That Awkward Moment When I Share My Birth Story
September 30, 2013 is a day I won’t soon forget. My life was altered completely when Benjamin Ty made his debut, and I’m not just talking about my sleep schedule. . . more like the entire planet shifted on its axis.
Oh yes! It’s the birth story! Isn’t that what people love to know? The gory, nasty, poopy details of how my baby made his way into the world?
No, you say?
That’s fine. I’ll skip the explicit details.
Three years ago, I was awakened by the fragrance of raw sewage wafting through my house. I tried flushing the toilet, which responded by actually BURPING at me. The burp was followed by multiple gurgles and pretty soon the scent of Septic Belch was fumigating the entire house. I freaked and call my landlord. No quick fix.
And with that as a backdrop for this glorious day, my uterus awoke with a yawn and said, “WOOHOO, let’s have a baby, ya’ll!”
With good reason to escape the house, my family and I went out on a ravenous food-binge for the ages. By 9:00 a.m. I had consumed a breakfast wrap, a pancake, 2 scrambled eggs and some sausage. Then we waited a couple hours and went out for Mexican.
(Stop judging me.)
Roughly 5,000 calories later, we headed to a kid’s consignment shop in search of Halloween costumes. Perusing racks of doggies, princesses, hot dogs and the like, I began to experience what mommies refer to as “contractions.”
con·trac·tion (k n-tr k sh n). n.
1. The act of contracting or the state of being contracted.
2. What happens when the hand of God reaches into your uterus and gives it a tight squeeze. Over and over again.
So…you know that scene in Indiana Jones where the dude reaches into somebody’s chest and pulls out his heart? Contractions are just like that, except your innards stay put. I’m reaching for a cute little pumpkin costume and BAM.
I’m bent over, heaving & contemplating the fact that our Pancake/EggWrap/Mexican fiesta was a bad idea. Then my mom suggests that maybe it’s not gas. And perhaps we should time them?
Two minutes apart–Yippee-kay-yay, let’s go!!
I shower at a friends & retrieve my bag from the House of Stink.
Ladies, don’t lie. We’ve all dreamt of the “Baby is Coming!” car ride at some point. Envisioned the heavy breathing, the speeding car, the frantic husband. Well, I had. And as we cruised along at 20 mph toward the hospital, it struck me as depressing that the soundtrack for this long-awaited trip was “Good Girl” by Robin Thicke.
Before entering the hospital, my sister confiscated my overnight bag. She is a doctor, you see, and had some very useful insight. Apparently some hospital staffers get a little snooty when pregnant women arrive, packed and ready, like the hospital is a hotel.
“Hey–ya’ll got a room? I wanna have a baby, kthanks.”
Sister was right. I walked in (WITHOUT the bag) and I’ll just say that my general experience with triage could be summed up in one sentence:
How can we kick you out of here?
Triage took my blood pressure 4 times. Three times it was through the roof & the 4th time it was decent. So obviously the GOOD bp was noted on the chart.
I sat on a hospital bed and waited. And waited. I watched the little computer-graph-thing chart my contractions. As my abdomen coiled up like snake, the numbers got higher and higher. Like watching a live-feed roller coaster of pain—Sweet!!
The doctor called. Because I was one day shy of 39 weeks, she wanted me to go walk for 2 hours. Like, “Hey mama–take a hike. Literally.”
My sister’s head cocked sideways and she was instantly “Aw HAIL NAW!”
So there she went, fuming and ranting and marching to the admission desk. Me waddling after my her. Ian jogging after me.
Flash forward to the walking trail in front of Winnie Palmer Hospital.
Big as a house and moving like a duck with a hemorrhoid. Ian was making friends with a homeless dude who was drunk off of Irish Rose and showing off the catfish he caught for dinner.
Here’s a tidbit of information for those of you who are pregnant or perhaps wondering how to know when labor is FOR REAL.
Real Labor is the land where your sense of humor goes to die.
I remember seeing my husband and his homeless companion. I remember stopping. And I vaguely remember my head spinning around 2 times as I screeched, “I AM TOO DAMN PREGNANT FOR THIS! GET YOUR <clever use of poor language> OVER HERE!”
Mr. Catfisherman and Ian’s friendship ended immediately. I feel bad about that. It could have been a beautiful thing.
90 minutes later, back in triage, my contractions were 35 seconds apart. Nobody was impressed, I suppose, so they suggested I go labor at home.
That was it. I melted into a snotty pile of ugly-faced sobs.
Ian tried to console me while simultaneously sharpening his battle axe for the next staffer who graced our room. It took about 30 minutes for that person to arrive.
That sweet nurse walked in, took one look at our family circus, and spoke the most beautiful words I have ever heard:
“Would you like to have your baby tonight?”
UM, YES PLEASE.
The next thing I remember is sitting on the edge of the bed, staring at the face of an angel: my Nurse Anesthetist.
About 2:00 a.m. I woke up in a panic.
“Oh my—are you okay? Is it time?”
“My LEG! It fell off the bed and I can’t pick it up!
4 a.m. rolls around and meanwhile, back at the hotel, my sister wakes up because her “spidey senses were tingling.” So my family raced to the hospital and by 4:30 they walk into my room.
Warning: somewhat gross descriptions ahead.
My sister enters the room as I’m explaining to the nurse how I feel.
“Well, it’s like I reeeeally have to poop.”
The look on Karen Leigh’s face goes from calm confidence to furious frenzy. She points a finger and demands, “When’s the last time my sister was checked?!”
The nurse adds, “But don’t worry. The doctor will be in shortly.”
Sister’s eyes went red.
“Oh really? Is that shortly like in a few minutes or shortly as in three hours? Because last time she was coming SHORTLY she was gossiping at the nurses station!!”
Here’s something you should know about me. I’m a middle child and I’m all about keeping the peace–even if it costs me a comfortable child birth. So, instead of appreciating Sister’s Last Stand, I got pissed and yelled at her.
IF you have a sister, you understand that picking a fight with Big Sis (aka protector, aka biggest fan, aka your hero) is not how you want to start the delivery process. But that’s exactly what I did.
Shortly thereafter, Crouching Tiger Hidden Doctor made her appearance. Having been warned of the dynamic awaiting her, she came in all sorority-like, making small talk with my family.
She was just SO sorry for the misunderstanding earlier and she didn’t see them in the hallway or she would have said hi and BLAH BLAH BLAH–get this baby OUTTA me!
Here’s where we fast-forward let’s say, 27 minutes to be exact.
Baby Ben enters the world with the most pathetic “waah” ever heard. It would have been comical if it wasn’t so disconcerting. He was busy making puny “waahs” and getting cleaned up or whatever they do to babies in that moment when my sister snatched the suction bulb off the doctor’s table and proceeded to save my baby’s developing brain. Hidden Doctor didn’t appreciate her table being intruded upon, and Karen Leigh didn’t give two rips. Let’s just say that, in the future, I’ll probably fly to Alabama and let Sis handle the whole baby-coming-out part.
Two doctors + one table = awkward dynamic.
They handed me my sweet little bundle of joy and tears were shed and cameras clicked and….
I’m not really sure because my head hit the pillow and—I’m ashamed to admit it—the first thing that crossed my mind was how badly I wanted a nap.
Some mommies experience joy, elation and instant love the SECOND they lay eyes on their little one. I’ll be completely candid and tell you that my primary emotion was confusion. I looked at that perfect little angel and couldn’t really reconcile that he was mine. I just felt strangely separated from the whole thing.
Then I got my nap.
I awoke in the recovery room to the sound of Ian’s voice and a crib which carried our son rolling into the room. Daddy was bubbling with joy.
“We went to the nursery and had a bath and I brushed his hair and I picked out a little hat and and and…”
It was adorable. And it was in THAT moment—a few hours after delivery, that my world shifted into focus.
I had a son. I had a family. I was a mom.
It’s been one year, and boy do I have some hilarious stories to share. Some humiliating, some heart breaking. All of them important to the development of me as a person and a mother. But, I’ll share those another time.
This story ends with a baby in a car seat. Strapped securely in the back of Daddy’s pickup truck. Me sitting next to my newborn son, fussing over his blanket, over the buckles, over his hat. Daddy checking the rear view mirror 800 times. Driving 50 miles below the speed limit, all of the sudden acutely aware that people are driving recklessly.
The ride home will forever be cherished in my memory (& the soundtrack wasn’t too bad, either).
We got home, pulled the car seat out, took several proud pictures at the front door and walked inside.
There we stood, a family of three. Me looking at baby, Ian looking at me–the three of us wide-eyed in the center of the den.
“Now what do we do?”. . .