This is my contribution to the birth story fest going on over at Michelle’s blog, My Semblance of Sanity. If you are afraid of childbirth, and hate scary stories, don’t read it. But, just remember, that if women can tell these war stories with pride and joy, it wasn’t so bad and it’s all worth it. Here goes:
My first experience with motherhood was a baptism by fire. I had no idea what I was in for. My mom had 9 children. I never saw her even throw up. I thought pregnancy wouldn’t be that big a deal. When I was pregnant, I read something a doctor wrote about pregnancy in some of that fun literature you get at the
I think I started getting sick within 5 minutes of conception. I then had the nine month stomach flu. I survived one month entirely on Jello gelatin pops which were the only thing I could keep down. The next month, all I could stomach was milk. And so it went. As the second trimester ended, the doctor said the best part of the pregnancy was over. I wished he had’ve told me that was the best part because I missed it being miserable. Everything made me sick; sounds, lights, movement, food, drink, sleeping, existing. My mom tried to empathize, telling me about a time when she was pregnant and she went out to eat but when they set the steak in front of her, she couldn’t even look at it. It was so depressing. That’s the best she could do? She got points for trying.
Being 4’10” and short waisted, the only place for a baby was out. By the last few months I looked like a beached whale and started retaining so much water, my feet squished when I walked. They felt like two water balloons that could split open at any moment. Someone started a rumor that I’d had the baby and I started getting calls to congratulate me. I just cried.
Finally, 3 weeks early at 3:30 am, I went to the bathroom and my water broke. Immediately, I started having contractions. I got all ready to go and woke up my husband. He was so groggy, but once the message got through, he shot up and got dressed. He wasn’t very awake yet. He put on blue and green tie dye shorts and an orange shirt. He looked crazy, but I wasn’t in the mood to redress him. (He was good practice for toddler fashion days.) Off he whisked me to the hospital.
It was a full moon and the place was jam packed. I was finally stuffed in a room, forced to lie flat on my back, and promptly ignored. Every time someone would come in I would ask them to raise my bed and they’d move it up a millimeter. I had no intention of having a natural childbirth. In high school I saw a video of 3 births: one natural, one epidural, one c-section. The epidural lady was enjoying the birth. That’s all I needed to see to make my decision. I wasn’t even anywhere near thinking about the pain meds though because every time I felt a pain, I wished it were worse because that would mean delivery was nigh. I have never wanted out of anything so bad in my life. Soon someone came in for my epidural. The baby’s heartbeats were kind of low so they wanted to be prepared ahead of time. They had already put me on oxygen. Of course I had learned nothing basically about childbirth and didn’t know I needed to be in a better position, or even that I had a right to assert myself. So, I got an epidural and rested. Then it wore off. My husband noticed I seemed to moan when the monitor showed a contraction so he asked me if I felt it. I just nodded. I was really tired. I hadn’t slept well for months.
He told a nurse I was feeling the contractions. A long time went by and he went stomping out and insisting someone come. Soon after the anesthesiologist came in, a nurse banged the door down as she barged into the room, yelling at me, “Your baby’s heart rate is terrible!” As if it was my fault. She proceeded to move me around trying to get me in a position that would improve the flow of oxygen in there. The heart rate was down to 20 when the contractions peaked and they were so close together, there wasn’t time to recover and get it up beyond 70 in between. Soon there was an entourage in the nurse’s wake and they picked me up by my ankles and shook me upside down. My parents were there by then, and it was all so quick that there was no time to cover their eyes. The door was also open with more help pouring in, so anyone walking down the hall got an eyeful. Next they started shaving me and having my husband sign papers as they explained the situation and I translated for my poor deaf husband who was still learning English. Then they made me drink this nasty stuff that tasted like a cough syrup mixed with pee which was to “neutralize my stomach acids” or make me barf my guts out.
While I’m regurgitating, the
In the operating room, I was covered and all. I couldn’t see anything in the mirror really, I couldn’t move or keep my eyes open very good. I didn’t have any big plans except to see my baby be born, and I was disappointed. I didn’t see a thing. It felt like my tummy had a zipper that was stuck and they were yanking on it to set it loose. Then the doctor stuck his arm in and pulled out a tiny, 5 lb 9 oz baby girl! “It’s a girl!” I heard, followed by my husband exclaiming, “¡Está blaaaanca!” ( She’s sooo white!) You know, that cheesy stuff doesn’t just fall off in a c-section. They whisked her off to clean her up and all. Then my husband started getting worried. “She didn’t cry, why didn’t she cry? What if she isn’t breathing?” The doctor told him to go see her, she was ok, and in a minute, we heard a little mousy squeak. So deceptive! That girl packed a set of lungs! They put the eye drops in and pricked her heel and all but the moment they stuck a diaper on her (which she drowned in) she cried like a mad thing! Once they had her wrapped up like a burrito, they brought her over for me to see. Upside down. But she had the cutest little pixie upside down face I ever saw and a lot of dark hair. She blinked at me, and I was content. While I was getting sewed up, more tugging, my husband came marching out to the nursery in his great fashion statement, like some kind of absurd model down the runway, to greet my family with his new baby girl in his arms. He was so proud! And that was the end of peace in our house and I’m so glad for it!