EVEN GROSSER THAN YESTERDAY! BEWARE!
Where were we? Oh, right, I was being wheeled top speed through darkened hospital corridors while midwife Joan urged me not to push.
I was thinking: funny, I should be getting motion sickness right now.
I was not thinking: where are my husband and sister?
This last might have been a good question, for neither were with me. Pynchon corrects my post of last night: he didn't ride in the car to the hospital with my sister and I. He came in our car, 10 minutes later, because he was still trying to put the hospital bag together. When he arrived, the doors were locked and he had to do some pounding to get in. My sister dropped me on the curb to argue with Joan about whether I was going to get in the wheelchair or not--you know who won that battle--and then she had to park the car somewhere.
I did not care. Not one bit. Other than surprising myself by not getting nauseated by a high-speed wheelchair ride, I didn't really care about much except my awful awful back pain and MEETING MY BABY.
That's how I was thinking about it: meeting my baby. Finally. Proving to everyone that I was in fact pregnant, and an infant would shortly depart my body. I was a little excited to get going but a little annoyed ... in fact, annoyance seemed to be my default mode up to this point. I had had 20 minutes of fairly peaceful labour by myself, followed by a Marx Brothers routine with startled sisters, sleepy husbands, and bossy midwives all buzzing around me while I was obviously in transition and beyond the reach of mere humans.
I passed most of my time since Joan's arrival and Pynchon's awakening with my eyes open like little slits, glasses flung away.
I came out of the fog of transition as I found myself having that damned smock dress pulled over my head again, by Joan. Apparently I was in The Room--a quite nice labour / delivery / recovery room, actually. Another midwife was trying to take my bra off, and I wondered why I needed to take that off to give birth. Why? It was a nursing bra, even. I told them to take my glasses away. Everyone was buzzing around me. Bz-bz-bz. I'm standing naked in a hospital room with no Pynchon or sister in sight, being introduced to a midwife I don't know. I sooooo don't care about anything except my glasses. Take them away, they're BOTHERING ME.
You have to understand how blind I am--so nearsighted that I'm like a -6 in one eye and -7 in the other. I had big plans to put my contacts in, and possibly dab on mascara before giving birth--after shaving my legs and trimming the stage area, if you will. Ha. Now I'm yelling at midwives through slit eyes to take away my glasses and I can't even see my own feet and if there was a fire in that hospital I never would've found the door to the room let alone the building.
"Don't push yet, just another minute, you can do it!"
Why does she keep telling me not to push? I have no urge to push. None. My back hurts like a sonofabith and everyone is very very irritating. But push? Um, if you say so.
I am hustled onto a bed and Pynchon and S appear. I'm semi upright, half in a hospital gown, and the contractions are coming even stronger. Pynchon is at my left, and he is whispering kind kind words, full of love, and full of support. I can hear the awe in his voice, and the love, and a little bit of fear, and I can hear him trying to act the role that the book says he needs to do for me. And half of me wants to hold him close and adore him, and the other half (I'm so sorry Pynchon) wants him to stop talking. I still don't want to push and I'm mad at everyone.
Oh wait. I don't want to push but ... I ... can't ... help ... it. I thought I was going to be a pro at pushing: my mom and my sister were pros, you know, the 10 minutes of pushing variety? I had been actively visualising and doing my Kegels and reading all the books. I HATED pushing. Hated it. I only did it because pushing made me feel less awful than not pushing.
Joan kept telling me I was doing it wrong. This made me mad. Mad also because I had imagined that contractions hurt, but then you got a break: not me. Back pain. Contractions hurt sort of less but sort of different from the back pain. At least they were distracting. You know what was even more distracting? Pooping. With every single damn contraction.
Of course, Joan wasn't actually telling me I was doing it wrong: she was offering very good suggestions for improvement, in a take-charge manner I had come to expect from her.
We laboured on this way for a while, me semi-upright on the birthing bed, Pynchon at my left feeding me ice chips and putting cool cloths on my head, absolutely at my beck and call, and my sister S at my right being just as steady as a rock and holding my knee in that firm competent way that was so calming.
The baby? S/he was fine, good heart rate through the stethoscope, turned just into perfect position, and heading down a little bit at a time. But not far and not fast.
Joan has this great idea that I should push from a squat. I refuse. I'm not delicate or ashamed or anything: I'm pooped out from already 30 minutes of pushing and I don't think I can support my own weight and push and my back is killing me and I wasn't allowed to stand up to get out of the CAR and you want me to stand on a TABLE and GIVE BIRTH???
But Joan is not the type to take no for an answer. And so S and Pynchon heft my 180 pound self to a crouch at the start of every contraction. Watch me poop. Hear me holler (no screaming! Um, except at the very end). Help me collapse. Listen to me complain bitterly about my back, and then kindly shut up when I tell them to so that I can have 40 seconds of nap before the next go round.
I never imagined I could nap while pushing, but there you go.
Pushing is all a blur, an anxious, demoralising, difficult, poopy blur. I'm left with impressions, very strong sense memory, like how you can never drink lemon gin again after that one high school party ... Ice chips--good. Water--bad. Holding my knees--good. Talking to me--bad. Baby--good. Midwives--bad.
After about an hour and 40 minutes of this (yes, that's right, I pushed longer than I laboured. How sick is that? I want my money back on that damn Mind over Labour book ...) Joan begins to get stern with me. She accuses me of not trying hard enough (I'm not) and of giving up (I am). She makes me crouch some more (I don't want to) and she tells me I have to do it (I can't!).
This is the next thing I hear:
"Good! Good, Mimi! That was excellent. Now again!"
"I know it's hard, I know it's hard just keep keep keep pushing. Just 5 more seconds keep keep keep pushing. Now do 5 more seconds. Keeeeeeep pushing ... Again!"
She's a real taskmaster, that Joan. And always lying about five more seconds. She doesn't mean it.
There are several more pushes and much more congratulations, but I am TIRED. And then:
"Look at all that hair! I'm twirling it around my finger! I'm giving a hairdo."
What a bitch! Is it my fault I didn't have time for the trim? I'm not the height of pubic fashion, I know, but this is a little insulting ... Oh. Wait. She means the baby. I am encouraged to look in the mirror but yell at everyone to leave me alone because I'm not wearing my glasses and shouldn't I be giving birth?
The baby is coming.
The baby crowns. I have never, obviously, felt the likes of this. I am relieved but I am being split in two. I push again. The head comes out, to judge from all the cooing and cheering and happy noises.
But then: stuck. The shoulders. For what feels like 20 minutes but what Pynchon assures me was no more than 30 seconds, the soon-to-be Miss Baby is neither in, nor out. I am actively and vocally cursing all and sundry for abandoning me like this. No swearing, but much blaming. Pynchon recounts now that Joan braced herself against the table and pulled: "I didn't think," he says, "that you could pull on a baby like that." But I guess you can.
And then, with a great whoosh, baby was born. It was 4:29am, Friday, June 9, 2006
Pynchon yelped, "It's a girl! ... it's a girl ... it's a GIRL!" and my heart sang with love and pain and tenderness for this new little girl and this man whose yelling voice betrayed his emotion.
I was the only one who heard him. A chorus of "what is it?" rose from the corners of the room, as Pynchon repeated himself at greater volume and exasperation.
Me, I was suddenly alone on the table, so nervous for my baby, and I just kept repeating "where's my baby? I want to see my baby! Give me my baby! Where's my baby?" as I became increasingly agitated. Pynchon came to my side but I sent him after her. Her. Miss Baby. Our little girl. They were only 10 feet away, but I wasn't taking any chances: I was somebody's mother now. She was weighed and measured and scored: 8 lb, 14.5 oz, and 22 inches long. My nine pound baby predicted by the ultrasounds. Purple, then gray, then red and squirmy. I could hear her little squeaks.
Finally, Pynchon brought her near to me: he had tears in his eyes, and hers were wide open, little shots of blue peeking out from under a full head of hair, apparently styled by Joan in the space between born and not-born. My baby.
Here we are:
So the final tally was about 4 hours of labour in total, with two-and-a-half hours of that time spent pushing. I got one Tylenol and one Advil, after the birth. No stitches, no tears. Very bad backache, and sore throat from hollering. Tired.
But I got a baby girl, the little girl of my dreams, and she was perfect. A little slimy and prone to squeaks, but beautiful and perfect and a good latcher and my very own baby daughter. Ours.
We were home by 10:00 am. And started our lives together, a project that has swung all through the calendar pages once, a giddy and vertiginous and ... well, you know what kind of year it was. We've been getting to know each other. And in that time, I have become a mother, and Pynchon a father, and Miss Baby has become a person, loved and lovable. And tomorrow we celebrate that year with a little party, where she will eat cake and I will get teary.
Friday, June 08, 2007
EVEN GROSSER THAN YESTERDAY! BEWARE!