The Many Faces of Labor

It was about 3:45 in the morning. I could not tell you whether the moon was shining, or if the stars were bright. I was behind several feet of concrete, in the birth wing of the hospital were a ray of sunshine had just been born. #10 finally arrived.

#10, all bundled up

#10, all bundled up

She came out squawking and scowling. While some babies wait to show you their personality, #10 held nothing back. She wanted her mother, and wanted her yesterday. I dare not repeat where her eyes said the rest of the room should go.

Her birth was relatively smooth. Wife did not have any complications anyway. We are never sure exactly how things will go, you know. The children all have unique personalities, and their births have personalities as well. But one does not reflect the other like a mirror. No, an easy birth does not automatically give you an easy baby.

A birth’s personality can be as pretty as the wrapping paper over a gift, or as hard as stone covering gems. They can be polite, and give you warning about the next wave of contractions. Or quite rude, causing contractions without rhythm and slow progress. In fact, the only real commonality between the baby and the birth is that they occupy the same place for a short time, like Moby Dick and Captain Ahab.

Let me show you the many personalities Wife as labored through.

#1 had about the best home birth one could ask for. True, it was fourteen hours long, but steady as the rising sun.

But with #2’s birth, Wife lost confidence with the midwife. Let’s just say, I thought everyone understood it was never a good idea to yell at the laboring woman. Guess I was wrong.

The birth of #3 was one of the most emotionally damaging. Not because of the birth itself, but because of a couple of ill-tempered nurses. After three days in that hospital, we never went back.

On the other hand, with #4 Wife had her “angel-nurse” to help her through her toughest labor up till then.

#5 was our first born son, so Wife not only suffered through labor, but also my bad taste in jokes. I think Wife lost her temper when I was describing how I intended to teach our son how to mark the cars like a dog. She did not find the idea of #5 peeing on tires funny at all.

#6, #7 and #8 were all sideways, (transverse for all you who insist on big words… Wife) and their births were all induced. Our doctor was able to turn #6, and he came out just fine.

#7 was turned back twice during labor. He finally settled in, and popped out with an ear folded down. Served him right for all the trouble.

#8 was nice enough to turn right before the procedure. His was one of Wife’s most polite births.

I thought #9’s birth went very well. But Wife came out emotionally ragged, feeling like an overwhelmed bomber pilot.

#10, nice and new

#10, nice and new

For #10’s birth, I would say it was kind of temperamental. Labor was relatively kind to Wife for the first nine hours. She was in good spirits, and handling the contractions as well as a large diaper on a small baby. But then the tenth hour struck with all the furry of a child’s tantrum.

That was when Wife called for the big-gun, the epidural. And with pain-killer flooding her lower body, she fell into a thankful sleep. An hour later, the doctor woke her up so she could deliver our little girl.

Wife’s labor was over.

And so, another birth had passed. The new baby nursed in Wife’s arms, and both drifted off to sleep like a hibernating bear and her cub. They deserved the rest. And to tell the truth, this birth wore me out too.#10


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