January 16th, 2013
I know, it’s been seven months. Seven months! I have a no-shit infant who sleeps and all that, but you know, she was also born, and I don’t want to forget how. So here, seven months later, Allie’s birth story. It’s long. It’s more for me than you. Sorry about that.
God, you guys, I was so uncomfortable. I was big, I was sad and weeping all the time (thanks, antenatal depression!), I was still flipping puking every day, and I had a dairy intolerance so sensitive that if I so much as ate one bite of boxed oatmeal with a little milk powder, I would spend the remainder of the day and into the evening in the bathroom wondering, why? WHY? WHY ME? I had perfected the art of puking while also . . . doing other things, because things were just flying out of everywhere. I threw away multiple garbage cans because I just kept sullying them and it was . . . it was a dark time. I actually keep forgetting that, you know? It wasn’t that long ago, but here I am, looking back on that time with a GOLDEN GLOW.
Haaaa, unless I shat out gold dust, nothing about that time was golden.
“Your body is changing,” my midwife said knowledgeably, as I dutifully reported my bathroom habits. “Those prostaglandins! It’s coming soon!”
I almost punched her, because shut up, I still had three weeks to go.
Sam was a day early, so I was fully expecting Allie to be even earlier and then came my due date — June 4 — and then came the next day and the next, and by Wednesday the 6th, I promised Sam that we’d go to a picnic the next day to celebrate her last day of school, because why not? This baby was coming never. Might as well plan fun things.
The waiting is the worst, am I right? I’d never gone into labor with Sam — my water broke, and contractions never followed, at least not without Pitocin — so I didn’t even know what was going to happen. Frankly, I assumed that the same would happen with Allie, so I just sort of waited and hung about for the inevitable POP! from my unmentionable bits. Labors, as I understand them, are generally protracted affairs. To be clear: I had never experienced a contraction outside of Pitocin, which is ah, painful. You know. Or you don’t. But you might!
And that’s the only explanation I can come up with for the following events. Is my pain threshold that high? Probably. But more likely, I was just used to really painful contractions that did nothing, so I didn’t realize how far along I was until . . . well, you’ll see.
In addition to the myriad gastrointestinal issues, I also had relatively mild symphysis pubis dysfunction, which was basically a lot of pain in the, ah, pubic bone. Honestly, it was fine. Everything else was so crappy that it barely registered. So naturally, when I woke up at 5 a.m. on June 7 with pubic pain, I was just … well, it was pubic pain, you know? Except that I’d been having a dream wherein I was explaining to my high school friend Michele all about childbirth! And while I was explaining this to her, I kept pausing because my crotch was KILLING me, and she finally said, well, maybe you’re in labor and boom, I woke up.
This is a step up from the dream I was having involving Cheech Marin and a kayak when my water broke with Sam.
But you know, contractions. Hooray! They were pretty regular and kind of painful? Maybe? I didn’t know! I didn’t know! I mean, I’d endured eight or nine hours of Pit contractions, which were CRAZY painful, and I’d progressed exactly nowhere, so I just . . . didn’t think it was that big of a deal. A call to the midwife said that I should call back when I was either bleeding or unable to talk through contractions. Sure, I’d lost my mucus plug, but was that . . . bleeding? I didn’t know!
Things got longer, stronger and closer together, sure. But hey, no blood! I could talk just fine! They were 10 minutes apart, sometimes 13, sometimes three! Who the hell knew? I ate a sandwich, figuring a long day of labor would mean that I wouldn’t eat for quite some time. It was 8 a.m., and my sister was on the way just in case she had to pick Sam up from school. Preschool was at 9, and I fully expected to drop Sam off and maaaybe take a leisurely drive to the hospital if I was ready. Adam came home, slightly panicked, but I assured him it was fine! Let’s take Sam to school! No big!
So we did! And my contractions were five minutes apart and the ladies at school were like, heeey, uh, maybe you should go to the hospital? And I talked through the contractions, la la la, and I still wasn’t bleeding, so hey! Long day of labor ahead! But fine, everyone, if you insist, we’ll go to the hospital, but after I pick up a prescription at CVS and grab my paperwork! La la la!
So we drove! To the hospital! La la la! And I responded to an email from TwoBusy at 10:03 a.m. all LA LA LA! We’re fine! Thank you for your offer of help! La la la! En route to the hospital! Stuck behind a truck, no big deal!
And after that, things started to get a little painful? Maybe? But I was stil fine! La la la! And then we pulled into the parking lot at 10:39. This is important, y’all. 10:39 we PARKED THE CAR. I know this because I’d recorded it on my stupid contraction app.
A quick walk to the maternity ward and we had to wait to be checked in after a bunch of rather leisurely-looking pregnant ladies had filled up the one (1) desk to check people in oh my hell. And then I had to pee! La la la! And I hit the restroom and wait, suddenly I didn’t have to pee anymore, I had to poop! SO BAD! Suddenly! Oh, I knew that sandwich was a bad idea! I didn’t want to poop NOW. I was going to have a baby soon! Who wants that area pre-sullied?
It was in that restroom, friends, that things got Very Bad. Because it turns out I did NOT have to poop, I had to push out a baby. And I started wailing, as I was stuck on the toilet, but I didn’t want to have the baby on the toilet, but I’d locked the door, and GOD, it was awful! Suddenly! So much pain! And the urge to push! RIGHT THEN. RIGHT THEN. I HAD TO PUSH RIGHT THEN. On the toilet on the maternity floor in the REGISTRATION BATHROOM. And I started to! As I was making my way off the toilet and to the door, I kept pushing and panicking and holding my crotch (yes, because holding one’s CROTCH keeps the babies in). I opened the door to find Adam looking slightly frantic and I was basically yelling I could NOT wait to be registered and I was going to have the baby! Right then! In the bathroom!
To which his response was basically no shit, I have ears.
You guys, it was 10:44. I’d been there FIVE MINUTES.
The rest is kind of a blur. I was given a rolling bed in a little triage room in the HALLWAY, checked for dilation (HAHAHAHAHA) and it was at this point that I asked for my epidural! “I’m ready for the epidural now!” I announced. The entire room just looked at me, splayed out in my black maxi maternity dress, FitFlops securely on my feet, a full ten centimeters dilated, baby’s head crowning like a mo’ fo’ and the pity was so thick you could spread it on a cracker.
“It’s too late, honey,” my midwife crooned. “By the time they get here, the baby will be out. Do you feel that?” She took my hand and guided it down. “That’s her HEAD. She’s HERE.”
“No! No! I want an epidural! It was my birth plan!” I SAID THAT.
“It’s too late! I’m so sorry.”
[Edited to add that I just remembered that I followed THAT with, “Fentanyl?” HAHAHA. I KEPT ASKING FOR DRUGS. ANY DRUG WOULD DO]
Y’all, I was fucking PISSED. I was also pushing. So, ah, you know, this triage table wasn’t cutting it anymore and you guys, they just WHEELED ME INTO A BIRTHING SUITE and four people picked me up — FULLY DRESSED — and moved me to a different bed while I pushed through each contraction, of which there was a total of maaaaybe three, four? I think it was during the second big one that I flat-out refused to proceed without an epidural. “I’m not doing it!” I pouted. “Well, it’s too late, you ARE doing it,” replied my midwife. It is then that she tells me I grabbed her by the collar, pulled her toward me and spat in her face, “I AM SO PISSED.”
And I guess I was. But it was quickly forgotten, because suddenly, there was little Alexandra, grayish and eerily silent. I got a brief look at her and then, boom, she was gone. Oddly, it wasn’t until after she came out that I ripped off my clothes and I don’t even KNOW WHY, I just did, it was all too much. I was like some weird feral beast.
I also most definitely did that awful guttural scream through each push, all cavewoman-like. Ugh. Retroactive embarrassment. Nice birth, cave lady.
Allie was born at 10:51 a.m. Twelve minutes after we arrived INTO THE PARKING LOT OF THE HOSPITAL. The walk to the maternity ward took up at least three of those minutes, and oh my hell, you guys, I had a baby TWELVE MINUTES after I arrived. TWELVE.
Things got kind of awful after that. As I lay on the table naked and bloody (holy shit, BLOODY), Allie was whisked away to the warming table to be examined and everyone was basically panicked, but trying not to ACT panicked, because she never cried. Oh sure, she appeared to be breathing, but crying? Nope. Apparently her cord was wrapped around her neck multiple times, so they were afraid she had some hypoxia.
Also, there was Surprise Meconium, which is apparently not a good thing, especially when the quiet baby is not crying, and quiet baby has had cord issues AND meconium, AND a super-fast birth AND AND AND. So there I was, bloody and miserable and also NAKED and nurses were pushing on my stomach to deliver the placenta (WHICH I NEVER WANT TO SEE AGAIN THANK YOU) and getting out clots and then stitching me up without an epidural (the worst part) and I WENT THROUGH ALL THAT (FIVE MINUTES OF) SHIT AND I DON’T EVEN GET TO HOLD MY BABY COME ON GIMME BABY.
I think I felt worst for Adam, who was torn between his naked and bloodied wife and his newborn daughter, and both were, frankly, pretty dissatisfied at the moment. But he stayed with Allie and I’m glad he did, because she was alone over there, while nurses poked and prodded and waited for the neonatologists to come down, and there was NICU talk and blaaah, I know, really, that it’s no big deal in the scheme of things, but it sucked in that moment, being naked and bloody and not holding your baby and hearing they might take her away even further was just . . . not what I wanted to hear, and maybe that makes me bratty, but I wanted my baby NOW. Finally, after declaring all of her vital signs beyond excellent, she was declared fine, just disinterested in crying.
And I got to hold my baby.
I can now report that she is still totally disinterested in crying. Turns out that’s just who she is, at least so far.
Man, I love this kid. She’s easy and magical and beautiful and cheerful all the time, I mean ALWAYS with the cheerful, you guys. Always.
Perhaps it’s that she was born in a maxi dress? PERHAPS.