Having just celebrated Mother’s Day getting over some horrible virus, I am slowly coming back to life and reconnecting with my ‘mommy-self’. I must say I am glad, as horrid as it was, that it was only a virus that knocked me out for Mother’s Day. I was terrified, as only a fat girl could be, that I might have contracted Swine Flu. I just knew that people would find out I had the dreaded ‘pig disease’ and they’d go, “Yeah, figures!” At any rate, I am feeling better and rejoining the land of the living.
So I am surrounded by new life, and mothers-to-be. We have some sparrows nesting in our geranium plant, so we have seven babies in my poor, parched flower pot that I can’t water unless I want some sort of Alfred Hitchcock type of retaliation. And I have several friends at work who are expecting, so it’s rather nice. I have an expectant mother friend at work who asked me for some advice, and since I am SUCH an expert, I was more than happy to oblige. And as my friend is one of those still skinny, utterly gorgeous pregnant women, I opted not to hold back. Anything.
“It’s been great. My husband is going to a boot camp for first time fathers, and I am trying to eat healthy and exercise.”
Bwuhahaha….fool! First, the only boot camp Daddy needs is to cook your meals, clean your house, rub your tired feet, and tell you how beautiful you are. And since you only weigh 90 pounds, you need to start having a three-way with Ben and Jerry. Trust me on this.
“Well”, says Tiff, “I want to be in great shape for labor. I really don’t want to have drugs or anything.”
You’re too late. You needed to get an epidural the day you found out you were pregnant. You wanna be in great shape? You ARE in great shape, damn you. But when those labor pains start, you’re going to get a work out punching the shit out of your husband and pretty much everyone else who gets within punching distance. And you will realize the complete and utter stupidity of pattern breathing and you will scream for painkillers like a seasoned crackhead. Trust me…..I’ve been there.
I went into labor in the wee small hours of Tuesday, March 16, 2004. I had a difficult pregnancy. I was 34, looked like a dome home, and had gestational diabetes to contend with. (Ben and Jerry and I had to end our affair.) Where other women got morning sickness, I got Mad Cow Disease. I was one of those unfortunate women who looked hugely pregnant the moment I conceived. (Come to think of it, I’m afraid I still do. Damn you, Ben and Jerry!) And Jerry, my husband! He was such a trooper, he went with me to ALL of my appointments. I figured that since we had experienced the entire pregnancy together, he should be miserable, too. As the day approached, I was the size of The Epcot Center. The night before I delivered, my great friend (and a SuperMom), Yasmin, told me to eat a spicy Italian meal, have a glass of red wine, and watch a funny movie. She promised it would send me into labor. (Or, after all that starch, a diabetic coma.)
I took her advice, watched Moonstruck, laughed my ass off, and then went to bed. For about an hour. Then labor kicked in. I love these stories of women who SWEAR they didn’t know they were pregnant, never knew they were in labor, what have you. LIARS! There is no, absolutely NO mistaking labor. None! It hurts like a sonofabitch, and it’ll make you lose your religion. Or find it. Or create your own where you commit violent acts against all and sundry and use lots of profanity.
So we arrived at the hospital after several false starts. Not false labor, just me forgetting stuff like my hairdryer, then my brush, then my shower shoes. Jerry finally told me no way were we going home a fourth time so I could get my Bach CDs. Not that they mattered at that point. I was singing a libretto of cuss words the whole way to the ER. We arrived, Jerry signed us in and I began screaming for my epidural. And now I know the secret. The head nurse got really tired of hearing my big mouth and told me that once I got to three centimeters, I could have an epidural. (If you don’t know what that means, don’t ask.) I willed myself there and began screaming. Actually, I’m not sure I made it. By that time, the hospital staff might have just wanted to shut me up.
I have to say that was the BEST sleep I’d had in months. Well, it was probably the best sleep I’d had in my life. Jerry, who quit smoking in support of pending parenthood, bravely took that opportunity to drive around the corner to a service station, where he downed a couple of beers and smoked a whole pack of cigarettes in the car. Then, he got himself a Publix deli sandwich the size of Rhode Island and came back to the room. The nurse told him that he might have to leave as the smell of food might make me ill, but I was farther over the rainbow than Judy Garland, so I went right back to sleep. Imagine my annoyance when I felt some sort of tapping on my foot. I tried a well aimed kick at the head of whoever was disturbing my rest, but I was paralyzed from the waist down. Lucky for Dr. Jurado, too, because the way he was rooting around in my nether-regions, he was either going to propose marriage or I was going to bring my knees together and crush his head like a walnut. I know now that the epidural is administered to protect everyone ELSE in the labor and delivery room.
He thumped my feet and told me that our baby, Jenda, was in distress and we needed to go into surgery. I rallied and said that I really wanted to continue to try pushing, to which he replied, “You’re not really trying, Chica.” I found out later that he had vacation starting two days later, so there was no way in hell he was going to hang out in the hospital delivering my recalcitrant newborn. So off we went, and I had an emergency caesarean.
After Jerry ran off after Jenda and left me with Nurse Ratched, who refused me water, ice chips, or a blindfold and cigarette, I decided the thing to do as I came down off of all the drugs they gave me was to make an ass of myself in the hopes that they would give me more drugs to shut me up. Nurse Numbskull was immune to my profanity and threats of violence (and why wouldn’t she be? I was paralyzed from the waist down!) Jerry finally came back with Nurse Nice, who wheeled me into my private room, where at last, I got kinder treatment and ice chips. Once we were all ensconced, Mommy, Daddy, and baby, in our cozy little room, the nurses left and I spent the evening gazing at the amazing and wondrous creature that we had created.
I was sick of the liquid diet, and sick of everyone asking me if I had passed gas, which was not something I was going to admit to until Jerry whispered to me that passing gas meant that I was healing properly and could have solid food again. So I blew a wall down and got a cheeseburger. Life was good!
Day two was hell, because by then, all the drugs had worn off and I realized that in spite of my flabby tummy, I really used my abdominal muscles. For EVERYTHING! We really do, folks. We use them to laugh, cry, sit up, cough, lift, lay back down, you name it. Of course the worst was yet to come. In the meantime, we enjoyed our cloistered existence, flowers being delivered, nurses at our beck and call, and just our little family. I enjoyed yelling at Jerry as he tried to change ‘the first diaper’ and I even enjoyed taking laps around the nurse’s station, slowly shuffling and panting like Hugh Hefner trying to remember his way around the Playboy Mansion. But alas, all good things come to an end. Hence, that abdominal muscle thing.
One day, our (usually) very sweet recovery room nurse came in and announced that according to my chart, I had yet to have a bowel movement. Knowing that that would entail using muscles I vowed never to use again, I said, SO WHAT?
“Ma’am, we need to ensure that everything is working and healing. If you don’t have a bowel movement, we can’t release you from the hospital.”
Are you one of those nurses who’s hooked on the prescription drugs? You must be. Jerry, I said, call U-Haul and get all our stuff moved in here. I am perfectly prepared to spend the rest of my life here, but I hate their cheesy artwork. Get our essentials from home and donate the rest. It’s fine, really.
Then our dear sweet nurse said, “Get your ass outta that bed and do what you have to do. We’re gonna need this room for the next patient and you have to be out by tomorrow. Got it?” Then she stormed out.
I was almost in tears. Jerry could see how upset I was, and he just wanted to help. So he made a suggestion as he helped me out of the bed.
“I’m going to help you into the bathroom. I’ll stand outside the door and if you need me to help you, I’ll be right here so I can come in and help, okay?”
I have to admit that this stopped me in my tracks. Thinking about what would need to happen in there, how could he help me? I mean, is this like some kind of crisis for anyone besides me? Is he going to ‘talk it off the ledge’, like Good Cop, Bad Cop?
Me, Bad Cop: Come down from there, you little shit!
Jerry, Good Cop: “Take your time, it’s okay. No one wants to hurt you. We all just want to go home.”
Me, Bad Cop: You piece of shit! Get down from there!
And so on, and so on. Until finally, the deed was done, I was doubled over and in tears, and Jerry was booking himself a one-way ticket under an assumed name to start a new life.
We finally made it out of the hospital, into our car, and onto the Florida Turnpike, Jerry driving like Grandma Mildred at 30 miles per hour, and me in the backseat hovering over Jenda, who slept peacefully in her car-seat the whole way home. I like to think that all those ‘one-finger salutes’ we got were well meant, and not a result of our blocking up an entire highway doing only 30 mph.
Fast forward to 2009 (literally, folks. It flies by!) and we’re getting ready to send our baby off to kindergarten this fall. It seems like just yesterday that we were up all night, learning the feeding schedule, teething, potty training, and just going through all of the new parent learning curve, or, as I call it, ‘Baby Mama Drama.’ It was tough, and when Jenda misbehaves, I whip out the old “I was cut in half so you could get out”. God help me when she gets older and that one won’t work anymore. I remember the aches and pains, the sleepless nights, and boobs so sore I promised them an all expenses paid trip to Paris (which still hasn’t materialized!) I am reminded of my own mother telling me that someday I would have a child just like me, and Jerry’s mother cursing, er, blessing him with the same admonishment. So we have a daughter who looks just like Jerry (and hopefully has HIS metabolism) and who has my sarcastic mouth. Some days it’s a real challenge, just like pregnancy and childbirth were. So here’s my best advice…. Enjoy every minute.
I’d do it again in a heartbeat!