I'm celebrating my week 20 milestone with this fifth pregnancy. I've gotten the doctor's OKAY that I have a clear bill of health and we had the 'you are an old woman so we need to do all sorts of ridiculous tests' ultrasound that showed this baby is healthy and it's a GIRL!
So here's a little rendition I wrote a while back.....
My water broke at Nordstrom. Those who know me understand what perfect justice this is. I love shopping. In fact, I am shallow enough to give up shopping each year for Lent. That, and I always pledge for the whole Lenten season that I will put a quarter in a jar every time I swear. But this is an impossible thing to explain to very little children without sounding like the worst mother on earth, and for those a little older, it leads to a forty day discussion on whether the word ‘frickin’ is in fact a swear word or not. But I digress.
Being a Washington state native, and in fact, having drunk a few beers in college with a couple of Nordstrom boys at the neighboring fraternity, I love the store. It has the coolest clothes, the nicest people waiting on you, and a to-die for coffee bar. As my engineer husband tugged me around the country, and then the world, forever fixing both natural and man made disasters on various continents, it became a joke as to how far away the nearest Nordstrom was. But then God intervened and created Nordstrom.com. Now, I can live anywhere, including Fresno, and know my shopping needs will be met.
Every woman who has ever had a baby has a story to tell. It is absolutely the most amazing thing you as a human being will ever accomplish. You will finally forgive your body for that bit of cheese on your bum, or not having perky boobs like your friend. You will love it and admire it for the strength it has and the miracle it created. I happen to be able to fondly remember both the birth of my first son and shopping at the same time. How excited we all are for the arrival of that human being we have created! How incredible it is that as mere imperfect creatures, we can accomplish something as amazing as making a little person.
My husband and I have never been as excited as when that fertility stick magically appeared with two blue lines instead of one. In fact, I was so excited and wanted it so badly that I also saw two blue lines on the first three sticks I peed on. Then, being the savvy marketing executive I was at the time, convinced my husband that he also saw two blue lines. Then I traveled from our home in California to Washington state to visit clients and family. My mother and mother in law who also live in Washington decided they wanted to take me out to breakfast. We had to celebrate the first grandchild on both sides of the family, the first of several Richardson/Zientek concoctions. The eve before the breakfast event, as I was wining and dining my Microsoft cohort, my period came. The next morning I tearfully told my mother that I was indeed not pregnant, and asked if she could bear eating breakfast with her barren daughter. Hormones can do such crazy things to a person.
Jared took six months of ‘practice’ until God decided we had him right. You never feel quite ready to bring a child into the world, but we felt we had waited a respectable amount of time. We realized marriage was indeed until death do we part, and thought we could perhaps make it that far without bringing arsenic into the mix. We felt stable enough that this simple act of creating another mouth to feed wouldn’t put us out on the streets.
I was so excited that the “What To Expect When You Are Expecting” book which details each month of pregnancy wasn’t enough. I found a book that explained it week by week. If there had been a book on the market explaining the microscopic growth that the fetus experienced each day, I would have bought that too.
My pregnancy was fantastic. My skin glowed, I had awesome hair. I could eat whatever I wanted with only one lecture from my OB/GYN on the difference between a bowl of broccoli and a bowl of ice cream. My feet swelled only once. I never had morning sickness. I craved pears and avocadoes.
The only remote problem was my soon to be son decided he was coming out feet first. Anyone who knows the kid now understands this would be the only logical way he could enter the world – on his feet and ready to roll. He’s an amazing athlete, as are my other two sons. If I hadn’t been present at their births, I would not have believed that I, the woman who can not walk and chew gum at the same time, the woman who has actually tripped on her own shoelaces while jogging in place, could create natural born athletes like my sons.
Now, in order to cut down on cesarean sections, doctors perform something called a version when the baby is breach. They relax the uterus so they can turn the baby the way he or she should be, face first to great the world. The doctors get you all excited by telling you to pack your bags just in case the uterus decides to give up and get rid of the thing altogether. We could only hope that something would go wrong and we could hold our baby that much sooner.
When we got to the hospital, it was completely packed. Every room was taken with screaming, writhing mothers-to-be. Even the operating room was being prepped for some poor woman who had been pushing for years, and was finally consenting to getting the baby taken out, alien style. I was stripped, and my swollen body was covered with a couple of surgical gowns, then wheeled on a gurney to a hallway where a sheet was draped on a make shift shower curtain rod for a semblance of privacy. They injected me with what I can only say must be what a quadruple shot Americano would feel like if you mainlined it like crack. Then they strapped me to a monitor to register the baby’s heart beat. The surgical gowns kept slipping, and my belly would crest like Mt. Whitney between cloud breaks. My loving husband kept trying valiantly to keep his naked wife covered. I, however, had lost all feelings of possessiveness of my body, after nine months of being poked and prodded by a rotating number of doctors and nurses, and really felt like nothing more than an overly fleshy container. I was nothing more than a pod for my first pea.
Fortunately for my first born’s sake, the version was successful, and we were allowed to go home, still only the two of us. I went back to reading and waiting, napping and eating for the next month, barely able to contain my anticipation.
Even though I am one of the most impatient people on earth, it was still heaven. I worked for my company from home, a lone telecommuting pioneer at the time. I think the statute of limitations has been exceeded so now I can safely confess I napped whenever the whim took me, soaked in a tub whenever I felt like a beached whale. I wrote marketing documents propped up in bed and talked with clients on the phone while reclining on the couch. It was a real fantasy. My husband, on the other hand, was working nights. When he wasn’t working nights, he was working days. He was working a lot and not fond of the fact that his wife had scored this unbelievable life of luxury. His only request was that I not go into labor on a Friday night.
Well I can’t even get that right. After the poor man had worked Thursday day, Thursday night, and then Friday day, he came home at 5:30pm, only to find me smiling meekly and admitting I was having contractions somewhat regularly. He sighed and asked what we should do. I responded that I should probably move around to see if the contractions would come a little more consistently. That is when he suggested going to Nordstrom to pick up a suit he was having altered. Now, I love Nordstrom, as I have said before. I have since learned, however, that I do not love going to Nordstrom with all the perfectly coifed, svelte bodied petite sales girls in the men’s section when I am nine months pregnant. Not just nine months pregnant, but six-feet-tall-and-weighing-45- pounds-more-than-normal pregnant. Not when I weigh-more-than-my-husband’s-best-friend pregnant. It was here that my psychological discomfort morphed into physical discomfort when I felt that perhaps there was a little more wetness than normal down under and I high tailed it to the women’s lounge.
My water didn’t break in the ‘I wish I’d had a jar of pickles to dash on the floor’ kind of profundity. It was more than the normal little trickle that might escape an otherwise healthy woman who hasn’t been doing her kiegels.. It also looked like maybe someone left a small piece of toilet paper in the bowl for a while and it started to dissolve into little flakes in the water. It wasn’t yellow. Looking down into the bowl, I knew I had a situation on my hands. The doctors say that the baby’s head acts like a plug in some situations to keep the fluid from leaking everywhere in a big gush. Jared must have had a big head, because I made it back to my husband without incident.
Now, in anticipation of the blessed event, we had traded up from the two door Toyota 4 Runner to something a little roomier to accommodate our next generation. We were proud owners of a spanking new Chevrolet Suburban, with enough crisp leather seats to seat eight. We’re Catholic; we were looking ahead. After I told my husband that my water broke and we should go get my overnight bag for the hospital, he looked at me with incredulity and asked, “Can you wait here while I run home and get some towels for the seat?” I won’t repeat what I responded, because I can assure you it wasn’t nice. Well, he allowed me to enter the vehicle and we made it home. I think I was even allowed to sit on the seat, instead of crouching on the floor, which I’m sure was an option running through his head at the time.
My contractions still weren’t coming at a very regular or painful pace, so we stayed at home trying to decide what to do. We looked in the toilet a lot to see if perhaps we could discern amniotic fluid like the last dregs of tea in a cup. I wasn’t too thrilled to go to the hospital that evening anyway. My normal doctor wasn’t on rotation that weekend. Instead, of course, was the one doctor I didn’t like out of the six doctors in the practice. We finally called and were asked to come in to get checked out. The first thing they inflicted upon me when we got there and claimed water breakage was to stick a pH paper into my nether regions, like some great big science project. In what looked like a tsunami of fluid, the nurse waved a small strip of purple paper in the air and proclaimed I was indeed leaking and not peeing and we were summarily admitted to the labor and delivery ward.
My poor husband, after no sleep for more than 36 hours, passed out on the chair in the delivery room while they hooked me up to my Siamese twin for the next day, an IV unit. I was ordered to pace the hallways to get my contractions going. At about 3:00 A.M., one of the floor nurses took one look at me and said, “If you think these are bad, just wait until your labor really starts.” Not the words of encouragement I was looking for in the middle of night, with a husband passed out and my body trying to figure out how to dispel this baby.
By 6:00AM, the doctor decided nature needed some assistance and pumped me up with pitocin. By 7:00AM, I decided I’d had enough of that action and woke my husband out of his sound sleep. By 8:00AM he decided he’d had enough of me and consented to my whines for drugs and went in search of the anesthesiologist. After proclaiming what a cool needle the epidural was as he watched in fascination when they pierced my spine, we went back to hanging out, waiting for me to dilate enough to push. The anesthesiologist explained the most ridiculous concept, that by the time you are ready to push, the epidural will wear off so you can feel the contractions. That is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard. By about 9 ¾ centimeters, I was ready to push and feeling every fiber in my body again. I sent Rob out three times into the hallway to find that damned anesthesiologist so I could have just one more fix. He tried to explain the anesthesiologist was busy. A nurse finally came in and tried to explain the anesthesiologist was with an unwed first time teenage mother, and couldn’t I just be patient and breathe. I would have nothing of it. When the anesthesiologist finally entered the room I audibly sighed and exclaimed that he must be the most popular man on the floor. I think I would have married him at that point, would he have consented.
The unfortunate thing with more drugs is that you can’t feel the contractions, except for a little tightening in your belly. This means the pushing goes a little more slowly than without. It took Jared about 2 ½ hours, the doctor threatening me with a cesarean section after all this hard work, and a baby vacuum for me to finally expel him. 2 ½ hours is a long time, and the doctor, along with the nurse and my husband each holding one of my legs, would pass the time between contractions discussing everything from movies to camping while I watched the monitor to see when to get everyone back in the ready position. After the birth, my husband happily followed nurse and baby out to have a first bath, while the doctor donned a headlamp like some cave dweller and proceeded to sew me up.
I think I’ve now proven that brain damage does occur during the delivery process. How else could I happily be on my fifth child?