Twenty-one years ago I was pregnant with my son. I had wanted more children, but it didn’t work out that way. I can still have a child, but wouldn’t want to. It was a beautiful, balmy, late September day today, but it started out more overcast and muggy than it was twenty-one years ago. It was sunny by this afternoon, and I decided to take a drive in the hills. The leaves are just starting to turn, but the scenery was lovely anyway.
All those years ago I had woken up feeling fine, and had to run some errands. My mother was staying with me at my apartment in Vernon, Vermont, to help out after my son’s birth. I began feeling strange shortly after waking up, but thought it was just Braxton-Hicks contractions, so I went about my day, driving my mother into Brattleboro later that afternoon to do some grocery shopping. While we were at the grocery store, I began feeling more odd and nauseated, but I didn’t feel like I was having contractions because I had some serious contractions the week before and gone to the hospital in the middle of the night where I was chided by the nurse on duty for not knowing false contractions from true ones. If it were all happening again, I’d tell her what a stupid thing that was to say to someone who, a) never had a baby before, and 2) could have been in real labor regardless of what she thought. I know she was just taking out her bad day on me, but I wish I had been more outspoken back then!
So, I reluctantly went to the hospital so that they could run a monitor strip on me to check contractions. I got to the hospital around 5pm, and my mother and I were put in a room and the nurse on duty asked us if we wanted something to eat while we were waiting as it was dinner time. I had some peanut butter crackers because I wasn’t feeling very well, but thought I should eat something, and my mother got a meal. It was after 6pm by this time, and I was still waiting for the nurse to come and hook me up to the monitor when my water broke. My mother started laughing as I blurted out “oh shit, oh shit, oh shit”, while trying unsuccessfully to make it into the bathroom – as though I had an uncontrolled bladder issue…
The nurse came in moments later and said: “Well, you’re not going anywhere now!” I got moved into a room in The Birthing Center, and I told my mother she could just take my car back to my apartment until I had the baby and would have my sister drive me back, but my mother no longer had her license and didn’t feel comfortable driving in the dark anyway. My sister was living fairly close to the hospital so she was able to get Mom and have my brother-in-law bring her back to the apartment after my birth coach arrived.
My son’s dad was living in New Jersey during the week for work and told me he couldn’t get back until that Friday night or Saturday morning, and it was only Tuesday. That was disappointing, but not really unexpected. My birth coach, Ruth, was a friend I had known since college, and she had two teenaged girls and was probably the best person to have with me. I had decided to forgo any drugs, and even an episiotomy. (I’m just grateful being tied to a tree wasn’t still in vogue.) I was determined to do everything ‘right’. I ended up with forty-two stitches that my doctor said would have been less if I had let her do an episiotomy. Lesson learned, doc!
Not to be too graphic, but my response to the more intense contractions was throwing up. Ruth ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich while I was resting, and I had to ask her to please chew some gum, or somehow get rid of the smell of peanut butter on her breath because it was making me more nauseated than I already was.
She laughed because I was worried about hurting her feelings. At the height of contractions (nearing the, literally, eleventh hour of labor) I told Ruth that I didn’t think I could keep doing it, and to her great credit she didn’t laugh at me, or roll her eyes, but just squeezed my hand and told me that I could, in fact, see it through. I didn’t freak out and scream like the clichéd ‘woman having a baby’ motif, but it was the hardest, most painful, experience I’ve ever endured. After my doctor sewed me up I told her that I was never going to have another baby. She said “If I had a nickel for every patient that said that, I could retire now!”
At 5:49am on September 26, 1990, I gave birth to an 8 lb.,1 oz., 19.5 inch long, beautiful boy. He remains the absolute best thing I have done in my life, and I would do it all again.
I love you, my dear son, more than I have ever loved anyone else. I am so happy I got to be your Mom.
© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.