I was scared that first time. I was ready to go, for sure. I'd been carrying the ever-increasing weight for nearly nine months and had struggled with the fears I'm sure most soon-to-be-new-mothers experience. We were living from paycheck to paycheck, where the paycheck was incredibly small and where choices had to be made as to whether to buy food or gas. If food was the answer, then the bicycle was the mode of transportation for that week.
We had no medical insurance to cover mother or child, as my husband had only recently started working at his job and my "condition" was "pre-existing." Still, I was bound and determined to give my child the best possible chance in this world, so prenatal care was purchased and paid for on credit...on the promise I'd be able to pay eventually for the reality that was now.
I did not take the then-popular Lamaze classes, though I honestly cannot recall why... probably scheduling was too difficult with our transportation capabilities in those days. But I had gotten the book from my sister-in-law and had read it dutifully, cover to cover. When it was time to go to the hospital, I knew it, and off we went....
At the hospital they validated my belief it was time, and into the hospital I was admitted. Things I remember clearly that day were the intense pain of labor and my helpful husband, monitoring the monitor and telling ME when I was having a strong contraction... (like, DUH!) and the TV. That danged TV! Every time I went into a contraction, my eyes were riveted to the TV. And the PTL club was playing on and on. And in the audience that day were many children born with birth defects... horrible defects... and it scared me more. Every time I was in a contraction and my eyes landed on those poor children on that show, I vowed I'd have them turn that danged TV off... and when the contraction passed, I apparently would drop into some sleep state or other... because I would ALWAYS forget to tell them to turn it off.
Eventually, either I told them, or the show changed, I don't recall, but I do remember thinking that the "book" had said that 10-12 hours of labor was typical for a first-time mother, so I was patient. The hours went by slowly and I could tell my poor husband was wearing out. Once I passed the twelve hour mark, I too began to get impatient. At about 14 hours into my hospital stay, a very pregnant women came into the maternity ward, declaring she "THOUGHT" she was pregnant. OK, well, I guess, she never had ANY pre-natal care, but they whisked her right off to delivery where, in a matter of a few MINUTES she produced TWINS! My attitude started going south in a big way then. It wasn't fair! I'd been so conscientious with my pregnancy and she had just "stopped by to deliver!"
At 24 hours into my hospital stay, the doctor informed my husband that they would have to administer something to make the contractions harder and deliver sooner, since I was going nowhere fast (again, that silly phrase). Well, hubby, started crying, but I thought he was laughing and I told him in no uncertain terms, that if he thought it was so danged funny,he could just go! My uncle and aunt arrived about that time and seeing that nothing was happening worth watching and recognizing that hubby needed food, offered to take him out to eat. (Good, everyone just leave me alone!)
I'd say it was MAYBE ten minutes after the doctor administered the contraction stimulator and everyone left to eat, I SUDDENLY had the "urge to push." Hmmm... I thought, my brain seeing and reading the paragraph from the "book" which cautioned, "husband's, when your wife has the urge to push, do not let her. Help her through her breathing and get the doctor. She is ready to deliver." Hmmm. OK, now I was ALONE in a room that had been a virtual thoroughfare all day, and they had even closed my door... OK, I would just have to resist the urge to push and wait for everyone to get back from dinner... WAIT A DANGED MINUTE! I couldn't wait!
"NURSE!" "NURSE!" I called. The door opened and the nurse stuck her head in... "I have to push!" I informed her and with that, I was immediately propelled toward the delivery room. Oh, goody! Oh NOOOOOOO!!!! Oh Goody! Oh, NOOOO! I was So conflicted! I was about to give birth but:
where was the doctor?
where was my husband?
what if my baby was like the kids on the PTL club?Never mind, I was busy turning into the incredible hulk as I strained to push and the nurses strained to keep me FROM pushing. "Wait for the doctor," they said. "What if he doesn't get here in time?" I strained. "He will." "But what if he doesn't?"
The nurses were relieved, I'm sure when the doctor arrived and he asked "do I have time to scrub?" "Yes," said the nurses, "NO!" said the expectant mother! Well, he scrubbed and then gave me the permission I'd been awaiting. Three good pushes and that life that had been growing inside me was suddenly out in the world.
"It's a BOY!" the doctor announced!
"And he has red hair!" (well, more like he had a little red peach fuzz, but I wasn't going to argue the point.)
I took a look at the child I had produced and the first thing that escaped my mouth was, "His eyes aren't crossed!" Followed by, "he's got his dad's feet!" Well, I'm not certain the doctor knew why I was so surprised to find my child had straight eyes, and honestly, I'd never consciously thought about the fact that I just expected my children would be born with crossed eyes, like their mother. Nevertheless, before I was shipped off to "recovery" I was able to hold my little 7 lb 7 1/2 oz newborn boy and verify that, indeed, he was in great shape.
When we got home from the hospital and my new mom routine began, I was thankful I'd been blessed with a quiet, easy-going baby, which made learning all there was to learn about motherhood much easier. My daughter would give me a whole new perspective a couple of years later, but for the moment, I was blissfully unaware of the "other" fun that colicky babies present.
The lullaby I wrote for my son during that first week at home is one I still sing today.
"Baby, you are the sweetest little thing
When you cry it pulls on my heartstring.
With each day that passes by, I look at you and heave a sigh,
Cuz you make every season spring.
Long ago I thought I'd never be so lucky
To have a loving man, let alone a child
But now you're here with me and it's easy to see
I can do nothing else but smile.
As the years go by and I watch you grow,
There'll be many things that you won't know
But I'll be at your side, to help you get by
For I'll always want my love to show."
Yeah, it's lousy poetry, but it was sung so many times over the years that it seems very natural to me!
I won't have time to post later in the week and as I sit here, not yet ready to get to bed for a nap and not ready to start my next segment of work, I find myself thinking about how far we've come, my son and I. He will be married on Saturday ... 27 years later... and I could not be happier for him.