Note: I wrote this blog entry 11 months ago, but never got around to finishing it until tonight. I held off because I’m a master at procrastination, but I figured with the Baby officially becoming the Toddler tomorrow, I should finally finish what I started. This also applies to the Bioshock: Infinite DLC chapters but I’ll get to that later.
Though I don’t always stick to it, my mom taught me to always be on time or–even better–be early. This meant arriving at birthday parties exactly when they started, showing up at the piano teacher’s house for our lessons when we were supposed to, and picking me up from school when she promised she would. (I used to hate this because it meant that I never got enough time to play with my friends after school on the playground, until one afternoon, she purposefully picked me up late and it was the best afternoon ever. How sad is that? I didn’t want my mom to take me home on time because I wanted to stay at school and play.)
That said, thank you for taking after my mom by arriving a couple of days early. Not only was I immensely pleased to not have to deal with my enormous belly longer than I had to, but you also proved wrong all those people who insisted that firstborn children never arrived on time, that I could expect to go into labor up to two weeks later, etc. etc.
What I appreciate even more is that you timed your arrival with an already scheduled doctor’s appointment. How convenient! (And I say that without any sarcasm whatsoever). I woke up early on that Thursday morning (can you believe that was already three weeks ago?), happy that my due date was in two days, unhappy that I still wasn’t feeling very well, and preoccupied with the need to pee. Apparently, ten minutes of that combination of emotions led to my water breaking, which was the weirdest feeling ever.
Sorry, Baby, but I’m going to be a little graphic here because I’d like for us to start off this relationship with a little honesty. My water breaking (or the “bag of waters” that they kept calling it during our labor class) was super annoying, because it just felt like I was peeing without knowing it, enough for me to be confused about what was going on but not enough to panic. Thankfully, though, you knew about our doctor’s appointment that morning so after calling their office, all we had to do was come in, per usual.
Do you know how weird it is to sit in a waiting room, surrounded by other pregnant women, not quite knowing if you’re in labor or not? I almost wanted to tell everyone, like, “Hey, look. This is gonna happen to YOU pretty soon. Wish me luck.”
But it’s all good, because my awesome doctor checked me out, confirmed that my water DID break (btw, did you know that in order for them to check, they make you lie almost upside down?), and from there, we walked over to the hospital wing to prepare for your arrival.
We weren’t very good at preparing for your arrival because a couple weeks earlier, we skipped out on the hospital tour of the maternity/L&D ward in order to meet up with a friend for lunch (sorry, but at the time, eating food & socializing >>> walking around a hospital). This meant I had no idea what to expect when we showed up, but it was strangely like checking into a very sterile hotel. They were already expecting us, they took us to the delivery room–which just looked like a very sterile hotel suite with outdated motel decor–where I changed into a hospital gown and learned the language of pain.
“On a scale of 1 to 5, how much pain do you feel?” was an almost hourly question from the nurses. The problem is that I had no idea what a 5 would be, seeing as how I’d never been close to death and am a total wimp when it comes to potential bodily harm so I’m quick to avoid any situation that could potentially cause pain (then again, why did I get knocked up?). In the beginning, I’d just say “2? 3? 2 and a half? I don’t know?” which probably made every nurse on the floor hate me.
Can I just say that I was able to answer the one question that bugged me throughout my pregnancy. I finally discovered what contractions felt like! I asked as many people as I could before, and their responses mainly consisted of “You’ll know when it happens” or “It hurts a lot.” Someone finally just said, “Like bad gas” and it was true! I was expecting intense, unique pain from somewhere in my groin area but all I felt was something akin to really bad gas. As in, I had eaten something awful that my intestines did not appreciate and sooner or later, I was going to have to take a big poop. Not very romantic at all.
Unfortunately, these contractions-that-I-didn’t-realize-were-contractions weren’t happening quick enough, so the awesome doctor ordered some Pitocin, which really sped up the process. As in, all of a sudden, my tummy started hurting really bad (still in that bad gas way) in waves, until I finally requested an epidural. I was worried about asking for one too soon, since I heard it could prolong the labor process, but again, you have awesome timing because everything worked out!
Getting the epidural was the first moment that I actually started feeling scared. Before, I could just pretend that I had eaten something bad in that can-you-believe-this-is-really-happening way. But having the anesthesiologist come in with his equipment tray, having the surgical lights in the ceiling turn on (which I hadn’t noticed until then), having to sit up while the nurse warned me to stay very, very still–that was when this all felt very real. Not cool.
What was cool was how icy the epidural felt, and how the intense cramping went away, and how I was able to fall asleep (by this time, it was already noon) and how when I woke up, the doctor came to visit and announced that I had dilated enough to start pushing. Say what?
No, really. Push what? Do you know how hard it is to push when you can’t feel anything below your waist? Or when you have to push a muscle that you never really had to push before? Or being asked to push something out that you’ve never had to push out before? It’s incredibly hard and frustrating. They lowered the epidural dosage (or whatever) so I could finally feel the contractions, a signal for me to follow and push, but I thought I was going to explode with how hard I was trying to push in that way I couldn’t feel/didn’t know how. And yes, I pooped. That was a sensation I could feel, which I asked the doctor about, and he was kind enough to pretend like he had no idea what I was talking about. (But I know I did it! Ugh!)
After about an hour where I just wanted to give up forever (and become the first forever pregnant girl in the whole universe), the doctor decided to go for a c-section. I was so relieved. I just wanted you out of there!
(I’d like to point here that he didn’t go for the c-section because he gave up on labor. Apparently you were pushing really hard against my bladder repeatedly that it was getting to the point where getting you out naturally was doing more damage.)
(Isn’t it sad that I have to defend the doctor’s decision for the c-section? I can’t wait to explain to you how dividing the whole philosophy and idea of labor is among women. It’s ridic.)
Except prepping for the surgery was the second moment that scared me. The epidural was back on so I couldn’t feel anything, but being wheeled into that cold operating room, listening to the other surgical people (assistants?) murmur to each other while counting off things, feeling the sudden, intense nausea and thirst from the epidural, the oxygen mask on my face, my arms stretched out, seeing B all dressed in green surgical wear, the prodding and poking that I could feel on my belly. That was all an experience I wasn’t prepared for.
The best part was that popping you out didn’t take that long. Hearing your first shout was incredibly surreal, and while I’m sure most people feel a surge of joy upon hearing their baby’s first cry, I was just totally weirded out. “There she is!” was something that the two doctors (I had both of my OB-GYNs there! I felt so special.) said, and my only response was “Weird.”
Weird because in what felt like a very short time, you became a reality and your voice–so distinct now–sounded alien and brand new. Well, you were.
The worst part was how long the aftermath was. I later learned that they had about six or eight layers to stitch together, and each layer felt like an excruciating century to me. I really wanted to barf, and I even tried but then I learned that trying to barf while not being able to feel any abdominal muscles is basically impossible. I really wanted to drink something, or take a deep breath, but the oxygen mask was in my way (and smelled funny) and the OR is probably the last place anyone would want to grab a drink.
So my solution? I made myself fall asleep. The ability to fall asleep anywhere (the airplane, a boat, sitting upright in class, the Scottish Highlands, probably a roller coaster if I tried hard enough) is my single superpower and I called upon my amazing talent to take a nap amidst the discomfort, the thirst, the urge to vomit, the strange gossip that the nurses were sharing, etc. I’m sure I freaked the nurses out when they had to move me from the OR table to the bed, but I was in heaven, a literal “Wake me up when it’s over” wave.
By the time I arrived back into the delivery room, B was already shirtless in an attempt to give you your first skin-to-skin contact. They asked me if I was ready to try nursing you, which I agreed to (“Sure, why not?”) and that’s when the nightmare started. Okay, I’m exaggerating but getting you to latch for the first time was awful. You have this habit of sucking your lower lip in (it’s really adorable), which meant you never really opened your mouth wide enough, and well, let’s just say that you put me in a lot of pain.
Don’t worry, things are better now (though new challenges arise every day, thanks a lot), but this was the biggest source of anxiety for me at the hospital. Every nurse told me something different, the lactation consultant told me something completely different and I got to the point of simply nodding along to everything they said like I understood and agreed even though in reality, I had no idea what to do, because I was so desperate for any form of positive affirmation.
Who knew that the true nightmare would start the moment we left the hospital. JUST KIDDING!! I LOVE YOU.
So there you go. Your official birth story. I still hate looking at my scar (I never looked once while in the hospital, even when the doctor was removing the staples grosssssss), I finally figured out the whole breastfeeding thing, I’ve never consistently cried as much as I have since you’ve arrived (thanks, postpartum hormones), I still have no idea how to push and I’m so glad I’m not pregnant anymore.
You may not realize it now, but you’ve taught me so much in the past twelve months. I’m not talking about cheesy stuff like, “I’ve never experienced a love like this before” (barf) or “I feel so much more responsible now” (yeah right, it took us about 4 months to actually childproof the house) but I meant, dang. This world of motherhood is full of craziness–and not the good kind, either. The rivalries between formula and breastmilk, attachment parenting and whatever the opposite is called, sleep training, hospitals vs. birthing centers, vaccines, fertility, solids, discipline, co-sleeping, screen time, natural remedies vs. traditional medicine, placenta eating, circumcision (not with you, don’t worry), babywearing, SAHM vs. working moms, types of postpartum birth controls, stroller brands, safety recalls, carseat protocols, childfree people. I’ve found the response to the latter to be especially interesting, as I still don’t understand why parents would look down on those who don’t want to have children. Also, the reverse disdain? Like, who cares?
If I could sum up the previous paragraph into one lesson, it would be that humans will always find a way to separate themselves from others in order to make themselves feel better.
I hope I don’t ever do (too much of) that. I hope I teach you to feel the same, except if you deal with some stupid racist shit from other people. In that case, fuck them and remove yourself from their kind as far and as much as possible.
Anyway, I digress. I don’t even know why I wrote this. Perhaps I was hoping to really remember how you came into this world instead of some fuzzy memory. But you can’t even read yet, much less say a word or walk or know what a blog is.
*I know you can’t say anything yet even though I’ve been pointing at my face and yelling MAMA to you for the past 12 months like a complete idiot, but when you do get around to calling me “mama,” I’d prefer if you’d use the British pronunciation like “muh-MAH” like they do in STILL THE BEST MOVIE EVER instead of “MAH-MAH” like that stupid horror movie.