Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mother's Day, last year.

This will be my first real Mother's Day. Last year, I was a mother-not-yet-a-mother.  This year, with almost a year of parenting under my belt, I definitely feel like a mom. This time last year feels like a million years ago.

I was due to become a mother ON Mother's Day - May 9th, 2010. On Saturday, May 8th, I woke up early, as had become customary, too uncomfortable to sleep. Everyone tells you to "sleep while you can," before the baby is born, but no one tells you that all hopes of a good night's sleep end early in pregnancy. It's your body's way of preparing you for the sleeplessness of keeping a newborn infant alive. By the time your baby is crying for milk, your body is already accustomed to waking every 2 hours because you have to pee, or heave your giant body onto your other side to relieve your aching hip. I actually kind of appreciated that detail... 

Anyway, I probably laid in bed for a few minutes after I woke up, and waited to see if the baby was already awake. I'm sure I poked and massaged my belly to wake the baby up. I know I got up to pee for probably the millionth time. I remember jumping up and down and pushing my belly from side to side, which always got the baby to kick and move. I remember feeling nothing, no movements. I ran into the kitchen, gulped down a huge glass of ice cold water and inhaled a Hostess cupcake. Cold drinks and sugar are supposed to get babies up and at 'em. Nothing. Jon was awake by now, I don't think he realized what I was doing. I remember voicing an uncertain concern, panicked but worried I was worrying for no reason because I worry all the time. But how wrong do you want to be?

We hadn't finished packing for the hospital. We were hoping that Alice would be born in May, not April, and gave her the go ahead as soon as the calendar flipped. We'd been ready since May day, making deals with her since Cinco de Mayo (she could have had two Barbies waiting in her nursery, but she didn't deliver so neither did we). Anyway, we were mentally ready but not actually ready, ready. We threw some more stuff in our bag, fed the cats, and were out the door in under 10 minutes. Probably 20 minutes had passed since I'd first woken up. We made it to the hospital in about 10-15. I spent the entire drive on hyper alert, trying to feel her stir, trying to decide whether I felt anything or was just imagining. Jon dropped me off to go straight to Labor & Delivery while he parked the car.

I headed straight to the admin nurse and told her I hadn't felt the baby move like I was used to, I couldn't wake her up like I normally could. I didn't know when I last felt her move, because I'd been asleep. I was panicked. The nurse looked at me, she looked at another nurse at the desk. They looked at each other and at another nurse behind me. They were all panicked. Why? Because, as the nurse explained, every one of their 13 rooms were full. They had no where to put me. Jon reached my side just as the nurse asked me to wait in the waiting room. I asked how long I would wait there, and she guessed 45 minutes. I was frozen, panicked.

Thankfully, Jon lost his composure. He asked how long it took a baby to die in utero. He said all we needed was to hear the baby's heartbeat to know she was still alive. He said we'd go downstairs to the ER. They told him that the ER didn't have the tools to monitor, which is utter bullshit (if you'll excuse my language) because I know ERs have ultrasound machines. I'm sure they meant that the ER couldn't do full fetal monitoring, but we could have used a handheld doppler for crying out loud. Finally, they agreed to set me up in the Labor & Delivery triage area. I can't remember who did what or when. I do know that one nurse was in the middle of getting a woman an epidural, and though I'm sorry to have prolonged that woman's relief, I didn't care if she had a few more minutes of discomfort if my baby was potentially in distress. 

They hooked me up to the fetal monitors and right away we could hear the baby's heartbeat, as strong and regular as ever. Thus relieved, the nurse went off to finish that epidural. After that, I didn't care what happened, how long we had to wait, or be there. We hung out in that room on our own and watched Southwest jets on their landing approach to Burbank airport. Nurses checked on us and kept telling us an OB would see us soon, but then everyone was called into an emergency C-section. Finally, an OB came to give me a thorough exam and measure the amniotic fluid. She had me lay on my back though, and the pressure of the baby reduced my blood flow and I almost lost that Hostess cupcake. She had to leave and take care of other patients while I collected myself, and we had to wait another hour or more until another OB could finish up and send us on our way.

Good times. All's well that ends well.
I think we ended up there for over 5 hours that morning, simply because the unit was so busy. I don't remember if we found anything to eat, we hadn't had breakfast and the cafeteria turned out to be closed on the weekends. When were finally given the all clear, I think we picked up some lunch and went home to shower and rest. We were exhausted from the worry but were so relieved that everything was OK. We felt like the whole experience was a little bit of a test run for the real deal.

That afternoon, we decided to kick up our efforts to stimulate labor and went in search of a local pizza place that boasted a labor-inducing salad dressing. The Caioti Cafe has a book where all the pregnant ladies make a note of their visit. I had a good time reading through all the comments, noting how many people mentioned that another mom's success drove them in, or were back hoping for their own repeat success. Lots of moms update their original entry to say whether it worked or not, and I was trying to mentally calculate the odds. It definitely seemed like many women went into labor within 3 days, but that seems pretty coincidental to me. It didn't stop me from ordering the large salad with THE dressing, and buying a bottle to take home with me as well. I ate a salad with that dressing for lunch and dinner for the next 10 days. You tell me if it works...

Eating THE salad and reading testimonials.
It proved to be a fun way to end a day that didn't start out so well, and we had a really nice little date. We enjoyed our meal (and the delicious gelato next door!) and were happy to find a good place to add to our "night out" repertoire. We haven't been back since (we haven't had many "nights out"), but when we do get back there, I'll make sure to make my update in their little book.

Though I didn't face the ultimate initiation ritual of motherhood until 11 days after Alice's Mother's Day due date, I still worried like a mother and cried like a mother desperate for her baby to be safe and healthy and happy. I still worry and I still cry, but at least now I can keep an eye on her. Call me naive, but the worrying has been the hardest part of motherhood for me. You'd think that wouldn't have been a surprise for someone who worries so much, but it has caught me off guard. I try not to let the worry and the "what-ifs" consume me, though. I just take every chance I get to kiss and squish her and nibble on those delicious cheeks. That's all I wanted last Mother's Day, and that hasn't changed a bit. 

1 comment:

  1. Er, this is a wonderful post and I love this line: "I remember voicing an uncertain concern, panicked but worried I was worrying for no reason because I worry all the time. But how wrong do you want to be?"

    I never heard this story in so much detail and emotion and I'm now finding myself tearing up in my cubicle at work. Love to you and Alice, mother and daughter.


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