As soon as the doctor left, I sat straight up, and the contractions began coming one right after the other. Did I will it to happen? Hell if I know. I think 'Lil Jake just got tired of waiting around. Suddenly, I got the weirdest feeling. There's nothing to describe it, but, with all my 'pre-birth' reading, I knew what it was. Its called the transition period, where the baby moves into the birth canal. Let's just say, its a God awful thang. I suddenly felt like I was going to have a "movement" unlike any movement I'd ever had! I called for the nurse, and when she popped in, I told her I felt really weird, like I had to go to the bathroom. She told me to lay back, and I "assumed the position". She said, "You're getting ready to have this baby, for God's sake, don't push, and let me see if I can catch that doctor, before he leaves."
She ran from the room, and the next thing I knew the room was full of people, I was transferred to another bed, being wheeled down a hallway, saying, "I feel like I have to push!!" "No, don't push!" everyone said. The doctor got in place, between my legs, which, of course, were in the position that got me here to begin with, and in two pushes, my first son was born! I got one quick peek, before he was whisked away. I said, "It's a baby!!" (No, it was a watermelon! This was the first thing I said at each of my son's births and I have always wondered what I really thought I was packing in there!?! Go figure.) All I saw were tiny fists and gobs of hair. He was beautiful. Already I felt that tug at my heart, that pull to hold him, to shelter him, to keep him safe. My ex had already gone home, so he had not witnessed the event, and I couldn't wait to call and tell him he had a son. He had convinced me he wouldn't take us home if I didn't have a boy, but I just had my baby, and I wanted the world to know.
I looked down at the doctor, where he was sewing me up. Evidently I had torn something or other. Feeling so elated, I wanted to share my joy with someone, but he was showing anther doctor how to do stitches. Actually, the same doctor he had been training all night. Every time he had examined me, she had too. I had my baby, and after I got to my room, I would get to see him. I had tried for a year to get pregnant, making my husband go through a sperm test, taking my temperature every morning, holding my ass up in the air after sex, making sure the sperm got to the right place. To me, this baby was a miracle. I was just so so happy. I was a MOM.
I was transferred eventually to a room with three other women, recently delivered of their bundles of joy, and we all agreed, we were never, ever going to fuck any man again as long as we lived. All that bullshit about discomfort, and natural, and concentrating on your breathing, was the biggest pack of lies we had ever heard. The only thing that didn't hurt to me was the actual birth itself. Then your body just kind of told your mind to "shut the fuck up, and follow me, I'll take it from here". It was a very primal thing, in that your body did what it was supposed to and you were just along for the ride. But, we, as new mothers, unanimously agreed our husbands were horny dickwads and would never touch us again. Unless they were wearing at least three rubbers.
I waited until morning for my baby. I watched as each mother was brought her new baby boy or girl. I kept waiting. I had gained no more than the allowed 21 pounds during the pregnancy, so I was pretty much back to my regular size almost after birth. I hadn't smoked at all. I hadn't drank at all. I didn't even take a Tylenol unless I was given the OK. Around 9:am I was getting scared, and tearful, as the room was buzzing with baby noises and visitors, and I still didn't have my little boy.
Then, two doctors walked in. The delivery doctor, Micheal Harrington, a name I will always remember, and Dr. Something, we'll call him. I said, "What's going on? Where's my baby?" I started to cry, just a little.
Dr. Something, looking uncomfortable, explained that my baby was born at 36 weeks, which meant that he was premature. He had a condition known as hyaline membrane disease, and that his lungs were not fully developed. He was in the neo-natal intensive care unit, and they were monitoring his condition. I wouldn't be able to see him until they ran some tests on his blood, and decided whether to send him to Sacred Heart Hospital which had much better facilities for babies like mine.
I just looked at them, burst into tears, not knowing what to do or say. I couldn't take it all in. I had done something to hurt my baby was what I was hearing. "I can't see my baby?"
"God dammit!" Dr. Something shouted at me. "There's no reason to get all upset! Where is your husband stationed at? You want us to call him, or do you want to call him? Well let you know when we know more." And then they were gone.
The nurse found me in the bathroom, crying, bleeding, and pretty much incoherent. I remember how sweet she was, how she helped me clean up, got me into bed, sat and talked to me, asked me what I was going to call my baby boy. I told her we had decided to call him E.J. She said, "You need to eat something and get some rest, so you can walk down to the ICU and see him this afternoon." So I would get to see him. I would get to see my little boy! This nurse gave me my first glimpse of hope that morning. I have forgotten her name, its lost, but I remember her face, and always will.
That afternoon, I got up, and walked down to the Neo-natal ICU, and met the typical long-time tough as nails, military nurse. Short, stout, no-nonsense, she looked like she could chew you up, spit you out, and drop kick you a hundred feet before she had her morning coffee. I told her who I was, and she took me to my boy. E.J. was in an incubator, with arm holes on each side, laying there with little IV wires coming out of his feet. His birth weight was 6 lbs, and 1 oz, which was large for a preemie, and an oxygen mask covered his face. I could put one carefully washed hand through one of the holes and stroke his little body. To me he was beautiful, and an angel, and I felt so guilty for whatever I did to make this happen. I cried, seemed I cried all the time. I watched as his little chest struggled for each breath. I wanted to scream, I wanted to roll in the floor, I wanted to find Dr. Micheal Harrington and beat his face in, but I just stood there.
The stout nurse looked at me and said, "Look, you better start eating and getting back on your feet, cause you're going to have to take care of this baby. He's going to need a healthy mother."
I looked at her, past all that hardness, past all that knowledge, and the horrors she had seen, and saw the kindness there, the other glimmer of hope she held out to me, freely, a gift. I went back to my room, now a private one, as my crying upset the new mothers, and ate everything they brought me to eat. I had a new purpose now. Now I had to get EJ well and take him home. Of course I couldn't do it all by myself. But that glimmer of hope was starting to look bigger all the time.
I walked to the nurses station to use the phone. I wanted to call my husband and tell him the latest news, as he had not been in to see me yet. When I asked the nurse at the desk, she said, "That's going to cost you a dime. Do you have a dime?" I suppose she was trying to be funny, but I just started crying again, and turned away. The sweet nurse that helped me before stopped me, saying, "Here, of course you can use the phone." The other nurse, with the warped sense of humor, was evidently being informed that I was that mother.
I dialed my home phone number and listened to it ring. And ring. And ring. Then I went back to the ICU, to touch my baby again.
To be continued.