The Three of Us: The Story of M’s Birth, Part I.

21 Sep

After four months of meaning to write this story, I’m just going to do it.  Be warned, those of you who are faint of heart: a cervix plays a starring role in this story, and it will be mentioned on occasion. I wish it weren’t so, but it is.

As you know from previous posts, the baby’s arrival involved, like all babies, waiting.  After a serious false start, our doctor sent us home to wait for anything to change, telling us that the rules no longer applied to us and any change meant coming to the hospital immediately.  The waiting stretched into a week and a half during which I became progressively more cranky, tired, and morose.  One tragicomic episode involving an overdose of prune juice led me to believe labor had finally arrived (hurrah!), but it hadn’t.  In that week and a half, I felt one contraction, and it was so bad, and so sudden, that I screamed and sobbed.  And then nothing.

On Monday morning, my mom and I headed to a doctor’s appointment, where our rockstar OB/GYN told me to come to the hospital on Friday, and if I had passed 5 centimeters (I was at 4.5), we ‘wouldn’t wait forever.’ The meaning of that phrase inspired fairly heated debate within our household until I called the OB/GYN three days later for clarification, and discovered that it meant, according to his nurse, induction. My birth plan up to that point had been straightforward: no to pitocin, yes to an epidural when I could no longer stand the pain. Induction meant, most likely, pitocin.  The OB/GYN also told me I could exercise, but shouldn’t start anything extreme.  I told him that no one had ever accused me of extreme exercise.  “A smart ass,” he said.  “I like it.”

By Thursday night, I’d decided it was time to stack the cards more in our favor, and since the baby would be at 38 weeks in the morning–a marker we’d been waiting to hit if at all possible–I headed out with the dog on a flat, two-mile, slow walk (slower than the pace that people walk in the Atlanta airport; so slow, in fact, that the dog kept looking over his should to check on me or to plead with me). The walk was glorious until the half-way point, when I remembered why pregnant women do not take long walks in neighborhoods devoid of public restrooms. When I got home, I sat down on the bed to take my shoes off, and I promise this is true:  I felt the baby move down considerably.

The next morning, I called the hospital to confirm our 10 am appointment and was told to come in at 1 pm. The husband and I tried to play it cool by heading off to a favorite outdoor coffee shop in Yountville, where the smell of pastries permeates the air, and where I heard him say, after a tourist tormented the barista by asking how much milk was in every single drink on the menu, “Just order the damn coffee.”

At 1 pm, I waddled up to the labor and delivery unit, and our doctor confirmed that I was at 5 cm and at 0 station after I chased the eager PUC nursing student from the premises.  A four year old girl walked into our room accidentally right about then; she will never be the same again. The monitors confirmed I was indeed having contractions that I could not feel.  Our OB/GYN said we could not go home–forty minutes from the hospital was too far–but we could enjoy the day, relax, and come back at 7 pm to see how the baby was progressing. Unless, of course, anything changed before the evening.

The St. Helena hospital has a hierarchy of rooms: those with sweeping views of the Napa Valley, and those with views of the doctors’ parking lot.  We’d been assigned to the latter.  As we waited for the elevator to leave the unit, a woman wearing a dress and pearls, with perfectly coiffed hair, manicured toes, gladiator sandals, and makeup–MAKEUP–started talking to another man in front of us.  She was very pregnant and, as she told the guy, off to take a walk to see if she could get things started.  She’d been assigned a room with a view.  She was Napa Valley perfection. I hated her, nearly instantaneously. As Anne Lamont would say, she was my enemy.  And I was wearing my fat pants.  I had, in the tradition of my mother before me, painted my own toes the day before the baby’s birth–I hoped this symmetry would prompted the baby to arrive–and was fairly pleased to be wearing earrings. I wanted to mention, casually, that I was at 5 centimeters, hadn’t felt a thing, and would be back to take her room with a view at 7 pm.

Joel, my mom, and I headed to a bookstore, where of course I ran into a student, and I purchased a history tome–The Warmth of Other Suns–to read while waiting, and maybe even during the slow parts of labor. Off we went to the local coffee shop; we read while pretending to be calm, and I panicked that my mom was crying, but she was just reading “You Can’t Kill the Rooster” in David Sedaris’ Me Talk Pretty One Day

Our friends at the Queso Dip had us over for burgers, and I will always be glad that S. suggested I eat that second burger to see me through. She was so right. 

By 7 pm, we were back at the hospital, I was at 6 centimeters, we got admitted, several attempts at starting my IVs failed, and the spunky nurse anesthetist announced she’d never run an epidural for someone who wasn’t actually in pain. But she ran it anyway, said she’d be back if the dose wasn’t strong enough, and even got an IV in my hand–one that lasted until early the next morning, when it infiltrated. And what a party that was.

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One Response to “The Three of Us: The Story of M’s Birth, Part I.”

  1. teachiro September 29, 2012 at 4:51 am #

    Just when I was about to lose my faith in blogs, you post this gem. Excited for the next installment!

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