On the Eve of my Oldest Child's Birthday
19 years ago, at this very hour, I went into labor for the first time. The contractions were tentative at first, irregular, but definitely more intense than the braxton hicks I'd previously felt. These followed an appointment with my doctor, where he performed what must be recorded in the annals of medieval torture. Stripping of the membranes. Holy white-hot pain! If I hadn't wanted to have my baby so badly, I would've taken my foot out of the stirrup and kicked him in the head.
(On a side note- I've had two OB's, both of them men. I adored them and was completely satisfied by the care they gave me. BUT, every time they said to me, 'This will hurt a little' and then went on to cause pain they couldn't comprehend in an area they don't have, I wanted to flick their ear. Or gouge their eyes with my big toe. Looking back, it may have been more prudent to have a female doctor. *sigh* Live and learn.)
So, my contractions began and the 'plan' was underway. As first-timers, we had thought and over thought every little detail. With our enormous Bag in the car, filled with all sorts of gadgets like tennis balls and popsicles, we left for the hospital. For some reason,we had to stop at my in-laws. I swore my husband to secrecy about the fact that my labor had started. I love my in-laws, but I was dead set against any of them showing up at the hospital.
The next few hours were a blur of pain and exhilaration. I had waited for this day my whole life. From my earliest memory, I had a baby doll. 'House' was my favorite imaginary pastime. Though my goals and aspirations would come and go in life, one thing remained constant- I wanted to be a mother. Now, with our baby on the way, the Handy Man and I were still a week away from our first anniversary. Being married to me meant having children and we hadn't wasted any time.
For a little while, it was fun. A contraction would come and I would breathe through it. Then, we would talk, walk the halls, watch TV, or look out the window at the fresh snow that was drifting down. Around 1am, we called my mom and she arrived. She added a new voice to our conversations and I distinctly remember her crocheting the edge of a blanket while we talked.
As the sun began to rise, the fun ended. The contractions had found some Swarchenegger-type strength. I hee-hee-hoo-ed through one, then cried through the next. Our Lamaze classes had not prepared me for the overwhelming sensations that were coursing through me. (Really, nothing could have.) Our nurse kindly offered a shot. I have no idea what it was. It was supposed to 'take the edge off'. If you take the edge off a knife, apparently it can still rip you to shreds. I was so nervous to tell my cute, young husband- we were still newlyweds, for heaven sake- that I wanted an epidural. Our Lamaze coach had made it sound like it was the basis of all evil and would forever mar our otherwise perfect child. I did it anyway.
"It would just feel so nice not to feel anything."
Thirty minutes later, I found out I was right. By 9am, we were watching Price is Right and joking with my mom. Labor + epidural = heaven.
The next few hours were uneventful. Other than watching television, taking short naps and wondering at the strange sensation of being numb from the waist down, it seemed nothing was happening. The monitor by my bed told another story, the contractions continued and by 4pm, it was time to push. My doctor- a part-time comedian- told me if I wanted to have my baby next year, to keep pushing like I was. (Good thing I couldn't move my foot!) I proved him wrong and after just 20 minutes, Adam made his way into the world. . He was pink and beautiful, and huge! All 10lb. 2oz. of him. We marveled at his head of thick, black hair and his equally thick chest. They whisked him away for testing (stupid meconium!) but soon enough he was back in my arms, nursing like a champ.
He was a perfect baby, who slept well and ate well. Though his is not my only birth story and his perfection didn't last, he is and always will be my first. He was a pioneer in our family, unknowingly taking on that role of practice child who we made the most mistakes with. He has moved out of our home and is 'all grown-up', in his own eyes at least. To me, he will always be my child, the one who came along to help me fulfill my lifelong ambition- he made me a mother.