Be shocked even though you KNOW you’re 9 months pregnant and can go into labor at any time. Then rush to the hospital in a controlled panic.
My water breaks. I lie there for a few seconds in disbelief. But it’s unmistakable.
“Babe, my water just broke.”
“Are you sure?”
“Umm..yes. We better get going.”
He hops up and gets dressed. Then heads off to wake up Leila. I waddle to the bathroom because, OMG, my water just broke! I remain outwardly calm although my brain is screaming “oh shit! This is it!”
I manage to call my in-laws to meet us at the hospital so that they can pick up Leila.
I change clothes. Grab my bag. Charles get the car seat (which we’d installed in my car…which was no longer drivable. Something about a broken subframe). 😦
By the time we get in his car, the REAL contractions start. What does that feel like?
It feels like the alien from Alien is in you squeezing and twisting your insides in a rusty vise. Eye-crossing pain.
I don’t want to freak out Leila, who is sitting silently in the back seat.
I tell her that I’m fine, but she’s seen episodes of Call the Midwife, so I KNOW she’s nervous.
Throughout the drive, the contractions get closer together, every 3-4 minutes.
I tell Charles to drop me at patient drop-off, and I’ll get somebody to wheel me to labor and delivery.
Do paperwork and answer questions. Lots of questions. It makes the baby come faster.
I hurry into over to the customer service desk and tell the lady at the desk that I’m in labor and I need help. She just points across the expansive lobby, at the elevators and says “6th floor”.
So, apparently this whole thing is myth. You have to hobble your own ass up to L & D.
I make it to L&D where a little African lady is moving papers around at the nurse’s station. She does not immediately address me. The papers were obviously in a more active stage of labor than me.
After a few seconds, I just interrupt. “Um…my water broke about 30 minutes ago. I’m in labor. Already registered.”
Instead of leaping into action, Mama Esther* hands me a pile of forms to sign. Did I bring valuables? No.
Do I agree to be treated by the hospital? Duh. That’s why I’m here. Xa&#jgt2(&#Hne? (<–contraction). I just initial the rest and push the papers back over to Mama Esther, hoping I haven’t signed away parental rights to my unborn child. She then saunters away from the desk to “see what room is available”. Meanwhile, I continue dying.
I’ve gotten a room, changed into a hospital gown and managed to drag myself up onto the bed. My nurse, Olga**, says she’s going to check to make sure that my water broke. I assure her that it did. But she has to check anyway.
“Yep, your water broke.”
What, really? -_-
She goes over to the computer station and starts typing away, pausing only to ask my questions that I had already answered when I pre-registered. All during this time, contractions are getting more intense and coming about every 2 minutes.
I tell her that I’m in a lot of pain, and she just looks at me like this…
After passing Leila off to my in-laws, Charles comes in the room.
The original plan was that he would stay with me during labor, but when things were about to go down, he could go to the waiting room a la Mad Men era until baby was cleaned up and I’d had time to fluff my hair and put on my pearls. (eye-roll)
Olga pulls herself away from the computer to give me more papers to sign. I push them away. Charles ends up having to sign them.
Olga tries to hook up my IV, but can’t get the needle in the vein. After a few tries, she has another nurse come in and do it. I don’t even care, because contractions. I’ll have to finish the bag of IV fluid before getting an epidural. Boo. I hate Olga. She has gone back to pounding away at the keyboard. Wtf is she writing? A book?
At least Charles is there, holding my hand.
Ask for an epidural. Wait for the anesthesiologist. Then your impatient baby will jump out of you.
Fifty years later, the anesthesiologist arrives. He sets up a cart with all of his equipment as I drift in and out of sanity. I can barely manage to sit up so that he can prep my back for the needle. There’s this crazy pressure accompanying the contractions now.
The anesthesiologist is rubbing that iodine stuff on my back. Suddenly, I can’t take it anymore. The pushing has begun, against my will.
I have to lie down. Now!
Charles helps me lie down, and the nurse starts yelling down the hall for help, but it’s too late.
Maya decided that everybody was taking too long, and she was just gonna do this herself. I push maybe 3 times, and she’s out.
12:47 am. 6 pounds 3 ounces. 19.5 inches.
And that, my friends, is how you have a baby in 3 hours or less.
*Mama Esther is not her real name. I was going for something Nigerian.
Thursday, September 25, 2014 was my grandmother’s 89th birthday, the grandmother after whom Maya Seneva is named. The day before, I’d actually whispered a little prayer humbly asking that the baby be born on the 25th. I also prayed for a volunteer housekeeper to mysteriously show up at my door ready to do all the things for free. Because I hear that God works in mysterious ways.
Anyway, Thursday, September 25th also happened to be the date of high school open house at my job. I stayed after school to tell parents “Hi. I teach your kid…until tomorrow. But I’ll be back in January.”
When parents came in, my classroom-mate, Sydney, and I launched into our simultaneous spiels about our respective curriculum.
Me: Intro to Rhetoric and Composition is a non-fiction writing class. The goal is to learn how rhetoric is used to influence others so as to #1, not get taken advantage of and #2, persuade others to change their thoughts and actions.
Parents: wah-wah- wa-wa-wah
Me: Well, ma’am, your son participates in class, but doesn’t do his homework.
Parent: wah-wah wa wa wa wah
Me: He should be writing it down in his agenda. It’s on always on the board.
Parent: wah wah wa wa
Me: The best way to do better in this class is to do the work.
This went on for about an hour. (sprinkle in a couple of Braxton Hicks contractions)
My coworker had agreed to drive me home after Open House since I didn’t have a functioning car that day. But she’d been hit with a raging migraine, so ended up driving her car (with her in the passenger seat) home.
I walked in the door, went to give Leila a hug and kiss, and proceeded to make dinner. Tilapia, I think. Or maybe it was chicken tenders. I don’t remember exactly.
Since it was already 5 minutes til 8, I decided to record Scandal so that I could watch TV with Leila before she went to bed. Also, then Charles and I could watch the season premiere of “How To Get Away With Murder”.
He came home just in time. We watched it.
Intriguing show. I want to be a college professor like that (minus the whole manipulation and murder plotting thing)
After the show went off, I started getting ready for bed. I hadn’t really been having any serious pains…just a few minor contractions. So I wasn’t expecting anything at all when I crawled into bed at 10:25 pm.
I’ve had precious little time to write about my experiences as a new mom. That’s because time to myself, moments to write, are few and far between. Maya is almost 6 weeks old. Her schedule is not regular yet. I don’t really know how long she’ll be awake, or how long she will sleep. I don’t know when a screaming fit will start, or when she will be hungry. It makes it impossible for me to plan times to write. For a person who is accustomed to being on a schedule, this is a very difficult adjustment. As a teacher, I follow a bell schedule. Each hour of my day is scripted out and planned in advance. Not so now.
When I wake up in the morning, I have all of these aspirations about what I’m going to get done that day. Fold clothes. Mop the floors. Wash my hair. Read a book. I don’t get it all done. I’m lucky if I get even one or two things on my list done in a 24-hour period. But I don’t blame Maya for it. Well, I do, but..In fact yesterday I was reading a Facebook post by a friend of mine. More accurate to say an acquaintance from my youth. He mentioned how, as a stay-at-home dad, he realizes that he doesn’t like babies very much. That they are,in fact, terrible. I thought about it for moment. Do I like my baby? I think so. I mean, I love her. I wouldn’t trade her for anything in the whole world. But newborns are a lot of work. I don’t know if parents are really honest about that.
Newborns are very selfish and time-consuming. You have to give up your whole self to take care of them. They don’t care if you need a nap, a shower, or a glass of wine. Their new world, though small, is confusing, and at times uncomfortable. But if I really think about it, it’s my job, my privilege really, to help Maya navigate this new world. To help her adjust. Not only that, but also to capture these moments in words. To describe the way she throws her head back, her hands up, and scrunches her little face for a good stretch.To note the way her big sister, Leila , holds her and is so gentle with her.
This is what matters. Not that I get a chance to wash my hair today. It won’t be all woolly and wild forever, and Maya won’t be a baby forever either. I choose to treasure these moments. I choose to be grateful for every single unscripted second of it. Even those middle of the night crying fits. Well, maybe not so much of those. But most everything else.
So I am determined to write honestly about her, about me, about this.
I had a doctor’s appointment this past Thursday. It’s the one where you have to drink the nasty sugar drink, wait an hour and then have your blood drawn to see if you have diabetes. I suspect that I do have some blood sugar issues (since I’ve had more than a few episodes of hypoglycemia both pre-pregnancy and recently…one of which involved me passing out backstage at the graduation ceremony last month), so, needless to say, I’m a little nervous about the test results.
Honestly, I’m not sure how the test would tell me anything about LOW blood sugar, since your blood sugar is higher after drinking that god-awful orange syrup.
Anyway, I mentioned that I’d had some bouts of light-headedness, shortness of breath and palpitations to my doctor. She said that she’d run a test for anemia since I was already having blood drawn. She also said that I should eat more…and more frequently.
This is not news.
People have been telling me for my whole life that I need to eat more. As if I don’t eat.
Um…I eat. Trust me.
I love eating!
I’ve just always been small. Even when I was pregnant with Leila, I only gained about 26 pounds total. And that was eating everything I could, and drinking at least 1 high-protein Boost every day. She was born full-term, 7 lbs. 4 ounces. I can make a full-sized baby. Thank you very much.
With this pregnancy, I’m on the weight-list as well. I’m not complaining. Trust me, I realize that many struggle to keep weight off. But telling me that people “wish they had your problem” does not make it any less of an issue for me. It also doesn’t make it okay for you to lift my wrist between your thumb and forefinger and laugh (Yes, this happens) or for a stranger to offer unsolicited suggestions about what I need to do to gain weight.
Lady, I didn’t walk up to you and offer advice about how you can thin those thighs. That’s YOUR business. Not mine.
I celebrate my friends’ fitness accomplishments and remind them that they look FABULOUS just like they are. I’d appreciate it if folks would do the same for me.
Meanwhile, I’m gonna continue to work every skinny limb I have, and carry my little bump with pride (which you may not touch unless we’re cool like that).
And though she be but little, she is fierce. – Shakespeare
I’m 23 weeks now. (for the not-pregnant, that’s 1 week shy of 6 months)
16 weeks & 2 days to go. Give or take a few.
So, what’s going on with me? Well, that depends on what minute you ask. I’m blaming my fluctuating moods and cravings and body issues on baby. In fact, I’ve been using the hashtag to explain everything. For example, I don’t even have the patience to write a full blog post today. So here’s a brief rundown of the last few days. #becausebaby
June 7th, 2:30 pm
I just passed gas while waiting in the checkout line at the Valero in Olive Branch, MS. It came out of nowhere. I am not sorry.
June 8th, 5:00 pm
Plane perks = ginger ale, peanuts and pretzel packs. YES!
Plane problems = the seatbelt…and people staring at you sympathetically as you wobble down the aisle. Yes, I am pregnant. Look away.
June 9th, 4:00 pm
I just decided that I don’t want to wear pants for the rest of the day. Maybe forever. F**k pants.
“Miss. Your little belly is so CUTE!” – precious little 6th grader in my summer camp class. Aww. Bless her heart.
I look like a potato. A potato wearing a shirt.
How do you get heartburn from drinking water?!? UGH. Might as well eat this half a pan of brownies then. Nothing to lose.
Maya must like brownies. Either that or she is practicing capoeira right now. Maybe it’s both. Probably both.
Tomorrow is my birthday! I’ll be 35. That’s not all that old. Right? I look good for 35. I could pass for 25 easy. Except for these gray hairs. But lots of people get gray hair early. So I could totally be a 25 year old with gray hair. But noooo. I’m a 35 year old who can’t drink on her birthday. 😦
I’m supposed to be blogging about my pregnancy. Posting progression pics. Describing new symptoms. Cravings.
But somehow, I can hardly bring myself to do it.
It’s all been said already. Hasn’t it?
I’m not the first woman to be pregnant, and I damn sure won’t be the last.
Yeah, but all pregnancies are different, Faith.
In every single one of them, another person invades your body and feeds off you for approximately 9 months (9 ½ actually). A tiny being exists by taking refuge and sustenance within its host.
Like a parasite.
A really cute, cuddly, chubby-cheeked parasite.
And I use the terms “cute” and “cuddly” loosely. They’re kinda weird looking until they’re born (and quite frankly, for a while afterwards). I mean, it’s not like you can even see your baby in utero anyway. Grainy ultrasound prints. Those Claymation-shaped Play Doh abstracts they call 4-D scans.
Not exactly cute.
But, if you ask me, my little parasite is BEAUTIFUL.
Seriously, look at those perfectly aligned vertebrae!
Check out the flawless curve of her giant head.
My point, and I do have one, is…
What IS my point?
God, I forget everything these days. Pregnancy brain is indeed a thing.
My point is that I write about this experience because it is as old as human existence, connecting me inextricably to all that was before and will be after this, while at the same time, uniquely my own.
No one else in the history of the Universe has ever been me while pregnant with this baby.
Unless this is some type of alternate dimension where we all relive the same life over and over again (par exemple, Groundhog Day). In which case, we’ve got some bigger metaphysical shit to worry about, like…
What happens when people discover that their lives are on repeat?
Does knowing cause a rift in the space-time continuum? A wrinkle in time? Mass chaos?
Is the resulting chaos subject to constant replay? Or does mass chaos break the cycle (since chaos, by definition, is unstructured and non-cyclical)?
Is this what causes déjà vu?
Have I tried to figure this all out before?
Where did this thought, or for that matter, all thoughts, come from?
Who is John Galt?
I can feel the baby move now. Well, technically, she’s still a fetus. But that sounds so impersonal. So clinical. Like the word emote. Or coitus.
She wiggles after I eat, jumps at loud noises or music, and randomly flips over. She even got the hiccups yesterday. It feels weird. Like something hiccupping …INSIDE you.
I’m 18 weeks in. So apparently that makes her the size of a sweet potato. Or a corner store pickle.
I don’t talk about my breasts often, but when I do, I refer to them as boobs. Less out loud than in my mind. Caitlin Moran actually has a really interesting chapter about what women call their “feminine bits” in her book How To Be A Woman. I think she goes with “tits”, but she’s British, so…
Until recently, I really didn’t think about my boobs at all. There wasn’t that much to talk about. I mean, I have them, but they’re pretty average. A solid B.
Well, they were.
Now, I am acutely aware of them. Apparently, one of the major early pregnancy symptoms for me was breast tenderness or, what I like to call, boob-ache. I can only describe the feeling as being akin to having been whacked repeatedly in the chest…with a bat, then left in a ditch to die.
Things that seemed to make the boobs angry:
Lying on them
Me looking at them
Luckily, the pain has died down in recent weeks. Either that, or I’ve gotten used to it. What I haven’t gotten used to…their size.*
The other day, I was in the lobby area of our school office talking to a coworker. Mid-sentence, I dropped my keys. As I bent over to pick them up, I felt an unfamiliar, but instantly-identifiable sensation: boob slippage. One had popped out of the top of my now too-tight bra, and lay unharnessed inside my shirt.
If I stand up now, will the boob be visibly free? Lopsided? Or worse…will it slide down the inside of my shirt and plop onto the floor?
I hesitated for what felt like a full minute (but was probably just a second), before trying to jiggle the offender back into the bra. Sometime during this effort, I realized that I probably looked ridiculous (or epileptic) and decided to just stand up and cross my arms over my chest.
I guess I need to buy some new bras.
And some pants.
And some banana split ice cream sandwiches.
Also, I just felt something itchy, dug in my bra and pulled out an earring. Wonder how long that’s been in there. (shrug)
*People who know me…please do not look at my boobs next time you see me. It is unlikely that you will notice anything, but I will notice you NOT noticing and become self-conscious…and possible hungry or have to go to the bathroom. Because that happens a lot.
I’m sitting at my desk at work, counting and re-counting the days. It should have happened by now. Actually, I should have started like around the 1st. It’s the 6th.
Leila is home sick, so I stop in at lunch to check on her before going on to the next campus to teach my afternoon class. She’s fine.
I remember that there’s a pregnancy test under the cabinet in the bathroom. I grab it, stuff it into my purse and head out the door. I call Charles as I’m driving, but he doesn’t answer. Good. It’s probably nothing anyway.
Charles calls me back, but I’m in class and can’t answer the phone. I text him back to tell him that I’ll call him later. He responds “just text it to me”. So I do.
Me: “I’m late.”
Him: “Holy ****”
I rush to reassure him that it’s probably nothing, and I should have just waited until after I took a test. I tell him that I’ll take one later today.
In the staff bathroom at work, I pull the test out of my purse, unwrap it, and do my thing. Then I wait a few seconds. My heart is pounding. Pretty quickly, a blue cross appears in the first circle, and a straight blue line in the 2nd.
Wait. What does that mean?!?
I don’t have the box or the directions, and I can’t remember if the cross just means the test works and the single line means NOT pregnant. Or is that a plus sign? Plus for pregnant?
I rush out of the bathroom and flip open my laptop to look up the test results for that particular brand online. My eyes lock on the picture on the screen. The blue cross means yes.