Friday, July 25, 2008

Happy Birthday Baby

Twelve long and so short months ago I was, at this very moment, sitting in a rocking chair in the dark. I was slowly rocking to a rhythm thousands of years old, heard only in the heart and in the womb of a mother in labor.

I was more prepared this time. I trusted my own body more. I knew I had time. I took it.

My husband was sleeping in the bed in front of me. Periodically he would raise his head and say, "You okay babe?". I would answer with a quiet, "Yes."

I was okay. I was in pain. The worst pain I ever experienced before or since. It can best be described as your legs being shot from your hips by fire. That was my labor.

In my head, as the hormonal and muscular wave swept over me, I would hear my husband's calm and soothing voice. "You are at the top. You are doing good. You are coming down now. The worst is over. Keep breathing." I believed him, because it always did become better. It always did end, only to wash in again ten, five and then three minutes later.

I would rock in between contractions, sipping water from a mason jar. It was dark in our little bedroom. The nightlight shone on the pack and play, the changing table, the baskets decorated in blue; all was positioned to welcome the little person making his way along the shortest and most important journey of his new life.

I drank of the quiet. My older son was asleep in the next room, the only sound a slurp as he sucked his thumb. The air conditioning hummed. My husband quietly snored in harmony to the dog. I rocked.

I thanked God for this moment and all the moments to come. I prayed for the doctor and the nurses. I even prayed for a good parking spot. I prayed to be brave through the pain. Then I slept.

I slept for minutes, then seconds, between contractions. How? I still do not know. I did. It was if my body knew these were the last moments of peace for a very, very long time and I should drink them in like a woman finding an oasis in a desert.

The morning came. We called Aunt Barbara to come and stay with our son. I took a shower, stopping every three to five minutes to clasp the wall and just breathe. I could still hear my husband's voice every time. I was walking down the hall when I knew we couldn't wait for Aunt Barbara. I knew because I couldn't move, couldn't breathe, couldn't think during the contraction. My husband's voice was silent. It was time.

Earl, the Pastor/Maintenance/Best Friend, came to stay with my still sleeping first born. I barely said good morning before rushing down the hall. I stopped at the elevator, again clutching the wall.

On the way my husband hit every pot hole, every bump, every jolt he could or so I felt. I grasped the door handle and his hand, holding on with every ounce of strength. I would not, could not, give birth in a car. I would not, could not, go that far!

I reconnected with my "I am Woman, Hear Me Roar" self and told my husband to park the car. I could begin the journey upstairs to L&D myself. I could do it myself. Right. Sure. The kids in the elevator only stared as I deeply breathed through two contractions. Their eyes as wide as saucers. They were thinking, "Oh no she isn't!" I wasn't, but I was close.

I only made it a couple steps through the mother/baby ward when a young nurse pushed a wheelchair under my now immobile form. I couldn't move another step. The fire was close to sending my legs crashing through the walls!

At registration, this crazy, stupid-girl kept asking me questions. I had to close my eyes to keep from either stabbing her in the eye with her Bic or telling her what I really thought she could do with her forms. A veteran nurse said,"She can't answer. She's having a contraction. Give her a minute."

In the room we waited anxiously. It was only minutes until I was undressed and trussed up like a Thanksgiving turkey to the monitors. I was AMA which is the medical-ese term for old bitch giving birth. Really it's Advanced Maternal Age. I was also expected to deliver a ten pound plus baby. They were pulling out all the stops. I hoped they were pulling out all the drugs.

I had to wait for the doctor. When he said I was 5 cm (that's more than halfway there for the un-labored) my husband and I cheered. "You did it!" he said, "I am so proud of you." I was proud of myself. I had labored as long as I wanted where was that damn anesthesiologist with my damn epidural???? Things were down to minutes now and I needed a little pharmaceutical assistance....stat.

While she was putting the needle in my back I had another contraction. I had to remain still when everything in my body screamed, "MOVE!" Mary, my goddess of a nurse, rubbed my sweaty neck. "You are doing great. Think of the beautiful baby you'll be holding soon." And I did.

As the drugs seeped in everything went quiet and calm again. My husband sat beside me, clutching my hand with an awestruck look of pride and panic. We rested. The contractions continued.

I was dehydrated and laboring too fast. I also needed at least one course of antibiotics before delivery. So things had to slow down. We kept resting. The contractions continued.

It was time. It only took 7 minutes. Seven minutes for a skinny, squalling, bloody bundle to land on my chest. He was so small. Much smaller than they thought. For me, for my husband, he was large enough to fill the room.

I became a mother again that morning. I didn't know then the tough times ahead. If I had, I still would have done it.

Today he is more boy than baby. Learning to walk, loud and eating everything within arm's reach. He wraps his arms around my neck and plays with my hair. He cuddles. His screams can peel paint from a wall and clear a restaurant. He is a pain in the ass. He is the son of my heart.

I still struggle with what it is to be a mother. I just realized, he has never struggled with what it is to be my son. Maybe I should take notes from him.

Happy Birthday Baby. I love you.

1 comment:

  1. I am always in awe of your writing, but this post, and particularly the last lines, blew me away.

    You ROCK!


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