Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Where Babies Come From, Part One

I am officially, by the most conservative of estimates, 30 weeks pregnant today. That means that in less than 10 weeks, The New Girl will be putting in an appearance.

I am officially beginning to freak out, in several different ways. I was so totally gobsmacked to be pregnant, finally, last fall, and to be pregnant under such an unbelievable amount of financial and personal stress, that, to be honest, I had a very difficult time accepting the idea that I was pregnant at all, despite my constant morning sickness, despite my official status as a run-on sentence (translation: my missing period. Get it? God, I'm funny), despite my bone-crushing fatigue that had me asleep on the couch by 8 o'clock every night, despite the multiple pregnancy tests that came up positive.

Everything seemed to happen to me all at once--I got a new job, our car was stolen, the holidays that ended up being so thoroughly dismal, Max going back to school full-time--to a degree that I didn't feel totally able to process the fact that I was finally pregnant with the baby we'd wanted so much for so long. So I didn't. We didn't make any plans to move out of this tiny condo that would be the perfect size for one or maybe two people, but is exhaustingly cramped for two people plus a three-year-old. We didn't buy a crib. We didn't buy anything at all, really, until after we found out we were having a girl--a fact, incidentally, which only served to make the entire thing more unbelievable. Partially this was just practicality--why buy a bunch of new baby clothes for a second boy? We've already got one boy and a whole lifetime's worth of clothes, and if it's a girl, we'll need different stuff anyway. But partially, it was my reaction to being pregnant at all.

I have ten weeks to do 40 weeks worth of worrying, and have come cruising out of denial mode into full-on WTF??? mode. I'm worried about a million things this time that last time never even crossed my mind. In an effort to talk myself through the crippling anxiety I am feeling, I am currently trying anything I can think of.

It occurs to me that I have never actually written down Max's birth story, which is practically unheard-of on a Mommy blog, which, more or less, is what this is. It's one of the first things I go looking for when I'm reading some other mother's blog for the first time, reassured by the fact that none of the weird, painful, awkward, embarassing, uncomfortable, startling things that happened to me were really that weird, painful, awkward, embarassing, uncomfortable, or startling.

So, in an effort to quiet some of the worrying that I am finding myself trying to cram into ten weeks worth of pregnancy, I'm going to spend the next few whatevers telling Max's birth story in a reminder that sometimes things just happen in an average, totally expected, not at all premeditated way, which, overall, was my experience with Max.

On June 18, 2005, I was 38 weeks and 3 days pregnant with Max. A few days earlier, I had gotten a call from my OB, Dr. Bushrod (a hilarious name for an OB-GYN, I think) saying that she wanted to induce me on June 21st, as she'd be going out of town and wanted the baby to be born on her watch. While I am technically a high-risk pregnancy, due to being a type I diabetic, it was as uneventful a pregnancy as anyone could have hoped for, save for one short hospitalization at 22 weeks due to getting a gastrointestinal bug that made me as sick as I've ever been in my life, requiring several days of IV fluids and an anti-emetic that is still by far my drug of choice. I'd had no problems with high blood pressure or anything else, and the baby was responding well to the multiple tests I was having every week. I was having an ideal pregnancy, even for someone whose didn't have health issues that could turn pregnancy into a nightmare.

My parents arrived by car with, among other things, the frozen top layer of our wedding cake that afternoon. Our first wedding anniversary was July 17th, and I was looking forward to finally getting a slice of that cake. On my wedding day, I'd been too busy running around, talking to people, to ever eat more than just that one bite that Dan had fed me for photos. Their plan was for my stepfather to fly back to Kalamazoo on the 20th, leaving my mother here for the first several weeks to help out, then fly back in early July to drive home with her again, with Dan's parents arriving that afternoon for 9 days.

The night before my stepfather flew back to Kalamazoo we went out and picked up take-out barbecue, then took it home to eat it. It was punishingly hot already, and I was spending most of my time either on the couch, complaining, or in the apartment complex's swimming pool. Most of the time I was there, I complained too. My mother baked me a blueberry buckle, which is a really yummy yellow coffee cake studded with blueberries and topped with a brown sugar strusel topping, which I was eating entirely too much of, mostly because it seemed to be one of the few things that didn't require me to chase it with a handful of Tums.

The next day, June 20th, we drove Tom to Dulles, which is, inexplicably, the airport which my parents prefer to fly to and from whenever they visit, which I don't understand--it's the least convenient and farthest away from us. We'd only been there once, and I didn't know the way--nor did I particularly care. I was riding along only because I was tired of complaining inside my own apartment, and also, because Dan didn't like to be that far away from me, and he was going along.

We got lost on our way back from Dulles. It's easier to do than you'd think, especially if you need to stop for gas, and, like my mother, you manage to do so in the least likely spot on earth. I sat crankily in the back seat of the car, wishing like hell that I wasn't pregnant. Somehow, we ended up in the middle of downtown D.C., on Constitution, while my mother gazed around and remarked repeatedly about how exciting it must be to actually live here. I wanted to punch her in the face.

Dan managed to get us back to 295 southbound, which took us through several not-great neighborhoods and along a rather heavily potholed route. In the back of my mother's Jeep, I kept picturing the contents of my uterus bouncing off my cervix every time she hit a bump. "Sorry!" she kept calling out merrily. "Doing okay back there?" I grunted at her, picturing the flat spot on my kid's head, that I was sure would result from his skull being bounced off my pelvis for two hours.

We went to my last doctor's appointment, where I shed my pants and gave my OB one final look at my cervix. "Still closed," she said. "Maybe a little shorter than earlier this week. No contractions or anything?" she asked.

"How would I know?" I asked. I'd never had a contraction, not so much as a Braxton-Hicks contraction, that I'd been aware of.

She laughed. "You'd know," she said darkly. "We'll see you tomorrow night at the hospital for induction." I felt like I was joining the army. I put my enormous maternity pants back on and waddled back to the waiting room.

We'd been waiting for the crib that we wanted to be in stock at Sears Essentials in Clinton, Maryland, for several weeks. On the way home from the doctor's, which was in the professional building next to the hospital, I asked Mom to stop at Sears so that we could pick it up.

Dan and I made arrangements for the boxed crib to be brought from the back of the store to the front, which required several walking trips through the store. Mom lost interest and wandered off to look at baby clothes. Finally, we were walking from the back of the store to the front one last time, me waddling several steps behind Dan, who'd never really learned to adjust his walking speed (typically, I walk much faster than him, because my legs are longer) to accommodate my pregnancy. Dan was talking, not really aware that I'd fallen behind him by several steps, as is his wont, and I was not really listening to him, thinking to myself, God, I'm just so effing uncomfortable, I'm so tired of feeling so totally uncomfortable, and what is this thing that's happening now, this is fucking miserable, I just wish it would stop--when all of a sudden, it did stop. Instantly. At the same instant that it stopped, I felt what can only be described as a hot, wet bomb going off in my crotch. It didn't hurt--in fact, it relieved some of the intense pressure I was feeling, so it actually felt pretty good--but an instant later, I felt something warm and wet running down the inside of both legs.

I stopped instantly where I was, and just about that time, Dan realized I wasn't walking with him. "Dan," I said. "My water broke."

Dan looked at my feet, then at me. "Are you sure?" He was looking for the puddle that he assumed I would instantly be standing in. But all I could really feel was a trickle--like I'd had to pee really badly, and I'd sneezed, or laughed hysterically.

"Yes," I said. I'd never been so sure of anything. It wasn't a feeling you could mistake for any other feeling in the world. I could feel my underwear and pants becoming increasingly wet.

Dan and I stood there for a couple of seconds, staring at each other. "What should I do?" I said. I was afraid to move.

"I don't know," he said. "Where's your mother?"

Just then, she stuck her head out from one of the aisles. "What's going on?" she asked.

"My water broke," I said.

"Oh," she said. "Oh! I'll buy a beach towel."

It was good thinking on her part. We were only a couple of miles from the hospital at that point, and the logical thing would have been for us to just get in the car and drive back. Logic, however, was not my strong suit at this point. My pants were wet, I had a bag packed at home, waiting to go to the hospital, I wanted my own pillows and things, and I thought it would be silly to go to the hospital with a crib in the back of the car. "Take me home," I ordered. "I want my stuff."

Dan and Mom didn't try that hard to argue with me. Instead, they shuffled me into the front seat of the car and drove me home, where I was beginning to feel increasingly uncomfortable. I called my doctor's office, which had closed in the twenty minutes since we left, and I left a message with the answering service, as the recording instructed me to do. "I'm one of their patients," I explained. "My water just broke." It felt like a huge relief to say so: even though I was anxious about when things would start to hurt, or I would start throwing up (which I hate to do), or things would otherwise increase in unpleasantness, I was relieved to think that there was a light at the end of the endless tunnel of pregnancy, one that hadn't even appeared when they'd given me a date for induction. The answering service said that the doctor would call me back. I felt remarkably calm and collected at this point, feeling mostly just that sense of relief that it was all almost over.

I went into the bathroom to change my pants, which was beginning to seem like more trouble than it had been worth. The pair I'd been wearing were soaked, of course, and they were the only pair of maternity shorts I owned. I'd also been wearing my most comfortable pair of underwear. I somehow managed to peel both of these off, despite the fact that I was increasingly uncomfortable, although not really in pain, and drag on another pair of jeans. The amniotic fluid wasn't a steady stream--just an occasional gush when I changed positionts or the baby moved. I found a heavy-duty maxi pad under the sink and pasted it into my maternity underwear and hoped it would suffice for the trip back to the hospital, managed to stand up and drag my pants up past my hips.

As I did, there was another gush of amniotic fluid and it was clear that any precautions I'd taken against having to go out in wet pants were going to be fruitless. I absolutely did not have it in me to change my pants again. I threw the bathroom door open. "Fuck this," I said to my mother and Dan. "Get me a towel to wrap around my waist and let's just go."

To be continued...

1 comment:

Kimberly said...

You forgot about the part where you called me from Sears and I did the happy dance because I won the nonexistent pool about when you'd go into labor. In case you wondered, I'm picking June 20 for the new baby. July 1 is my second pick. I'm waffling.