The only thing worse than birthing pains is the incessant background noise of my mother-in-law arguing with just about everybody in the hospital, (i.e. the most horrible place on earth according to her). The anaesthegeolist almost swore at her. I could see the f-bomb seething at his mouth. He gave her a look that screamed, 'Get the fuck out of here biotch, before I inject this huge ass needle into your behind to make you shut the %^&* up.' I guess I should clarify what predicated this hostile situation.
6:30 am. My mother-in-law (hereafter referred to as Ms. Barbara, a southern way of addressing your elders) and sister-in-law (Lily) arrived at our cramped NYC apt after driving for thirteen hours from South Carolina. They both wanted to attend the birth, but Ms. Barbara was delaying it because she wanted to attend two other births in her hometown. FYI: She is a doula and 'lives for' homebirths. Needless to say, she was extremely disappointd when she found out that I was planning to deliver in 'God forsaken, germ-infested place where doctors think they're gods and disrespect the family's wishes'. She's only a little biased against the medical establishment. (I hope you note the sarcasm. This is a woman who sends me email newsletters and petitions to stop killing babies in utero almost every week.) Point being, after many rounds of phone calls, telling her that the baby was practically waving 'hello' down there (I was 4 cm and 100 percent effaced), she finally got in the car and drove, all the while crying of course that she was missing the births in SC. Coincidentally, one woman gave birth while Ms. Barbara was on the road. I knew that if I didn't deliver that baby in 24 hours, all hell would break loose. I wouldn't stop hearing about this for many years to come. In fact, when she arrived, I think I heard her say, 'If I had just listened to what God was prompting my heart to do, I would've been there and not missed the birth.' Little did she know that at....
9am. My water broke. Correction: At first it was a trickle. I thought I was peeing in my pants. After not sleeping for the past two nights, I thought I was actually wetting myself. Degrading since I never peed my pants as a child, I thought. I excused myself and realized that the pads were soaking fast. As I tried to change one more, a warm gush of liquid oozed out down my leg. Everyone screamed the obvious, "Your water's breaking!" Holy shit! I hadn't even packed my things. I waddle over to my bed to try to stop the ensuing flood, but just as I was hoisting myself (and yes, at 40 wks, you are indeed hoisting yourself) into bed, all the liquid I had been storing seemed to be rushing out. I felt like a sea creature in Moses parted Red Sea as the waters were coming together again, swallowed by the surrounding water. Anyways, my sister put it best when she said, 'Dude, it smells like an aquarium in here.' My entire apt was one giant slip-and-slide as my amniotic fluid ebbed and flowed about us all.
10am. Contractions start. They're not so bad. Someone is timing them, but they all start blurring for me. One miserable contraction to the next. Alex is running around, trying to get everything prepared, checking in on me, smiling with a concerned, excited look. I love him.
11am. Fuck. They hurt. Fucking asshole shit. I'm resisting actually saying this is front of Ms. Barbera, but we'll see how long this lasts. 'Relax' they chant. 'You're doing a good job. Just breathe'. I don't feel relaxed as I hunch over a chair, about to vomit from pain. I used to wonder what it feels like to be in labor. Honestly, at first, it feels like super intense cramps...no one likes to revisit that time of the month, but imagine that pain...times a hundred. I had just watched 'The Business of Being Born' (excellent documentary on homebirths) and most of those moms looked like they relaxed, grunted, and shot a baby out of their vagina in two seconds. The mom I liked best was the midwife who swore, got angry, and demanded that they put her out of her misery. Yea for realism!
11:30. In car. Contractions are 2 minutes apart and I can barely hold myself up. Stuck in traffic. Of course, what's New York without traffic? O crap. Am I going to have this baby on the Queensboro bridge? I am breathing, panting, trying to relax. The key word is 'trying'.
12:00. Hospital reception office. I want to strangle the disgruntled receptionist who keeps looking at me like I'm a freak and won't lift her fake nailed finger. HURRY you lazy ass! I'm in labor. Stupid questions like, "Are you in labor?" bombard me as I try to squat on the ground to alleviate the pain. She asks me to fill out forms I've already filled out. What an ass. Finally, someone competent comes in and sees what's going on, puts me in a wheelchair, and admits me.
1:00. I have IVs and random other things injected in me. They don't follow my birthplan. I am really starting to go crazy. The pain is shooting in my back. It turns out that I have back labor. It feels like incessant stabbing in my back. I can't even feel the pain in my stomach but my back feels like there's glass rubbing itself down my spine.
1:20. Anestheologist comes in and introduces himself. Ms. Barbara gives him the staredown. He represents all that is wrong with the country in her eyes. He numbs the natural pain of childbirth and drugs up the mother. What's so wrong about that? Anyways, I think I can manage at this point. How much worse can it get?
1:30. My OB comes in and says hello. She thinks Alex is adorable and loves us. Tells us that she will not be here for the birth. Family engagement. I try to bribe her. Seriously, I try to bribe her with money. I think I offered her 20,000. That's how delirious I was. I would've probably chained her to the stirrups if I wasn't bound by tubes and my enormous pain.
2:00. In bathroom. Squatting on toilet. Clenching anything around me. Looking around like a frenzied animal. Trying to relax. Failing. God, it hurts so bad. My sister's face also tells me that I'm in a lot of pain. Fuck!
2:05. Ms. Barbara keeps telling me to take a walk with her. Is she crazy? I can't even stand up. I am grunting, moaning, you name it. She wants me to take a bath to relax. I can't even imagine another five minutes of this.
2:15. The doctor says I've progressed only 1 cm since labor began. Fuck! Get me the epidural!! Alex asks me to reconsider and get in the tub. I hit him and ask him if he's the one in labor. Don't mess with a woman in labor!
2:17. My OB comes in again and asks how I'm doing. I look up from my birthing ball and faintly whisper one word...."Epidural". After the birth, she tells me that I looked like I was in the worst pain, a look of complete agony.
2:20. I get the epidural and I am in love with Dr. What's-His-Face. I would marry him except that I'm pretty sure he's gay. Ms. Barbara is crying outside because I got the epidural and ruined my chance for natural childbirth. If I didn't feel the glorious course of drugs running down my body, I think I would've said something, but at this point, I really don't give a damn. I am in heaven.
2:40. My legs are numb and hot, but no pain in my back. Yipee. People keep telling me to try and sleep, but I'm too excited to meet my baby.
3:30. Ms. Barbara, Lily and my sister go down to the cafeteria to get something to eat. Oh, I wish I could eat something right now. Not supposed to in case of surgery. I keep asking nurses if I'm gonna get a c-section because I got the epidural. Those books brainwashed me into thinking that an epidural always leads to a c-section. They laugh because as my doc said, the baby is practically falling out of me.
4:15. Alex looks at me lovingly. I feel bad for hitting him on the arm earlier. I apologize and he forgives me. He tells me that he cursed at his mom for giving me a hard time and stressing us out. I'm touched, but I know he'll have hell to pay later. Still, I'm glad my baby daddy stood up for me.
6:00. Waiting for my doctor's colleague to come. She is supposed to be here by now but there is traffic. Of course!
6:20. Young man comes in and says he is going to examine me. I decline. Uh, I guess this isn't an option. He says he has to. I relent. Sticking his gloved hand up my numbed vagina, he asks me to relax. Funny. There is a reason why I have a female gynecologist.
8:00. Time to start pushing. I can't feel my legs but they assure me that I can push a baby out. "Push like you're making a bowel movement." That doesn't reassure me much since I had a hard time making any bowel movements during pregnancy. If that's a sign of what's to come, I'm doomed.
8:10. Ms. Barbara brought olive oil to rub on my cootchie. Apparently, it's supposed to stretch out my vuh-jay-jay (scientific name: perineum) so I don't tear. Ouch! Honestly, they could be rubbing salsa down there and I wouldn't flinch...though I imagine the smell might be a little nauseating.
8:17pm. Doctor comes in. By the way, she looks like Doogie Howser, child doctor prodigy from the 80s sitcom, (did I just date myself?), and rolls right up to my straddled legs. Alex is right beside her, dressed in scrubs and gloves because he wants to catch the baby. I think he's brave. I don't want to see anything down there. "Mirror?" No, thank you. They lined plastic on the floor beneath me and all over their shoes....What exactly are they expecting? A flood?
8:20pm. I push...once, twice, three times and she is born! It happened so fast. All I remember is pushing until my head felt like it was about to explode and people saying they see the head and whoooooaaaa!, the entire body just slid right out. Alex had no time to catch her so the doctor had to catch our superfast tornedo of a baby. She came out like Superwoman, with one hand up. Cool beginning to life, but it also made me tear. When I say 'Ouch!' this time, I mean it!
8:27pm. My Adelle is finally here. She is 7 lbs, 10 oz, with brown hair and blue eyes. She has the receding hairline of her daddy and the shape of my eyes. She doesn't cry at all but looks around, stunned to be in this world. Is that normal? I suspect that she will be this curious her whole life. Ma petite cacahuete, my little turkey, oolee aegee yah, you are here to stay!
8:30pm. She starts sucking at my nipple. Damn! She's a fast learner. Her hair's not even dry and she's already eating. Nothing's really coming out, but she seems to like it. She looks at me with immense curiosity and I think I have to get used to this. I'm probably going to be her source of entertainment and food for years to come.
9:00pm. I am in awe. I am so tired but I cannot sleep because I want to be near this precious new addition. They tell me to try to pee. Uh, do they know that I can barely feel my legs? I guess I'll have to try.
9:20pm. We are in our new, private, expensive-as-shit, room. Sorry, but I don't want to hear another crying baby in the middle of the night. I have to get used to hearing my own.
10:00pm. They wheel baby off to get bathed. Alex goes with her. After watching too many Lifetime movies, there's no way I'm letting anyone take off with my baby without supervision....You know, just in case they mix up my little one with, say, another half-south-carolinian-half-south-korean child.
11:30pm. The drugs are wearing off. I need to go to sleep. After a few minutes of staring at my baby girl, I pass out. Good night.