Like I mentioned in this series’ first post, Origins, I read every book and article. I was ubber prepared (said the chick with zero experience). Every mom and author advised a birth plan. I came up with one and I was insistent on sticking to it.
The Birth Plan
- NO DRUGS
- NO EPIDURAL
- Say something hella adorable to him when he’s born
That’s it. This was my bulleted, overly rehearsed plan. I heard so many birthing horror stories and I just wanted to be strong in my desires. These plans were discussed with all the doctors at my clinic and thankfully, they were understanding and supportive. I feared pain meds and an epidural would numb pain to the point of injury. If something was going really bad, I wanted to feel it and implement plans B and/or C.
Let Me Explain
A bit over a year before I gave birth, I was in a severe car accident. It was June 2009 and I was 5 days into living in beautiful Jacksonville, Florida. I had just finished up an internship with an insanely brilliant surgeon in Daytona and was ready to find a kick-ass job, enroll in school, and have an enviable life kickin’ it at Jax Beach with goals of being borderline alcoholic.
Day 1 in Jacksonville was spent checking out beach front studios and day dreaming about these hurricane parties everyone kept psychin’ me up for. Days 2, 3, and 4 were consumed with sand and salt water (and a shit ton of sunscreen and margaritas!). I look back on day 5, reconsider my options, and still wonder what if I made a different choice. (I’ll tell ya the details another time)
Labor & Delivery
My water broke at 7:02 pm on October 10, 2010 (10/10/10). Everyone, including complete strangers, wanted me to have him on this date. People thought it would be good luck. His official due date was October 17th, so this little guy was considered perfectly on time! All the bed rest and limited activity paid off.
Cracks in My Preparedness
A few things:
- Why did I never read that it’s possible to feel horrifyingly nauseated during labor? I never had morning sickness!
- How come I never read that you could get charley horses in your legs like you did during pregnancy in the middle of the night and God forbid you be alone and too fat to reach your own cramp to rub out?
- Where was it written that it’s frowned upon to attempt to drink a gallon of water when you’re thirstin’ to death bringing a human into the world? I would have hydrated on the way to the hospital.
- Why, on all the “what to pack” lists that I read, did none of them say bring moisturizer and chap stick because your face and lips will fall off…BECAUSE THEY WON’T LET YOU DRINK A GALLON OF WATER WHEN YOU’RE THIRSTIN’ TO DEATH BRINGING A HUMAN INTO THE WORLD!
Things Got Real, Real Quick
I was so consumed with nausea, leg cramps, thirst, and my face falling off, I didn’t pay any attention to the contractions. Every time the nurse or my mom asked how I was doing, I just complained about the same 4 things. It seemed quite sudden when I went from boo hoo my legs hurt to shaking in pain from my hips widening. I couldn’t talk or sit still. Standing wasn’t an option but every position hurt my hips so I kept flippin’ around in the bed. (Flash back to waking up in a Jacksonville hospital surrounded by surgeons warning me of this day) SHIT! I messed up!
My mom ran out to get my nurse (loved her), the doctor and his resident (loved them all really). I had just flipped over on my knees, in the fetal position, which was a terrible idea and was rallying the strength to roll on my back again. I feel like I should mention that I had peeled my gown off a long time ago!
Oh! Add that to the bullshit I didn’t read and wasn’t prepared for: 5) You’re going to get so damn hot you’re skin feels like you’re wearing too much and you’ll have to listen to everyone, who’s NOT giving birth, complain about how cold it is in the room and threaten death upon the person sneaking over to the thermostat (SISTERS)!
So, I’m completely naked rolling around this bed, super determined that I’m about to find a comfortable spot when the doctor quickly but gently laid me on my back and demanded gloves.
Women Are Beasts (& my Mom is a Goddamn Savage)
My focus shifted from controlling my need to puke to controlling my pushes during a contraction. This was like mind over matter Jedi level shit. I wanted to scream but it felt like it would take too much energy. And I didn’t want to be the jerk disrupting everyone else. It was the middle of the night after all. Instead, I moaned and said f*ck (a lot). I remember asking my mom why the hell she did this to herself 9 times over. She laughed and blamed my Dad and Catholicism (touchè, Madrè).
Even over my moaning and f-bombs, everyone could hear the cracking and shifting of my hips. This was too much for my mom. She let go of my hand and turned away for a bit. At this point, I was grinding my teeth and trying not to hyperventilate. My mom reappeared with a rag to stuff between my teeth, still useful but too late. I was spitting out chips of my teeth.
The doctor asked if I needed to move to plan B (drugs). I violently shook my head and with the rag still in my mouth, grunted no. I could do this! As insane (or masochistic) as this sounds, it hurt SO damn bad I could barely breathe but it was also SUPER euphoric. Kinda like the painful euphoria of massaging a horrifyingly sore muscle or pushing on a bruise (you do that, right?).
Happy Birthday, Liam!
That’s one of the sweet things I intended on saying to him. At 2:42 am October 11, 2010, I met the love of my life. He was magic. For months, I rehearsed the adorable things I would say after looking at his sweet little face. As my doctor and resident were finishing up, all of the sweet things I planned to say escaped my mind. This incredibly chill 6 pound, 6-ounce human was put in my arms and we just stared at each other; he didn’t cry and I didn’t speak.
Morphing Into Mama Bear
My mom was leaning over me, encouraging me to speak so he could recognize my voice. I remained silent, not even acknowledging that I heard her. As I stared at him, the gravity of my new reality was setting in. I was nearly 27 but was in no way qualified. Here I was, responsible for not only keeping another human being alive, but making sure he doesn’t grow up to be an asshole. Although I got this strange clarity about my life that I never had before, I also felt overwhelmed with fear and hate. I had an awareness that I’m now capable of literally tearing someone’s face off.
Set The World On Fire
In my periphery, I could see my nurse closing in on me. Her out stretched arms told me she wanted to take him but I completely ignored her. I clutched him a bit tighter and out of my mouth fell, “I would set the world on fire and watch it all burn, just to rebuild it for you.” I kissed him and handed him off as if what I said was entirely normal.
While the nurse cleaned, measured and inspected him, my mom squeezed my face and kissed me too many times to remember. She was emotional and proud; I could tell, but only whispered, “what the hell did you just say to him?” I snapped out of my own head and was horrified by what I said and told her I meant to say “I love you.” I shoved her away to go to him and tell him for me (and to take pictures).
Mommin’ Ain’t Easy
Except on the rare occasion when it is! Over the next few days, in the hospital, I never slept. Sleep was no longer a requirement. Rest was something new moms needed, I read. I just wasn’t tired. Every moment was spent observing him, memorizing him and just breathing him in. Having him, I could see so far down the road. My imagination and visibility seemed endless. While scanning him, I noticed a tan patch on his thigh and three darker marks on his calf, knee, and bicep. They were immediately declared birthmarks. Okay, I have a few myself.
Thankfully, breast feeding was easy. Liam knew what to do better than me! He slept well and rarely cried. When he did cry, it was usually because I wasn’t taking my shirt off fast enough. I spent most of the time topless, either feeding or snuggling. He’d get a little fussy being held by other people. If he wasn’t chillin’ in his buzzy chair, he wanted to be held by me. That was no problem. I’d never turn down baby snuggles.
The Fear of Sleep
My biggest struggle was the anxiety of SIDS (really anxiety in general). I was constantly making sure he was still alive. It was difficult to tell if he was breathing while he slept. I realized he’d smile, but not wake, if I softly kissed around his mouth. That became my method. When I finally started sleeping, I’d wake up in a panic and rush to kiss him; waiting for that smile. So far, all the big stuff went as planned (or hoped) and the stuff that didn’t wasn’t life-altering.
Eventually, I permanently moved him into his crib to sleep at night. I could no longer reach in to kiss him so I pulled out my stethoscope from school and kept it near his bed (obsessive, I know). Several times a night and between feedings, I’d go to his room and listen to his heart. Although it was comforting to hover over his bed listening to his itty bitty heart, I was eager for this phase to pass and just be normal. Until then, so long as I Hear Something, we’re okay (I thought).