It occurred to me that I’d never told the story about how I became a bitchin’ suburban mom. So travel with me, if you will, into the past about eight and a half years when we were all younger and thinner and had a lot more patience.
The year was 2008. I was married only a few weeks when I found out I was pregnant. This is probably because I got pregnant before I was married but no biggie. People and wildlife do this stuff all of the time. I was smart and capable and I could pop out a baby – no problem.
I never had morning sickness. Instead, I had morning hunger and would inhale everything in my line of sight. Once I ate 24 Chick-fil-A nuggets in the span of two hours or so and promptly threw them all up outside of my car at school. You see, I’d already started grad school when I got pregnant so I had to keep truckin’ along with that as well as my nugget-eating, leading me to my Cool Hand Luke-esque discovery that NOBODY can eat 24 nuggets.
Everything about pregnancy was pretty disgusting to me, even ultrasounds and the icky warm gel that was impossible to get off and not get all over your clothes. My OB (who was the greatest in the end) used the phrase “down below” so often that I became nauseous at hearing it. My vag was probed so many times I felt like a truck stop hooker but the first two trimesters were pretty uneventful overall.
Fast forward to my third trimester. I had been having these blinding headaches at work and as a high school English teacher, I’d already blown off real teaching for several days in favor of showing a movie and having them write an essay over it. I went to my regular OB appointment and was met with crappy news: my blood pressure was high. Like, way high. Like, “Walk-Across-The-Street-Of-The-Medical-Center-So-We-Can-Admit-You-To-The-Hospital” high.
After being admitted, the doctors told me that I might have to deliver soon. Except I was only 28 weeks.
Insert a weekload of tests, no sleep since they wake you up every single time you doze off at night to check your vital signs and a ton of worry and anxiety. They determined that I had a PFO, which is a tiny hole in your heart that never closed when you were a baby. Yes, even as a newborn I was an underachiever. This, they said, didn’t have anything to do with my pre-eclampsia issues, though. It was simply just an interesting find on the treasure hunt that was my body at this point.
I was put on a bag full of medication to stave off giving birth. I also never knew I’d be so interested in whether or not there was protein in my urine until that week. After a week of an uncomfortable hospital bed, a shower that didn’t get nearly hot enough for me and dirty hair because it was too hard to wash it with three IVs, I was released. My instructions were to see my OB twice a week, and twice a week I’d do an ultrasound, Doppler monitoring, and get uncomfortably probed – AND I’d have to pay for it. And there was the bed rest. I won’t lie, there’s a lot worse that could have happened to me than bed rest. No work and I got to watch lots of daytime television and cat nap like a fat ass mane coon. But that didn’t come without anxiety and panic and checking my blood pressure like crazy, wondering how long I could keep this parasite in.
The goal was to go as long as I could. First, my OB said the goal was to make it to 30 weeks. Then it became 32 weeks. Then 33 and 34 weeks. I was pretty convinced they were just punking me and that nothing was really wrong. They also prepared us for what life is like with a premature baby, which was F—ing terrifying. But surely, this wasn’t going to happen to me.
I’m a planner so I had stuff. I had a room set up, hand-stenciled by my mom with most of the furniture and accessories purchased by my dad. I had clean sheets on the crib and diapers stacked up. Seeing as I was almost assured that my parasite was going to be a preemie, I was given steroid shots to mature her lungs (which, I believe helped create the beast with superhuman strength that I have today.) We bought preemie clothes and diapers to prepare for the inevitable. If pregnancy, in general, doesn’t make you worry, clothing with room for feeding tubes, IVs and breathing assistance will.
I was ready to go, though I was sure I had more time.
Finally, at 35 weeks I went in for a regular appointment and, after my urine test, it was determined that I was going to be admitted that night. My house was a freaking wreck, I hadn’t packed, planned, hemmed or hawed over this surprise. I didn’t even have clean towels (I’m seeing this is a reoccurring trend). I called my husband from the parking garage, screamed at a few people in the parking garage, and headed home to get my stuff together until 8 p.m. when I was supposed to be back in the Medical Center. This was Tuesday.
After having a last meal at Carino’s, (What a terrible choice for a last meal before becoming parents) we were checking into our room in the Antepartum Unit. That night, they told me they were going to “ripen my cervix” with an insert called Cervidil. That phrase still turns my stomach. Stay the f*ck away from my cervix. If you were unsure if a nurse could go elbow deep into your vag – I’ve got news; indeed she can. The big news, though, was that once they inserted (eww) the Cervidil, I could no longer eat. Or drink. And I could only have ice chips.
Now if there’s one thing that sends a fat bitch into a tizzy, it’s not feeding her regular meals. My plan was to have a real conversation with my cervix, soften, go into labor and be ready for lunch the next day. I could do this. I made stuff happen and got stuff done. Surely. I had no idea …
But Surprise! My cervix wasn’t softening. Even my cervix is an underachiever! It took several of those inserts to do anything before they started me on the Pitocin all while I got no food. This was Wednesday.
I read plenty of horror stories about Pitocin and was prepared for miserable pain. I decided a long time ago that I didn’t want to do anything naturally. Nothing about pregnancy is natural. You grow a parasite that leaches nutrients from you in your abdomen. What’s natural about that? I wanted medication. And an epidural. And more medicine, maybe some medical marijuana. That was always my plan. My OB pushed vaginal birth so I smiled and nodded but I couldn’t fathom how that would even work.
Only I wasn’t having any pain on Pitocin. I was pretty sure I wasn’t in labor. I had no pains or cramping and I didn’t want to murder anyone over that type of pain yet. Why wasn’t my labor moving along? The fancy machines said I was having minor contractions but I didn’t feel anything except hunger pangs. This was Thursday.
STILL NO F—ING FOOD.
Sure, you think, you’ve got plenty of fat storage to sustain you for a year, at least. But for a fat bitch, it was so much worse. I was like a traveler in a desert seeing mirages of turkeys and diet cokes. I couldn’t do it anymore. When I woke up on Friday, in pain from sleeping in one of those crappy labor beds even though it was clear that I wasn’t in labor (hey, April and I have something in common!) I told my husband I was not doing this anymore. I needed them to get this baby out of me and I needed food.
I worked myself up to confronting my OB and demanding the one thing she was staunchly opposed to all along. After all, it had been days and surely they were still worried about this “protein-in-the-urine” thing, right? Even though I played out a calm, educated conversation in my head, when she walked into the hospital room, I sloppily blurted out “cut it out of me.”
By this point I was hallucinating a two piece and a biscuit. I was clearly being punished for making the terrible decision of going to Carino’s for my last meal.
“Do you want to try one more day of Pitocin?,” my doctor asked me.
“No. I want a c-section. Like – yesterday. I’m sure of it. Let’s do it.”
And she said OK! She didn’t try to fight me. She didn’t tell me that vaginal birth was better. She just said OK and said she’d get it scheduled for that afternoon.
I had no nerves about the spinal block or whatever that big ass needle they stick in your back to numb you from tits down is. I wasn’t worried about what would happen when I got home from the hospital. I wasn’t concerned that a c-section was “major surgery.” Instead, I was worried that I wouldn’t be out of recovery in time for dinner.
Lots of mothers have had c-sections so I won’t get into the minute details. They shove a big needle into your back to numb you, you lie down and lose feeling in everything. The only point of interest is that they had my big ass on the most narrow operating table in existence and all I kept thinking the whole time is that if I fall off this table, I can’t even help get myself up. I’ll be dead weight. I’ll be what the nurses discuss over happy hour.
F that. Gotta. Stay. On. The. Table.
I’d skip telling you about the surgery that I couldn’t see thanks to the little curtain. I’ll breeze over hearing my husband say “All your guts …” over and over and seeing blood spill on to the floor, looking like HE was going to pass out.
As much as I hate to miss a meal and as anxiety-driven as my pregnancy was, I’d do it all over again for my smart ass spawn. She was born soon after with absolutely zero complications. After demanding that my husband count her fingers and toes when they yanked her out, it was all over. Even at 35 weeks, she spent no time in the NICU and despite having her on Friday afternoon, we were ready to go home by Sunday. They wanted to keep ME an extra day since they’d just gutted me and all but I pushed for release and, completely sick of my sh*t, they relented. All 5 pounds and 12 ounces of Lola Joon was born on January 23 at 2:43 p.m. And on January 23 at approximately 7 p.m. I got my food.
So I didn’t give birth in a pool of hot spring water. I didn’t get super creative and take flowy maternity photos. I wasn’t rolling around on a yoga ball or doing breathing exercises but I did successfully incubate a HUMAN BEING. So we celebrate every January 23. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Sure, it’s YOUR birthday but I grew a person … so I get a beer.