that’s right! you read it correctly. i seriously slept through the labor of my son. not his birth, just the labor. this will be the recollection and sharing of WHAT I REMEMBER regarding my son’s birth. my version, through my eyes, which obviously, were closed. this is not the horrific birthing story that makes young girls cringe, men turn an about-face and leave the room or gramma’s weep where they stand. this is the story of my son and i. by far, one of the happiest and uplifting birthing stories i have ever heard. yes, he was my first. yes, i had an epidural.. ok, wait! i’m getting ahead of myself. i will address all of that as i tell the story. i promise to spare you the most intimate details of the process and if at all possible i’ll keep the gory details to myself.
my son will be 4 years old in april. he is by far the most beautiful and rewarding thing (yes, thing) that i have ever made. i spend the latter part of most of my days in awe of him. he is particularly handsome, i find, and just as mischievous. he is “a boy” in every aspect of the word. whatever you can imagine to be associated with “a boy” is certainly a part of him. he’s rough, rugged and brawny. he’s my joy and i love him dearly. and here is the story of how we became…
on the morning of april 5th, 2007, i woke up much the same as i always have. some blinking, yawning, stretching, followed by more blinking. my body was held hostage by Swee’ Pea (that was my son’s first nickname). i weighed a whopping blankety-blank pounds and had a belly the size of a very large watermelon. it was scary. i called myself a duplex. my bladder was the size of a small walnut and bathroom trips were not only frequent but almost always bordering on emergency. that morning was no different. however, in the middle of the blink-yawn-stretch combo i got this very tight and tense squeezing of my add-on (the du in my plex). i thought it was my unborn son, also stretching… with his foot in my ribs. i shook it off and made it to the little mommy’s room with no time to spare.
the day proceeded as planned. i had a pre-scheduled ob/gyn appointment for eleven o’clock that morning and was also in the process of making some fan-damn-tab-u-lous wedding invitations. my bestie, danielle, picked me up to take me to the doctor. when i got to the check-in desk, the nurse was shouting my name. they immediately took me in to see my doctor who basically said “i was here all night last night, don’t go into labor today because i won’t be there”. um, ok? she moved on with my little examination, including poking and pushing on my humongous belly. she asked:
“what’s he doing?”
“nothing”, i said, “which, as you know, is very unlike him”
“what do you mean nothing? because you know, nothing could be a sign..”
“see?!?! he’s doing that right there!” (at which point that tight and tense feeling came back)
she put her hand on what i’m certain were his feet… up near my ribs, she squeezed and held her hands taut against my deformed tense belly and looked me dead in the eye;
“um, those are contractions”.
“what? really? ok. i didn’t realize that. uhh, what do i do?”
“nothing. if they take your breath away, come back. otherwise, i’ll see you next week”.
so, danielle and i left. i had to go buy ribbon for those wedding invitations and that little errand was quite a hoot. there were two senior ladies shopping together and i heard one of them say to the other, “my wooooord. look at the belly on her. i think she’s going to give birth right here in the store”. it made danielle and i belt out in an overly rambunctious guffaw. we looked at them and smiled and they smiled in return. both of them looking at me with the fear that they might be involved in my son’s birth… any minute now. it didn’t happen.. not right then, anyway.
we left the craft store and i demanded to have lunch at Cuca’s because, just like every other day during my pregnancy, i wanted spicy food. chicken tacos, crispy, to be exact. while eating lunch, i continued to have more contractions and a very amusing conversation with danielle and her mother about me and spicy food. they tried to deny me hot sauce. hmph. um, bad move? i’d say so! i was blankety-blank pounds of currently-in-labor craving some hot sauce crazy woman. i wanted my hot sauce and by jove, i was going to get it.
i went home, and continued on with my invitation job. cutting, folding stuffing, gluing. over and over again. the day progressed and i was fine. my aunt left to attend the local market night about 5:30 that evening. the only person who knew about my contractions was danielle and she was sworn to homegirl secrecy. i refused to have people calling me every few minutes to “check on” me. or to be forced to go to the hospital only to be turned away with a “false labor” diagnosis. i’d heard the stories and seen the tears and frustration of those women and i was determined to not be one of them. my son was too.
about 6pm, i had one of those contractions that made me pause and say out loud “hmmm. that was different”. i was unable to concentrate on my invitation project because sitting had now become a chore. my tiny bladder managed to shrink even more and my visits to the bathroom were almost as frequently as my stifled breaths. i distracted myself with phone calls. i called a couple of people and chatted them up over the next couple of hours. all the while, pacing, contracting and crossing my eyes in “oooomph”. are you surprised to know that i didn’t actually KNOW that i was in labor? i suspected so, but i was not experiencing what i thought i was supposed to be experiencing. knew it, know it or not, i was in labor. perhaps i didn’t pay close enough attention to the “signals” in my other bestie’s lamaze classes five years prior because lord knows i didn’t pay the $75 dollars to go to my own suggested classes. $75 dollars? are you out of your mind?? and for what? so you can tell me to “breeeeeeeeeeeeeathe” while there’s a whole person trying to vacate my happy place! thanks, but i’m good. i’ll breathe if i need to, and i’ll push when i need to. i don’t respond well to coaching during crisis or to being told what to do (what? if anyone knows how difficult i am, it’s me).
with that said, my aunt returned from the market night with cinnamon roasted almonds in hand. yum! they were my request upon her leaving. she retired to her room and began her cool down session for the evening. at 9 o’clock, ON THE DOT, i experienced that contraction that “took my breath away”. it was the kind of out-of-breath that you would get if you were to chase a runaway mugger fifteen blocks after he’d stolen an old lady’s purse. the kind of out-of-breath that comes from “running with the bulls” in spain or playing world cup soccer. needless to say, it was intense. i was standing next to the bed, on my curled up toes, with the bedspread gripped in my hand. my back was arched, my jaw clenched and eyes my completely crossed. when that meanie of an introductory contraction passed, i tried to sit down again. why? i don’t know. i ask myself that question to this day. but i tried, and when i started to bend at the waist, i felt that familiar tension and stood back up again. i paced around my room and counted the minutes. five minutes later, ooomph. breathe. five minutes later, oomph. breathe. and then… (oh lord, i can feel it now) at 9:15pm on april 5th, 2007, the contraction came that took the cake! it stole the show. i think it brought a tear to my eye. i was still standing and when it passed, i hobbled, as quickly as a duplex on feet can move. i went to alert my aunt but she was in the shower. i opened her bedroom door and stepped inside, trying to call out to her. when that contraction passed i was able to belt out;
“DD. (that’s what i call her)DD? um… i think”
“um, i think we need to go to the oooooooooooooommmph”
“oh! OH! oh! oooooooooh”
“oh! ok! ok!”
“well! whatever we do, you need to get out of the shower!”
i went back to my room and had the grand idea to change clothes. again you ask, why? i don’t know. and i even put on socks. i hate socks. have you ever seen a pregnant woman, in active labor, try to change her clothes? it ain’t pretty. i saw it, so did the mirror and we are in total agreement. after successfully changing, i realized that i had not seen my aunt, for minutes. several of them. i proceeded down the hallway, one hand holding my add-on and the other propping me up against the wall. oooomph! i started down the hallway, calling out to her. she didn’t answer. i kept walking and calling out and still nothing. when i got to the end of the hallway, the front door was open. she flew in, went into the kitchen and then blew past with a trash bag in hand. a trash bag? what? you got it! she was water-proofing the backseat of the “Jesus 300” (that’s her chrysler with a strategically placed “Jesus” adornment).
i don’t know if i remembered “the bag”. i vaguely remember my aunt asking me about my purse, my keys and my phone.. i think. i mostly remember “oooomph”. i struggled to the car and tried to fold myself inside. i remember having one foot on her headrest and the other on the rear passenger window glass. i don’t know how many miles it is from my house to the hospital but it was entirely too many.
from here on out, this story is undoubtedly from my point of view only and missing a lot. we pulled into the emergency room ambulance parking spot, only to be harassed by security “um, ma’am, you can’t park here”. my aunt was running to get a wheelchair and yelling back “she’s in labor!” my guess is that he didn’t like or want to accept that answer so this man opens the rear door of the aforementioned “Jesus 300” and says to me
“young lady, can you walk, because she can’t park here”.
cover your children’s ears…
“what the *&^% did he just say? what? are you #%!&%(* serious?? i’m in *&^%$#@ labor here, @$$#*!3. no, i can’t &^$(@)# walk, and no, she’s not going to move the %&*#(#& car until i get out!”
ahem. you can uncover their ears now. into the wheelchair i go, docked me on the curb, moved the car, rushed me in and under the peering eyes of the emergency room wait line another contraction hit me. this one was earth shattering. i think i got chills over my whole body and my ever-so-popular “oooomph” had now turned into a very low, very gutteral “uuuuuuhhhuuuuuuuuughhhh”. i was whirred past the sickly people, past some nurses, and into a very cramped closet-like office. someone asking me questions.
“do you have your medical card?”
” how about your i.d.?”
“do you know your medical record number?”
“six three seven floor blue blight blue uuuuuuuuhhh”
“ok. i’ll check with your family and we’ll see if they have you wallet and we’ll go from there”
i think my aunt came with the purse, the wallet, the medical i.d. card, but i don’t really know. somewhere along the way, the bitchiest nurse ever comes up behind me and says to the other nurse:
“you call ob?what’s going on?”
now, you oughta already know that i had nothing nice to say, but what ran through my head was “bitch! what? do you see me? i’m in labor stoooooooooopid!”, but what came out was “oooomph. uuuuuuuuuuuuugh”. she responded to my obvious torture with;
“you girls always come in here thinking you’re in labor and you’re not, we’ll take you upstairs and find out FOR SURE”.
again… in my head i said “you mother-*%^&@#, i’m in labor, it’s *&%(#&% obvious to everyone but your stoopid @$$, now shut the %$&* up and get me to someone who can help me!!! bioooootch!”. what acrually came out was “uuugh”.
upstairs, into another closet-like room, but now on a hospital bed. out of my clothes and donning an open-backed not at all flattering, simple hospital gown. nurse in, nurse out. nurse in, nurse out. my aunt was on her phone “uh huh, well she’s in labor right now”. um, hello? could you be quiet? i’m in uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugh over here! someone kept asking me “have they checked you yet?” i did not know what they were referring to, but after having been checked (this is one of those details you don’t need), i wished i’d said “yes, they have”.
one lovely nurse said to me “you don’t look so good, you’re really hurting, i’m going to give you something for your pain” and she disappeared. she came back later, gave me and i.v. and “something for my pain”.
seriously. it knocked me out. except for those contractions. and once the “something for my pain” stepped in, who knows how far apart the contractions were. i’m sure someone did, but it was most definitely not me. picture this if you will; me sportin’ that death-to-sexy hospital gown, on a hospital bed in a room the same size as the bed, with a vulcan death grip on the bars and my toes curled under… sleeping. until “uuuuuuuuuuugh!”.. and that’s what happened for the next twenty minutes or more. the next thing i knew i had peed myself. peed? you say. nope, my water broke and they had me on the move. this is where it really gets fuzzy. i’m asleep, i’m having contractions and i’m dreaming…. dreaming about eating… eating the cinnamon roasted almonds that my aunt brought me from market night that were left behind in my nightstand because labor makes you forget about food cravings, or shaved armpits or pretty much anything. i’d been moved to a humongous room that was very bright, but i didn’t REALLY care, because i was asleep. until i had a contraction. somewhere between the uuughs and the lights i realized that i had to pee! and bad! my small walnut sized bladder had been crushed to the size of half a peanut. i felt like i had needed to pee for a month. what follows is the conversation that ensued between me and my nurse:
“i have to pee.”
“no, you don’t, it’s the baby pushing down”
“no. i have to pee.”
“no, you don’t. it’s just the baby pushing down.”
“no! i have to pee!!! and really bad!”
“ok. here. sit on this bedpan, you can’t be walkin’ around”
“what? serious? no. i want to go to the bathroom.”
“nope. if you’re going to pee, it’s going to be right here”
i swear i sat there for an hour. i don’t know the real length of time. i cried and begged and pleaded to be allowed to walk and to use the restroom at my leisure. i was denied. and i was also right back to zzzzzz. somewhere along the way the bedpan was removed. i don’t know if it was used or not. removed by request or not.
so, i’m still sleeping in between contractions. i have a room full of people around, including, my aunt, my two best girl friends, my son’s father, his best friend and his friend’s girlfriend and my nurse. i’m uuuugh. i’m asleep. somewhere along the way i got an epidural. you would think that i would remember a huge needle to the spine right in the middle of my tattoo, right? um, nope. not me. zzzzz. and this is the rest of what i remember:
“it’s time for you to push”
“excuse me, it’s time for you to push”
“what? i’m sleeping” (i swear to you that i was sleeping so so good, i knew it and i gave the nurse hell for trying to wake me up)
“do you want to see your baby? it’s time for you to push”
“you are really getting on my nerves”
the nurse asked my son’s father “can you talk to her? because she’s kinda out of it”. so he tried to persuade me awake with “babe” and “honey” and eventually had to get ghetto and snap his fingers in my face and say
“HEY! you’re at the hospital, remember? we’re going to have a baby, remember? so, can you push?”
“ooooooooooooooooooooh yeah. you guys are just rude though. i was sleeping so good. but i’ll push, ok? can i sit up? because i can’t push from here”.
they raised the bed, locked my feet into place and took their positions by my side. the nurse coached me on the pushing process and then said “we’re gonna practice push from 1 to 10”. wtf? you woke me up to practice? yes. so we practice pushed, one to ten and then the real madness started. i pushed for reals (yes, for reals)! we counted from one to ten and then i was allowed to take my deep breath. we started the next push, but this time i only got to six (this part is gonna knock your socks off). my nurse told me:
“stoooop pushing, the umbilical cord is wrapped around his throat, i need to get a doctor”, and she walked towards the door…
“ok, but i don’t know if i can, this is bad timing” (that coulda been just a thought only, i don’t know if it came out or not).
the nurse actually left the room. my friends and family were pacing and staring at me. shannon even said “you make it look so easy” (she had one of those birthing stories that makes people cringe and run the opposite direction). i don’t know if she said it right then or hours before. all of the memories are fuzzy and mixed with sleep and dreams of almonds. the nurse returned, slightly exasperated and said “he’s in two emergency c-sections he can’t make it”. i don’t know if it was right then, before then, or just after then, but everyone suddenly started clapping. clapping, you say? mmm hmm, clapping.
“what are you clapping for?”
“kenneth is out” (that’s my son’s name)
“he’s out of where?”
“he’s out of YOU”
and just like that, without my help my son gave birth to himself. i think at that time, the doctor came in and said “hey, looks like you don’t need me”. they did something to this and that, cut the cord, took my son to the other side of the room and i think the entire room and all it’s inhabitants sighed a collective sigh of relief. he was born. it was over. i was no longer pregnant, but a mother, and i had slept my way through the first act. friends and family were dismissed with love (it was after 3am) and i started my life as a mother.
you’ll never catch me complaining about being pregnant or giving birth. the fact of the matter is that neither of those experiences warranted a complaint. of course, i gained weight, fell in and out of hormonal tornadoes and ate like a fully developed two-ton elephant. all expectancies of the expecting. there were some concerns here and there, but with time they all diminished. my labor was problem-free, minus the coma i was in and the umbilical cord around the neck fiasco, but even that didn’t stop my son from coming into the world. he was just about 40 weeks to the day. at 2:51 in the morning he brought my entire world to it’s knees. he was 8 pounds, 7 ounces and twenty-one inches long. he had 2 inch long slick black hair on his head, peach fuzz all over his body and 2 dimples. his legs were sooooo long and i was finally able to see the feet that had been lodged in my right rib. he was perfect! SCORE!!!
see? it was an amazing story and you didn’t hear dilated, effaced, episiotomy or lactating. you’re welcome! believe it or not, it’s all true. for the rest of that day, and the next, i was introduced to my son and 94,267,294,571 things to do for him, with him, near him and around him. i learned a few things, cried about a few things, signed a buncha things and prayed for a lot of things. i was now a mother and there was only one thing on my mind: those almonds in my nightstand drawer.