I had my first son just a few weeks shy of my 21st birthday, we sorta grew up together. Today is my son’s 26th birthday and this is the story of his birth.
I was happy to be pregnant but I was terrified to give birth!
When I was born it was still the practice to knock mom out and when she awoke, viola there was a baby. So she was no help in alleviating my delivery fears at all, her biggest help was when she assured me that I was not having a heart attack just my first experience with heartburn.
I was the first cousin of my age group to have a baby, the first of my friends. Two of my sisters had children but mom had said I was too young to attend and they only made my fears worse with their stories. Lamaze was at the its start of its popularity and I attended all the classes and saw the horrifying film, again no help, just more fear. I asked my Grandmother, the proud and strong mother who had 7 children at home with a midwife, but the response I got was disappointing, “ladies don’t speak of such things, just know when the time comes you will know what to do”. Excuse me, ME… what about the Dr. and the nurses wouldn’t they help? As the time got closer I had serious doubts about going through with this whole baby thing. Oh how I longed for the days they just knocked you out, but please no C-sections.
I knew immediately I was pregnant, birth control mishap, and just 10 days later an at home pregnancy test confirmed what I already knew. Next of course came the longest 10 months of my life (do the math 9 months is a lie ladies). I knew it was a boy, I had a dream of me handing the baby in a blue blanket to my mother, this was a recurring dream in all my pregnancies, can’t explain it but no ultrasound could be a better detector, they actually convinced my ex that my youngest was a girl even though the test was only done at 16 weeks and sex isn’t determined until week 18 and I had already had the dream. My pregnancy was actually very easy, no morning sickness, or stretch marks, I eat what I wanted and enjoyed the attention. I did pack on the pounds, 60 to be exact; lucky for me this was not the era where Dr.’s barked at you for gaining too much, but I was healthy, I walked and exercised. Grandmother told me that a lazy pregnancy lead to a painful labor, wise advice.
Finally April 7th arrived, ‘my due date’ and while taking a nap I felt something different from the Braxton-Hicks I had been having for the last month and since I had just been to the Dr. the day before I knew I was not dilated but that he had dropped. I called the Dr.’s office and was told to come in. This was no easy feat, my husband at the time was working in Walnut Creek, we lived in Modesto, and the Dr. and hospital was also in WC. I had to call the ex, tell him to leave early and then wait for him to get home. While waiting I called my mom and told her; we were both disappointed she would not be there for the birth. My dad had just passed the year before and she had only just learned to drive and was not able to drive on freeways yet (never really could either). By the time I got to the Dr.’s office my contractions were down from 20 minutes apart to half hour but I was not dilated to 2 so things were going. I was sent home and hour away, a very nervous mom to be.
About 2 a.m. on the 8th I awoke to strong pains at 5 minutes apart, Dr. said go to the hospital, so it was back in the car and driving. This time not much change the contractions still weren’t strong enough or close enough 15 – 20 minutes apart and I was only barely at 3 cm. GO HOME AGAIN! So back in the car.
The next day I walked, and walked, and walked. Nothing. I went to bed uncomfortable and disappointed. I just seemed to be in a continuous labor that would never end.
Now it’s the 9th, 5:30 a.m. BAM! Sharp pain, and back to 5 minutes apart. Another trip; another disappointment. No change in dilation or contraction strength and this time the Dr. used the dreaded C word. I was sent home again, this time shaking and in tears. I called an older acquaintance that had 4 strapping sons and she offered this advice “stay in town, don’t go back, you can sleep here if you need too and go walk, a lot!” It was off to Sun Valley Mall and for the next 6 hours we walked, up and down every level in and out of every store, up and down every aisle. I didn’t want to see another mall for a very, very long time. Finally while looking at fish in the pet store, I felt a pop and headed to the nearest restroom, apparently my plug had started to come out, I took this as a good sign and headed back to the hospital. Finally some progress, 5 cm, I was admitted, but the contractions were still weak. Now the Dr. talked about induced labor, oh God please no, I say my sister start that, the Dr. actually gave her an injection in the office and sent her home where I witnessed her hit the floor wracked with pain as a very scared 15 year old. I called my mom, she was happy I was finally in and tried to reassure me not to worry, I was in good hands and it would be over soon. I thought it better or I will be begging for that C-section.
Now I was starving to death but not allowed to eat and was trying to get comfortable in an old fashioned hospital bed. Remember this was 1987, they didn’t have the fancy hotel like suites like today, it was a small, drab, windowless room, but at least not much pain, heck I didn’t even need that crazy Lamaze breathing.
Around 9:30 a nurse came to check on me, and I asked to get up and use the restroom as she was helping me maneuver out of bed with the IV (standard procedure back then, do they still do that?) when… GUSH. My water had broken and it was a flood. Even the nurse was surprised at the amount and force. When she finally got me back in bed and checked I was suddenly at 7 cm and the contractions were picking up, 3 minutes apart and much, much stronger. I was breathing now!
She was back in a few minutes with the Dr. who concurred with her assessment and left not to return, but she noted my discomfort and offered just a small bit of Demerol, “to take the edge off”. “Oh yes please” was my eager response, even though I had vowed to go natural (do they even still call it that?). Yikes it hurt and I’m a wimp.
Within in what seemed like seconds of that medicine hitting my IV tube I was gone… I don’t remember the next few hours. Only a groggy memory of blood when I dislodged my IV tube, and she had to reinsert and try to clean things up, according to my ex she was by my side the whole time, breathing and coaching. I wish I could remember her name, I wish I had the chance to thank her, but I never say her again.
My next memory is of the need to push at 1:50 p.m. It’s an all-consuming need; I realized later that Grandma was right; you do know what to do. I was reeled into the delivery room which looked exactly like a surgical suite I had seen on TV, but I was too into the need to push and trying not to until my nurse said I could. I barely made it onto the table and a new Dr.one I had never seen before, a nice red headed Irish woman judging from her accent, said ok now push. Somehow I knew to take a deep breath, and bear down like I didn’t even know I could. The Dr. rewarded my effort with an “I see the head” and instructed me to do it again, just like before. Another deep breath and viola… a baby was born. My son. All perfect and pink and with the cutest little Mohawk, he was definitely all me. I instantly fell in love and have been ever since.
Thank you P for being my son, for making me a mom and a better person. I love you with all my heart and soul, I could not ask for a better son. Happy 26th baby boy.