Friday, September 16, 2011

Here Goes Nothing (January 2005)

One of the last things the birth coach said was “When the doctor says that you’re baby’s in danger, you either fight or you go with it but it gets medical fast.” We pack ‘the bag’ including the pilates ball and Bob Marley and The Cure cd’s and head to the hospital. After admission, a vaginal pessary full of prostaglandins to “ripen the cervix” is applied and a drip jabbed into my hand. We spend the next 24 hours in an airless tomb occasionally being visited by a nurse who invariably scolds me for moving from the bed. We order thai food, play cards and my family sips vodka and contractions do start.

I take a giant poop and in retrospect realize that it also included the pessary in the evacuation. The contractions taper off as The Pater snoozes away the night on the bed next to mine.

The berating I received from the night nurse is passed like a baton to my day nurse. “You don’t have time to shower,” and “What? You haven’t slept? You’re going to be too tired to give birth!”

I make concessions hourly and with each concession natural birth recedes further. After the Pitocin drip and baby monitor are installed I am allowed to sit on the ball until my water breaks. “I thought I didn’t have any water, that’s why we’re inducing?” Unfortunately, also apparent with the water breaking is the fact that the baby has violated the first rule of etiquette: you don’t shit where you eat. Stressed from all the fake hormones flowing and the adrenalin I am splashing around, the baby has produced the meconium (baby’s first poop – awww) inside of me, how charming. I am hauled off the ball and strapped to the bed with another tube to “flush out” the meconium.

The nurse goes to lunch leaving the eye-in-the-sky nurse at the front desk in charge. An alarm sounds and the room fills with 12 people. In seconds I am flipped, oxygenated, prepped for surgery and a baby monitor is screwed into the baby’s head. Then they notice that the external baby monitor had slipped and was monitoring my much slower heartbeat. The mask is removed and I am eased back but the monitor and four other tubes coming from me in a spaghetti junction strap me to the bed.

Dusk of day two is obscuring the view of Staten Island Ferry toing and froing from Manhattan when Dr. Whatchamacall convinces me of the efficacy of an epidural. I hear a woman pushing out her baby in the next room and even if I won’t be able to feel it, I’d like to do it. I love the epidural and the Pitocin is cranked to the max. Five hours later, I have been drunkenly chatting nonstop but I haven’t even begun to dilate. Dr. Whatchamacall now wants a cesarean. With half an hour left of our anniversary, we acquiesce. “It’ll make it easy to remember the date.”

Half an hour into the following day, the wail announces the arrival. A BOY!!!! Because he has inhaled the meconium, pediatricians are literally standing to whisk him to the neonatal ICU.

“Let me see him,” I yell as I can feel them mucking me out. They hold a bundle above my head. “I can’t see him!” They lower the swaddled, screaming form so my craned neck can see him for a moment and then they take him.

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