Bent Words

Bent Words

June 02, 2013


I knew I loved you at midnight.

We had a scheduled inducement -- and went as long as my doctor would allow -- exactly one week after your due date. I woke up at 3am on Monday to get ready for our 6:30am appointment and I never felt happier or more in love with your father. I was excited, despite the fear of *knowing* we would be coming home with a baby that day and the warm summer air just thrilled me.

I had had some stomach pains since midnight but thought nothing of it until they began to progress around 4am. At 5am I knew you were coming, right on schedule.

I rushed your father out of bed and he had to skip his shower. He went to the bathroom and all I could do was grip a kitchen stool and hold on for dear life while the contractions came. I timed them at about ten minutes apart. I was scared, excited and hurting quite a bit.

I had written on Kevin’s bathroom mirror our plan (lest he should forget). What to pack last minute and that I wanted two bacon egg and cheese biscuits from McDonald’s. Despite the fact that the contractions were coming steadily, about five minutes apart, we made it through the drive thru and between them I managed to munch the only meal I'd have until very late that night.

At the hospital we checked in about 6am. The nurse asked if I needed a wheelchair, not knowing I was contracting so severely, and I stubbornly declined. Up to the fourth floor maternity ward and I was settled in a spacious room (#422), immediately plugged into a machine that would time the severity and frequency of my contractions. Although I was already in labor, they gave me enough Pitocin to equate "licking the bag," as the nurse would comment.

I had been and still was only 1cm dilated. At about 9:30am they checked my progress and through silent tears I relayed the pain of their poking and prodding.

"Oh honey!" said a nurse. "Does it hurt that badly? Perhaps it's time for the epidural."

By 10am they had successfully inserted the epidural. I was surprisingly calm about it although it literally felt like a drill being inserted into my spine. Within a half hour I was comfortable again. Now the nurses could check my dilation and your position without pain.

At this time, the nurses upped my Pitocin intake and I watched, amazed, the machine recording my contractions. They inserted a catheter, which was somewhat uncomfortable, perhaps for just knowing what it was, but I could not feel the restricting pain at this time and felt confident that the rest of this whole birth process would be a breeze. I was simply exhilarated by the entire ordeal -- the newness of it all, the wonder of having a life inside me and how you somehow knew when we would all be ready.

My left leg went numb and the nurses rotated me on the bed so as to shift the effects of the epidural. I was dilated to three cm and “thinning out nicely.” I hardly knew what this meant save for the fact that I wasn’t allowed to push until I reached 10cm. So your father and I just sat and waited, wondering what would come next. We texted relatives and looked at each other expectedly, unsure of your next move.

At 2:30, while your father was sitting next to me on the bed, as we were talking and holding hands, we suddenly heard an audible "pop!"

We stared at each other for a moment in silence.

“Oh. I think, uhhh, my water just broke,” I said, somewhat unsure.

Your father began lifting the bed sheets and I asked him, in a scolding tone, just what he was doing.

“Seeing if your water broke!” he replied frantically.

I brushed his hands away and exclaimed,

“Well don’t look! Just go get a nurse!”

I watched him as he opened the door and stepped two feet Into the hallway. I heard him boldly announce,

“I think my wife’s water just broke!”

To which all the nurses at the nurse’s station could be heard making a collective,

“Ohhhhh!”

This made me laugh so entirely that the water began to gush from beneath the sheets. Two nurses rushed in and, of course, I apologized promptly for making a mess. They laughed and stated afterward that they wished they would have been there to hear the “pop!” as that apparently rarely happens. The things people wish for must certainly be relative…

The nurses changed the bedding and assured me that “it wouldn’t be long now.”

While I did progress more quickly, from this point on felt like forever, and I was desperate to know just when I would be at that pivotal pushing point. Around 4pm I was fully dilated and positioned into a pair of stirrups. Sandy, one of my favorite nurses, took a peak and exclaimed,

“Look at all that hair on this baby’s head!”

“You can see the head!?" I exclaimed.

“Oh yes – Kevin, do you want to see this?”

Your father looked at me as though to ask, “Is it alright?”

And since I knew how badly he wanted to be all in on this ordeal, I let him look. He was thrilled and amazed and I only wish I would have chosen to use a mirror to watch the process. Your father was simply intrigued and had zero qualms about this miracle of birth.

Between 4:15pm-4:30pm, I was ready to push. The decision to take one last “hit” of the epidural was upon me and I decided to do it. Whether it was a good decision pain-wise or a bad decision pushing-wise, I suppose I’ll never know, but thus began the most trying two hours of my life. My doctor still wasn’t present but since I told the nurses I felt the urge to push, they weren’t about to stop me. They let me get into position, holding my legs toward my chest, while another girl set up a table in front of me with a vast array of tools which were never to be utilized (thank God).

It seemed to me that there were a lot more people present than necessary. People I did not recognize and people who distracted me more than they assisted. They stood around me with expectant expressions on their brows, seemingly hoping their assistance would be needed but never failing to intimidate me. Your father was on my right side holding my leg toward my chest and Sandy was on my left. When a contraction came, she told me to push for a full ten seconds and while that doesn't seem like much, those ten seconds seemed like forever.

At first we watched the monitor to know when the contractions were coming but it wasn't long before I could feel them coming full strength. These were my most productive pushes but I cannot describe the frustration of feeling your head move out with a push and then suddenly get sucked back in when I stopped. And then your father would count 1-10 and the nurses would count 10-1 and I became frustrated not knowing whose voice to listen to.

Dr. Q finally arrived and she was the force who harnessed my frustration for each push. She would nearly yell at me to keep going, stating to the whole room that I was going to give birth naturally.

"You're going to push this baby out, Laura. Come on!"

She was adamantly against a C-Section and must have understood how exhausted I was. My teeth were chattering and I was beginning to lose hope -- it's not easy, after all.

After two hours I began to cry and scream "I can't do this! Make it stop!" I would shout out a profanity every few minutes, then apologize, for which Sandy laughed. I could hardly open my eyes for the exhaustion but I could see the woman Dr. Q had called in carrying a "vacuum" that was intended to suck you out if i couldn't push you out myself. Dr. Q basically threatened me that we would have to use this device if I didn't give one last good push. And she said this for about ten pushes...

This is about when your heart rate went way down. Then the woman with the vacuum rounded the bed and stood next to your father, ready to do her thing, whatever that was. I gave one last Hail Mary push x2 and that is when your head finally emerged. Everyone in the room seemed to become so loud with their collective coaching and it was such a relief to make it that far so as to hush their loud voices. But then the doctor told me I wasn't finished and I'm certain I began to weep.

"We need to get the shoulders now Laura! Keep pushing."

The sensation of extricating a baby is one I can hardly describe and with the exhaustion and the commotion and the cheer leading crowd, it seems mostly a blur. But I heard your father state,

"You have a daughter!"

To which I answered,

"I know!"

For all along, since six weeks of pregnancy, I knew you were a little girl. Although you were not so little in terms of size, 9lbs 4.3oz, you were just a tiny little bundle of a human, still bloody and discolored by the time they put you on chest so we could bond in the first few moments of your life. I barely remember this part for my exhaustion but I know your father cut the umbilical cord which spurted blood, even onto the wall behind me. They took you back to clean and weigh you while the doctor massaged my belly to extricate the placenta. I was ready to have it all end, the poking and prodding, but this was not to be.

I lost a lot of blood from internal tearing and so it seemed like forever that Dr. Q took to stitch me back together. I protested, exhausted, and finally found the end of that ordeal an hour later. They brought you back so I could nurse and I was taken aback at how you knew, much better than I, just what to do. The nurses called you a piranha for how intensely you latched and this would prove very painful for at least six weeks. I barely recall holding you for I was still so very tired and in so much pain and so I was glad when they took you away for a moment so I could collect myself.

Your father and I watched as nurse Sandy gave you your first bath. Your cone prevelant and your tiny cries of protest filling up the room. I watched on in disbelief, unconvinced you really ours, a product of so much hard work and wile. We finally had a bite to eat and then I watched in pure jealously as your father stood beside your bassinet, staring at you in amazement. I cried for the pain and jealously, being physically unable to stand or even keep open my eyes. So I slept a little while your father, too, drifted off to sleep. They placed your bassinet right next to me and had directed me not to hold you until a nurse assisted me so I looked on, drifting in and out of consciousness, until very late that night. This whole time I didn't know what to think or feel. And then it happened.

All my fear disappeared. All my pain melted away. My exhaustion seemed secondary. I stood up from bed and looked over your sleeping little self and said aloud,

"I'm going to pick you up now and not be afraid to break you. We're going to do this."

I gently reached into your bassinet and carefully cradled you in my arms just above your little bed, careful not to disturb your sleeping father. I held you for a few minutes and cried, kissing your little nose and smelling your smell. I didn't know it before but I knew it then.

I knew I loved you at midnight.

My perfect little girl.


Written at 5:51 a.m.