8:30AM, 2 Years Ago Today.
“Ouch!” he shouts from across the hospital room. We are just getting settled and I’m precariously trying to take off my shoes by myself. “What is it?” I ask, looking up. “The hospital bracelet just pulled my arm hair out” he says, rubbing his wrist. Men I think to myself as I try not to laugh out loud at the absurdity of the statement given our situation. I start to pull off my clothes and slide on the familiar white gown muddled with tiny light blue stars and triangles. Who designs these things? I think to myself as I tie it around my neck and back. It’s softer than I remember but the faint smell of bleach offends my already sensitive nose. Here we go again. “Can’t we just skip this part” I say without a hint of question in my voice and to no one in particular. It’s a much different scenario this time. The guessing game completely obliterated by my ObGyn finally taking pity on my splitting pubic bone and agreeing to a due date induction. She warned that Pitocin contractions have a tendency to be stronger when the body isn’t ready to deliver. I didn’t believe her. No way could my contractions be any stronger than they were last time (I was wrong.) So here we were. Everything in order, everything planned, free of frenzy, and with nothing but time ahead of us.
“Why?” the nurse whispers as she rubs my hunched back. I’m draped over a giant purple ball trying not to vomit from the pain. “Why are you doing this to yourself?” she whispers in my ear. “I don’t know” I breathe in. “I don’t know” I breathe out. “What should I do. Tell me what to do. I don’t want the labor to slow down. But I can’t do this. It’s too much” I whisper back. I’m frantic now, panic starting to creep into my veins. She bends down in front of me, “Look at me, Kristin. Stop torturing yourself. It’s time.”
“Shit” The lead anesthesiologists mutters as her intern starts to unwrap a bandage. “Shit? What? Why Shit? What happened??” I say between clenched teeth, looking up at her. I’m trying not to move a muscle like instructed while a contraction seizes my body. I notice she’s glancing up at the TV. “Oh not you. The Red Sox just blew another inning” she answers back with a hint of arrogance. Are. You. F*cking. Kidding. Me. I mouth to the nurse whose face is two inches from mine, arms locked under my forearms holding me steady. She rolls her eyes and gives me a sympathetic smile. Hubby is back in the room now and we settle into the blissful feeling that comes with an epidural after a long and emotional uphill battle. I tell him to get some rest thinking the long part is ahead of us now (I was wrong.) He says he’s fine and only sinks a little lower in the chair. I work on breathing and calming the nerves that have now started to threaten the inner linings of my throat. I have PTSD from the first birth. I’m psyching myself out.
“Whoa.” The nurse yells as she lifts up the sheet covering my knees. “He’s here, are you ready to push?” I look at Hubby and he jumps up and grabs my hand and you better believe we are f’n ready to push. We’ve been here before. A nurse comes in and asks us if it would be okay for the Midwife on staff to deliver our baby. There is an emergency C-section next door and the OBGYN is not available. I look at my husband and he looks back at me. We read each other’s minds: Like there’s an alternative option here? “Fine.”
When she walks in she brings with her a breath of fresh air to our dank and scary room. Her skin resembles a Bottecilli angel and is that a halo over her head? Her voice is calm and nurturing as she extends her hand to me:”Hello Kristin, I’m the Midwife on staff tonight. My name is X. I’ve been delivering babies for many years and I’m going to deliver your baby tonight. Would that be okay?” I nod, relinquishing everything I have over to her. “Now, tell me what you need from me to make this work.” I knew just what I needed and exactly what I wasn’t given the first time. “I need to know when I’m doing something right. I thrive on positivity and don’t do well with negativity” I say with confidence now. “You got it” she responds and heads towards my feet.
20 minutes and 3 pushes later; I didn’t know he was even out until I saw my husband’s face drop. I quickly look down but can’t tell what’s going on. Frantic activity as she works to unwrap the cord from our baby’s neck and assures us everything is fine. She puts him on my chest and I look back up at my husband. His eyes soften as the baby’s color slowly turns to a reddish peach. I look down and whisper Hi, sweetie, cradling his head. I’m in disbelief, again. I can’t seem to wrap my head around the miracle of delivering life. It’s too large of a concept. It’s too all consuming. It fogs my brain and makes me stop thinking or feeling. I study the baby’s face and search for something familiar. What I find is a dimple on his right cheek. I grin. A dimple. This boy just stole my heart.
I want to thank the nurse on staff that night for talking to me about everything under the sun as a means to distract me from the pain and my impending panic attacks. You knew exactly what I needed and when I needed it. You stayed late to see the birth through and you promised me I didn’t poop on the table. (That was true, right?)
I want to thank the MidWife on staff that night for demolishing a personal stigma I had against MidWifes. I should not have judged what I did not understand. You have a lovely spirit. You are doing exactly what you are meant to do. We were a stellar team that night. I will never forget you. PS: Did you get my flowers?
I want to thank my favorite Maternity Ward nurse for giving us the space we needed as a family, for the understanding nod here and for the chuckle or two there. Also for that extra Percocet to go.
I want to thank the beautiful Italian pediatric nurse who treated our new baby like he was the most perfect child she had ever examined. Thank you for the giant hug you gave me when l couldn’t stop crying after his first check-up and for telling me I was normal. I will never forget your kindness. (Or your beauty and brains combo, dang girl.)
I want to thank my Mom for her absolute unselfishness before and after this birth. (You know what I’m talking about Mommy. I love you.)
And I want to thank my husband. Only you could make me laugh uncontrollably in the most challenging of situations. Also big ups for figuring out how to open that wine bottle with a shoe.
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