That moment when you come across your therapist’s Facebook profile, and realize she has a life outside of your sessions.
That moment when you come across your therapist’s Facebook profile, and realize she has a life outside of your sessions.
This morning as we were playing with Nora in our bed and obsessing over her, Eric turned to me and said, “So like, the problem is, if we have a second kid, how do you decide which one you love more?” which is obviously a completely asinine question.
You love the better one more.
(Continuation of The Birth, Part 1)
So there I was, doing nothing.
Eric was trying to stay upbeat and positive for my sake, but every once in a while I’d glimpse over and see this:
My cervix continued to be poked and prodded but, like my 4-year-old nephew at the seder table, remained completely disinterested.
Then the doctor had a theory– perhaps my water broke not because I was about to go into labor, but because there was some kind of threat to the baby, such as a virus or infection. So she took my temperature, but it was perfectly normal. “Phew,” I thought, “a fever right now would be bad.”
But you know what’d be worse? Having a thermometer stuck up your butthole. Which is exactly what they had to do in order to get a more accurate reading. Luckily for all involved (besides, I suppose, Eric), at this point in pregnancy I had zero percent shame left, and so had virtually no reaction when they rolled me over (a team effort) and prodded me in my 3rd-trimester-inflated tush.
“Yup! Fever!” determined the nurse excitedly, I guess because that finally offered an explanation for the nothingness that was occurring, but given that I was crouched there with my ass blowing in the breeze, I resented his merriment.
So it turns out I had some kind of minor infection, which triggered my amniotic sac to say “We gotta get this baby out!” and burst, but in its hysteria forgot to relay the message to the rest of my body, including the second body living inside my body, who remained so high up I swear to god I could feel her in my throat. Nora had no interest in coming out, and I can’t say I blame her because as far as she knew, the outside world consisted only of sitting on toilets, vomiting, and the Kardashians.
But now we were on a clock. The longer you sit around with your water broken, the greater the risk of infection for the baby. It was already determined that I had a fever, and although they gave me antibiotics to protect Nora, it still made things slightly more urgent– and as everyone knows, a ticking time bomb is exactly what an anxious person who has been instructed to stay as calm as possible needs.
The doctor presented us with a choice:
“We can do a c-section now, or we can give it some more time and see if anything starts happening. If we do give more time, it seems unlikely that anything will happen without the (induction drug) Pitocin, which we have to stop giving you because it’s lowering the baby’s heart rate. But it’s your choice.”
“Ok, well. Let us talk it over,” Eric said, as my catheter bag filled with nervous-pee.
She left the room and we discussed the pros and cons, deciding that it probably couldn’t hurt to wait a few hours. Perhaps we’d get lucky and things would suddenly kick into gear, and I could avoid a c-section. Plus it would give my mom, already on her flight to NYC, more time to get to the hospital and be there for the birth.
So when the doctor came back we told her, “We’ve decided to wait a few hours and see if anything happens.”
Doctor: “Ok, but nothing is going to happen. Your body is not in labor at all, and is showing no signs of starting. There’s really no point in waiting.”
Us: “Well, we just figured something MIGHT happen on its own…”
Doctor: “It won’t.”
Us: “So you’d recommend not waiting?”
Doctor: “There’s no reason to wait. Waiting will just increase risk.”
Us: “Oh. So when you said we had a choice…”
What the actual fuck?
Thanks for letting us spend half an hour in this hospital room discussing a choice that was not a choice, and having us select an option that was not an option. Cool use of tax dollars!
I was then told I was getting a c-section.
They were going to have a 5-minute team huddle, then come wheel me into surgery, and the baby would be out in 15 minutes.
So 9 hours of morphed into in a matter of 4 seconds and I gotta say, it was a little jarring.
In what seemed like no time, a medical team of six wheeled me into the operating room and whisked Eric away to outfit him in his surgery gear (side note: nothing made Eric happier than when they gave him a hairnet– “See, they think I have hair!” Then moments later he saw that the literally hairless anesthesiologist was also wearing one. Apparently it’s just protocol. They would’ve put Britney Spears circa 2007 in a hairnet.)
So Eric entered the OR expecting, naturally, that there’d be a sheet blocking the scary parts. Instead, he walked smack into my naked body on a metal slab, spread eagle and covered in orange goo. The doctor was literally already cutting into me when Eric opened the door. His demeanor remained calm but his eyes said “I’m am screaming on the inside.”
Fortunately for him, even though a nightmare of epic proportions was taking place below the curtain, above the curtain was nothing short of glam-squad allure:
The nurse asked if I’d like any music playing.
Me: “Ummm…I guess Adele would be soothing?”
So he whipped out his iPhone and Spotify-ed that shit, as any professional would do mid-surgery. But then he continued to look at his phone for another 2-3 minutes, on what I can only assume was Tinder. Which of course is completely fine but if you’re going to be online dating during my c-section at least have the decency to let me see who you’re swiping right on. I mean have some fucking respect.
As Adele played, I closed my eyes and tried to take in the hugeness of this moment, but found the only thing I could think about was my post-surgery snack. I silently prayed that Eric had already picked up one of my favorites, and it’d be waiting for me in post-op. Most people pray for their life before undergoing surgery– or, if nothing else, their child’s life.
I prayed for a muffin.
After a few minutes of tugging and digging through organs, the team began compressions right below my ribcage. Nora was already in the correct position (head-down) so the standard method is to then compress from the top, by her feet, which would force her head to emerge from the bikini-line incision and her body would eventually be entirely force-squeezed out of me. You know, like a sausage.
But damn was this one uncooperative little chorizo. Right before her head was about to emerge, Nora decided “Nope- fuck this noise!” and TURNED AROUND.
Like her mom on a
Monday work day day, she caught a glimpse of the outside world and decided
She managed to somehow contort her body 45 degrees so that she was now laying across my stomach in transverse position (aka horizontal instead of vertical, aka nowhere near an exit hole). Not sure where this little bozo thought she was going. Clearly someone forgot to read the fine print of her 9-month lease agreement, but eviction day was upon us and, if resistant, tenant would be removed by force.
The team continued compressing from my ribcage, but with her new positioning, instead of moving down, Nora just swished from side to side. The compressions became more forceful and I could hear and see my body flopping around like a beached jellyfish. I have to trust there was a method to the madness, but eventually the medical strategy simply devolved into this:
She would not come out.
I heard the doctor call for an attending, and then for a vacuum. I looked up pleadingly at Eric. He lovingly stroked my hair and, in the most reassuring of tones, whispered, “I have no fucking idea what’s happening.”
I then turned to the anesthesiologist, and he assured me that everything was just fine. You know, like a liar.
A few more minutes of flopping, a couple rounds of suction, and a few buckets of sweat pouring from Eric’s pointless hairnet later, Nora emerged to the song “When We Were Young.” And it was beautiful.
The song, not Nora.
Nora looked like this:
Which some people might argue is beautiful, because everything about pregnancy, birth and motherhood is beautiful, and to those people I say GET OFF MY BLOG.
Thankfully, they cleaned her up before handing her to me, because, for christ’s sake, I’d been through enough.
And then, she was beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that I simply could not believe she was mine.
“By the way,” said the doctor, “the second I took her out of you, she shit all over me.”
Ok yup she’s mine.
Giving a spelling assessment to a 3rd grader I’ve worked with for years:
Me: “Next, spell ‘daughter.’ As in, ‘I gave birth to my daughter, Nora, in August.'”
Kid: “You have a daughter?”
Kid: “I don’t remember.”
Me: “I was here the day before I gave birth. When I came back to work in November, you gave me a gift for the baby. You asked me her name, and I told you it was ‘Nora,’ and you said it was a pretty name.”
Me: “You seriously don’t remember any of this?”
Kid: “The thing is, I only remember things I care about.”
(I started writing this 8 months ago. I got one paragraph in and then forgot about it, because #mombrain. “The Birth, Part 2” will come at some point, but this was getting too long and I’m tired and someone should probably check on Nora. Where IS she….)
The evening of August 24th, 2018 was like any other evening in my third trimester of pregnancy: I was rip-roaringly uncomfortable, sweaty, and crippled with impatience. Eric was bored out of his goddamn mind. This general state of misery (misery being a relative term, I’m aware that this all falls under the umbrella of #champagneproblems) had been on repeat every day for the entire summer, and with my due date two days away, I had lost all hope that this baby would be arriving early.
One of Eric’s best friends was having a birthday party that night, and even though I could have technically gone into labor at any minute, I assumed I was going to be pregnant for another 3-7 years, and therefore urged Eric to go. I would’ve gone myself, but alas, breathing while standing was a luxury I could no longer enjoy.
“Have fun,” I told him, while yearning to be in a body that didn’t contain a whole other body.
He swore he was only going to have one drink, just in case. “No, whatever,” I replied. “Get drunk. Enjoy yourself. This baby is never being born and I will forever be two people and I’ll never poop alone again and I’ll have two vaginas forever and that’s just a fate I’ve now accepted.”
So obviously after this diatribe he slowly backed out of the apartment, sprinted down the hall, fled to the west side and had himself a few hearty drinks.
And obviously, my water broke.
He got home from the party around 10:00pm, which is when people in their mid-thirties get home from parties. At 3am, I woke up thinking I had to pee, but when I stood up, I found I had no control over it, and
bolted penguin-shimmied to the bathroom, luckily making it to the toilet before the major “break.”
“How do you know the difference between your water breaking and just peeing?” many people have asked me. “Doesn’t it feel the same?” Yes, it feels the same in the way a light ocean ripple feels the same as a category 5 tsunami.
NO IT DOESN’T FUCKING FEEL THE SAME.
One thing is normal and the other thing is .
If your water breaks and you think it’s just pee, you’ve been peeing wrong.
I flipped on the bathroom lights and screamed, “Eric! It’s happening!” Though questionably drunk, he was out of bed in .5 seconds and ready to call an Uber when I casually removed my torpedoed granny panties and got into the shower.
A strange calm took over. I knew this was it, but I also didn’t feel panicked. I knew I wanted to feel clean going into the hospital, and that I had time. In a voice I didn’t recognize, because calm is a distant stranger I’ve never met, I told Eric to call the doctor while I enjoyed my last shower as a non-mom (had I known what I know now– that Nora would insist on watching me shower every day, curtain open, like a complete tater-tot-sized creeper, I would have cherished that last lone shower even more).
(actual pic of her outside the bathroom door watching me shower and, I suspect, body-shaming me.)
The doctor said I’d probably start going into labor soon, but it was my choice if I wanted to go to the hospital now and induce, or wait at home for things to get moving. Asking an anxious person to sit around and wait is like asking my sister to emote– technically it can be done, but it will be painful for all involved so why torture ourselves.
We hopped (well, Eric hopped. I groan-waddled) into an Uber where I immediately called my Mom to let her know my water broke, and then immediately learned that you shouldn’t let your Uber driver know your water broke. They definitely surcharge that shit. I assured him that I wouldn’t leak in his ride, because “Don’t worry, Sir, I’m wearing a pad the size of Atlanta,” which definitely smoothed things over and made everyone feel more comfortable and less disgusted.
My mom, who was in the Outer Banks, where my entire family was vacationing without us, picked up the phone. She was 99% excited but I definitely caught that 1% of disappointment that I couldn’t kegel-squeeze this baby inside of me for another week so that her vacation could continue uninterrupted.
“I guess I’ll book a plane ticket!” she said, and I assured her, one last time, that she didn’t HAVE to fly in for this, but Cha Cha is no dummy and knew there would be social media evidence of her absence.
So she flew in for the optics.
When we got to the hospital I was asked by the nurse if I was SURE my water broke. I explained that I’m no medic, but if this isn’t my water breaking then either my body forgot how to pee right, or it turns out I’m a mermaid. For reasons I cannot place, she remained skeptical, and so took me into the bathroom to “test” the liquid.
“Alright, your funeral,” I shrugged, and as predicted, pulling down my underwear triggered another gush, which went all over her shoes. I’d assume labor nurses are used to and cool with this kind of thing, but she didn’t seem the least bit amused when I suggested she grab a boogie board so I don’t know maybe it was her first day?
“Ok, let’s check you in,” she said, now convinced that I was not in fact a mermaid and was maybe just having a human baby.
Another, more chill nurse thankfully then took over, and as she got me settled in my bed I caught a glimpse of my shitty-looking nails and said, “God damnit, I KNEW I should’ve gotten a manicure yesterday,” because that’s something that someone who is ready to be a mother says.
The nurse laughed and told me you wouldn’t believe how many women have glam squads come to the hospital to fix them up for the instagram birth series. That’s cool. I looked like this:
I was then asked if I wanted drugs, to which I replied YES PLEASE THANK YOU AND ALSO NOWWWWWWWW before the nurse could finish saying the word “epidural.” Please note that I was in absolutely zero pain at this point. I just wanted the zero pain to stay that way for as long as possible because, I don’t know, I guess I don’t hate myself?
But seriously, to the women who choose to suffer through the contractions or go all natural all the way, I gotta say damn you are brave. But also why? WHY?!
So they started the epidural and then the Pitocin, a drug to induce labor. And then I sat back and relaxed while nothing happened.
When the doctor went to check my cervix, she saw this:
Apparently my amniotic sac had decided it was go-time, but forgot to inform my cervix, which remained as closed as Donald Trump’s mind. (Relatedly, if Trump really wants an impenetrable border wall, he should build it out of my cervix).
No man, woman or baby was breaking through that barrier any time soon. I was 0 centimeters dilated. I know this because no less than four arms went up my hooha to check.
You know what’s a bad sign? When your doctor removes her fist from your vagina and says “Hmmmm, that’s odd.”
So we continued to wait while nothing happened. NOTHING.
So much nothing, in fact, that when the nurse came in to check on me, he just walked in, grabbed a seat and joined our binge session of The Sinner (great show, btw), which we were watching on Eric’s laptop. He didn’t even ask how I was feeling or if I needed anything– it was clear from the zero things happening that I was feeling nothing and needed nada. So he watched tv with us. Because Netflix n’ birth.
Clearly, it was going to be a long day.
Or so we thought.
*I’m totally kidding about the optics joke, Ma! I know you love me. Probably not as much as you love the Outer Banks, though, which is fair because the Outer Banks never called you a bitch when it was 16.
I had that recurring nightmare last night where I’m in college and I have all these exams coming up that I haven’t studied for, nor have I attended any of the classes, and I’m now suddenly realizing that this isn’t a recurring nightmare it’s just me remembering college.
Me: “Be honest, I’m the funniest patient you have, right?”
Therapist: “I can’t answer that.”
Me: “Oh COME ON. Just admit it.”
Therapist: “Ok, ok. Fine.”
Therapist: “You’re not.”
P.S. The end of my sentence WAS “anxiety.”
Me: “I think I’ve been a pretty reasonable parent so far. I just really want to avoid being the parent who cares TOO much– who hovers and obsesses and worries about every little thing her child does. But I definitely catch myself acting that way sometimes, so I fear I’m totally becoming that parent.”
Therapist: “You said you have a nanny part-time. Do you find it hard to relinquish control when the nanny comes to take care of Nora?”
Me: “Oh my god, NO. I count the seconds til she gets there and it’s an immediate hand off, as if we’re in a baton relay.”
Therapist: “Ok. And are Nora and the nanny always in sight when you’re home?”
Me: “What? No! The nanny immediately takes her out of the apartment.”
Therapist: “And where do they go?”
Me: “I have no idea.”
Therapist (10 second silence): “Yeah I don’t think you’re that parent who cares too much.”
Therapist: “You might want to ask the nanny where they go.”