foot hole in my bedroom ceiling to access the pipe that had caused the basement flood.

We went to the L&D unit, and they took a look and patted me on the head and sent us home again, with instructions to return when the contractions became unbearable.

By then it was getting on to lunchtime, so we stopped at Tim Horton’s on the way home. People give you strange looks when you are standing in line at Timmy’s and are very obviously pregnant and are very obviously breathing through your contractions. Go figure.

It was probably close to four o’clock that afternoon by the time we finally made our way, uneventfully, back to L&D. The contractions were good and strong (she said euphemistically) and they admitted us right away. They offered me dinner, which I declined as the contractions ramped up to the point that I was getting nauseous from them.

Back in 1999, one of my best friends asked me to be present in the delivery room when her son was born, and I had asked Candice to be present when Tristan was born. By the time she arrived at the hospital, sometime in the early evening, I had lost all track of time in the hell of contraction-inducing hallway wandering. Luckily, her arrival and the arrival of the epidural roughly coincided.

Unfortunately, the epidural didn’t ‘take’ properly, and they had to start again from scratch. As I found out through Simon’s long delivery, I seem to be somewhat epidural resistant. I’m hoping to deliver the next child, if there is a next child, by osmosis. Through the night, they tinkered with the medication until finally, near dawn, I was so frozen I couldn’t move my legs.

Looking back now, I think Tristan was just waiting for the morning shift change to make his entrance. It was around 7 am that they told me to start pushing, and the first few pushes just about popped my eardrums but didn’t seem to do much of anything toward delivering the baby. After a while, I got the gist of it and I pushed from lying down, from sitting up, from squatting. I pushed until it seemed my entire life had been consumed with pushing.

After two hours of pushing, we had garnered quite a crowd. The nightshift nurses were still hanging around but the dayshift nurses had already arrived. There were at least three student nurses, one of whom had never been at a birth before – and somehow she became my favourite, and my focal point. Maybe I didn’t know what the hell I was doing or what was going on but neither did she, and somehow that was comforting. By the time I actually delivered, there were also two residents and the on-call OB in the room – I’m sure there must have been a dozen people crowded around the bed, all cheering me to push “just one more time”.

Beloved, who during my pregnancy had expressed on a few occasions his fears about the whole delivery experience, was the only male body in the room, and was more than happy to stay as close to my head as he could manage. I remember in that final lull after the penultimate push looking up and being almost giddy with love to see him watching everything, his eyes bright with excitement and pride and anticipation.

And then, just before 9 am on March 7, 2002, a mere 28 hours after labour began, Tristan Louis was born. Nine pounds, 22 inches long. My firstborn son.

Happy birthday, Tristan!