This post is epically long. I apologize in advance for any loss of productivity it may cause.
When I finally got pregnant I was determined to do everything "right" during those nine months. I stopped coloring my hair, I gave up caffeine and I microwaved all cold cuts until they sizzled. I tried really hard not to eat peanut butter, lest I create an allergy in utero. I didn't take medicine for my sinus headaches, no matter how bad they got. My worrying reached a fever pitch. I had frequent nightmares about running into sharp cornered furniture with my belly. I became convinced that if I was pulled over for speeding the cops would mistake me for a dangerous criminal and make me get down on the ground, on my belly.
The belly ruled all.
I was obsessed with protecting it and yet it betrayed me everyday by getting bigger and bigger. I couldn't shield the belly, because it entered any room 30 seconds before the rest of me did.
I decided that the worst thing I could ever do to my baby was to expose her to drugs during labor and delivery. I read articles about how babies who got a dose of pain killers during birth were more likely to become drug addicts. Drugged babies were lethargic and didn't nurse well...blah blah blah. I made myself crazy. We took a course called The Bradley Method and planned for the ultimate, natural birthing experience. I watched videos of Brazilian women squatting gracefully as they squeezed out babies, like they were pooping over a third world toilet. I tried to visualize my vagina opening like a flower. I tried to calm the fuck down. I fooled myself into believing I was prepared.
On the 18th of July, I was a week overdue. I had a non-stress test in the morning and since the baby seemed to be swimming nicely, I went home to wait some more. Aaron left for work at 1 PM, per usual, and I settled in to read Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. At about 1:45 I got up to attend to my bladder and felt a splash. I thought to myself, Gawd! I almost made it the whole pregnancy without wetting myself! I realized pretty quickly that I was not peeing all over the floor and proceeded to panic a bit. I knew that having my water break before going into to labor was probably not a good sign. I called the midwife and Aaron and then tried to clean up my amniotic mess.
We were told to wait some more and spent the next 8 hours reading Harry Potter and timing my lame, erratic contractions. Around 10 PM we went to the hospital. At some point during my gestation I actually contemplated walking to the hospital, to help my labor move along. HA! At a week overdue I was so swollen I had a hard time walking to the toilet, so we drove the couple of blocks to the hospital. The triage nurses confirmed I had actually broken my bag of waters and then we waited for our midwife to get there and open the family birthing suite. Things kind of went down hill from here. My aunt and my mother-in-law came and Aaron distributed the matching Kelly's Birth Team t-shirts (not joking!). My labor went from lame to demonic by midnight. I made zero dilation progress through the night, while Violet attempted to exit by using her placenta pick ax on my back. Her sense of direction was no good right from the start.
Did my wonderful midwive offer any advice or comfort during this trying time? No. You wanna know why? The nurses that night were recently transferred from regular labor and delivery and didn't know that they should wake up my midwife, who was napping because she was on-call and very tired. I guess they thought I knew what I was doing because I had decided to go natural. By the time my midwife woke up I had been suffering all night with unproductive back labor. At dawn I was dilated 3 cm and I hadn't slept a wink. It was clear that I needed to get some rest and relief and that I needed a little something to get my labor on track.
I was too tired to care anymore that my baby was about to become a drug addict. I was too tired to be afraid of the needle. I was too tired to care who saw my girly bits. I was too tired to care that my husband took this final photograph of my illustrious pregnancy.
This is the photo I will use to discourage Violet from having sex when she's a teenager.
Anyway... The epidural was like a beautiful dream with unicorns and rainbows. I slept while the pitocin attempted to discipline my rogue uterine squatter. Violet was none too pleased with her eviction drugs and promptly threw her first temper tantrum. She performed the fetal equivalent of holding her breath and ended any hope of a vaginal delivery. I resigned myself to the surgery*. It had been almost 24 hours since my water broke and I was broken too. I'd had enough of the experiment.
Of course, things couldn't be THAT simple. As soon as they began pushing my bed down the hall, I could feel a tingle in my toes. It spread and by the time we got to the OR, I had the distinct feeling that the epidural had disappeared. At first the nurses balked at the idea, but they started poking me secretly and it became evident that for whatever reason my body was rejecting the second dose of anesthesia. Aaron came in and they immediately turned him out. I was going under and he would have to wait down the hall for me. That's when he became convinced that I was dead.
I took the whole thing in stride, considering the ordeal I'd been through. It wasn't until later that I grieved**. Violet was born at 1:59 PM on July 19, 2005. That's what the paperwork says, otherwise I wouldn't know.
The moment I woke up from surgery I felt like someone was gutting me with a hot electric knife. The first 20 minutes of recovery hurt worse than all the contractions put together. I thought I was going to come apart I was shivering so hard. They piled me with blankets and hooked up my morphine machine. Mmmm, morphine.
Violet was busy getting an IV in the NICU. The day had been rough on her as well. I saw Violet for five minutes, got my picture taken and then I handed her back to the nurse. I didn't have the strength to hold her. Thankfully, I was so exhausted that I was physically incapable of keeping my eyes open. If I had been awake during the 8 hours Violet had to spend in the NICU, I would have gone crazy. It was much easier to endure the separation in my sleep.
*Oh yeah, the surgeon later told us that Violet could never have come out vaginally, not without a bone saw.
** Now you all truly understand why I am perfectly happy with one child.
***I'm sorry, but I really don't know how else to close this and I'm sure you all have work to do.