Sunday, May 9, 2010

When I Became a Mother......

DISCLAIMER: This post is about childbirth. If you are A) male; B) squeamish; or C) under 18 years old, you might want to skip it.

I thought Mother's Day would be an appropriate time to tell about Sweet Girl's birth almost 26 years ago.

At that time I worked as a secretary at the vet school at the University of Georgia. I worked in Large Animal Medicine (no snide remarks, please), and some of the veterinarians in our department joked about my delivering there instead of going to the hospital. "We deliver cows and horses all the time, a baby will be a breeze!" I withstood those comments for the entire pregnancy.

I went into labor just after I got to work on a Thursday, the day after my due date. I had been for my weekly check-up that week, and my LEAST favorite doctor in the whole practice said to me, "You know you'll probably go another two weeks." He didn't even do an exam. Did I mention he was my least favorite?

I timed my contractions faithfully -- for a while. My doctor had said to report to the hospital when the contractions were five minutes apart. When they got that close, however, I just stopped timing them. I couldn't go anywhere anyway. Baby Daddy and I rode to work together, and that day he had kept the car. I was typing a long manuscript for one of the faculty members, so I would type type type type, get up and go into the (vacant) adjoining office to wait out a contraction, go back to my desk and type type type type.

The beeyotch with whom I shared an office (there were only two of us for 22 faculty members) and who knew EVERY. SINGLE. THING. IN. THE. WORLD. kept telling me, "Oh, you're not in real labor." Then at lunch, she took the rest of the day off, leaving me in the office alone. I would learn later FROM HER OWN MOUTH that she left because she knew I was going to deliver that day, and it was her last opportunity for a while to take an afternoon off. Real class act.

Late in the afternoon, I went down the hall to the office of one of our favorite veterinarians. He was a guy who would fly all over the world because someone had requested that HE come do surgery on a $43 million race horse or something. True story. Anyway, he was moving on to more lucrative opportunities, and Friday would be his last day. I went to bid him farewell.

"Why are you telling me that today?" he asked. "I'll be here tomorrow."

"Yeah, but I won't," I replied.

"Why not?"

"Because I'm going to have the baby tonight."

He guffawed. GUFFAWED. "What makes you think you're going to have that baby tonight?"

"Because I've been in labor all day."

He went into a blind panic. "Oh my God. What are you doing here? What do we do? Should I call an ambulance? Oh God....." This was one of the big bad veterinarians who delivered horses and cows all the time and had offered to save me the expense of a hospital bill.

I don't know what made me so calm. I had certainly never had a baby before. I waited until Baby Daddy got off work, we went home (30 minutes away), he had dinner, and we went to my mother's house where Nurse Jane was. (Mother was in the Bahamas. Ironically, Katydid had bowed out of the same trip when she discovered it was so close to my due date. NOT my mother.) I waited for a while before I called the hospital. The last thing I wanted was the shame of going to the hospital, only to be sent home again.

We finally went to the hospital around 10:30 PM. Contractions were no closer together or worse than they had been at work. The first thing I learned was that my LEAST favorite doctor was the one on call that night.


They got me in a room, prepped me with all the unpleasantries, checked for dilation (5 cm - YES! - they were astounded that it was a first baby), and waited. Finally they broke my water.

On his last check, the doctor informed me that I could commence pushing with every contraction, as I was fully dilated. When they wheeled me into the delivery room, we discovered that the nurse on duty was the same one who had taught our Lamaze classes. Cool.

They were getting the baby thingie ready, and I had a contraction. I pushed, as I had been told to do.

There was a baby. I guess I'm pretty strong.

Unfortunately, we had skipped a couple of steps. Like the episiotomy. Never mind the drugs.

Sweet Girl came out kind of gray, which was exactly the color that Baby Daddy's face turned.

"Uhhhh...... Jan...... We got a baby over here."

I don't THINK she would have hit the floor if he hadn't been there, but I'd rather not think about it.

I barely got a glimpse of the baby. I thought it was a boy. I am so glad I was wrong.

Things kind of went into fast motion after that. They whisked her away, and the doctor came in from wherever he had been lounging while I produced a baby.

He came in and sat down on a stool at the foot of my stretcher and looked at me like he was disgusted.

"Anybody got a road map?" he asked. "I don't know where to start."

Then he said directly to me, "Honey, I've never seen anybody tear this badly in the 10 years I've been practicing."

"I'm glad you could drop in," I said. I think he missed my sarcasm.

I could have cheerfully killed him. Even today, 26 years later, it would be tempting. He wasn't my regular doctor, but I went back to him three months later because I still couldn't.... We couldn't have.... There were problems.

I asked him, "Isn't there something you can do to fix it?"

He responded, "Oh sure I could, but you'd just get pregnant again and tear it up all over again."

Did I mention he was my least favorite?

I can't say the delivery itself was terribly painful, because it was sort of like snatching out a loose tooth. (Sorry for the analogy, Sweet Girl.) It was the aftermath that was painful. It didn't help that Sweet Girl was jaundiced (well yellow IS my favorite color), and she had to go back to the hospital and doctor every single day for two weeks. And she was born at the end of June and our car had no air conditioning. We had record heat that week. Of course.

Even having a traumatic delivery wasn't the worst part, though. They wouldn't let me see my baby because she had a "contaminated" delivery. Hello? I was in the delivery room. How contaminated WAS it in there? They also put her away from the other babies in the nursery because of her "contaminated" delivery. Poor thing. She was born at 12:19 AM (I think the jerk doctor went off duty at midnight, and he was pissed off that I made him stay after hours), and they didn't let me see her until around 5:30 AM. By then I was just about beside myself with worry and new-motherness.

The delivery isn't the reason I only had one baby, though. Besides the fact that Baby Daddy and I didn't stay together, I decided I wouldn't take any chances. The baby/girl/young woman I gave birth to was so good, and I'd heard that the second baby/child is never the same. I wasn't going to take any chances on NOT having a good one.

Delivery aside, I'm very happy with the end result. Happy Mother's Day!


Anonymous said...

the second one is never the same as the first. neither is the third....

I'm glad i stopped there. I'm already outnumbered and 4 would have made me go for broke.

Maggie said...

I'm a mom and I found this a squeamish read!

and i agree with having just one... he was so good I just figured they broke the mold. :)