Sarcastic Mom has mommy bloggers out there writing about their birth experiences in her Birth-Story Carnival. I've never written on paper about the birth of my daughter (I am a writer who is terrible at keeping journals), but I've written it in my head no less than fifty times.
It was a warm September morning and the walk from the Fox Studios employee parking structure to my office in the executive building felt like the last mile in a marathon. Before this day, my pregnancy had not stopped me from doing much of anything in my daily life, although it did create a constant need to have Tums on hand. I continued working, doing yoga, walking my dogs, going out on weekends. But in my 38th week, walking the quarter mile to my office, in 90 degree heat, I sensed a definite shift.
When I arrived in my office, sweating and desperate for a glass of water, I announced to my boss that today would be my last day. Mother's intuition. I began some serious nesting. I organized four years worth of Bon Appetit recipes into a large, three-ring binder. I bought, washed and folded hundreds of pieces of Carter's onesies, bath towels, and diaper cloths. I bought a plastic doll wrapped it in Pampers and attempted to introduce it to my two chocolate labradors. That quickly went south when I found them jumping on the kitchen counter trying to play with it. I got serious about finding a nanny since I was returning to work after my maternity leave.
A few days after leaving my office, I awoke at 2am to cramping sensations. By 9am, the pains were consistent enough for me to call my doctor but not strong enough to be sure I was in labor. I saw the doctor at 12pm for my regular appointment. I was a bit dilated but not enough to guarantee imminent delivery. He sent me home predicting it could be today or it could be a few days. I tried to squeeze in a haircut appointment but the woman refused to take me fearful I might break water in her chair. I set up a meeting with a promising nanny at 4pm. I gave my husband the head's up so he would come home early. He had a meeting until 5:30 but would come home afterward. Everything was in order.
Already mocking my illusion of efficiency, the baby decided to kick things up a notch minutes before the nanny candidate knocked at my door. By the time I sat down with her we had to frame our conversation between escalating contractions during which I would excuse myself to my bedroom to hunch down on all fours and breathe through the intensifying pain. I called my husband but he was unreachable. By the time he showed up at 7:30 my bags were at the door and my fury was firmly in his face.
At the hospital I assumed my husband would tell them to call our doctor but I probably forgot to put that in his instructions and I was a slightly distracted. It was a busy night for birthing babies and in triage I was deemed low priority.
"Are you a nullipara?" asked a young woman wearing hospital scrubs and a clipboard from which she never raised her eyes.
"What?" I asked.
She repeated herself despite the obvious inconvenience.
"Is this your first baby?" she said.
"Yes," I said proudly as if she was one of the those people who'd thrust their hand onto my belly to share in God's miracle.
Uninterested, she walked away muttering more to herself than to me, "You'll be awhile. We'll get you when we have a room."
I thought about asking how long it would be but I could already imagine her answer, "Young lady," she would say, "this is a hospital not a restaurant. We do not accept reservations."
I heard moans and screams coming from behind closed doors. Doctors and residents moving, reviewing. Helpless husbands peeking out looking for nurses. After an hour or so of sitting on a hard plastic chair, filling out paperwork between contractions, taking myself to some inner place, I began to envy the screaming women. At least they could scream from the comfort of a warm bed, from behind walls in anonymity. I had to shift to keep my blood circulating and stifle my groans for fear of public humiliation.
I was eventually assigned a room and a resident - both were cold and sterile. I'd been through my share of unpleasant sexual experiences before but having a total stranger shove his fist up my hole and tool around was by far the worst. By 11:30 that evening I was experiencing horrible back labor with contractions every 3 minutes. My husband stayed close massaging me with a tennis ball which at this point had the potency of a Raisinet. The nurse watched the fetal monitor and after a particular painful contraction she flatly remarked, "That was a strong one."
Really. I hadn't noticed. Fuckface.
But the real fuckface made his way back into my room and once again jabbed his fist up my crotch only to state to the nurse as if we weren't even there, "I can't feel the head." When my husband and I pressed, "You can't feel the head? What does that mean?" he removed his gloves, headed toward the door and said, "It's probably breech. I'll be back later."
I cried and pleaded for my husband to request a new resident. This guy was rough and we were baby-birthing newbies in need of a soft touch. It was a stressful time with no room for added strife. But the resident didn't agree. Rather than acquiescing and moving on to his next victim he confronted us.
"I hear you want a new resident," he said bursting into the room. "What is it exactly that you don't like about me?"
Fuck. I'm a nullipara, my spine is threatening to split every 3 minutes and you're a complete douchebag - isn't it obvious?
We held our ground and told him what we thought of his treatment but that only made things worse because he refused to go. He was SNL's obnoxious guest that wouldn't leave.
Eventually I got an epidural and we sank into a rhythm while waiting for labor to progress. My husband fell into a sound sleep on the couch unperturbed by the periodic ringing of my blood pressure cuff which summoned the nurses and prevented me from getting any rest. The resident came by on occasion and I remained silent and detached as he foraged inside my swollen privates.
About 6:30am my beloved doctor entered the room. I believe there was a golden halo on his head but that could have been the drugs. It turns out the hospital never called him. Because I was in his office the day before he called my home to check on me and getting no answer he called the hospital. I'd heard all about transference with shrinks and OB-GYN's and it didn't hurt that mine was handsome, young, and sweet, but right now, with my husband asleep on the couch and the evil resident lurking about, he was my knight in shining armor.
Within minutes the resident did not intrude again. His prediction of a breech baby was dismissed with a wave of my doctor's glowing hand and the most soothing words I'd ever heard, "You're baby is just fine. Everything is going to be just fine."
Labor did not move as quickly as anyone would have liked and by late that morning I was still in what my doctor called unproductive labor. He gave me Oxytocin and a little while later it was time to push.
I'd heard horror stories from friends about pushing for hours and then going in for emergency C-sections. That was not going to be me. I was going to push that baby out as fast as humanly possible and end this misery once and for all.
Doctor at one end, hubby at the other (a bit squeamish is he) I was told to push. By the second push I realized I'd forgotten to have them hold a mirror so we could see but it was too late. The labor may have taken forever but this baby was coming.
I had waited for this moment for 10 months and 20 some odd years ever since the "I LOVE LUCY" episode when the doctor enters the waiting room and tells an anxious Ricky that he is proud father of a beautiful baby boy. I wanted that moment. I fantasized about that moment while chewing my Tums. "Mr. and Mrs. so and so, you are the proud parents of a beautiful, baby ---."
But right before the third push the doctor gave me one final motivation," One more push...here she comes."
Despite the fact that I'd been in labor for over 30 hours, despite the fact that I was numb on drugs, despite the fact that I loved my doctor, I still managed to scream, "Oh my god! You told me. You gave it away! And out slipped my beautiful, pasty, gooey, crinkled-up baby girl.
Who could stay mad at a time like this? Baby in my arms, husband by my side, there was no time to be mad. I was scared shitless.
P.S. The moral of the story is NOT to have your babies in September or, if you are, do NOT have them in a hospital. The residents are brand spanking new and have no clue what they're doing. My second came in June at the same hospital and I was a very happy puppy.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
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