Thursday, April 12, 2012

Parenthood: Pregnancy and Chilbirth
Take #1

You know the phrase "morning sickness." Well, somebody goofed up. Let's just call it "sickness." Mid-morning sickness. Noon sickness. Afternoon sickness. Dusk sickness. Twilight sickness. Bedtime sickness. Get-up-and-pee-in-the-middle-of-the-night sickness. Wretched, wretched sickness. By the time I was 5 weeks pregnant (for those of you uneducated in the calculations of all things pregnancy related, that's 5 weeks from the first day of your last period, or approximately 3 weeks post conception, or approximately 1 week after your period was due), I was tossing my cookies (or whatever morsel I found remotely appetizing) wherever I could.

We were living in Atlanta at the time and my job was a good 19 miles away. Because we had one car, my husband would drive me to work and then head off to school. We soon hit a rhythm. We would eat breakfast (usually something I wouldn't mind seeing again in about 20 minutes). He would drive. I would ride and, at some point during the commute, barf into a stainless steel mixing bowl. Once at the building, I would head to my office while Matt would take the bowl to the bathroom and do away with its not quite digested contents. He'd bring the bowl back to me and be off on his way.

Throughout the day I would have to nibble constantly to keep from getting sick. I kept my handy bowl in my desk drawer just in case. One day, after my boss had gotten on me for eating at my desk, I tried... tried... tried to make it until noon without eating and almost (yes, ALMOST) succeeded. At 11:55 I lost it all. In my bowl. In the drawer. I seriously doubt that front desk barfing is considered more highly professional than front desk eating. I think my boss let up on me after that.

I was pretty miserable all day, every day, up until the end of the first trimester and then, almost like magic, the nausea stopped. The spewing stopped. And I turned human again. For the most part things progressed uneventfully. When I was 7 months along, we moved to from Atlanta to Philadelphia and in with my in-laws until my husband could find a job and us a place of our own.

OK. For the record I went into childbirth the way most first-time moms do. Totally ignorant and a lot befuddled (come to think of it... that's is how I go through life in general). I was due February 12. On the morning of February 5 I was lying in bed next to my husband and waiting to hear the bathroom door open, which would be my cue that his dad was out and it was my turn to take myself and my overfull bladder in. Then I felt the slighest almost scratch down under and a weird sensation. The bed was all wet but I still needed to pee. I was with it enough to realize what had happened. This being our first child we totally panicked and called the doctor who told us to come right in, regardless of the fact that my contractions hadn't even started.

Well, I tried to get dressed... what I mean by "tried" is that my water was flowing as profusely as the Nile at that point. Desperate for a solution, I grabbed a cloth diaper and stuffed it in my monster panties just so we could get to the hospital, later to be know as "the hospital from hell."

Once at the hospital. which, by the way, was like a movie set from Marcus Welby, MD, I got all set up and ready to focus on my stuffed bear and breathe my special Lamaze breathing and birth out a baby like all of womankind before me. Enter Dr. K., AKA Dr. Kielbasa Fingers. This dude was separated at birth with Dom Deloise and Paul Prudhomme, the Cajun Chef. He had fingers the size of Polish sausages. I must say that there should be a rule about that in medical school. You don't go into this rather dainty line of work if you are going to kill your patient with your beefy digits.

Anyway, Dr. Kielbasa Fingers checks me out to see how I am progressing and decides that he is not sure that he is feeling our little bundle's head. Alas, all this time, instead patting little bundle on the butt I had been banging her on the head. Yep, C-section time.

I got the epidural, which was definitely NOT an enjoyable experience. I am still amazed that people opt to get one voluntarily. Well, they start working on carving me open and I get these weird sensations. I can't breathe. Or at least I think I can't breathe. I tell the anesthesiologist this. I YELL the anesthesiologist this. He assures me that if I can yell, I can breathe and not to worry, the epidural just took a little too high.

My little girl was born at 11:14 a.m., weighing in at 7 lb., 1 oz. She had apparently been having a jolly time doing flip turns in utero as the umbilical cord was around her neck 3 times. The powers that were gave me a split second glimpse of her and whisked her off to heaven-knows-where, not to be seen again for hours. Meantime, the dude with the fingers put me back together again—a hormonal and shaky Humpty Dumpty.

Apparently there was something going on with the planets or stars or gravitational pull that day because everyone due between mid January and mid February all showed up to have their babies at the same time. There were no vacant recovery rooms, so the nurse wheeled me into an equipment room, told Matt he had to move the car or it would be towed, and left the room. So there I was. A wiggly blob of flesh. In a closet. Alone.

This was back in the day when you stayed in the hospital 4-5 days after a caesarean. I had this nurse from the Russian Front, possibly named Helga or Brunhilda, who would come in and sit me up and start raking through my hair with a brush as my husband winced and my eyes teared. She would bring me my baby when she jolly well pleased and take her away on a whim and feed her sugar water because she wanted to. We were too clueless to know any better. After that experience we decided that next time it would have to be different.

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