...or, That Time I Made a Human
July 15, 2000. the Hanford fires were put out by then, which was a relief, because on top of having to have my overnight bag for the hospital ready, just in case, i had the extra worry, for awhile at least, of possibly having to evacuate my home.
my contractions had been mild and far apart for four days. the journal that i had always kept nearby me for spur of the moment poetry, was now being used to record how long, how far between these discomforts were becoming. i had become a clock watching, heavy breathing, roly poly nervous wreck. hee hee hee wheeeeew. i still do my lamaz breathing when i need to calm myself down.
to speed up my contractions, my parents decided to take me on a bumpy car ride through the burned areas of town, just to see what damage had been done. i don't know if it was the rollercoaster roads or the smell of charred sagebrush that that made the munchkin in my womb decide, "hey, i think it's time to pop out," because as soon as we arrived home, it was time to hit the hospital.
my mother was my labor coach. she was the one that held my hand through my childbirth classes, helped me remember my breathing, reassured me that it wasn't so unnatural to push something that huge out of...well, yeah. i heard the story of my own birth about a kajillion times. "when i had you, we all called you the KY Kid, because you just flew out so faaaast." i had heard that story all my life, and when i finally found out what KY was, when i was in junior high, i was mortified.
in childbirth classes, they stressed the importance of a focal point, an object to stare intently at while going through contractions. i brought with me a sock monkey. because sock monkeys are badASS. of course, focal points only tend to work if you're actually looking at them. sock monkey got lost somewhere in the sheets of the FUCKING UNCOMFORTABLE hospital bed with me, but i think just knowing my little socky friend was there with me made a difference.
"are you sure you're having contractions? this stupid machine doesn't even work!" instead of breathing with me, my mother was bitching about the hospital equipment. i sat panting in the...did i say this already...FUCKING UNCOMFORTABLE hospital bed, on the verge of hyperventilating myself and passing out (well, if it weren't for the frequent and painful spasms in my midsection, ha). they had yet to decide if it was necessary for me to actually stay in the hospital, or go home and wait.
after it was decided that, yes, something was likely to pop out of me, and soon, i settled into my nightie and prepared for the worste pain of my life. my doula (or, my other labor coach) showed up and insisted i walk around. there's nothing worse than having to endure that kind of pain, other than waddling around in the hall in my nightie in that kind of pain. all the while trying to smile and be nice, because this wonderful strange lady just drove to the hospital in the middle of the night to help me. like hell i was going to say what was on my mind.
"you're being so quiet," she observed, as if it were expected of me to let loose a string of profanity between each hee-hee-hee-hoooo. it's funny that the one time i hold my tongue is the one time i'm expected to swear like a sailor. "Shit," i mumbled, halfheartedly. i mean, really. what fun is letting loose a good 'muthafuck' if it's expected?
after i laid back down for awhile, i realized i was not going to be wonder woman after all, and some serious drugs were in order. in fact...that sounds good now, hmm... anyways, what was i saying? oh! yes. drugs. i got me an epidural (which looks like this, eeks) and withstood some embarrassing checks by the midwife to see how far along i was.
what happened during the last check, it's somewhat hard to remember, it all went so fast. i heard, "there's the cord," and, "honey, you're going to have to have a cesarean," and, "drink this," all while a kajillion nurses rush in, lay me back, and start wheeling me down the hall. my mother freaking out, "what's happening, what's happening." it took all of 60 seconds.
i didn't realize at first that they were going to knock me out for this. this wasn't covered in childbirth class. it was skimmed over a little in the, "things sometimes go wrong" talk, but was not really discussed in depth. the man talking to me held a mask to my face and told me to count backwards. the last sound i heard was a huge crash and a hissing sound (which i was to learn later, was an oxygen tank falling down) before the blackness closed in and i was blissfully unaware of the madness surrounding me.
i woke up a few hours later. alone. confused. i didn't know whether i had a child or not. i mean...did it come out alive? i decided to assume the best and waited for the nurse to come by (or just anyone, considering my contacts were taken out and i couldn't see anything but shapes moving by me). "was it a boy or a girl?" i was told i had a boy. oh well, 'Lucy Jane' would have to be for the next one.
when i was awake enough and at least semi-coherent, someone popped my glasses on me, and i was wheeled down the hall. please say that's not mine screaming bloody murder. please say i didn't produce anything that loud. i entered the room to see my parents holding a perfect miniature human. letting loose an ear piercing shriek that would have made Jamie Lee Curtis jealous.
i reached down in the bed to see WTF that lump was in my blanket and found sock monkey. had he been there for the whole thing? had the doctors and nurses been in such a hurry to get this banshee out of me that they let my smiling monkey friend stay for the show? i know the answer is, 'probably not,' but i like to think it was, just because i'm silly and irrational.
and the point of this story is this.
sock monkeys are badASS.