The Oral Report

Standing up in front of the class was never so much fun!

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Location: River City, United States

The rantings and ravings of a mom of three wonderful girls as she finds new love while working like a dog and shaking her fist at the system. You know. Pretty much like everybody else.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Flashback Friday!

I've been kicking around a few different ideas for this week's Flash. Not sure what I wanted to talk about, but knew I wanted to pick something with a little Mother's Day flavor. (That's chocolate, right?)

Most of you are aware that I have three daughters who are the lights of my life. What fewer of you know is how rotten I am at being pregnant. Once they are here, I'm a pro at the rest. Getting 'em here, amateur status all the way. My hat's off to surrogate mothers. All the pain and misery and no prize at the end. (Well, they get money, I guess. And the knowledge that they've helped someone get a child. That's gotta be pretty good, too.)

Anywho, I decided to share the story of when I first became a mother. My beautiful songbird, [Kid 1]. This is destined to be long. Very long. Perhaps the longest Flashback Friday! in the history of the world. My apologies in advance. And if it makes you feel better, there will be no quiz at the end.

Hard to think about the best starting place, but let me just say that I'd had a pretty difficult pregnancy. Six months of morning (HA!) sickness and about two of sciatica (which, for me, entailed shooting pains in my rear end and down my legs...loads of fun). I'm not a wuss, but I was looking into other options here.

I was working as the head secretary at a large heating and cooling company here in River City. And my (then) hubby was installing phone equipment throughout the midwest. He was gone five, sometimes seven, days every week. It was a hard time for both of us, I guess.

The baby (we didn't know the sex until she was born...I still cherish that movie moment when the doctor hauled her out and said "you've got a girl!") was due June 30th. Our wedding anniversary was July 4th and we thought, the odds of having her come on our anniversary were probably good, though we hadn't intentionally planned it that way.

At the end of May (in 1989) my paternal grandparents were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. It was actually over Memorial Day weekend that year, and there was a huge party to commemorate the event. All of my relatives from the upstate NY area (as well as everywhere else in the country) had come to Kentucky for the big do. It was lots of fun, and in addition to my grandparents good news, all of my relatives were excited about the new baby coming in a month.

My favorite cousin and his family stayed at our house for the weekend, heading back north on Monday. My (now) ex was heading back to Illinois to work on some equipment there and left out early on Tuesday morning. And I headed back to my office then as well.

That Tuesday was a fairly uneventful day. You know, work. What can you say. By that point in the pregnancy, my feet were swelling and I'd taken to wearing flip flops to work and propping my feet up on a cardboard box under my desk. Did I mention I'm lousy at being pregnant?

I'd been covering two jobs in the office at that time. I had been the Service Department billing clerk, when I got promoted to head secretary. However, they'd never replaced me in the Service Department and I was doing both jobs. My boss and I had discussed, when I first got pregnant, how we were going to handle my maternity leave. It was decided that they'd hire a permanent part-time person to handle the Service Department duties and get a temp to cover me during my absence.

The plan, as much as you can have one in a situation like this, was to hire the Service Department clerk about a month ahead of my due date and train her. And then to get the temp that would be covering me about a week before my due date.

Let's just say this. Three kids. Not one born in the month she was due. Not one.

And so, on that Tuesday after Memorial Day, I met and began training the Service Department clerk. She wasn't terribly bright, but I had some time (so I thought) to work with her. When quitting time rolled around that day, I was ready to go.

On the way home, the timing chain broke on my car, rendering it completely still. I was, of course, miles from a phone. It was a nice day in May and I was feeling okay, so I got out of the car and started walking. And I walked and I walked. When I finally got to a phone, I called my parents (who actually lived only about 7-8 minutes from where the car was) and told them what had happened. I asked my dad to pick me up where I was, rather than start walking back to the car. I wasn't feeling bad. Just tired. And, of course, my feet looked like two big pink baby pigs. All fat and squishy.

So, he picked me up. And as we wended our way back to my car, and as it became clear how far I'd walked, he began to get upset with me. But, hey, it was 1989, who had cellphones? Raise your hand if you had a cellphone in 1989. See. That's what I thought. Maybe I should have hitchhiked instead. He was angry with me because he thought it would be detrimental to his grandchild. Okay, gang, I was walking. Not sprinting. Not stretching or bending or logrolling down hills. Walking. On relatively level ground.

I listened to him bitch and tried to alleviate his concerns by explaining how well I felt. But he's stubborn as hell. And, yes, that's EXACTLY where I get that. No doubt at all. When he saw the condition of the car, he opted to give me a ride to my house and said he'd take care of getting the car towed the next morning. All of which was fine with me.

When I got home, I called my boss at the office and left a message on her voicemail that I'd be late the next morning as I was going to have to get something done about my car. And I made myself something to eat and turned on the tube and vegged out for a couple hours. I talked to my hubby at about 9PM, that night, filling him in on the car problems and my dad's rants. And shortly thereafter, I went to bed.

Around midnight, I woke up...wet. I thought, at first, that I had actually peed my bed. "Twenty six years old and I'm peeing the bed." I swear that was my first thought. Well, that and "pregnancy really sucks". If one of those women who says they never felt better than when they were pregnant had been within arm's reach at that moment, I'd have throttled her. No question about it. So, I got up, grabbed a blanket and headed for the couch. Hey, I was tired. I figured I'd clean the bed (a waterbed) up the next day. I wasn't even back to sleep yet, on the couch, when it happened again. That time, I KNEW it wasn't pee. But I was deathly afraid of what it was.

My baby wasn't due for a month. And then I started thinking..."What if Daddy was right? What if I did something and hurt my baby?" So, even though it was nearly 1AM, I called my mother. I asked her what I should do. I felt so completely naive and scared. Looking at it now, it seems almost funny that I wouldn't know how to handle myself. But, I guess that's what a few years will do for you. Gives me hope for my girls, I guess.

My mother, told me to call my doctor. That was her answer for everything. The conversation went something like this:

ME: Mom, I think my water may have broken.

MOM: Call your doctor.

ME: Yeah, Mom, but it's the middle of the night. What if it's nothing? I don't want to call the doctor if it's nothing.

MOM: Call your doctor.

ME: I'm not having contractions. What else could be going on?

MOM: Call your doctor.

ME: I didn't see anything like a mucus plug. I was in bed and it's wet now, and then I went to the couch and it's wet now...

MOM (interuptting me): Call your doctor.

ME: Thanks, Mom. You've been a huge help. I'm thinking I'll just call my doctor.

MOM: Okay, glad I could help. Do you need me to come over?

ME: No. I'll call you back if I do.

MOM: All right. You're gonna call the doctor now, aren't you?

ME: ::sigh:: yes, mom.

I hung up. You're thinking I called the doctor, aren't you? (Well, maybe not Highlander, he knows me better than that.) I didn't. I called my husband. And we had this exchange:

ME: I know it's late, but something is going on.


ME: No. Something is going on with me. I'm kinda scared. I called Mom, but she told me to call the doctor.

BEBCH: What did the doctor say?

ME: I didn't call the doctor yet. I wanted to call you. I'm scared. I don't know what's going on. Stuff is happening that shouldn't be happening yet. I think you should come home.

BEBCH: I just got here today. It's a six hour drive one way. Are you sure?

ME: Yes. I don't know what's going on, but we're either having a baby or a miscarriage and I need you here either way. Please come home now. Be careful.

BEBCH: Okay.

At this point, my mother is never gonna go back to sleep. I should have told her to come on over. Because she just kept calling me anyway. About 2AM, I finally gave in to her relentless nagging and called the doctor, who asked me if I was having any contractions. And when I told him "No.", he said I should try to get some sleep and call him back at 6AM, unless contractions started, in which case I should get to the hospital and call him back.

Fountains of knowledge, all of them. Okay, I'M OFFICIALLY FREAKING OUT!! But, again, what do I know? So, since the couch is as trashed as the bed, I move to the big comfy chair in the living room. Where I proceeded to start leaking...AGAIN.

Am I the only person in the free world that didn't know (beforehand) that when your water breaks it doesn't do it in one big gush. I mean, in the movies and in books, isn't it always one big gush? 'Cause that's a total and complete lie. And I trashed my entire house finding it out. And someone should have had to be liable for propogating that shit and they owe me for some steam cleaning and some new sheets.

About 2:30 the phone rings again. It had to be my mother, but it wasn't.

It was my husband.

And here are the words that I heard when I answered the phone. I will never, ever in my life forget them and they ALWAYS leap instantly to mind when I think of the birth of my first daughter:

"Did you call me?"

AUGH!!!!!! He has a six hour trip ahead of him and he hasn't left yet and I don't know if I'm having a miscarriage but in the meantime I've trashed every piece of furniture in my house with amniotic fluid and I fully explained to him that he needed to get on the road OVER AN HOUR AGO and he's still there and doesn't even remember our phone conversation?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? Yes, that's exactly how the meltdown in my brain went.

Deep breath. Breathe slowly in and out of the paperbag.

I calmy (heh) said, "YES, I called you. I told you, over an hour ago, that you needed to come home that we're having a baby or a miscarriage and I thought you were on your way." To which he replied, "I guess I fell back asleep. Sorry. I'll leave right now." As I was breathing slowly into the paperbag, more amniotic fluid leaked out on the carpet near the phone.

The first contractions started around 4:30AM. And my mother was there by 4:34AM.

MOM: What did the doctor say?

ME: He said he'd meet us at the hospital.

MOM: Are you ready to go?

ME: I guess. I'm scared, Mom. M's not here yet. The baby's room hasn't even been started. I'm a month early. It all feels like it's...wrong.

MOM: It'll be okay.

And then she buckled the chinstrap on her helmet and as I got into the passenger seat of her car, I noticed that she had slipped into a really cool Evel Kneivel outfit, which was not her normal attire by a long shot. She deliberately blew through every red light in the five miles between my house and the hospital. When I explained to her that traffic was light at that time of the morning and that I had just barely started having contractions, it did nothing to deter her. It was her God-given right and she had dreamed of the day when she'd have a pregnant woman in the car and could legally thumb her nose at the archaic rules with which she had been oppressed for so long.

I began whispering under my breath. Please don't let my mother kill me on the way to the hospital. Please don't let my mother kill me on the way to the hospital. And I squeezed my eyes shut and then we were there. I'm pretty sure the puddle I left in her car was more amniotic fluid than anything else, but without further testing, I can't say for sure.

The admitting staff logged me in to the hospital and then wheeled me up to the labor room, where I was given the traditional garb of a woman nearing delivery, and my mother stayed with me. The nurses hooked up the various monitors and iv's and I noticed I was becoming quite thirsty. I asked the nurse who was hooking me up to the automatic blood pressure machine (a device which should be outlawed) if I could get a little cup of water. She hissed at me and said, "Nothing for you! You are the unclean one!". Okay, it wasn't exactly like that, but close enough.

The doctor got there around 6:30 and did a quick exam.

DOCTOR IMA KAMEEDIEN: Hey, your baby has alot of hair.

ME (genuinely confused, I was so dumb back then): How do you know that?

DIK (heh): I can see the top of it's head and there's a lot of black hair.

ME: Is everything going to be all right?

DIK: The baby's heart rate looks good. It's coming out head first, which is good. Your vitals all look good. There are no guarantees, but it all looks good. You're a little early, so I'm gonna have a neonatalogist on standby in the delivery room in case we run into any problems, but I don't anticipate we will. Do you have any questions?

ME: Does it look like I'm gonna need an episiotomy? Because I'm really scared of being cut. And if there's something we can do to avoid it, I'd like to try.

DIK: Tammy, I'm not sure what your husband has told you, but there's never been anything as big as that baby's head in there before. (Ba dum pa!) We're probably going to need to cut you to keep tearing to a minimum, but you won't feel it. I promise.

So, I just went back to being nervous and dealing with the early contractions and wishing I could get a drink of water. Until my husband showed up. He got there just before 7AM. The same nurse who pistol-whipped me for having foolishly asked for ice chips, brought him a newspaper and a cup of coffee and pulled the lever of his recliner so that the footrest popped up for him. And then she sneered at me and left the room. What did I do?

Around 8AM, or so, I told my husband I needed to make a call.

MY BOSS: Camelia Harrison, can I help you?

ME: Hi, Camelia. It's Tammy. I was just calling to let you know I'm gonna be a little later than I'd originally thought when I left the message for you.

MY BOSS: That's okay. When do you think you'll be here?

ME: In about six weeks.


ME: I'm at the hospital. And I'm in labor.

MY BOSS: You told me we had a month still. I don't have the temp to replace you yet and Samantha has only had one day of training. Are you sure?

ME: Well, my water has broken. I'm having contractions. And I'm lying here in a hospital gown with tubes and wires sticking out everywhere. I'm pretty sure.

MY BOSS: This is HIGHLY inconvenient. I wish you'd have let me known earlier. Or tried to be more considerate.

ME: Uh, yeah. Well, I didn't really have much notice.

As the contractions got harder and harder, I began to discuss the option of an epidural. Hey, I'm no martyr. I prefer any option that is painfree. I'd put up with enough during the pregnancy! So, the the guy with the happy medicine was summoned. And, in a bit, he and his helper, Nurse Snortsalot showed up.

First kid. First time I'd done this. A little green on how things work. I wasn't too proud to admit it.

So when he tells me to sit up and move to the edge of the bed, I did. He asked me to bend forward as much as I could (please visualize a pregnant woman bending forward...let me know when you're done laughing) and I did. And I wasn't bad at it, either. But a contraction hit about that time and I grabbed my belly. He was feeling around on my back for the best place to insert the tube and I said, "Hold up. I'm having a contraction." I wasn't sure how my body would react in that position, but I knew he was getting ready to insert a large bore needle into my spine and didn't want to twitch and end up paralyzed or something. Apparently, though, my concerns were terribly humorous to he and Snorty, as they giggled relentlessly and replied, "You'll probably have several of them before we're done. We can't really stop every time you have one." and get this, "Try to hold still when they hit, we don't want to make any mistakes if we can help it." Well, that SOUNDED like a good plan. But, surely there was a better one.

This gig sucks. Except...once the meds were on board, it was sooooooo much better! My husband was watching the contraction meter and telling me it was going up and that I had a big one coming and I couldn't feel it at all. A little pressure maybe. Nothing more. Oh, that stuff is the BOMB! I couldn't feel the contractions. I couldn't feel my legs. I couldn't feel anything. In fact, when it was time to go to the delivery room and they asked me to scoot from the bed onto the gurney, I couldn't scoot. I couldn't feel my ass to be able to scoot. Just continuing my job as the comedy relief for the medical staff.

After some major maneuvering (of which I was little or no help), I was in the large sterile delivery room. Interestingly, when you are lying there on the table, your legs in the stirrups, you have no presumptions of modesty. Your hooha is hanging out for all to see, and, honestly, you don't even care. Doctors, nurses, janitors, whoever. They literally marched a class of 20 through to check mine out in the delivery room. I don't think it was because my hooha is anything special. It was just the handiest hooha they could come up with at the time, if you know what I mean.

One of the nurses was angling the big convex mirror at the ceiling so that I could watch. ARE YOU KIDDING? And I said, "If you're doing that for me, please turn it to the ceiling. I don't want to see this at all." That probably offended her, but I'm sorry, I just can't do blood. I'll pass right out. And I'm thinking there may be some coming up here soon, and me passing out is just gonna be a thing. It almost always is.

As the circus car full of midgets brought up the rear of the parade and departed the delivery room, we started the pushing. I was doing okay for someone who couldn't feel their ass. I was bearing down and I could feel pressure and they said I was doing it right. But, I couldn't really tell. I didn't seem to be able to push on every contraction, though. Every OTHER contraction, I had to puke. They held a puke pan on one side of the table and on one contraction I'd push really hard, and then when the next one came, I'd have to throw up. Over and over and over again. She was part of the way out (of course, we still didn't know she was a "she" at that point), when Dr. Kameedien announced that she was stuck.

That's not something you want to hear. Nobody wants ANYthing stuck (like permanently stuck) in their hooha. At least I don't think anybody does. So, they huddled up and came up with a plan. They had a clipboard and were watching plays on video and when they came back, they brought a car jack with them.

Wait a minute, guys. What the hell is THAT?

Hip-spreaders. I swear to you, they brought this tool that looked like a car jack and and told me they were going to try spreading my hips a little and popping the baby out with some forceps. Now, I'm not remotely a doctor and my medical knowledge of delivering babies then was next to nothing (though I've learned a lot over the last nearly 17 years, most of it the hard way, none of it through any kind of formal training). But, this plan didn't sound like a good one to me. What could I say, though, I had a baby stuck in my hooha and it wasn't like I had any idea how to get it out of there.

The creaking of my hip bones was kind of creepy as they started cranking the jack, but I couldn't feel much. Within a few minutes, they grabbed her with the salad tongs and pulled her out.

"It's a Girl!!" He boomed. And we all smiled.

They checked her out. Six pounds and a half ounce, with ten perfect fingers and ten perfect toes. She was completely healthy for having been 4 weeks early. And I was very grateful for that.

I'd missed my first official Mother's Day by a couple weeks. But, that was okay. I remember being tired and very, very thirsty, and looking into the face of my tiny babe for the first time and thinking that I am her mother. I'm really a mother. And NOW the adventure begins...



Blogger Highlander said...

Wonderful post, baby. Honestly. I'm a little leaky right now.

You do have a lovely hooha, though. ;)

5/12/2006 7:29 AM  
Blogger MJ Norton said...


"This is HIGHLY inconvenient." It's the kind of boss line that only comes from real life. Write it into a sitcom and everyone will think you've gone too far in writing the guy as a blockhead.

Yeah, the first ones are always... an experience. (The second had its events, too, and that's as far as we took it.)

Someday I'll do an entry about our experience, from all the runs to the hospital for non-stress tests and to deal with premature labor - made all the more fun since work was an hour's commute from home - to the bizarre, sleepless schedule I got on as I tried to deal with both an FAA examination and dealing with a premature (and, so, "HIGHLY inconvenient") birth, to getting on one side of my wife while the nurse got on the other and we each grabbed a foot and practically had to put her knees behind her ears -- doctor's orders! I guess we were the quicker hipper spreaders.

Another time, and seemingly a lifetime ago.

I won't be taking part in any discussion of hooha's, however.

5/12/2006 11:00 AM  
Anonymous jeorg said...

i am not meant to give birth. the whole wetting yourself thing is just not going to work for me at all. at all.

5/14/2006 2:29 PM  
Blogger SuperFiancee said...

H -

As long as it's not the same kind of leaky that I was in the story, I think we'll be okay...;)

Hooha compliments will get you everywhere...LOL!

Mike -

She was actually one of my favorite bosses, but she had no children and didn't have a clue that they are on a schedule all their own. It all worked out in the end, but I'm sure it was a thing for her.

And I've heard, about a million times, how you're gonna talk about the births of your boys, but I haven't heard the story yet. Maybe father's day...hmm?

Jeorg -

The wetting myself thing WAS pretty bad, but somehow, it was nowhere near the worst part. And at some point, fairly early into it, that became entirely too evident. Lucky for me, my water didn't break for the other two until I was in the delivery room. You get beyond it pretty quickly, though. And, like I said, I'm much better at being a mom than I am at being a pregnant woman.

5/14/2006 6:24 PM  

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