It's just a JUMP to the left...
(If you have never watched the Rocky Horror Picture Show and didn't get the reference, I suggest you hop on to Netflix RIGHT NOW and watch it. NO ONE should go through life without ever seeing Tim Curry in a corset and thigh highs. True story.)
25 years ago today, I was eleventy-thousand months pregnant with my first child. I had toxemia, pre-eclampia, was bloated and swollen like the gum-chewing blueberry girl in Charlie and the Choclolate Factory. My normally size 6 feet were crammed into a 7 1/2 and I didn't think it was possible to be more uncomfortable than I was on that day.
Turns out, I was wrong.
But more on that later.
I was lying like a bloated corpse on the doctor's table while he tried in vain to find my baby's heartbeat. Considering my blood pressure was frighteningly high and no heartbeat was to be found, I was shipped post-haste to the hospital to be induced immediately, without further notice.
I was terrified as I was checking in, but once they hooked me up to the fetal monitor and found the heartbeat, I was able to relax a little and look forward to meeting my baby.
My husband and I called everyone we knew and announced, "We're going to have a baby today!" We looked at each other lovingly, held hands, and kept saying, "I can't believe we're going to have a baby today..."
That was May 19th, 1986.
My family has a history of quick labors and easy births. My sister holds the record for 55 minutes of labor and delivery, with my mother coming in at a close second with 2 hours. My sister proclaimed labor to be the most excrutiatingly painful thing that could ever happen to anyone, ever, at anytime, while my mother rolled her eyes and described it as "No worse than menstrual cramps." (My mother lost all of her credibility when we found out she was knocked out during both births and didn't actually feel anything.) Either way, they were both sure that I would be in and out of there in no time flat, not unlike a hearty peasant woman who gives birth while working the fields then slings the baby onto her back and keeps working.
I was strapped to machines, hooked up to IVs, and once the ball got rolling, my doctor informed me that he was off to a dinner party and would see me in a few.
I said things like, "That bastard... what if I give birth while he's off having dinner with friends and doesn't make it back in time?"
That turned out to not be so much of an issue.
Long story short, May 19th came and went and before I knew it, it was May 20th, I was still hooked to machines, still having painfully induced contractions, and still dilated to 1.
Yeah, you heard me right... 1.
Early that morning I uttered the fateful words, "It's my mother's birthday today... I don't want to have my baby on my mother's birthday! I want him to have his own birthday!"
Be careful what you wish for.
By May 21, I was exhausted, in pain and pissed off that I was still exhausted and in pain. I got cranky, I yelled a little, and yeah... I was still dilated to 1.
1 damn centimeter. ONE. I think everyone in the ROOM was dilated to one.
That day, the doctor decided a little pelvic x-raying was in order. We already knew that I have a narrow pelvis, so maybe it was time to see if the baby could actually fit through it.
If you've never had a pelvic x-ray, trust me... you don't want one. The highlight of this experience was when I had to get down on all fours with a ruler wedged between my buttcheeks and a camera aimed at my ass. It all kind of went downhill from there.
The results showed that it was a tight fit, but baby was small and would make it through.
Meanwhile, everyone in my family was calling the hospital CONSTANTLY trying to figure out what the hold-out was. My mother was getting irritated with me, as in, "Why hasn't she had that baby yet? NO one in my family has long labors like this. Let me talk to her!" and so on. (As if a pep-talk from my mother was going to make me stop lolly-gagging and give birth already.)
On May 22nd, the doctor had had enough of me, so he came in, broke my water, and said, "If you haven't dilated beyond one centimeter by the time I come back, we're doing a C-section."
Yeah, threaten ME with a good time! Why the hell DIDN'T YOU DO A C-SECTION, ASSHOLE? (I'm all big talk 25 years later, but at the time I was scared, tired, and too well-bred to say anything other than, "Okay, thank you." As I write this, I'm a little annoyed with my 23 year old self for not having more gumption.)
The nurses were cheering me on, checking me frequently and giving me status updates, as in, "Go Danielle! You're dilated to 2! You can do it! Push, baby... PUSH!"
My husband was sleep-deprived and hungry and doing his best to keep me motivated, and I? I was crying, yelling, screaming, and begging them to GET THIS BABY OUT OF ME NOWWWWWWW!!!!!! At one memorable point, a nurse had leaned over me to tell me to keep it down because I was upsetting the other patients and I lifted my head up, opened my mouth, and screamed in her face as loud as I could.
I was not asked to keep it down again.
(Basically, after being in labor... HARD labor... for 4 days, the polite little Valley Girl had left the building and the spoiled, enraged brat that I usually kept hidden had finally come out to play.)
At 11:00 pm, the doctor decided he'd waited long enough for me to get on with it and give birth already, so I was hauled into the delivery room. An anesthesiologist was called in and it was decided at long last that enough was enough and it was time to do a C section.
By this time, I had pretty much decided that I was going to spend the rest of my life in labor and would be dragging this kid in utero to kindergarten because he wasn't coming. Ever.
As the anesthesiologist was getting ready to give me a spinal, I yelped, "I need to push!"
In about 20 minutes I had gone from 6 centimeters to 10 and finally, FINALLY, at 12:31 a.m. on May 23rd, my beautiful son Shea made his debut.
I forgot about the pain.
I forgot I was tired.
I forgot I was furious with the doctor for making me go through the agony of 5 days of labor.
When he was placed in my arms, this tiny little ray of golden sunshine, my world was complete and everything, every minute of pain, every hour I spent with my body being racked by contractions, was totally worth it.
They say the things you work the hardest to achieve are the most important...
how true is that?
Happy 25th birthday, my Shea, my Sunshine, my first born baby... Love you forever.