Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Nice to Meet You

Again, pictures are not cooperating but may suddenly appear at a later time.

This is an extremely abbreviated version of the long, arduous process of Jack's birth. I have told this story many times since September but I haven't ever recorded it anywhere, so before my details get muddled and I start exaggerating, I thought I should get it down in black and white. I would say that it was for Jack to see when he wants to hear more about it, but I don't think it will ever be for him.

I was due September 7, but I always had a feeling I would go past that. My mom was ten days overdue with me but had an easy labor (as if any labor can really be easy) so I was hoping that if I went past my date I would at least have a similar experience. When I got to the due date and was showing no sign of going into labor, I was fairly relaxed about it. I had had a relatively easy pregnancy: the requisite morning sickness which actually struck around 4pm daily, but that was about it. I was walking the dog a couple of miles a day in my ninth month in 90+ degree weather, I felt healthy, I was still sleeping pretty well, and I remained in full control of my bodily functions! Plus, I knew that compared to the whole forty week journey, a few extra days was bearable.

In the back of my mind, I was aware of the many times I had been warned that an easy pregnancy didn't mean an easy labor.

So I was pregnant for a bonus week. I had two extra ultrasounds, the first on the day I was due, since once again, my body seemed to have no interest in expelling the foreign object living inside it. That's when things got a little scary. The ultrasound estimate suggested that I was carrying a 10+ pound kid! The rational side of me knew that these type of estimates were unreliable, but I figured that even if it was off by 25% and Jack was only 8 pounds that day, he could still get bigger before he decided to make his debut. I tried not to think about it being wrong the other way, because that was just terrifying. My doctors started to suggest that a C-section would be more and more likely since Jack seemed to be a gigantor and I didn't seem to be any closer to giving birth.

My terror grew as I approached 41 weeks. Another ultrasound measured Jack at 10+ pounds, so there was that. I still felt comfortable which was starting to become a problem because I felt like my body might want to be pregnant forever. Finally on September 14, at 41 weeks, I had consistent and painful contractions for a few hours, so I paged the on call doctor and she told us to go in.

I immediately plugged in my hair straightener and started folding laundry.

I know there are millions of mothers who could understand this, particularly the laundry. My in-laws were coming to stay in our apartment while we were at the hospital, and I couldn't have them in a messy place. And I didn't want to come home to a mess either. Straightening my hair made less sense. I had a feeling I was in for a long night so logically I knew that my meticulously groomed hair would not look fresh and lovely at the end but I guess I was hoping to look put together on my arrival.

I will gloss over the next 24 hours. Yes, the story picks up after an entire day. Interesting things to briefly note about this day: I had a palace of a room. I followed Mike's advice and got an epidural around 1pm on Wednesday, 17 hours after arriving at the hospital, and I was a much much more enjoyable person afterward. Even during the process of getting it, actually. I didn't know I could be so excited to have a large needle plunged into my back. (I guess it wasn't Mike's advice, exactly. What he said was, “It's fine if you want to do it without an epidural, but then I won't be there.” I'm pretty sure he was joking.) I did everything I could to avoid a C-Section but Jack was uninterested. Apparently my belly made a nice home. On Wednesday evening, the doctor said it was time for surgery.

I played it cool. Called my mom as I had been doing periodically and let her know that we were getting prepped for the Cesarean. Before we went into the OR, I warned the nurse that I had never had surgery before. I told her I still had my tonsils, my appendix, my wisdom teeth, and that I was pretty nervous about going in. I don't think she understood the intensity of my anxiety.

So blah blah blah , I was on the table, basically having a panic attack and asking for oxygen before they even let Mike into the room. There were two parts of my brain at odds with each other. The logical part that said that millions of women had been in my position and it wasn't a big deal, and the other part which also seemed pretty logical that said “IT IS NOT NORMAL TO SLICE SOMEONE OPEN AND REMOVE A HUMAN BEING FROM THEIR INSIDES. WHILE THEY ARE FULLY CONSCIOUS.” Ugh. Flash forward again to the first big moment: the doctor holds Jack over the curtain so we can see him, and he looks exactly like baby Michael. I think we both gasped because it was so remarkably similar to his baby pictures. “Oh my God, he looks exactly like me.” First thing Mike said to Jack and about him to his parents and our friends waiting outside.

So the fun should have been over, right? Nope, best part of the story yet to come. Mike asked me if it was okay to leave me to help with the baby because it was clear that I was still feeling off. I told him to go, and he got to help with the cord and take pictures. While this was happening I was hyper aware of what was going on behind the curtain and I was feeling really grossed out about it. So grossed out, in fact, that I suddenly knew I was going to vomit.

I called out for the anesthesiologist, whose name I remembered at the time despite everything else on my mind, and told him that I was really nauseous. Here is where he made a mistake. Not the kind of mistake doctors get sued for, just a small error that resulted in one of the greatest “what I did when I met my baby” moments ever. He brought over a little tiny air sucker tube like they have at the dentist. I think he was certain that since I hadn't eaten in 30 hours or so, I couldn't produce a whole lot of anything, right?

Wrong. Mike walked Jack over from the other side of the room, all wrapped up in his little hospital blanket, wearing the hospital's any-gender-friendly pink and blue striped hat. The 9lb, 6oz, 22 inch behemoth that was so stubbornly lodged in my abdomen was finally here. I heard Mike say something like, “Here's Jack!”

...and I promptly projectile vomited all over the place. So no Hallmark moment for me. It was more like, “Welcome to the world Jack, Mommy is so excited to meet you, let me just throw up everywhere and we'll get down to business!” I saw a look of horror flash across Mike's face and he said, “We'll be right back” before getting out of the way so someone could clean up. That was the worst part! I couldn't even take care of myself because my arms were strapped to some bizarre table attachments.

Nothing landed on Jack, thank goodness, but it would be an even better story now if it did. As it is, I think I have a very memorable if not proud first few moments as a mother. Round two of introductions went smoothly and I felt great as soon as I was wheeled into recovery, even though my heart rate was still through the roof. By then I was just excited to spend some time with Jack and was hoping for everyone to get some sleep.

For the first few days/weeks, I didn't think that my “incident” would be a story I would like to tell. After all, it's a pretty embarrassing way to meet your child for the first time. But after it came up a couple of times and I realized that it was not a reflection on me as a mother I relaxed a little and enjoyed telling people what a crazy person I had been. Once Jack was a few weeks old I had been vomited on enough times that he had more than made up for what I had done to him (and not even to him, but at him, really). I'm pretty sure he forgives me.

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