Ten years ago today I was having my first child. And today, you get to listen to my birth story. Cuz that's what moms do; force you to listen to their either beautiful and/or harrowing tale and then we all discuss who had it the worst/best. And everyone tries to get the last word and everyone tries to one up the others. That's how mommies roll. No small wonder the dads just pass around the cigars; they're emotionally drained from the adventure their petite little woman just went through (and probably shocked at the words those little petite women used at around 8 centimeters). The nine months hadn't exactly gone as planned; my plans were a home birth with a fabulous midwife. If you think home births and midwives NOW aren't the norm, they were even more looked down on a mere ten years ago. None of my friends had done this way, nor would ever want to do it this way, and besides our families and a couple friends, people thought we had gone 'round the bend. I even had an acquaintance from church tell me I would have to learn to live with myself when my baby died due to my negligence and stupidity. That's a lovely thing to tell a pregnant woman, riddled with emotions and hormones. But Mike and I felt strongly that we educated ourselves far more than the average American consumer and we really believed in this natural childbirth thing. Of course, natural childbirth is a lot like parenting; man, we were GREAT at it before we actually had to do it. I mean, experts! We didn't find out what gender of baby we were having, and so the names we had picked out were Cora Nycole or Ian Nathaneal. Oddly enough, my sister ends marrying an Ian a few years later, so good thing we had a girl. We got Cora's name from a tombstone, because we're morbid like that. Also, our favorite movie is The Last of the Mohicans. Gianni was almost an Alice. We were concerned that we'd have to rename Anna to Chingachcook. I should probably google the spelling on that, but I figure only 2 or 3 of you are actually with me right now anyway. The rest are typing up their birth stories. During the ninth month of pregnancy my midwife said she really felt that our baby was breech (upside down. Or actually, NOT upside down) and that we should go get an ultrasound at the hospital to check the position. We dutifully did so, and you know those sweet excerpts from all the movies where they have the ultrasound and it's so heart warming and the mom cries and the dad cries as they get to see their perfectly formed little person? Yeah well, that was so not my experience. They made me drink like a gallon of water - which is a horribly mean thing to do to someone whose bladder has an 8 pound human jumping on and down on it - and they won't let you go to the bathroom - which pregnant woman have to do like, every 10 minutes even if they haven't had a gallon of water to drink - and then they tell you get up on some freezing cold table in a tiny dark room where some intern who doesn't have the foggiest notion what he's doing squirts jelly all over your stretch marks and then presses down with his magic wand, making the bladder bursting sensation dangerously close to reality. He can't figure out the head from the rump and I just want to go home. My baby looks like a thumb print smudge. I'm giving birth to a smudge-y alien baby? Finally, a real doctor comes in, who's a real peach by the way, and announces yep, this kid ain't turned the right way. What they can do, he says, is an external version. That's a really fancy term for 3-large-doctors-will-now-jump-up-and-down-on-your-stomach-pushing-as-hard-as-their-bulging-biceps-will-allow-and-try-to-physically-flip-that-baby-like-a-cheese-omelet. I ended up with eyes red from crying and bruises all over my tummy. For the next four weeks I tried lying upside down on a ironing board, drinking orange juice, eating spicy food, playing music to the baby, chiropractic adjustments and even acupuncture in my toes, all in an effort to make her somersault. And that alien smudge baby stayed put. So much for those child bearing hips I thought I had all those years standing next to size negative 2 ballerinas, I was having myself a C-section. I did not relish the thought of the I told you so's. I was emotionally, well, kind of devastated. I had to say goodbye to my lovely midwife, who kindly refunded a chunk of our money, and went and found myself a new doctor - one who was about the size of Betty White (I thought if SHE tried something like an external version, I could take her). If you've never scheduled a C-section, here's how it goes: early in the morning you arrive at the hospital. This won't be hard because you won't have slept all night anyway. They tell you not to eat, but I figured that was more of a guideline really, not a hard and fast rule. They prep you. I don't remember what the heck was involved in all of that, but I do know whatever dignity you may have had before the O.R. you will no longer have after. Everything is poked and prodded and shaved and slapped with that sticky brown stuff, I don't remember what it's called, and all this happens while you're in your birthday suit and the room is stuffed full of all sorts of people you don't know but who will be happy to bill you as soon as you get home. Your husband isn't allowed in yet. When he does come in, he'll be in scrubs. The doctors asks what side of the tent he wants to be on. I don't know about your husband, but mine wants nothing to do with the sight of his wife's uterus on the outside of her body so he elects to stay by my head. I remember being scared that I'd be the first person in history that major drugs wouldn't affect, and that they'd start operating on me when I could feel it. I think I even lied a couple times when the doc poked my legs and stomach and asked if I could feel it. I couldn't really, but I said yes, just to be sure to give me a little more time. There's a sucking sound when they vacuum the blood. Sorry, but it's true. You can feel them slicing and pushing and pulling but it doesn't hurt. Mike lifted up the camera over the tent to snap a picture when they pulled the baby out. He said it was a boy. We all know now that it wasn't. But in fairness to him, it's a little hard to tell sometimes when they're brand new...everything is kind of, well, swollen and messy and weird looking. Alien smudge like really. The doctors laughed and said, 'Guess again, Dad!' I don't really remember anything after that. I think Mike put her up close to my head for a minute so we could meet properly, this little girl that had been inside me for so long. He went back with her to our room and I had to be stitched up and sent alone to recovery. That's the worst part about C-sections - being the tenth person who hold your child instead of the first. And then being too drugged up to remember anything afterwards. But she gives me plenty of memories now.
Ten years ago. Amazing.
Oh, and when you take out a letter and combine two words, it's called a contraction. After three birth stories, it's no bloomin' wonder I blocked out that word.