And like that, we are a family of four. Aditya was born on January 6th in the morning. While Shanta was a 23.5 hour labor, Aditya came into the world 9 hours after I woke up from sleep in the early hours of the morning.
In the time of the pandemic, I am so thankful for the kindness and grace of others to show up at 1AM at our apartment to watch over our toddler while Tyler took me to the hospital.
This is not a post about Aditya’s birth, though that is a major plot point. This is a post about love between two partners.
Birth and pregnancy are funny. Once in medical school when I was rotating on OB/GYN, a resident said that birth is an incredible process that can be so terrifying in so many ways. That stuck with me.
We arrived and the contractions were about four minutes apart. They were different than last time — they felt like I needed to poop, and if I did that, I’d be all better. Of course that was because I had a baby that my body was trying to unload. I knew I wanted an epidural, and knew that when Aditya came, there would be no sleep, and it seemed like he was going to come soon. So, I requested one with the caveat that I did not want a CSE (combined spinal epidural). The idea of losing feeling frankly freaks me out and I’d rather take a slower dulling of pain.
It went in beautifully, the pain slowly started to subside. I was going to try to get some sleep when my L&D nurse came in quickly and started futzing with my external fetal heart rate monitor. I asked her if everything was okay, she didn’t respond but she didn’t need to–the look on her face told me enough. I looked around at the monitors and put it together: his heart rate had slowed, and then suddenly disappeared. Where was he? Was he okay?
Nurses are incredible at what they do, and mine mobilized help quickly. People streamed in, someone broke my water, and placed an internal fetal heart rate monitor. Someone else said meconium. Someone else said go to the OR. Someone else was talking to me about what was going on. Someone else was drawing up medications.
It was busy, and hard to focus. I understood what was happening, and I was scared–for me, for Aditya. I looked around the room and saw Tyler: he was giving everyone space to work. His face was pale, and he stood very still, but when I looked at him, he looked at me, and I felt more relaxed. Seeing him, I had one clear thought that drowned out the others for a few blissful seconds: his eyes are blue. For our entire 14 year relationship, I’ve gone back and forth about his eyes being greenish or bluish or some mix. Seeing him in that moment, steady and present, this out of place thought about his eyes calmed me down. He was my partner, and he was there.
Terbutaline in the arm, and we rolled to the OR. Humorously, I ended up getting surgical anesthesia through the epidural (so much for not really wanting a CSE!). Tyler stayed by me, intermittently chattering to providers when things calmed down in his Tyler way. Terbutaline worked, my uterus relaxed, fetal heart rate came back to normal, we came back to my room and about four hours and a few pushes later, I had a baby boy in my arms–crying and pink and squishy.
This is a post about love. I frequently wonder what it means to be in love or to love, and why I’m in love with Tyler. I think about it, and try to break it down. “Well, he brings me tea when I ask for it right after he just sat down…” or “I’m not bored of talking to him” or “I can sit there for hours with him on a road trip and not lose my mind.” I can’t pinpoint or identify or define one thing and it annoys me. It’s always annoyed me that I can’t explain why I feel love. But that instance, when I was scared and I looked at him, at his blue eyes, and he looked at me, I felt more centered — that is love. The past year has been bonkers, but I’m so lucky and happy we were able to give our son the best gift when he was born: a family filled with love.