I was told that I wasn't going to be allowed to go past 40 weeks. A baby that will be born in potential distress shouldn't stay in the womb longer than 40 weeks to avoid possible complications. So we had to actually set a date for an induction. Now, again, here was something that was not in my life plan. I never had any intention of choosing my baby's birthday. I had grand visions of movie-inspired labor scenes, my water breaking with a great "sploosh!" on the sidewalk while shopping with my friends or waking at 2 am and gently rousing my husband with " Honey? I think it's time". Reality bitch slap. There was to be none of that. I was to schedule my induction for the last days of the 39th week to ensure that she would be born at exactly 40 weeks. I remember the phone call to the hospital being so unbelievably awkward for me. "Um, hi, yes I am calling to schedule the date and time of my daughters arrival. Could you help me pick a day that corresponds well with her astrological sign and a room with the proper fung shui for pre-selected childbirth? Oh, and can we have it catered?" It seemed so unnatural. I wanted her to come when she was ready, not when the doctors told her to. Not. My. Plan. Apparently, nobody cares about your "plan" when the welfare of a child is possibly at stake. How rude and thoughtless of them, right? I know!! Did they not know how important it was for me to have one grain, one granule of normalcy at least ONCE throughout my pregnancy? How much I needed to make the call about something, anything that was happening? They did not know. Or they did know and they cared not for whatever control issues I was wrestling with. They made it clear that I was not to disobey their orders under threat of extreme and cruel punishment. Okay, they didn't really say that, but they were pretty adamant about our getting on the ball with setting a day and time. After hemming and hawing for about a week, we opted for the predictable: 08/08/08. Why not? If she was going to be born on someone elses schedule the least we could do was offer her a cool date, right?
All these changes. The truth is, I am not one to resist change. I am slightly wary of it at times, but in general I embrace it. I like to go with the flow, see where it may take me. I pride myself on being part chameleon, on having the ability to absorb and blend and these people were really testing my patience and pushing me to my limits with their demands. It was beginning to wear me thin. Whatever. Let's just get the show on the road here, alright? We were ready to be parents to a special little girl who was going to change the course of our lives in so many ways. We were ready to tackle any turns, speed bumps, detours the road ahead had to offer. We had made our peace with and fully accepted our situation as a couple and individuals. We were handling our cards as they were dealt. Our preconceived notions of what having a baby meant were dead and buried. Joe and I were ready to face everything looming ahead of us, eyes and hearts wide open. Thinking we were being pro-active we made a birth plan, which was by far the dumbest shit we had ever thought of. A plan? Clearly, we had never listened to a word anyone ever told us about the fast pace of change during child birth. We packed a bag to have at the ready in case she decided to make an earlier-than-scheduled appearance (we equipped it with things like an ipod and a crossword puzzle in case we "got bored". HA!) and intended on just sitting back and waiting out her impending arrival. As I write this I chuckle. Mainly at our lack of foresight. How is it possible for two people to be so monumentally naive? Had we not learned our lesson these last nine months? From start to almost finish there wasn't a detail that went according to plan.
We can be so stupid..
We were told that even though we made the appointment for the induction, if the labor and delivery department were very busy, we may not get a call to come in until after the weekend, so just "stay close to home and if the phone rings, to answer it." Turns out, we didn't have to wait as long as we had thought. We got a phone call Friday, August 8 at nine in the morning. I actually did get to say "Honey, it's time" although not in quite the way I had hoped. "Really? Are you serious?" "YES! and they want to know how soon we can be there!" We were showered, dressed, packed and to the hospital in less than an hour. What can I say, we were pretty stoked. This was it. As far as we were concerned, we were going to get to the hospital, check in and *POOF* there would be a baby!
We really can be so stupid.
"Hello expectations? Are you there? Oh. This is their answering service?" ...It seems they packed a bag and went on vacation..about nine months ago or so. We didn't get the memo? oh well.
I was admitted at 10:30 in the morning, under the impression that she would be born that day. We were getting excited. I was larger than life and SO more than ready to get this little sucker out of my body and into the world. After an hour or two of IV drugs to get labor started, I lay there and watched the clock tick away. As time wore on, it was dawning on me that I was in fact, not, excited anymore. Apprehensive? Check. Tired? Check. Way too fat to feel comfortable anymore? Check. The details of what happened in those many hours from our admittance to our daughters birth are hazy ones for me. There are stories passed between relatives that were present about what actually happened, but I do not recall the majority of them.
I had an entourage. My mother, father, younger brother and sister, husband and a few others were there for the duration. Yes, my entire local family was present and accounted for throughout the majority of my labor and delivery process. Personal space and privacy be damned. We had kept them so much in the loop during the epic climb up this varitable mountain, they weren't about to be excluded now that we had reached its apex and learn of the goings on secondhand. How anti-climactic THAT would have been. Listen, if they needed to see me bent over in the Downward Dog pushing like I had the worst case of constipation on record to feel more a "part" of it, that was their business. Not that either of us minded having them there. There is no other place they should have been. Even if all they did was goof off the whole time. Like when they were writing ridiculous things on the medical whiteboard in my room under "What to do today" and "Special Needs". Or how my brother wanted to get a pic of me bloated like a dead fish from IV fluids and with an oxygen mask on and put his smiling face front and center. Hey, more power to him, right? What a dick. Honestly, the picture is pretty fabulous. Almost makes me sad I don't remember it. Almost.
I remember the computer being set up so we could Skype my in-laws. Yes,we Skyped during my labor. I thought it was an awesome idea. As I said previously, we are 100 percent an open book about all of this and that started long before the day I gave birth. I was constantly keeping everyone informed as to what was going on. Emails, phone calls, texts, the whole shebang. I think partially because it was a way for us to air it out. The more we were able to have an open diologue about it, with our family and each other, the easier it was to deal with. The entire family on both sides was firmly planted behind us from the very beginning. They are a motley crue, sarcastic in the best possible way, fiercely loyal and protective. They love unconditionaly and are so caring, accepting....wonderful. They are all over the country, mainly east coast. It can be tough when you have a large family with whom you are very close, and they cannot be around physically to support you when you are going through something. But not with this group. They were all there for us then and they still are now. Every minute of every day. Joe and I both agree that we are strong individually but without our peeps, this experience surely would have taken its toll. We needed them and they were and are always there for us.
I remember being told that I should have an epidural. I was gung-ho about it before I even knew it was time. The contractions were starting and while not wildly painful yet, they were beginning to become uncomfortable. I remember being told to do it before they broke my water and not wanting to. I didn't want to be stuck in bed for a lengthy time before it was time to push.
Again, so so stupid.
What the fuck did I think I was going to do, get up and direct traffic or do my Jane Fonda workout or something in between contractions? I was just so desperate for control. Everything was so far out of my grasp that I just wanted to grab a hold of something, anything and steer in the direction I wanted. It was reiterated that I should consider doing it sooner than later but still they agreed to wait until after my water broke to see how bad things got pain wise and we would go from there. Now, here is a piece of unsolicited advice to anyone having a baby anytime soon. GET. THE. FUCKING. EPIDURAL. Especially when the medically trained individual telling you to do it says to. Don't wait. You aren''t going anywhere, so you might as well get it sooner than later and get some rest. Bag of waters is broken and my pain threshold with it. Holy contractions, Batman. They came instantly, in waves of two or three in a row. All very intense and way more painful than I care to remember. I can't be sure, but I think I grabbed the nurse by her hand and begged her to get the drugs or kill me whichever would rid me of the pain the fastest and STAT or I was going to lose my shit. You ladies who do it au naturale are either getting paid on the side, have a death wish or are punishing yourselves for something. Who would CHOOSE to be in pain??? This one time, I had a migraine and I thought I was going to die. I thought I could navigate through the pain by yoga breathing and sheer will power. I believe I lasted a full hour before I ran to the medicine cabinet for Aleve. If you go sans meds, I applaud your resolve but for me the equation was simple. Headache = aspirin. Forcing a tiny human being out of my netheregions = Epidural.
Once it was administered, it kicked in ASAP. I am as tall as a 6th grader (okay, a very short 6th grader) and weigh about the same so it didn't have very far to travel. My legs get warm and heavy. A strange and nerve wracking moment. As usual, the loss of control sends my mind into its crazy, random thought place. As my extremities begin to feel dense I wonder if this is similar to what it may feel like to be buried alive. I know, I know, I know. A totally bizarre and kind of creepy thought. And yet, there it was.
It is quickly replaced with visions of unicorns and rainbows as the pain begins to subside. I feel warm, a little tingly. I begin to relax and it shows. My face gets less angry and I-am-going-to murder-someone looking, my body is less tense. The contractions have more regularity now because I am not fighting them. Fight them? Shit, I was so relaxed I could have passed a 15 pound bowling ball without batting an eye. It was lovely. (For reals. Just LOOK at how happy it made Gigantor over there...------>)
I get some oxygen. The baby's heart rate is slightly erratic. They maneuver me around and they check my dilation from time to time. My family laughs at me, surely because I look like an escaped mental patient. Crazy hair, droopy, drowsy eyelids, little bit o'drool. I was pooped. I had been in go-mode since 10:30 am Friday and I was D-O-N-E.. It was the next afternoon already. There was little rest over night and into the next morning. We had hoped things would go faster, but it wasn't meant to be. Sadly, Friday the 8th of August was off the table. Figures. Why, oh why did I think I was going to get the date I chose? Oy....I close my eyes.
It is more than two hours later when I wake up. I am fully dilated and it is time to try pushing. This is it. The whole last 9 months were finally ending and our new life is about to begin. I freak out a little. Oh my god this is really happening. I am about to become a mom. Joe is about to become a dad. Our little girl is about to start fighting for her life.
Pushhhhhhhhh.... and relax... okay here comes another one. And breathe innnnnn and pushhhhhh...and relax. And on. And on. And on....
Three. Fucking. Hours. Later. ..Still pushing.
Her heart rate is good. She isn't in any real danger for the moment. But it seems like she isn't descending. What? How can this be? I have been mocked by the same sex and desired by the opposite for my lower body "curves" since I was 16. How can it be that my child cannot find her way down? So, we got another free anatomy lesson! Hooray! It matters not what your external structure looks like. It does not in any way give insight to what your internal structure is like. And my seemingly big girl "birthing hips" were just a well padded hiding place for a narrow pelvis. We really though it was going to be easy. Breathe, push, push, breath, rinse and repeat, *ta dah!!* baby.
Now what? " you can keep pushing, but if she doesn't make her way down we may have to perform a C section." What the what? "Perform" a C section? Is it some kind of magic trick? (Turns out, it kind of is. They practically saw you in half and instead of a rabbit out of a hat, you get a small person out of your uterus!) We never discussed a C-section! What happens? What do they do to you in there? Will I be awake? Can Joe be there with me? My mom? What the hell is happening here? Ahhhhh..This announcement went so far beyond everything we had ever discussed together or with a doctor. We were being shown yet again we had no control over anything. It was really starting to piss us off. Okay, okay, we get it, someone else is driving, we are just along for the ride. But really? Can't I at least offer a shortcut or the tell you where to find the best roadside burrito stand? The wheel was once again being turned in a different direction by unseen hands and we were able to only sit in the backseat and try to stay calm...
The doctor comes in to tell us we can try pushing a bit longer, but we would have to decide which course to take, and quickly. She was trying to get out and my childlike bone structure wasn't interested in letting her pass. We had to make a clear decision about what we wanted to do in a limited amount of time. For the first time since the very beginning, we were given control over something. Neither of us knew what to do. For a brief moment, we froze. We had been looking for any opportunity to control something and when it finally came, neither of us could manage to think straight. Should we? Should we not? There is the life of a baby in the balance and there we were scratching our heads like a couple of cartoon monkeys trying to figure out how to open a banana.
We were about to make the call and opt to push a little bit more when the door opens. Mr-Big-Time-Doctor-Man walks in. Not the original doc in the blue scrubs. Noooo this was the head honcho in a fancy white coat and he was here to take me to the OR. Are you kidding? We thought we were being given a choice. How silly of us. Honestly, his timing couldn't have been better. We weren't winning any races with our thought process at the time. How could we? We were being thrown another loop. One that, again, we were completely unprepared for. So much for taking control when it was finally given to us. Believe it or not C-Section had never once been uttered in a single, solitary meeting of the minds the entire length of my pregnancy. But here it was. The very idea made my stomach turn. Here we go again. Things were changing and we had to suck it up and go with the flow. It was another 'defining"moment. We had to let all our fear and worry go. We had to trust this was the direction we were supposed to be heading. And we had to believe that everything was going to be alright.
Details are sketchy. I remember being wheeled to the OR, the glorious numbing of the epidural slowly waning. I was beginning to feel pressure. I felt like I needed to push. "NO! Do NOT push! Just hold on we are almost there.".. A double door...bright lights..it is really cold in here.... "Where is my husband? Where is he? Someone get him in here NOW or I am going to get of this table and walk out of here. Find him, now!" "Relax sweetie, he is right here. He just had to get scrubs on." Thank God. "Joe, hold my hand please. Go anywhere and you die, do you hear me? I need you to be with me. Home team, okay? " He kisses my hand as they pull it away to place another IV, this one to numb me from the neck down, rendering anything lower than my head useless. I have no control and it is so frightening. I try to keep my cool. The cocktail of drugs makes my head fuzzy, my tongue dry. Joe is holding my hand, but I can't feel it. My arms are heavy. I can't feel them either. I tell them to move but they ignore me, the traitors. My chest, my legs. Everything is warm. My voice starts to fade in and out with my consciousness. I feel very sleepy. "Can I just close my eyes for a minute? I just need to close them for a minute. I am so, so tired." "Yes, you can close our eyes if you want to! You can go to sleep if you feel like you need to. Who knew giving birth would be so exhausting, right sweetie?" She giggles (alone) at her lame attempt of a joke. Wocka Wocka,Wocka. You're a real freaking comedian, lady. "Joe, can you see? When are they going to start? I am so tired, honey." My face is numb, and a tear I have no way to prevent escapes from the corner of my eye lid. I can't really feel it slide down my face, but I know it is there. I want it gone. I haven't cried a minute since this whole thing started, and I was not going to start now. I don't want anyone to see. "Joe, wipe off my face, please? I feel so hot right now." Lie. I was freezing, but I was hoping he would think it was a drip of sweat... Breath Corinne. Breathe. Close your eyes and just try to relax. "When are they going to start, Joe?" "Babe, they already have." "Don't worry Mrs. Bobbie, everything is going fine, we are almost to her." It is the first time someone outside of my family has called me Mrs. Bobbie. As I have that crazy thought, I force my head to turn over. I need to see Joes face. He is looking at me, stroking my hair. He smiles and says, "almost! I can't see anything over the curtain, but I think we are getting closer!!" Thank God for him. As I open my mouth to tell him I love him, I feel the pressure in my abdomen change and with it, the look on Joes face. I hear a doctor say "It's a girl!" (thanks for the update, dude). There is a commotion from the gaggle of nurses assisting in the room. I hear a strange sound. Like a squeaky toy, but louder...She is here.