Calamity Jennye

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Today is the day I begin life with a four year old. As she exited the dinner table proclaiming herself done (with half a bowl of food still in front of her) and answered my question "What do you say at the end of a meal?" with "thank you" instead of "may I be excused" then followed that up by choosing not to clear her place...I said "Well, here we go! Four looks like fun!"

She redeemed herself by clearing her dessert dish without being asked and generally returning to her pleasant self. But all day I've been thinking how did I get a four year old? She's like a person now. She has her own thoughts, about everything, she asks insightful questions, uses big words, buckles herself into a seatbelt, has phone conversations (sometimes with people she's called herself without my knowledge). No more baby, no more toddler. Person, small person, but fairly fully formed, right here in my house. So of course every year at this time I have to remember how it all began:

Four years ago this morning I got up at 4am to pee just like I did every morning of the month before that. I lay back down, and immediately had to get up to pee again. This is odd I thought, but I got up again, parted with a few more drops and lay back down. I had to get up again... okay, this really is weird I thought. And as I sat down on the toilet for the third time in like 4 minutes, a little light bulb went off. I remembered reading somewhere that most women's water doesn't break in a gush like the movies. It's more like a trickle... feels like you have to pee all the time.
So this is it I thought, my water is breaking. This Is It...My Water Is Breaking! And the pack and play isn't assembled, and we're not packed for the hospital, and the dog sitters haven't been trained, and I still have a full week of work to get done....
Okay. Pack and play it is!
So I stayed up. Assembled the pack and play, packed the hospital bag then planted myself on the couch with a heavy bathrobe and towel under me, prepared to do as many hours of work as possible. I'd been told by many people that staying still was the enemy of labor progressing. Technically there was no labor yet so I figured if I could just stay as still as possible I could make it at least a few hours.
At about 7 I finally woke my husband "Don't panic, really, it's okay, I think my water broke this morning." [Bleary eyes pop open wide as sand dollars] "No really don't panic, it's just that the water keeps leaking and I need you to go to the pharmacy and get me pads or something."
"But we haven't even trained the dog sitters!"
"It's okay we have plenty of time, like hours, we'll be fine. I just need you to go to the pharmacy."
He returns 15 minutes later "they don't open til 8."
"We live in Manhattan for pete's sake, you can't walk a few extra blocks to the 24 hour pharmacy? Never mind, I'll make it another hour."
So I stay planted doing my work while he goes on with his day. Training the dog sitters, attending some lunch thing.
Finally just after noon when everyone (husband and the dog walkers) has just returned from the lunch thing I feel the first pains. I finally decide I should call my boss and tell her what's going on and I also call the co-worker taking over for me while I'm gone. They both hustle me off the phone just as I'm experiencing my first inability to breathe moments.
I still have a couple e mails to send off before my work is done and my sister always told me that all she wanted while in labor was a hot bath, and that it really eased the pain of contractions. Nothing had ever sounded better than a shower did at that moment so one of our dog sitters (they're god-mothers now by the way) followed me into the bathroom to finish typing up the e mails while I showered.
Upon entering the shower my contractions were about 10 minutes apart. The doctor told me not to call until they were about 5 minutes apart. Husband popped his head in and timed about two contractions in the 15 minutes I was in the shower and when they suddenly hit 5 minutes he panicked. No problem I said, that's just when we're supposed to call the doctor, we've got plenty of time.
They forced me out of the shower, into some clothes, and wouldn't even let me blow dry my hair. The four of us rushed downstairs and out to the corner where our fearless native New Yorker in the ranks nearly accosted a woman about to get into a cab.
"This woman's in labor" [and about to faint from embarrassment rather than pain] "Can they please take your cab to the hospital?"
As a look of confusion crossed the woman's face (perhaps it was the please) she slowly agreed and we hopped in. The cabbie surely heard the whole exchange and after one look at me, which must have been more telling than I would have guessed, said "We're not going to be on the evening news are we?" I have to say that was by far the cheapest cab ride we had our entire time in Manhattan!
I'm guessing it was about 2:30 when we got to the hospital and no one seemed any too concerned about the woman writhing in pain on her chair in the maternity check-in. Finally a nurse on her fifth or sixth pass through the room. Stopped, looked closely at me and said we better get you into a room. Seemed like a great idea to me.
I think we got into that room at about 3:30. The anesthesiologist stopped by, looked at me, whispered something to the nurse and left. The nurse gave me a few nervous, side-long glances and I said "I'm not getting an epidural am I?"
"No, you're too far along she said."
"Okay! Ooookay."
I think the biggest blessing I experienced that day was to stumble into the hands of a nurse mid-wife on her last day in labor and delivery." Without her my labor experience would have been much more mentally painful. She knew just when to cheer, when to encourage, when to be forceful. She was calming, insightful, and patient.
I barely remember the pushing. I remember standing at a high counter in the room, hanging from it with my arms straight. I remember my husband being told to hold a leg, I remember the ice chips, I remember there was some screaming, I remember the pain of being sewn up afterwards (at which point there was a multitude of screaming, including the first swear words uttered all day).
I have this sensation somewhere in the back of my mind that it all must have been excruciating. But for the life of me I can't remember that it actually was.
I remember most clearly the moment they placed Esme on my chest. She immediately began to nurse like it was what she was born to do. I think that is the moment that every other memory, about what it took to get her there, simply disappeared.

1 comment:

  1. happy birthday to esme!!! and happy birth remembering day to you. such a trooper as always. and so independent to not wait for me! i can't believe that tiny baby is a kid now. and a pretty darn cute one.

    much love to you both!