First, the floodgates
The day before the floodgates opened, I woke up and did yoga. I showered and proceeded to jump my husband John in bed before work.
By the time I arrived at workplace, I could feel a heavier set of contractions beginning. Was it the yoga? The sex? Maybe it was the oatmeal.
At lunch, I went for a vigorous walk in suburbia and smiled at all of the stay at home moms waiting for the bus to arrive. That will be me someday, I thought, IF THIS KID EVER LEAVES THE WOMB!
By nightfall, the contractions were heavy and steady. I took a nap, ate a nice green salad with balsamic vinaigrette, per orders from my father who suggested this as a labor inducer, since he knows the difference between labor and Labor Day.
I dragged my husband out for one last vigorous walk before going to sleep. Cars swerved to avoid hitting the 807 week pregnant woman roving on the sidewalk.
Just half an hour after we went to sleep, my husband got paged to the hospital. I told him that Tonight might be The Night, so can I call you later?
An hour later, the floodgates opened and I called my husband to come home. I started to wipe myself up and then I realized that it was going to require an industrial strength mop, and that’s when panic set in: This kid was finally coming.
I swaddled myself in a towel which made me feel perfectly geriatric.
John arrived home and I told him just to go to sleep. I was going to wait until my contractions got harder. I spoke with the mid-wife on call, and it was good to have something concrete to report, “My water broke,” and she suggested I just chill at home until the contractions got harder. I tried to watch programming that would cause me to contract harder. Where’s a good racy infomercial when you need one?
By the morning, I got to send work an e-mail I’d been dying to send for the last nine months.
Dear Bosspeople, I will be laboring at Boston’s finest hospital instead of at the suburban corporate center today. Please take care of my exer-ball while I am gone. Sincerely, Kendra.
Time to grab the bag
We decided to go to the hospital at noon, so, 10 hours after my water had broken. The hospital was slammin’! Everyone wanted to be there for the lunchtime labor.
Samples were taken of my dribble and it was discerned that I was carrying a super pooper. This baby had already taken a #2 inside of me. Yeah meconium! You win the prize behind door number one: Lockdown in the labor and delivery ward until your baby comes!
**Interlude on Lady Land #1**
It is important to note that an exam which involves that beast The Speculum was administered here with my rump up on some balance beam apparatus. Because I have a variety of Darkly-Veiled Issues surrounding the imposition of strangers to my lady land, this exam is usually preceded by muscle relaxants, hypnotic breathing and succeeded by a box of Entenmann’s donuts. Because I had no choice, I had to open up the lady land to two strangers and it was not to be the last time during my birth that this would happen. Woe was me.
**End, Interlude on Lady Land #1**
We were taken to a very spacious room in Labor and Delivery. If only we had just been there to play Scrabble.
The babe’s and my heart rate were monitored and it was discovered that my contractions were not frequent or hard enough to constitute true labor. So a discussion of my Darkly-Veiled Issues took place, and then by a painful insertion of a syringe the size of the Eiffel Tower full of cervix ripeners into my lady land, followed by FOR THELOVEOF MY LADY LAND GETTHATTHINGOUTOFME!!! I was then told I would have to insert the Eiffel Tower in myself, which I did.
Eventually, the contractions began. My cervix was checked. But she was not yet a ripe one.
Our friend Pitocin
Then, our friend Pitocin was welcomed to the labor party. Pitocin had brought his bad partyin’ self and he raged through my back all night long. I sat on the exerball while my husband sacked out in the bed next to me.
After raving all night with Pitocin, the cervix was checked and she was finally making some progress. I have never been so excited to move 4 centimeters in my life.
Then, two gentlemen dressed in tuxedos arrived at the door. They brought with them a cart marked Preggo Luxuries. It was filled with German chocolates, perfumed stationary, silk handerchiefs, and a silver tray of Epidural.
I took the Epidural. The men in tuxedos brought it over and administered it to my back.
At least, that is what I remember about the epidural. It was so wonderful and so effective, it could have only come by way of penguin-suited kiosk peddlers from afar.
The next day, morning, I began to get a little worried. My water had broken over 24 hours prior, and my child had not spontaneously ejected itself yet from the womb.
The midwife told me there was no sense in visiting my lady land until I was in such excruciating pain that there was just no mistake, it was time to push. The logic of that sort of eluded me, but soon the moment came when the labor pains were doing the Macarena on my back and there was so much pelvic pressure, I swear the force of gravity was stronger from below.
I then barfed like an overdosing rockstar, filling four buckets. I was told by the nurse that this was a good sign because it showed I was making progress in labor. Three cheers for progress.
I received some more local anesthesia before I started to push. Pushing was everything you have heard it would be. You lose all shame about who’s looking at your lady land, you gain strength from places you never knew you had it, you cry like a keening baboon.
I pushed for 2 hours. The yogi in me was really getting into it.
But then I saw the mid-wife’s face. She kept saying, Great job. But I could tell she was vexed.
She wanted to talk about other options. The baby wasn’t shifting down the more I pushed. Might be positioning, might be the size of the baby relative to my pelvic opening. We needed to consider the vacuum, the forceps, or the C-section.
They all sounded awful to me. But I didn’t want to endanger the baby.
I pushed some more.
The VIPs were called.
The VIP-est of them all inserted his hand up my cooch to feel the babe’s head and told me to push as hard as I could. Because that’s a natural thing to ask someone to do.
I barfed some more.
My temperature was taken.
SMOKIN’ FIREBALLS, FILTHY VERMIN. GET THAT BABY OUTTA THERE.
(We had to get that baby outta there.)
Before I could look to remember if I had shaved my legs or not, I was ushered into a big cold room with bright lighting. The sounds coming from the room reminded me of a junior high shop class. An equally comforting place to give birth.
I was terrified. I was transferred to an operating table and lain out like Aslan the Lion. My legs soon lost all feeling, my arms were outstretched like the Christ crucified. I was rolled over and given another epidural. They covered me with an oxygen mask and I pleaded for an ice chip because my mouth became so dry. I was so! scared!!!
Finally, John came in and I told him not to look at my guts and to tell me nothing.
Moments later, I felt the pressure in my stomach lifted. All I could see was John looking ahead. His mouth was covered by a mask but his eyes were smiling.
“OH! OHHH! That’s a big baby,” he said.
I waited to hear the assuring cry.
No one would say boy or girl.
I heard the assuring cry and it no longer mattered.
I looked up at John, he was still taking it all in…finally, one of the nurses told me that I had had a baby girl, and congratulations.
The one word that can describe my immediate emotional feeling upon having my baby lifted from right out of my uterus is Pride. I was so proud to say that that was my child, the one crying, the swollen beautiful squinty-eyed super pooper – she’s mine.
I was stitched and stapled back up and then I shook for 2 hours after the operation. I was exhausted, since 44 hours had passed since the time that my water had broken, and at least 12 since the time I had last eaten. But seeing my daughter, all 8 lbs. and 1 oz. of Madigan Joelle, and then holding her is a moment that will always bring me equal parts pride and pleasure. Pain? What pain?