Dear Z2 –
Here is the story of your birth.
As with your sister, for some reason, we never really expected you to come early. I prepped my hospital bag around week 37, and your dad and I made arrangements for someone to take care of MG and Zygote, if needed. Still, we just knew you would be hanging around in utero for a while. We both went to work everyday; Zygote went to daycare and besides a lot of obsessive-compulsive cleaning on my part (very out of character), not much changed.
Around early May, my doctors started to figure you were going to be a big baby. Not a surprise. Zygote was big too, and you just felt like you were running out of room. The nurse practitioner told us that the best prediction of a baby’s size came from the mother – if mom felt the baby was big, it usually was. You were starting to feel like an enormous bowling ball I was lugging around. When I sat in a chair, I could feel your head pushing down, and I knew that you weren’t as jumpy as you had been earlier on. Still, we played a game every night. I would press my hand against my belly and push in, hitting your knee or foot, and you would reward me by kicking back. Even in the dead of night, praying away my insomnia, it would always make me laugh.
Dad and I decided to get an ultrasound to see how big you were before making a call about how exactly you would be born – by appointment for a repeat Cesarean section or by trying the “normal” way. We had a few date nights to ourselves while a babysitter watched Zygote – going to the movies in Davis Square and out to dinner in the North End. We had wanted to stroll around, leisurely eating our gelatos like we had pre-babies, but it rained, so we ended up back home early lounging around on the couch.
On the day of my ultrasound appointment, I wore a purple striped t-shirt your dad called my ‘Where’s Waldo’ shirt. I drove into Boston where the ultrasound technician found your heartbeat right away. We couldn’t get a glimpse of your profile, though. Your fists were bunched up and covering your face. Every time she moved the ultrasound want, you would turn your face and look away. She did a bunch more measurements and came up with 8lbs. 15 oz. for you at 37 weeks and 3 days. Those measurements can be off by up to a pound, but still, we knew. You were big.
We spent that weekend around home. On Saturday, we celebrated MG's 12th birthday with Nana and Papa and Auntie Kelly, Osmani and Rena and the boys, and Sol. On Sunday, we went to Worcester to see your cousin Brittany graduate from college. It was cold and rainy, but Dad and I thought it was important to be there, to show our family’s support for such a big accomplishment – she’s the first person in the family since your father to graduate. For us, it probably won’t feel that long until you and MG and Zygote graduate.
During the week, we continued to get our house ready for your arrival. We met with our nurse practitioner and chose Monday, June 6, as our surgery date if you didn’t make an appearance sooner. We liked the idea of having an extra weekend to wait for you, and we quickly told our friends and family that Z2, our nickname for you, would be arriving on the 6th. A few short hours later, we were bumped up to June 3, and well, Mommy lost her shit. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with June 3. It’s a perfect day – your birthday. It’s just that Mommy likes to feel like she has some semblance of control over her own life and body, and there is no way of controlling labor. I was angry that they took my one thing I could control away from me. I pouted and I cried, and I got over it. Phone calls were made. Babysitters lined up. And while we still hoped that you might surprise us with an early appearance, we knew the date and time that we would meet you.
I spent that last week, puttering around the house and doing things I knew I wouldn’t have a chance to do later. I got a pedicure and went clothes shopping and took a trip up to Gloucester with some people from work and walked along the beach. I ate Pinkberry on the roof of one of Harvard’s buildings with a group of friends on a hot day. I wrote a lot and finished some books. Dad took a lot of bike rides and long lunches. On Memorial Day weekend, our last at home without you, we stayed in the neighborhood, eating burgers and drinking wine on the porch. We took Zygote to the park to ride on the ‘whee’ (swings) and to play in the sprinklers. On Thursday, we finally, FINALLY, put on ‘Out of Offices’ and got ready to meet you.
Nana and Papa drove up that night, and we all went for a final meal out at Elephant Walk. Later that night, I was nervous and couldn’t sleep so I watched videos on the Internet and chatted with Nana who never can sleep. I kept going in to Zygote's room to kiss her and lie with her, and then, I finally fell asleep.
On Friday morning, your birthday, the alarm went off at 5:15 a.m., and Dad and I got caffeinated and ready. It felt weird to be putting in contact lenses and make up on to go deliver a baby, but I couldn’t really think of anything else to do. We said goodbye and headed to Mt. Auburn Hospital an hour later. We checked in easily and headed toward the birthing center. I stopped to pee about 500 times on the way.
We met our nurses, first a nice, dark-haired woman whose name I forget, and later, a woman named Katherine who seemed about my age and was with us for the rest of the day. I changed into my gown and paced the room while your dad ate breakfast. I watched the clock inching toward 8:30, the time our surgery was scheduled for.
The next hour was what we will forever refer to as ‘Just Get The Fucking IV in Already.’ Giving blood or anything IV-related is always a problem for me because of small veins. Add dehydration due to the fasting I had to do before surgery, and it got ugly really fast. The first nurse, a former IV nurse, tried three times and couldn’t get it, so she called the team from the anesthesiologists’ office down. The anesthesia nurse tried again a few times while I found back tears. She kept saying that the last thing someone in her field would want to do is hurt someone. She also said my small and rolling veins made me “uniquely difficult.” Dad and I got a big kick out of that, saying that it would be my descriptor from now on. Nurse 2 gave up too, and the actual anesthesiologist was called in. She numbed one arm with lidocaine to make me more comfortable, but still no vein. I was watching her sweat as she numbed my hand, and still, nothing. Finally, after numbing my other arm close to the bend in my elbow, she found a vein and started the drip. The nurse taped it down with some industrial looking bandages to spare me the annoyance of having to go through the whole process again. Over a week later, both my arms are still black and blue.
Our doctor came in for a visit, and I signed a bunch of consent forms. I peed again. Fun with an IV pole. Your dad kissed me goodbye, looking very funny in his scrubs. They were his second pair. He had been wearing a smaller pair earlier, but the nurse told us that they made fun of guys with too-tight scrubs, remarking, “Nobody wants to see that much of your stuff.” Then, I walked down to the operating room.
The operating room was bright and FREEZING. There was a bunch of different people milling around in there, all women, including one nursing student who was watching her first C-section. They explained how the spinal block and operation would work, and I hopped on the table (or lumbered onto) to get my back taped up. The needle tapped a nerve going in and my entire right leg started to shake. It wasn’t long, though, before I started to feel pins and needles and then just numb. I lay down on the table, and the nurses put the screen up and covered my belly in iodine. Shortly after, your dad came into the operating room, followed by Dr. Koontz.
I don’t remember too much of the actual procedure. There were a lot of people talking in very technical terms, and Dad and I just waited and kept looking at each other and smiling. They told me that it was time to expect some pressure, and there was a lot of tugging and pulling. The curtain kept jumping and jerking, and I heard, “do you have it?” and “not yet,” and a lot of grunting and groaning. Finally, “Sorry, Jennifer, you just have a REALLY big baby in here.” More pulling and jerking and then, “Got it!” It was 9:22. The pressure subsided and we heard your first cry.
“It’s a girl. A big girl!” the nurse said.
“What did she say?” Dad asked.
“Girl. Another girl,” I answered, and then we both got teary.
You kept screaming louder and louder, and the doctors and nurses commented on your big set of lungs. I watched them wash you off and weigh you. 9lbs. 4 oz and 20.5 inches long. The nurse handed you to Dad, and he held you close to my face to get a look at. You were rosy and chubby cheeked and looked like your older sister.
Dad went with you to the nursery while I stayed behind to get sewn up again. I chatted with the nurses about babies and labor and asked how the nursing student had survived. It went by quickly, and I was back in the quiet recovery room waiting for you. Dad wheeled you in, saying, “Did anyone order a baby?” We undressed you and lay you on my chest where you immediately latched on, nearly perfectly.
We ended up staying in that small, windowless room for hours because there were no available rooms on the maternity wing. Very Jesus and the manger, but um, not. Nana and Papa came to visit, along with the hospital’s chaplain, one of our friends from First Church.
Later that afternoon, they put us in room 516, supposedly one of the best on the wing. It had gorgeous views of the Charles and Boston and lots of sun. Dan from church came to give you a blessing, and Nana and Papa brought your big sister and pizza for dinner. Within minutes, there was chaos. Water, soda and pizza all over the floor and Zygote jumping on the bed. The laughing made my incision ache. Welcome to your family, kid. They are always there for you, but always with a lot of noise and a lot of mess.
You met your other sister, MG, the next day, and you and I hung out in our hospital room cocoon for the next few nights. We brought you home on a sunny Tuesday morning and introduced you to the rest of your family and friends. Welcome to the world, little Z2, youngest child. We can’t wait to see who you turn out to be.