And now, the extra-special bonus edition, which came to be after Amy finally got up the nerve to watch all (ALLLLL) the footage Jason shot at the hospital and realized that she got some stuff wrong and/or out of order, so today we present the Definitive Edition With All-New Appendices and Nitpicky Details.
(At least up until the part where Amy started taping over things and we abruptly cut to dorky family members in dorky Christmas sweaters awkwardly waving at the camera. Basically: Amy decided she better recap whatever footage is left before she tapes over things AGAIN, perhaps with footage of her swinging an IKEA floor lamp around in order to show off her kickass lightsaber skills.)
We didn't start videotaping until after my epidural, mostly because I didn't have a room during the more tolerable, camera-friendly part of labor. And even when the video starts, I'm on my side, facing away from the camera and only manage a lame thumbs-up when Jason tells me he's recording, although I distinctly remember going to give him the finger and then changing my mind at the last minute, because of the posterity of the whole thing.
(Although given the horrifically graphic vagina shots and then the whole slicing-me-open thing that would come later, it's probably safe to say that no one else will ever view this video and I could have flipped the bird all I wanted.)
Jason fusses with the camera and the tripod for a few minutes while I casually reach behind me to make sure my ass is covered, or perhaps to scratch it. The footage is inconclusive.
Then: pushing time. I am not happy with Jason's camera placement, as at the time of the camcorder purchase I AM SURE I DICTATED THAT I WANTED TASTEFUL. As in, a discreet over-the-shoulder angle and not a hellooooo-birth-canal angle.
Guess which angle Jason set the tripod up for.
The clock on the camera says I started pushing at 8:43 am, which means it was really 9:43 am, because we lost the owner's manual and have no idea how to change the damn thing.
"Okay, we're going to wait for a contraction," the nurse tells me. "You just finished one so...oh! You're having one again! Let's go!"
I start pushing. The nurse keeps saying to push down like I am extremely constipated. Jason holds my leg back with one hand and strokes my hair with the other. The look on his face makes me fall deeply, deeply in love with him.
I push three times and then rest. We make some small talk about baby names and I timidly tell the nurse that the baby's name is Noah, even though I was still worried about jinxes and the Evil Eye and the possibility that he wouldn't "look" like a Noah or even an Elijah, our back-up name, but enough of that, it was time to push again.
"I don't think Noah is a little peewee," the nurse observes to my doctor, who has come in to check on my progress. "I think we've got a nice-sized baby."
My doctor tells us all about the 9 pound, 10 ounce baby he just delivered by c-section. We all laugh and gasp and the look on my face clearly says, "Um, freak? Who gestates a mutant baby like that? Not me, that's for fucking sure."
(I love the smell of hubris in the morning.)
My doctor tells us about the meconium in the fluid and the need for a pediatrician to be present for the birth and I nod and say (in the most IRRITATING, KNOW-IT-ALL voice I have ever heard), "Oh I know, I've seen it on TLC all the time."
My doctor leaves, probably to go roll his eyes out in the hallway.
I push again.
And while we didn't notice it at the time, it's terribly clear when watching the video that my pushing was causing a lot of distress for the baby. The rythmic thump thump thump of Noah's heartrate absolutely stops dead during my contractions. Alarms are going off, and I am oblivious to them.
The nurse leaves (probably to alert my doctor to the situation) and I glance at the camera and snap my legs together.
She comes backs in and there's more discussion about Noah's size and how high he still is, and how it's going to take a lot of pushing and different positions and motivation on my part to get him out.
I smile cheerfully, because seriously, how big could he be? Also, epidural! Love! AngelMusicBabyJoy!
She elevates my bed so I'm sitting upright and I push again. She tells me I'm doing great and that I am moving him, but my pelvic bones are in the way.
My doctor comes back in to watch me push and decides he wants an internal heartrate monitor on the baby. The nurse assures me they do this all the time, "Especially with a little meconium baby."
We all talk about the 9 pound, 10 ounce freak baby some more and I roll my eyes like, GOD, what did that woman EAT?
I push again and an alarm goes off. And it's clear from my nurse's reaction that my fantastic pushing progress has stalled.
She rolls me onto my side for the next round of pushing. The alarm goes off again. My ass, she is very white.
And I decide at this point to tell Jason to turn the camera off, because hours of this is going to be really boring, and why don't we save the battery and turn it on again when I'm closer to delivering?
The next shot is of my face on the operating table.
I look teary-eyed yet resigned, like I always knew it would end like this.
The clock says 9:26 am, so it was really 10:26 am, which means I pushed for less than 45 minutes before being rushed into surgery.
Jason gets a few shots of the actual surgery before being told to turn the camera off at 10:30 (we did have permission to tape but some random nurse thought we didn't), so we don't have Noah's actual birth at 10:32 am.
The surgery footage is just that: surgery. A big white belly being sliced into, blood, cutting, suction and more blood. I can watch it with a detached fascination -- like it's somebody else's body and bears no relevance to the long scar on my own abdomen.
The camera comes back on and Noah is there. Somewhere. He's wailing behind a wall of nurses as Jason keeps the camera steady, waiting to catch a glimpse. So mostly: footage of this one nurse's rather ginormous ass.
The APGARs are scored (8 on the first, 9 on the second) and my doctor says something about it being National Big Baby Day. Jason pans the camera to my face and I smile the most forced, pained-looking smile in the history of ever. I ask if he's going to cut the cord, and am saddened to hear that the doctors already cut it.
Then, in a hilarious little shot, a nurse looks over to the scale where Noah had been weighed and does a double take.
"Is this the baby's weight?" she asks incredulously.
My doctor looks over at the scale and says no, that can't be the baby's weight.
They weigh him again.
"Nine Fifteen," the nurse announces with a snort, and the whole room dissolves into shocked laughter.
Jason says, "There was no way you were delivering THAT."
I say, "Holy shit."
I think, "Oh my GOD, I have brought forth a MUTANT."
I mention SEVERAL TIMES that I'm shaking all over -- am clearly terrified that I'm going into shock or something and nobody is paying attention. Jason tells me its nerves, then adrenaline, then the epidural, because he really has no idea but decides that making shit up is probably more comforting.
And we wait.
Noah's cries are loud and delicious, but he's still being fussed over by the pediatrician and nurses. I'm nervous that something is wrong. Jason tries to crack jokes about how our neighbors are going to love him, what with all that screaming, but when the nurse finally says that "Dad can come see the baby," he all but sprints over.
And then Noah fills the screen. He's bright red and fat and wide awake. He's swaddled and no longer crying. The nurse snaps a bracelet on Jason's wrist and tells him about the numbers that "match your daughter's bracelet."
"Um," says Jason.
The nurse laughs and corrects herself. And then gently tells Jason that he can take the baby over to me, but he really needs to put the camcorder down.
"Oh!" says Jason, and he fumbles a bit and manages to put the lens cap on without turning the camera off.
There's a few minutes of darkness, and then a shot of me being wheeled away, with Noah nestled snugly between my legs.
That's the final shot.
But it's okay, because that's exactly the moment when life with my amazing Noah -- real life, the stuff that matters, the stuff beyond pregnancy anxieties and fears, beyond natural vs. epidural, vaginal vs. c-section -- really started, and I will never, ever forget a single blessed minute of it.