A Day Like No Other
Today, September 12, is a very special anniversary for me. It is the anniversary of the best day of my life. It is proof and a yearly reminder that whatever I have done with my life to this point, such as it is, and no matter what may come after until my time on Earth is done, whenever that may be, that I can look back and unequivocally say THIS one day back in 1994, was the best day of my life.
September 12 is the anniversary of the day I gave birth to my daughter Arianna. Yes, today is my baby’s 10th Birthday.
My due date was August 28, but she was obviously not having ANY of that. Maybe she just wanted to be a September baby like her Mama and Papa Joe (my Dad). My OB/GYN was also on vacation for that whole week, and he said jokingly to me right before he left “Watch, you’ll have the baby on Labor Day!” and then started laughing his butt off. I looked at him and said “As IF I would ever do anything so cornball!? I’m not having this baby until your butt is back from vacation. We’ll be waiting for you!” And so we were.
And waiting……. and waiting… and waiting….. and waiting……..
Finally on Friday, Sept 9 Doc told me he wanted to induce me, that I was just under 2 weeks late and to wait any longer would not be considered safe. He didn’t want to wait much longer to see if it would happen on its own. We had tried everything to induce my labor up to this point. Walking till I was ready to drop. More walking. Dancing. Lots of sex. Nope. None of it worked. Those old wives tales are such bullshit, I swear. So, Doc booked me to be induced on Monday, September 12. Actually, he wanted to do it on Sunday, Sept 11, but Z said he wanted an extra day off from work and another 3-day weekend. Typical man. I was told to fast and to present myself at the Labor and Delivery ward of my chosen hospital at 5:30am.
AT WHAT TIME????????????? DID YOU SAY 5:30??????? AM?????? Uh, uh-huh, sure, ok. Apparently, they wanted to get me prepped and the IV drip in and the induction med going nice and slow. The way he timed it, I should be fully dilated and in full labor around his lunchtime. Do you think I let him get off that easy? Of COURSE NOT!
Sunday night, I was so nervous. I had been very anxious for a few weeks now. Every twinge I wondered “Is this it?” I had been having some odd pains, but it wasn’t really labor. The wait was killing me! I kept checking and re-checking the bag that I had had on standby for my delivery. Going home outfits? One for a girl, which I was positive I was having, or one for a boy, just in case. Booties, blanket, etc…. yup. All the things for me. Yup. Check. Names. Check. Arianna for a girl. Aidan for a boy. FINAL.
Late at night after Z had gone to sleep, I found myself in the nursery. I eased myself down in the rocking chair and looked around, thinking, “The next time I’m in here, my little baby will be here with me.” And it was the best feeling. I could feel the baby kicking me every now and then. Moving around, trying to get comfortable I suppose. I started crying softly, the emotions overwhelming me. I couldn’t quite believe that I had come this far. I/we had tried so hard and been through hell (ok, mostly me) and back for over 2 years trying to get pregnant. Then when it worked, when I was finally pregnant, I couldn’t quite believe it. Well, not until the horrifying nausea that was with me 24/7 started anyway! I looked down at my HUGE protruding tummy and smiled through my tears. Just a little bit more to go now. By this time tomorrow, hopefully my baby would be born. I managed to haul myself out of the rocking chair and waddled off to bed.
It seemed I had just dozed off after tossing and turning forever when the alarm rang. Even my cats seemed to sense things were different this morning. They were all following me silently, a bunch of little-ok, FAT- seriously furry shadows staring at me. I carefully got into the shower. I figured I would end up a mess, but would prefer to start out squeaky clean at least. You have no idea how unnerving it is to have 7 pairs of eyes staring at your hugely pregnant body while you’re in the shower. Little furry perverts! They were talking to me the whole time now. I got out and went to wake up Z. In no time we were getting into the car for the 30-minute drive to the hospital.
Dawn was breaking as we set off on the freeway. The beautiful early morning light. It was a little bit cool still, and hasn’t really warmed up too much yet. Thank God, since the summer was the worst in DECADES that year. Z remembers the songs on the radio the whole way there. I don’t. I just remember looking at the road, at the mountains in sort of a daze, more and more nervous of the unknown by each passing minute. The whole ride there was a bit of a daze, actually, for me at any rate.
The birthing suite was very nice. Like a hotel room. They got me in and settled and next thing I knew MY nurse Karen (you had a dedicated nurse assigned to you, but that didn’t mean that everyone and their mother wouldn’t be coming to look and stick their hands up your hoo-hah by a long shot!) had inserted the IV line, was smiling at me and said as she started running the solution “Here we go!” I smiled back. She proceeded to get me all attached to the fetal monitor, while I was trying to distract myself by watching the news in front of me on the TV. That obviously wasn’t working. So, I started cracking jokes. I’m usually pretty fun to be around, but when I’m nervous? I turn into a comedienne. Pretty soon I had Karen in stitches laughing so hard, and this is what kept me from freaking out. I was having quite a ball, all things considered.
Well, at least until the contractions started. Things went kind of ape shit real fast. While they were still very mild and far apart, they came to me and told me that my cute little Chinese Anesthetist was scheduled to go in to theater for a heart patient, and would I like to get my epidural in NOW and just keep the med at a very very low dose until it was needed to be increased later, or would I like to chance waiting till he got out of the other surgery? NOW PLEASE. RIGHT NOW. Turns out, it’s a good thing I did it this way, but we’ll get to this in a bit. Thank God my Mama was there with me. Although, watching her try and keep monster the hell out of my hair was grating on me. Monster was talking nonsense the whole time and the LAST thing I needed to hear was her. Z was in charge of keeping her out while I got my epidural. I was a good girl and it went fine. When it started taking effect I got a little freaked when my leg tremors started, but once it did? I was all, “THIS IS THE BEST MY BACK HAS FELT IN 10 YEARS! This is great!” Mind you, it wasn’t strong enough yet for me to NOT feel contractions. That was a trip and a half.
By now I was totally making cracks at whoever walked in and took looks and stuck fingers in my hoohah. There is no dignity allowed for a woman in labor. NONE WHATSOEVER.
I wasn’t dilating like they wanted me to. After 4 hours I had only dilated to 2 so the upped the induction meds. Then, it seemed, things were happening all at once.
I was completely fed up with BOTH mothers by this point and told Z quietly to go get them some coffee or something before I flipped. I was so nervous and wondering why I wasn’t dilating properly as expected, I didn’t need the extra hassle right then, ya know? I was finally in some relative peace and quiet when all hell broke loose inside my womb.
The external fetal monitor wasn’t reading very well, and it seems that I had dialated from 2 to 4 in no time flat. By now, I was pretty numb from the waist (waist! HAH! Wherever THAT was!) down and feelin no pain. Suddenly, Karen is gone, and then 3-4 more nurses come back in with her, checking the fetal monitor tape. Whispering back and forth. Karen is back checking my dialation and they all calmly tell me that the external monitor isn’t getting any clear record, the baby must have moved, so they are going to attach an internal monitor to the baby’s scalp. After assuring me it wouldn’t hurt the baby, I gave the go ahead, still clueless to what the real problem was. When the attached the wire to the skull, it broke my water. THAT WAS SOOOOOOOO GROSS. I had to lay in that. I was NOT happy, but then I noticed the looks on the nurses’ faces. They all looked worried, and Karen checked me and turns out I had dilated to 6 now and apparently they could see the head and part of the cord in the birth canal. They were losing the fetal heartbeat. I could hear that it was slower. They said that I would be fine, and still trying not to tell me anything, but I could see that Karen had still not moved. It seems that she was using her fingers to push the baby back in, because when I dilated so fast and my water broke, the umbilical cord slipped through the opening and then Arianna laid her head on it like a pillow. Yes dears, she was suffocating herself. Karen shoved the cord back in and held Arianna’s head off of it. The shut down the drip immediately so I wouldn’t dilate any more than I already had and they called my doctor. He was on the way. I knew something was wrong, but they weren’t telling me. I looked at Karen and I said, “If it comes down to me or the baby, save the baby please! Don’t let my baby die!” She said we would both be ok, but that I would have to have an emergency C-section now. I said, “do it, whatever, just do it. You have my permission and these 3 nurses as witnesses.”
Karen hopped up on the end of my bed and kept her hand right where it was for the ride down the hall to the O.R. right as Z and the two moms were trying to come back with their coffee. They all 3 had identical looks on their faces. I just looked and said “change of plan, c-section NOW!” as they rolled me past. I was kind of freaking asking if my doc had been called over and over again. They assured me he had. By now I was in the OR and on the operating table. Cute little Chinese Anesthesiologist comes in and stands above my head. Tells me he is giving me a whopper dose of drugs so we can do the c-section. I nod that I understand. As they are going through my system he explains that I won’t feel anything, just maybe a little bit of pressure. Again with the nodding understanding. By now I’m wondering where the HELL IS MY DOCTOR? Cause really I have 100% trust and faith in him. They tell me he is here and scrubbing up and tell me to look to my left and I can see him. He looks at me, our eyes meet, and suddenly, I know I’m going to be ok. I felt reasonably calm.
Of course, this did not prevent me from sticking my foot in my mouth with what I said next in a moment of levity. All I can say is, whatever was going thru my veins must have been some gooooood shiiiiiiiiiiitttttt mannnnn. They had strapped my legs to the table and then swung out a board thingie on either side of my torso and proceeded to tie my arms to it. I looked at them, wiggled my fingers and said quite loudly “What is this, the Crucifixion???”. Everyone paused for a moment and stared at me, then started laughing their heads off as they continued with their work, still laughing. Did I mention that this is a CATHOLIC HOSPITAL? No? Well, now I did! Doc walks in and hears the laughter and says “and NOW you see why this lovely lady is my very favorite patient!” and he winks at me. By now, Karen has removed her hand to be replaced by the hand of Sue. Karen walks by me and shows me her fingers. They are blue from lack of circulation and bruised with ugly purple bruises, but she is smiling at me nonetheless. She had her hand like that for over 30 minutes, bless her heart.
Now doc is standing next to me, waiting for the all clear to begin his incision, just staring at the guy above my head. They put an oxygen mask on my face and he is saying “COME ON ! HOW MUCH LONGER???” and I hear little man at my head counting 5,4,3,2,1 ok…. And then doc nods, and his hands go down. (Also? Doc is about 6’4, so he is real easy to see even from my prone position.) Z is at my left next to the anesthesiologist looking terrified in his scrubs. Then I remember, “I was told I would only feel pressure! I FEEL MORE THAN PRESSURE. I move my head and drug doc leans over my face upside down; I said, “I feel everything! I FEEL IT!!!!!!!!!!” he said NO, only pressure!” I said, “He cut me left to right. He pulled the skin up and back, now he has clamped it on the top left and now the right……..” and I hear drug doc shout “OH SHIT!” as I moan in pain (Yes, I can feel most all of it y’all) He says, I can give you something more, but you will be really high for over 24 hours!” I said “It isn’t as if I’m DOING ANYTING USEFUL EXCECPT LAYING HERE! GIMMIE!” He nodded and almost instantly, I was high as hell. NOW I could only feel pressure, thankfully. I’m still moaning, from the pressure. Though. It would seem that my husband watched them remove my some of my intestines and place them on my distended abdomen. Yes, he stayed standing, but barely, poor guy.
Call me nosey, but I noticed that my doc went in for her 3 times. He tried to take her out vertically, but she slipped away. Then he went in horizontally, but she wiggled away again, I saw him look irritated behind his mask and he hoisted himself up on the table with one knee up for leverage and went in diagonally this time! SUCCESS!!!!! I felt this great sucking feeling as all of a sudden I was empty and my head flopped back, cause y’all? Even with the drugs, it didn’t feel too nice. The big ass digital clock on the wall read 10:42am.
But then I didn’t hear crying for a minute. In my drugged state, I was afraid, but then, WAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And I was relived. I kept asking Boy or girl? Boy or girl? No one would answer me, the bastards. Finally someone told me GIRL! And I smiled. I had always, always wanted a baby girl since the time I was about 3.
I think I passed out after that for a little bit. Either that or they gave me another push of drugs for the sewing up part. Ew.
Still I hadn’t seen her. Eventually, I woke up back in my room. I kept asking to see my baby. They told me soon. They told me not to worry, her APGAR rating was a 9 and that she cried for 45 minutes straight once she started! And then they rolled her in in the incubator. She was very slightly jaundiced. I just stared and stared at her in wonder and amazement.
Finally I had my baby. Later, they let me hold her for my first attempt at breastfeeding. The second she was in my arms and looked up at me all squinty I was hooked. And I’ve remained hooked ever since.
As any parent will tell you, the time really flies. It seems only yesterday that I was holding her for the first time. After I got home, her first bath. Well, I didn’t give her her first bath, I was TERRIFIED I’d drop her when she was wet. Cat “Costrina” (yes, my friend that comments on my blog!), my wonderful friend Cat came, (who already had a 2 year old and who I used to pray I could one day be as good a mother as she is, heard my plight and came to my rescue. Now THAT, dear readers, is a friend!
Later, when she first smiled at me. Her first tooth. Her first food. (Mango baby food) Her first steps were trying to follow me when I walked away to go to the kitchen. So many memories flooding my mind, and too numerous to put down here.
So today, my baby, my life, turns 10 years old.
Happy Birthday Arianna. It has been a joy to watch you grow with each year that passes and I’m so proud of my beautiful Princess. Mama loves you with all her heart, forever and ever.