35 Years Ago Today…

Birthday Cake

I know it’s Thursday and I’m supposed to be writing giggles & bits, not major life changing events. However, now that it has been 35 years, I can actually see some humor in the events that transpired the day before my daughter was born.

At the time I was 22 years old, very naïve and nervous as Hell. My mother-in-law (a former OB-GYN nurse) suspected my water would break any second and whisked me to the Oak Knoll Naval Hospital in Oakland, CA. They did a test that determined I had a “slow leak” (what am I, an old tire?), so they admitted me to Labor and Delivery.

I felt like an idiot. I wasn’t even in labor yet, and here I am in a busy labor room, eavesdropping on the other women as they’re going through labor. A few hours dragged by and no action.

Because the doctor was afraid of infection because my amniotic fluid was exposed to the elements, he induced my labor using a drug called Oxytocin. The drug brought on contractions right away. If the drug had helped the dilation process, baby and I would have gotten to skip all the drama following and get some sleep.

I dilated 2 cm then stopped. Not the contractions – they were increasing in strength and my poor baby was being slammed into the brick wall that was my cervix. Next they put an electrode on her scalp so they could watch her vitals. It would fall off after a contraction and they had to re-attach the thing several times.

I was given a pain medication into my IV. “To take the edge off the pain” I was told. It was a really, really small edge. I, of course, begged for more, like some junkie in the street. I suppose the nearly useless S$%#@!  kept me from killing someone, or screaming too loud. I was so exhausted after a contraction that I zoned out and tried to close my eyes and breathe slow to calm myself down.

One time when I opened my eyes, I saw five doctor’s staring down at my hoo-hah like it was new to this planet. My assigned doctor was getting more opinions, for what? I knew that something was going wrong when I looked at my parents – both had turned white as a sheet.

Then they took me for a ride. First they turned me over and put me on my hands and knees “because it’s better for the baby”. It would have been a lot easier to hang on to the gurney right-side up. They began running, full-out, down the long hallway. Each brass carpet strip we went over bumped me a foot above the gurney. No one seemed to care about that except me.

Next, I found myself inside a large elevator headed up for surgery. The people who were already in the elevator were crowded against the paneled walls. I’m pretty sure I mooned them because the back of my gown was drafty. I would have been embarrassed, but terror and pain will shift a person’s priorities.

The surgical nurses put warm soft towels over my bursting belly “to calm the baby”. It worked on me too, until the next contraction. All I knew was that someone had given me their hand to squeeze. I heard a faint scream, then swearing. Apparently, my nails ripped open the anestheologist’s glove and he had to re-scrub. He did not mess around when he came back – I was out before the next contraction.

When I woke up I was in a dark empty room. Two people in surgical scrubs were looking down at me, smiling like idiots.   “You have a beautiful baby girl!”

“Girl?!?”  They made a mistake. I was having a boy – everyone said so. I had already named the baby Jeffery. This confused the Hell out of me, anesthesia, of course, did not help.  Remember, this is 1981 and they did not use ultrasound equipment to tell you the sex in advance – not in the military hospitals.

I was wheeled (gently this time) up to my room. They put me right across the hall from the nurse’s station. After listening to the happy grandparents describe my baby to me, I feigned exhaustion and they went home.  Now, I was really depressed. Tears were falling from my cheeks when a large-boned, no-nonsense, nurse walked purposely into the room, carrying a white football.

“Now, you girls always want to see your baby to check the fingers & toes, so here she is -”

I was handed my unwrapped baby girl to hold for the first time. She had gorgeous golden curls that peeked out from under her little knitted cap! Once cradled in my arms, she opened her eyes and gave me this look that said – Where the Hell have YOU been?

♥  TTFN  ♥