(Although I consider this G rated, there are some things about child birth you may not want your young children to read about)
Seven years ago tomorrow began the longest, greatest stretch in my journey. I became somebody’s mommy.
I got pregnant Thanksgiving, started vomiting the day after Christmas and stopped being sick August 24, when I began to labor. During those eight months, I would sometimes had to throw up in the middle of the night. I had a trash can by my bed. Those nights led to particularly terrible days.
With my attitude, I sort of deserved to be sick. I knew several women who were very sick, sicker than me. They were on bedrest, or had very high blood pressure, or diabetes, in addition to their vomiting. I secretly thought, “Sure, they can be sick, they don’t have jobs to go to.”
If was as if my body responded to my arrogance. The morning bell for my math class would ring, I would run to the bathroom to throw up, and get back in time to teach. Nausea would be at break. I had a freshman boy doing some studying in my class and when I started puking my guts out he came in to my tiny office and patted my back.
Not everyone was so kind. I had a co-worker remind me that, “this is what you wanted.” I thought the comment, while probably well intentioned, was stupid. Who signs up for eight months of vomiting? I had another person tell me that his friend had tried for years to get pregnant, and when she finally did she said the nausea, “felt good.” As if.
We went to the hospital and should have been sent home. I labored and their information turned out to be unhelpful. They wanted to give me pitocin to rush things along, but I really wanted to give birth unmedicated. They told me to walk up and down the hall. I did, obediently. After a while of this, another nurse told me it would inflame my cervix. Thanks, nurse.
An annoying white woman came in to her shift and the other nurse introduced her. The first thing the new nurse said to me was, “I have ouchies.”
This pissed me off to no end. Number one, I can only tolerate baby-talk with babies, not even with nurses, and especially not when I have been in labor for eighteen hours. Also, we had requested that medication not be offered. She didn’t care, she just wanted to be cute. I asked my husband to get her the hell of of here and he wouldn’t. The labor was made manageable in the shower and my husband was right there with me. I got out of the shower and was gasping for pain. I did that every single time they took me out for vitals. The for last time they told me I was going to have an epidural and going to have pitocin.
No, I wasn’t.
Earlier in the labor a nurse suggested nubain. She was a former midwife and said it worked mildly to help labor along. I know you home birthers and unassisted birthers are gasping in horror. I’m sorry, but it was our only hospital option. I was afraid of pitocin because I heard it can cause a rodeo of contractions and make things totally unmanageable. An epidural seemed as reasonable as a shot of heroin to me. After they told me I needed it I started to cry. My husband asked some important questions about the nubain, and they were not really answered. The ouchie-nurse said that the epidural wouldn’t effect the baby, but they didn’t know about the nubain for sure. We knew what she said about the epidural was not necessarily true.
We took the nubain. It put me to sleep in between contractions, and fifteen minutes later, after being dilated 3 centimeters for nineteen hours I was 10. I didn’t remember what that meant: I was too drowsy. I had been awake for twenty hours. They were cheering and looking at me for a response. I sort of woke up.
The doctor told me to push when it hurt. Abysmal advice, but I followed it. I asked for a mirror so I could watch, and that did nothing except me think, “huh.” I ultimately looked at my husband, who was holding my leg. His face was filled with shock and awe and was the only thing I could really see. The baby popped out shortly after that. I asked if she was a boy or a girl. “A girl”, said the doctor. I had secretly wanted a girl, I had whispered it to her while she was in my womb. I got her.
Looking back, I had a hospital managed birth. I never wanted that, I thought that I could have a birth on my terms and I couldn’t. I don’t have the choice to make again. If I did, I think we would have scraped together the money to give birth at a birthing center where I could have relaxed in the tub and been given real assistance in delivering my baby.
Now I will probably never have the chance again.
I saw my OB (who was on vacation the week I gave birth.) I told her about the nubain. She said I could still say I had an unmedicated birth. Nubain was like a tiny, homeopathic remedy. I didn’t believe her, and don’t believe her, but I do tell anyone who asks that I did it without an epidural. Although of course things would have been ideal without the drug, I believed that was the only thing that made my baby’s birth’s possible. (I know that is not true, now)
All that to say, in the end, I got my baby girl.