My Fresh Hell
Life in Scribbletown.

Happy Birthday Baby

2005-06-16
Today Red is one year old. I will not focus on the fact that our bank account is severely in the negative numbers or that both Red and Dusty have been sick this week. No, despite the fact that Red is on antibiotics for a respiratory infection caused by an allergy attack gone awry and I have completely forgotten how to begin weaning a child and shifting them over from bottle (when the actual breast is not present) to cup and am just simply not in a stable frame of mind, I will tell a little birth story. Which, I will apologize for in advance because it’s not all that interesting.

What time is it? 3:00pm? Okay. This time last year, I was in the hospital with regular contractions, 4 - 5 cm dilated. Waiting.

Two weeks before, I’d had a bout of false labor, otherwise known as, “What are you doing here wasting our time? Go home. We’re not going to induce you at 37 weeks. Buh-bye!” Okay. So, really, the contractions never stopped. They just weren’t regular enough to cause any real alarm. So, at 1am on the 16th, I knew things were a bit different, but this time I wasn’t going to pack up the family at 6am and foolishly waste the hospital’s time again. Because I’m a good little patient.

Instead, I went into work, read my email and THEN called my doctor to say can I come in and be monitored? Sure, no problem. Left my husband a message. Called the doula. Told the receptionist I had a doctor appointment and might not be back.

So, I arrived at the doctor’s office and they strapped me to the monitor. Contractions were regular and then not. They cam every couple of minutes or so, but not so's you'd get worried. Still 4 cm dilated, 90% effaced, or something like that. Really, I was in no pain. These were simply nuisance contractions. But I was sick to death of being pregnant. Baby, will you just come OUT already?

Finally, around 12:30pm, they decide to admit me. I refuse the gown and slip into my own t-shirt and robe.

I wait around some more in the hospital, eating popsicles and chatting with my wonderful doula about how silly it is that we still hoard our National Geographic magazines since everything’s available online now. Or via CD Rom. And, really, they’re just taking up space. Back in the day, they were rarities, impossible to get if we lost them. I mean the kids might need them for school projects and papers someday. Ha ha. No more.

Sometime during that intermidable afternoon, I get “checked” – a kind word for “Can I stick my gloved hand up your business one more time?” – and I’m only 5 cm along. “You know, most mothers, at this point, would be asking for the epidural,” the nurse practitioner tells me.

“Huh?” Still, I’m feeling no pain.

“They don’t believe you’re in labor,” the doula laughs, “You’re not even breaking a sweat. They want you to cry and moan and scream.” She walks over to the monitor and says, “Boy, that was a big one. Did you feel it?”

“Yeah.”

Round about 4pm, I weary of this and we discuss with the doctor having my water artificially broken. I mention how quickly my first child was born, how my water broke at home and Dusty was born 8 hours later.

“But, I don’t want drugs or pitocin, anything like that,” I tell her.

She is reluctant to help me unless she can “use all the tools available” to her.

What time does her shift end, the doula asks. Five o’clock, the doctor replies. Doula and I decide to take a chance that the next doctor will view things a bit differently.

And she does. THIS doctor is cool with my break-the-water-with-a-knitting-needle-and-no-extra-help-thanks philosophy. She says, “Let’s see how things go and when you’re ready, let me know.”

By 10pm, I’m fucking ready as hell to just be done with all this. Still at 5 cm and 100% effaced. What is taking this damn baby so long? Now, of course, I know that she’s just incredibly stubborn and does what ever she feels like doing at her own damn pace.

10:15, the HOOK was inserted, bag of waters (a truly dreadful and archaic term for popping the amniotic sac) busted, and...

Holy hell, here we go. Contractions ratchet up considerably and there’s a moment when I think, “Oh yeah, THIS is why people have drugs. This kind of hurts a lot. And really sucks.”

The moment passes, the baby emerges, and little Juliette aka Red, my second and last child, is born at 11:44pm. Screaming her head off, naturally. That’s what she does best.

Had she been born 15 minutes later, I’d have gotten an extra day in the hospital. Oh well. Whatever. Red is mellow and cute and...has reddish blonde hair. What the? And blue eyes that are still blue today. She doesn’t look like my child at all but she does look like my mother’s baby pictures. Which is kind of frightening, in a way. Hopefully she’ll morph into a lighter version of Dusty down the road.

So. One year later, Red has widened our circle and proven that with each child, you find a new kind of love that’s just been waiting around to be needed and used. You know how researchers claim we only use 10% of our brain? I think the heart is the same way. Each child claims another, previously unused, portion of it and makes it swell and rejoice in the extra love. Before Red, my love for Dusty was such that I couldn’t have imagined loving another child as much or as fiercely as I do for Red. She’s a force to be reckoned with but is so uniquely herself that we’ve all discovered a new part of ourselves that had been waiting for her, waiting to love her, to adore her, to be annoyed by her, to make our family whole.

She’s the end for me. The last pregnancy. The last baby. Next week, I turn 39 and I’m looking forward to the next decade being filled with children, rather than babies. I will miss holding a tiny baby. I will miss the end of breast feeding (should Red ever decide to give it up already!). I will not miss the lack of sleep, the constant change that is par for the course during the first year of life. I look forward to watching Red learn to talk and communicate, to Dusty and Red really being able to play together, to a lessening of the kind of constant vigilance small children require (unless you wish to end up in the ER every damn weekend), to the physical neediness they expect.

In a sick way, I wish a third child was possible: possible for my body to take, for our bank account to handle, for my sanity. But, I think I’m done. I've given my children a sibling and that's the best I can offer them -- when I'm gone, they'll at least have each other.

Happy Birthday, Red! I’m glad you’re mine.

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3:46 p.m. ::
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