Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Birth Story, Part One

This is hard to write. I still feel strange about parts of this story, and I can't seem to get it to coalesce into better writing. But I told myself I would get it done before the arrival of several specific babies, two of whom are now past their due dates. So here goes. The first of ...4, maybe? [Ed. -- who am I kidding? Maybe 8.] parts, which I'm going to post as soon as I have them written, since sitting around thinking about how to do it better isn't getting me anywhere.

Right after the Bean was born, people started asking whether it had been a long labor. I always said emphatically not, that it had been the shortest first-baby labor imaginable, barely a blink of an obstetrical eye. …Which is only true if you take in account that I was in deep, deep denial about what was happening until nearly the end. So while I want to include the week before, which now seems part of it, keep in mind that any sense of inevitability is strictly revisionist.

Since this is so long overdue, let's start with a little context, shall we? Y'all might have forgotten what brands of crazy I was.

Monday, 2/21: Week 37 begins. Sugar and I meet the pediatrician our friend has recommended, who holds information sessions for expectant parents on Monday nights. Sugar thinks she’ll be late because she’s coming from work; instead, she is on time and I am 20 minutes late because I’m too tired to walk there and the subway is all messed up. I use both hands to haul myself up the railings of the subway staircases.

Tuesday: Hahaha, Tuesday. That was a fun one. Crampy. Exhausted. I get told my insurance has been canceled. This is all my disastrously fragile mental state needs. (I’d forgotten how bad it was until I reread this post. Yikes.)

Wednesday: First cervix check. One cm dilated, 50% effaced. Or one of them is; Dr. Skinny claims only one is active, which she somehow knows without checking. I don’t argue, because ouch. Spotting afterwards and feelings of general emotional turmoil, such as always seem to accompany any cervix-poking. I trot out my fancy math skillz and figure I’ll be pregnant for another six and a half years.

I spent another hundred years on hold, trying to figure out what the hell is going on with my insurance, while I wander Target, looking for that dark-colored nightgown and robe they say you’re supposed to have for the hospital. I can’t find anything, which I figure doesn’t matter since I have another six and a half years to deal with it, and I can't bear the thought of taking off any clothes to try on nursing tank tops, so that will have to wait. I buy a pack of newborn onesies, since I’ve just found out that “newborn” isn’t the same as “0-3 months.”

I go to my last pre-term acupuncture appointment and plan to start the “preparing for labor” series in a few days. Oh, but supposedly my insurance is fine, no need to panic. (Aside: basically this same thing just happened to us again, only with Sugar’s insurance. And after the panic attacks and the insomnia and the endless waiting on hold, it turns out everything is okay, but I WANT EMOTIONAL REPARATIONS, DAMMIT. Or at least someone to really, thoroughly yell at.)

I am finally driven to drink.

Thursday: I visit Schroe and meet the illustrious Speedster, Speedy, and the whole marvelous menagerie. We eat cookies and drink tea while Speedy gives the dogs acupuncture treatments and exclaims over her new love of cooking dry beans. Speedy wins my heart by stating with absolute assurance that my didelphic tendencies aren’t going to be a problem in labor.

I spend 95% of the visit gawping at Schroe and internally (?) panicking. Look at the way she handles the Speedster! She knows what to do! She knows what he wants! She can nurse him and change diapers and everything. I have no idea whatsoever what to do with a baby, I realize. This is going to be a disaster. Also: they have a real washer and dryer! We just have a little washer that hooks to the sink, no dryer at all. We are so unprepared.

I spend the bus and subway ride home looking at the adorable newborn sized clothes Schroe has given us. At least the baby (Aaaahhh!! Baby! Aaaaahhhhh!!!!!) won’t have to be naked. There’s that.

I get home and the washing machine breaks.

Friday: We are having dinner guests! I drag myself to the hippie coop grocery — via subway and bus; the last time I tried to walk there and back, I couldn’t walk at all the next day — and undertake the first of what I plan to be two or three major stocking up trips. Two cases of cat food, that kind of thing. [Hindsight sez: Nesting. Check.] I assure my supervisor that I’ll be in for my next shift unless, haha, I go into labor. I look so pathetic when the cab arrives that the driver puts my bags in the trunk for me despite what I belatedly realize is a major hand wound. Blood is coming through the torn strips of cloth wrapped around his palm. Seriously: it’s like we’re in a movie about the Crimean War, shot in Park Slope. I tip well, at least. (I think. Car service tipping is confusing!)

On the way down the ramp of my building, my granny cart breaks.

In lieu of cleaning the house even a little bit, I collapse on the bed. Later, I stumble my way through a passable lamb tagine, and Sugar saves me from burning the couscous beyond recognition. I have to sit down a few times because of extreme, stabbing cervix pain, but that's been happening for at least a month. We show off our fancy stroller — the guests are the expectant parents of one of those aforementioned slightly overdue babies — and realize we don’t really know how it works. Suave. We show off the "nursery" and assure them there is a mattress in the crib, somewhere under all that junk. Good thing we have like 3 more weeks to clean up in there....


  1. I love it! There's a mattress in our crib, too, under all of the quilts and blankets and comforters that are hanging out in there. It makes a great cat bed, anyway.

    Ah, you make the end of pregnancy sound so exhausting! Which I realize it is, but what a wake-up call! I look forward to my own complete denial about Leroy's arrival-- I've been fully prepared for her to arrive a at least a week late ever since I learned I was pregnant.

  2. As a loyal reader and as one half of the couple on the receiving end of the lamb tagine, I feel I must set the record straight: The tagine was delicious and way beyond passable. I believe we both had seconds.

  3. Even what you think is not your best writing is genius. I am frequently jealous. I am also eagerly awaiting the next installments as we all know you somehow end up +1 baby, -1 vagina :)

  4. Ahh, prodromal labour. I've heard of that. Sounds utterly exhausting. What a good idea, Mother Nature, to exhaust a woman before she has to do something REALLY exhausting.

    *settles in to await next installment.*

  5. Great post. I can't wait to read the rest of the installations.

  6. Ditto what CoffeeBlue said. All of it.

  7. CoffeeBlue is right. This is brilliant writing. It conveys so clearly how you were feeling.

    More please?!?

  8. Ai yi yi. This absolutely counts as labor, because...you know, it was incredibly laborious. The using both hands to haul yourself up the staircase is particularly poignant. Was it the two cases of catfood that killed the granny cart?