Monday Memory 2.20.06
As some of you are aware, Running2Ks has hung up her blogging pen. Her presence will definitely be missed. As for her memes, Monday Memories has now been picked up by Shelli. I’m not certain the fate of Thankful Thursdays. I believe that updates are still being posted to Running2Ks blog.
Well, Paris and I had moved back to Seattle to find a midwife and settle in to have this baby. For a while we lived
in our VW microbus. But sometime around November it became
obvious that not only was I outgrowing the tiny bus bed, but it was
becoming a tad too cold for the freedom of outdoor living to be what it
So we moved into a nice little hippy frat in the University district. This place was great. There were about 15 of us living there, most of whom were either musicians, employees of the local vegan restaurant/coffee house/juice bar/health food co-op, or any combination of the above. As you may have ascertained, none of these are particularly reliable sources of income. And with the house being four stories, eight bedrooms, and optimally located there was generally a crunch for rent. We would have the best parties at the end of the month. $5.00 at the door bought admission, endless beer and the free entertainment of 3-5 bands. It was always a gas, and we often had enough money left over to buy some groceries for everybody. Years later, people would stop me on the street to ask if I was the energetic, dancing, pregnant girl.
Oh, I’m sure you can just imagine how incredibly conducive this situation was to my gestation. Actually, despite living on the third floor in a house that was several flights of steps up from the street, itself, I loved it. It was great exercise. What more does a pregnant woman need, right?
Well according to our midwife – folic acid, iron, regular eating habits, and possibly even childbirth education classes. I took the first two, tried to do my best with the third, but drew the line at the last one. As far as I was concerned, CBE classes were just fine for out of touch, yuppie, new agers, but I KNEW my body, thank you very much. Not only that, but I had read Spiritual Midwifery until it was falling apart and was looking forward to the rushes of contractions as well as a psychic connection with those present during labor.
Yep. I didn’t have a clue.
Forty weeks came and went. I began to worry a little. Fortunately, labor began at 10:30 pm , a mere 3 days after my due date. I called the midwife. She told me to get in the bath. So we have lots of pictures of me lying in a tub looking for all the world like a very enthusiastic manatee. This didn’t stop my labor, but it did slow it considerably. We called Beth back to report contraction times. She said to try to get some sleep. She’d be sending her assistant Lynn over in a couple of hours.
slept. I stared at the back of his head
and became more uncomfortable with each contraction. When Lynn arrived, Paris awoke long enough to
settle her into our big comfy chair. So
again I worried as everyone else slept.
Beth arrived the next morning to find that I’d worried
myself into a quite, panicked state. My
contractions were still further apart than they would prefer. I grew to hate my beloved stairs as Beth had
us climb up and down, pausing only to slow dance with Paris
for each contraction. In all reality I
probably only ascended those steps a few times. But in my mind the time stretched on forever.
A few hours later, Beth checked my dilation to find that I was at 7 centimeters. Great, 3 more to go. I felt a bit discouraged, but was ready to keep going. I ate some canned pears, and wandered around a bit more. As tired as I was, I had no doubt that this felt good, healthy and right. Two hours found me still at 7 cm. At this time Beth suggested some Cohosh tincture and the rupturing of my membranes. Sure, I thought, whatever’s going to get this kiddo out. She scraped. I gulped.
My contractions hit me like a freight train. There was no psychic peace in this room. There was no connection to anyone else. As I sat writhing upon our big chair, I felt like a horse in a fire. All I knew was that I wanted to escape, but couldn’t find a way out of the terrifying heat.
I have absolutely no idea how much time passed before they checked my cervix again. All I know is that it hurt non stop, and I felt like I needed to push. God did I need to push. Beth checked me and grew a bit pale. I was told that I had swollen to 5 cm. What? Was she telling me that I was going backwards?
Apparently the pressure of my bearing down had placed undue
stress upon my cervix and it was swelling. Not only that, but the urge to push was getting stronger all the
time. She told me to lift my chin. She told me to pant. She told me to make horse noises with my
I’d been wandering around in an oversized T-shirt for the past day, and saw no reason to change that. So Lynn and Paris wrapped a sarong around my waist and we began the descent to the street into Beth’s two door, small, economy car. Paris sat behind my seat which we had leaned waaaay back. It was approximately 4:30 pm when we took off across town to Providence Hospital. Now I know that some of you are familiar with Seattle traffic. It is unbelievable at rush hour. When people in Phoenix talk to me about traffic, I unabashedly laugh in their faces. Buddy, you don’t know what the word means.
So there we were racing across
town in the crush of it all. We careened
around Metro busses. We ran orange
lights whenever possible. At one point I
remember looking up into the face of a man in a van. The look I saw
there, I will never
forget. I think he realized what was
going on at the moment our eyes met. There, at that moment, may have
been my one truly psychic moment. Poor van guy. Poor, poor van guy.
So off we went. Eventually we arrived at Providence where they wanted me to do, what else, but paperwork. As I whimpered, Paris
Beth explained to me that the plan was to give me an epidural so that I could numb away the urge to push. The thought was that if I was not bearing down, the cervix would further relax and dilate according to its own agenda. Where, I couldn’t help but wonder, was this thinking a few hours ago when they scraped open my bag of waters and drugged me with the tincture which began this crazy nightmare? But I didn’t say that. I said that I understood. I said that I thought that was a wise decision. So they inserted an IV Foley. This was they could give me some fluids to help keep me going. They apparently also had a policy about juicing a person up prior to Epidurals. There was also the general hospital opinion that it would be a good idea to be prepared “just in case.”
So there I lay, waiting until it was time for the epidural. About 45 minutes later, they were finally able to track down the anesthetist. He came in, told me to bend over, and inserted the catheter into my epidural space. A bit of burning and it was done. The thing I’d never wanted was done. I didn’t get my natural childbirth. I cried to know that this was true. I began to feel very otherworldly and removed. Then I looked up and noticed that everyone was looking at me strangely as one nurse read the jagged lines on the monitor printout. You guessed it. My blood pressure had dropped dangerously low. So I was equipped with an oxygen mask. It didn’t take long to dampen from my tears.
So I waited. And I waited. And my labor slowed down. It slowed further. They talked to me about Pitocin. I agreed. They turned up the epidural to deal with the painful effects of the Pitocin. Little did I know how typical this story is. The difference being that, I never planned on this. I never wanted to “bring on the drugs.” In fact, when I later saw my paperwork, it had a big read stamp across it that read FAILED HOMEBIRTH. That felt good...so good.
Anyway, after they doped me up with Pitocin and ass numbing
Epidural drugs, Beth sent Paris away to grab himself a sandwich. After
he left she leaned right down in my face. She told me that the doctors
fully expected to be doing a c-section on
me if I didn’t dilate within the next 2 hours. But, she also told me
not to worry about that. She knew me better than that. She told me to
take a nap...that I needed and
deserved it. That I was to have sweet
dreams, and when I awoke I would be fully dilated and we’d go ahead and
this baby out.
And you know what? I did just that. I took my nap. I woke up about an hour later for a vaginal check. Lo and behold I was fully effaced, dilated and ready. There are, in my opinion, no sweeter words than, “You can push, now.” And push I did.
I pushed for an hour and a half. I turned a few parts of myself inside out. Yes, I have some truly unfortunate photos of that, too. Aren’t you glad I don’t post them? Sometimes I wonder how it is that OBGYNs have families, at all.
Just when I thought that I’d never get her to come out, I was told to feel her head. I was told to look in the mirror. That’s my kid, thought I. Oh my, that’s my kid! Pushing became so much easier then. She was out in just a few more contractions.
But the elation was short lived. Paris
caught Maya. I heard that she was a girl. I heard them instruct him to cut the cord. Then I heard someone say, “We’ve got a slow
one.” Suddenly, she was so far away. They had her across the room, under a heat
lamp, rubbing her – so hard. “What’s the
matter with my baby?” I asked.
No one answered. But Beth looked over at me. She said, “Call to her. Let her know that you want her.”
“Maya”, I called, “I love you.”
“We love you!”
“Come to us.”
“Maya we love you!!!”
Paris standing next to the table was also calling out to our baby. She opened her eyes...that exact mirror of his. Looked straight into his, and sighed as if to say, “Thanks for waiting.”
Everyone sighed in response...in unison. They continued to work on her for a few minutes. Evidently, the little gymnast had somehow wrapped her umbilical cord around her throat three (3!) times. This may have contributed to her slow start.
And as everyone was gazing at the lovely infant, I felt something shift. Oh great. It was my leg. They’d left me at the squatting bar. And my leg was slipping out from under me and over the side of the bed. Clinging to the bar I tried to heft myself back up. “Great,” I thought, “One of the most beautiful and poignant moments of my life, and I’m going to fall naked onto the floor.” Fortunately, that did not occur. Somebody did indeed notice and I was numbly rearranged.
I stayed in that room for another little while, practicing
breastfeeding, adoring my baby, and congratulating myself. About 30 minutes later we moved to a regular
room where Paris slept on the
floor. I spent another mostly sleepless
night. But this time it was because I
couldn’t take my eyes off of the exquisite girl in my arms. I couldn’t believe that anything could be so
beautiful. Lying in the eternal twilight
of the hospital room I was surprised, at one point, to notice the door
opening. Imagine my bewilderment upon
spying a nun standing in the entry. Her
only words...”Bless you, my child.”
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