Seven years ago tonight at around this time, it is now ten minutes until eleven, I was falling asleep to the television, flanked, on either side, by children. I was 391/2 weeks pregnant, and had earlier that afternoon resolved that, by no means, would I again leave the house, unless I was going to hospital to have my baby. I was having trouble falling asleep. I was having contractions, but I knew that this meant nothing; it never meant anything. Both of my children that I was sleeping with that night had come into the world with the help of pitocin. I had twice been induced, as I was certain I would be with baby number three. I was at the Doctor's mercy now. I could contract and contract night and day, and it would never go anywhere, until the Doctor would decide enough of all of this, and let's get on with it- but who knew when that would be?
It was a Sunday night, the conclusion of what seemed to be the longest weekend of my life. It all started on Friday morning. I was pushing myself to get through the week, and I wasn't doing well. I had a six year old, and a three year old who wanted to spend every waking moment at my Aunt's house, which was next door to our house at the time, because she had a pool. Sounds like the life doesn't it? Except that the three year old was a crazy boy who couldn't swim and so I would have to constantly chase him around the pool, and sit on the edge, and from time to time, actually get in the pool with him. This was not a pretty sight. I was not happy about any of it. I was a freaking whale, and I felt like I could barely move, much less chase two little kids in the hot summer sun all day long. If only I would have the baby...
The baby was supposed to be early, according to the doctor, who examined me at thirty six weeks and said, "Oh, you'll never go full term, I'd be surprised if I don't see you in the hospital this week. Well, surprise, surprise, at thirty nine weeks and counting, I was still around. Which, by the way, on a side note, is the most obnoxious question anyone can ask of an extremely pregnant woman. Are you still around? Don't ever say this to pregnant woman. It is unnecessary cruelty.
At the beginning of the weekend, on Friday morning, however, I thought that end had arrived. Or the beginning. Whatever. I thought I was in true labor. Why, you ask? Because that little plug thing popped out, and within an hour, I was having hard contractions. My Aunt from next door came over. She is a nurse and the mother of five children. "Oh this has got to be it", she said. "I'll take the kids" and you call Mark.
As soon as she left, I did just that. My husband, however, has "thing" that makes him never believe that babies are going to come out.
"Oh", he said, without a change in tone, "that's good."
"Aren't you going to come home?", I said. "Well, what did the doctor say?"
"Well, I called you first."
"Well, call the doctor and then call me back."
I hung up the phone, dejected. What was his problem? Couldn't he tell I was in labor? This was the first sign, and because of my two prior inductions I had never seen this first sign before, but I knew this was it. I called the Doctor. They were as impressed as he was. "Call us when the contractions are five minutes apart." Yeah, yeah, yeah, I thought, anybody who watched the Cosby show could say that.
The contractions were getting worse, until, they just sort of stopped. WTF????!!!
Oh, I had plenty of experience with false labor, but not after the first sign. The first sign had come. Who dared take it back? I WAS IN LABOR.
I fell asleep for about two hours, thinking I should rest in preparation for labor. Also, I was extremely tired because I'd had been having trouble sleeping from all the false labor pains. Every time I laid down, it would start. At that moment, however, it was stopped and I was so sleepy. Two hours later, I woke up and nothing. I was sooo depressed. I went to my Aunt's to get the kids.
She sympathized with my plight and offered me a barium enema in a fourth of July gift bag. She even offered to "help me" use it. I wondered if labor could be causing me to hallucinate. NO, the bag was real. I turned the kids and said, we have to go, Daddy is waiting. I was ready, but not that ready.
When Mark arrived home, he asked what are we going to do for dinner? I gave him a very mean look that conveyed the message, if you don't go and get some takeout right now I am going to kill you. This look involves a crinkled nose and narrowed eyes, in case you ever want to use a look to convey that same message. He left immediately. We ate Chinese and went to bed. And as I lay my head down on the pillow, it started again...
The next morning, I was again fine. My cousin, Jessica, came to take me out for Mexican food, which she swore worked when she had her girls. I was willing to try anything. After lunch, we spent the afternoon walking around a hot farmers market. I was lifting every watermelon in sight. A lovely farmer asked me if I'd like lie down with his cows and give birth because I looked ready. Again, I gave a look, but I think that it was lost on this gentlemen, who clearly was able to find entertainment in harassing a pregnant woman. If I had to guess, his ability to read a woman's face- not so good.
I came home. We went to dinner at my moms. She offered to go with me to take the kids to the movies. Since all "labor" had stopped, I figured, I'd go. I was better when I was out and not thinking about it. As soon as I sat in the movie chair, the contractions started, and this time, I was sure the time had come. By the time we left the theater, I was panting and my stomach was as hard as rock. Ten minutes later, I was back at home, and again, miraculously the contractions stopped. It seemed like a cruel joke.
And on the third day, I arose again. Sunday. The day of my cousin's graduation party. I did not want to go. I looked superfat, all of my clothes were ugly, I felt miserable, and the baby was never coming out, so why should I go out? Yes, I was starting to go insane. I was irrational and emotional, and hormonal, and I did not want to go to yet another swimming pool for an afternoon of point at the pregnant woman and laugh as she tries to corral a three year old monkey boy. I felt like the main attraction at some sick rodeo event.
There was a huge buffet, and though I was really nauseous and not hungry, Mark suggested I try to eat something. As I approached the buffet, one of my male cousins said, "look out, Laurie is going to eat everything." Such a sense of humor on that boy, and timing, impeccable. Again, another look, again a wasted effort.
On the way home, we passed the local dairy, and I told Mark I wanted ice cream. "We just left a picnic", he said. Ugly look number four actually makes a difference and we pull into the parking lot. What I want is a chocolate ice cream soda. I stand in the long line of people and an older lady approaches me. It is super hot this first day of July. It's probably like 95 degrees. Sympathetically, she looks at me and says, "this has to be the worst time to be pregnant." And now I'm done. I get my ice cream soda and we ride home.
After the kids are changed and occupied, I pull my husband aside and say, I am not leaving this house again until this baby is born. I don't care if its weeks or months, I will not leave. I am yelling this at him because, of course, this entire situation is his fault, in more ways than I can count, and I'm trying very hard to count them all. Calmly, he tells me I should go upstairs and lie down.
He comes up and puts American Pie on the dvd player in our bedroom. It does make feel a little better, and I figure that if I am going to be pregnant for the rest of my life, I may as well laugh, a little. After the movie, I take a bath and get ready for bed. Just as I am getting ready to doze, two sleepwalkers enter my room. "Mom, can I sleep with you?"
When Mark comes to bed, he puts the kids back in their own beds, but I don't know this because I am sound asleep. I am dreaming that I am back at my cousin's house and monkey boy is climbing in and out of the pool and no one will help me get him, but rather they are all sitting, staring, and laughing. Its hot, and where is Mark? I start swatting at him, in my dream, and in real life. The motion wakes me from my dream, and now I realize THIS IS IT. People ask how do you when its real. Oh, you know, because it hurts like a mother humhum.
"Mark, wake up, I am in labor!"
"You're not in labor", he says still asleep. Do you want me to get some Tylenol and I'll rub you back."
I am very annoyed. I jump out of bed, mumbling something about do I have to do everything myself, and my water breaks all over the floor. Alas, Mark awakens. Good morning, sleepyhead- its about 1am- call the doctor now! Call my mother before now! Let's go the hospital!
My mother comes, and even though I am writing on the kitchen floor, she asks Mark if he can turn the air conditioning down, give her the remote control, polish her toenails...again, I must take control of the situation. Everyone around me is a moron.
The hospital is five minutes away. We go to the admission desk in the er and they immediately call up to l&d for a wheelchair. In the delivery room, the nurse discovers I am 10 cm. No epidural. The doctor comes in and asks me how I am doing?
Oh, I'm fucking great. Natural childbirth is a dream come true for me.
I turn to Mark and tell him that I can't do it and he should take me home.
You'll be fine, just breathe.
I am delirious with pain. That breathing shit doesn't work, I say. That's a bunch of shit. Why do they waste people's time and money with that shit?
The nurse is stretching me with her fingers. I can feel her stretching me down under- its like she's rocking a boat as hard she can with a couple of fingers. Oh and by the way the boat happens to be my crotch. I want to sit further up and punch her in the face, but then I hear this baby cry, and the down under feels like the fat kid just got off its chest and it can breathe again.
Also, the kid that she handed me, pretty damn cute. Another little monkey boy....
On second thought, maybe I wouldn't be leaving the house again ever.
At least, I wasn't still pregnant.