After the first, there was very nearly no second child. It took 7 years before I felt ready to go through that process again.
The first problem was my doctor. He came highly recommended and any new mother I spoke to sang his praises but he and I had a personality clash that began with the first exam. This was my first and I was extremely naïve. My doctor visit lasted ‘maybe’ 3 minutes. I had questions but he was on his way out the door.
I called out, “Wait, I have a question about breach births.” “It’s too early to be concerned about that.” Came the reply as he again started to leave. “But in my mother’s family, every first baby is born breach, butt first breach, and I want to know if that’s likely to be my case too.” Almost with a sneer, the doc told my that I should not listen to old wives tales and that I was being ridiculous.
So began my relationship with my doctor. Each visit lasted 3 or 4 minutes and each time as he was leaving, he would say, “You’re doing fine. Make your next appointment on your way out.”
My doctor told me everything was going to be fine, that this would be a ‘walk in the park’ even though the baby was 2 weeks late when delivery day finally arrived. I had no idea what to expect. I received lessons very quickly. The first order of business was to separate my husband and me. The mother-to-be needed to be prepared for delivery. When I heard my nurse say that I needed to be prepared, I envisioned a talk/lecture or perhaps I needed to be prepared by donning one of those attractive hospital gowns. Whatever it was, I THOUGHT I was ready.
WRONG! Once my clothes were removed, wadded into a plastic see-through hospital bag, and I was redressed in the gorgeous gown, the next order of business was completely unexpected.
“Lay down on the table, Mrs. Chandler,” the nurse began her instructions, “bend your knees, and bring your feet up the table, as close to your behind as you can get them.”
“I beg your pardon. You want me to do what?” I asked, completely NOT understanding what she was asking me to do.
“Bend your knees, keeping your feet flat on the table. Now scoot your feet up the table as close to your butt as you can get them.”
“Ok.” I answered as I tried to get into this position.
“Now, Mrs. Chandler,” she continued, “let your knees fall apart as far as possible.”
“I need to make sure you are shaved properly, so spread those knees and try to lie very still.”
Oh dear, suddenly the romance and beauty were leaving the birthing experience.
Once this unpleasant ordeal was over, I was told to turn onto my side facing the wall. “That’s easy for you to say,” I thought as I tried to maneuver my mountain of a body on the narrow table.
I should have known that the embarrassment of being shaved was only a prelude of what was yet to come. As I finally settled into a semi-comfortable position on my side, I heard the nurse say, “Now I’m going to give you an enema. You’re going to feel warmth. Don’t be alarmed, it’s only water.”
“YIKES! Why didn’t my doctor tell me all of this was in store for me?” I thought. “Where is that man anyway? He should be here. I want to talk to him! He needs to tell me these things.”
As the enema began to do its job, I was working myself up into a significant Mad (with a capital M). But there wasn’t a lot of time to ponder a punishment for the good doctor, because suddenly, I needed to get to the bathroom FAST. The nurse had left the room as I tried to struggle over onto my back and then onto my side facing the room so I could raise my whale-like body to a sitting position. Right then, time was my enemy as I did my best to hurry. As I sat up, I spotted the toilet in the corner of the room. Thank goodness, I didn’t have to waddle down the hall to a bathroom.
Just as I sat, with much relief, the nurse bounded back into the room with my husband in tow. “Mr. Chandler can stay with you for a while. I’ll be back later.” The now annoying cheerfulness of Ms. Evil Nurse (as I had nicknamed her in my mind) was starting to get on my last nerve.
The smell in the room quickly became unpleasant and what did my brilliant husband say to me, “Whacha doing?”
“What am I doing? What does it look like I’m doing?” I answered with a few more choice words that might better not be repeated.
Later I was settled into a hospital bed with a sheet to cover my near naked mammoth body. The cramps had advanced to PAIN and the ‘walk in the park’ was completely forgotten. If there was ever a modest bone in my body, it didn’t stand a chance of survival as it seemed most of the hospital staff on the Baby Delivery Floor had been into my room, flipped up the sheet to take a ‘quick peek to see how we’re progressing, dear.’
At long last, Dear Doctor walked through the door, right in the middle of a contraction that nearly took my breath away. True to form, he and I were only in the same room for a very small amount of time. By the time I was able to form coherent words, he was on his way out the door (just like he was during office visits.)
“Wait.” I nearly yelled.
He didn’t step back into the room but he did stop and turn to face me with a questioning look on his face.
“Is everything ok?”
“Yes, everything is fine.”
“The baby’s position, Doctor? Is the position ok?”
“The position is fine but you’re going to be here for a while. I’m going back to the office. I’ll see you this evening.”
And with that, MY DOCTOR was gone. I didn’t want him to leave me. I didn’t want him to go back to the office. I surely could not live until THIS EVENING. I was near tears when my husband said, “Honey, I’m going to go out get some air, and stretch my legs. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
As he leaned down to give me a quick kiss, I latched onto his arm and growled, “You are not going anywhere! You are going to sit right back down!” and again my newly acquired potty mouth began with words I’m sure he’d never dreamed of hearing me utter. I had such a grip that the only way he would be getting out of that room was to amputate his right arm, so he calmly sat back down to share in my misery.
The next person into the room was a young intern, to ‘take a quick peek to see how WE’RE progressing.” After his quick peek he queried as he looked over my chart, “What time are you scheduled for your cesarean?”
“Oh, I’m not having a cesarean.”
“Mrs. Chandler, it appears that you’re having a large baby and the baby is incorrectly positioned.”
“My doctor was just here and he said everything is fine. He told me the position is fine!” I said as I neared panic mode.
The young intern must have felt he’d made a blunder because he said he’d check with my doctor and he’d be back to see me in a few minutes. However, I didn’t wait a few minutes. Evidently Baby decided that it was time to make an appearance and he wasn’t waiting any longer.
As an intense contraction cut through my body, I know I’d not be waiting until evening for Dear Doctor to return. I practically begged my husband to find someone to help me. He must have also gotten the message that things were quickly changing because without a second of hesitation he ran from the room and grabbed the first nurse he saw.
As Husband dragged the nurse back to me, she’s trying to calm both of us by saying, “Mrs. Chandler, you were just seen a few minutes ago but if you’re uncomfortable….. UNCOMFORTABLE???? “I’ll take a ‘quick peek to see how we’re progressing,” as she flipped up the sheet.
Before the sheet had settled back into place, she was at the head of my bed, pushing me out the door and down the hall, shouting at staff as we flew by. “Get a doctor! This baby is coming NOW!” Her excitement must have affected her ability to drive a hospital bed though, because she was off a tad as she tried to race through the delivery room door, and rammed squarely, full speed, into the door frame. I thought that I’d been shot! I thought I had been killed and just had not yet died.
Quite suddenly the room was filled with people, lots of people, and not one of them was my doctor. An IV was started and I was helped into position. Baby was on his way and he wasn’t waiting for anyone. It was too late to further discuss the cesarean. It was too late for drugs. The baby was being born butt first, as had been my fear for nine months. I tried to listen to the conversation going on around me but could barely focus through the pain. The only thing that registered was “We’re having a boy.”
It seemed that all those around me were in quite a frenzy when suddenly, relief washed over me like an ocean wave. The baby was born. The baby was lying on my stomach. The baby was perfectly still and silent. Silence can’t be good.
Oh no, panic was beginning to grip my entire being when through the swinging doors, like Superman, came my ‘it’s going to be a walk in the park’ doctor. He grabbed Baby Boy up by his heels, swatted his little bottom a couple of times and the whaling began.
When he was laid in my arms, his little legs were still up on his chest but the doctor assured me not to worry. They would straighten out in time. And just like that the doctor was gone.
I was wheeled out of the room with our newborn snuggled in my arms, still screaming as if he was angry with the world.
In the months to come, I tried to remember what the silence in the delivery room sounded like when Baby was first born. It would be six months before we would hear silence again. It would be six months before he would sleep through the night.
As an adult now, Baby has heard all the stories about his birth. He has always ‘marched the beat of a different drummer’ and at times I will tell him “Just because you came into this world ass-backwards doesn’t mean that’s the way you’re required to live your life.”
A mother’s love is unconditional and no matter where he is or what he does, my first-born’s birth will always be remembered. And the first born will be told the story many more times.