Musings of A Middle Aged Mom


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Arrival

Seventeen years have passed since these memories were made, and it’s amazing how mothers continue to recall the details of the day their children arrived. It was a Monday, and it was cold and overcast. It was President’s Day, so my husband was off work and drove with me the 25 miles to my doctor’s office. As stated in the previous installment, we were completely ignorant as to how our day would unfold, which is probably a good thing. The practice had 5 physicians, and I had seen all but one of them during my pregnancy check ups. Of course, this was the physician who was on call that particular Monday. I will never forget his words…”Well, it looks like you’re going to have a baby today.” WHAT??? There had to be some mistake, I wasn’t emotionally ready to have this baby yet. She was due in March, and March was the month that was planned. The nursery was ready, our home was ready, she was obviously ready, but I was NOT READY!!! I broke down in tears, which was probably more fear than anything. I was scared at that point, but he assured me that we would both be fine.

To the hospital we went, with nothing we needed for the birth of our fist baby. We decided that it would be best for my husband to go back home and gather things we had planned on bringing while the nurses got me checked in and prepped. I still had hopes of doing all of it using our Bradley Method skills, but my body would not cooperate by starting contractions. Evidently, the placenta had torn, and I was leaking amniotic fluid. Because of the risk of infection, our baby would have to be delivered within 24 hours. I had first noticed the symptoms at around 11pm the night before, and it was now 12 noon the following day. The solution? Pitocin. If you are new to reading about labor and delivery, Pitocin is a drug that is used to make the uterus contract when labor is not progressing on its own. This was not at all in my plan, no drugs were in my plan, only walking and relaxing was in my plan, and this was not relaxing. Because it can affect the baby’s heart rate, I was not allowed to walk and had to be monitored once the drip was started. This method of torture stared slowly, making me still think my high pain tolerance would be enough to get me through, but after having the dosage turned up at regular intervals for hours, I was ready to shoot my husband and completely over any silly notion of being Super Woman. Begging for an epidural, I was certain my uterus was contracting strongly enough to crack rocks in half. I had never in my life felt anything even remotely like what I had just endured. Going from Pitocin contractions to epidural peace felt like nothing short of a miracle.

From there, it was smooth sailing. I guess I needed to relax for my body to do what it was supposed to. Within 90 minutes of my epidural, I was ready to push. It was very peaceful, just chatting with the doctor during contractions. I was excited and somewhat impatient, now wanting the contractions to come faster since I was no longer in pain and eager to meet our daughter.

During my pregnancy, I had constantly wondered what my sweet little baby would look like. I wanted  her to have a head full of dark hair just like I did as an infant, and I spent large amounts of time dreaming of what it would be like to finally see her. It was a moment I’ll never forget, hearing that first cry, knowing that she was alive and looked healthy, and finally seeing a head full of jet black hair on the most perfect little head you can imagine. Not only was it love at first sight, it was the first time in my 31 years on this earth that I had seen a blood relative, and not only a blood relative, but one who looked just like me.

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Changes

Before I had kids, I was a neat freak! Everything had a place and everything was in its place. I cleaned my house thoroughly and religiously every Friday from top to bottom, even if no one had been in our guest room or guest bath. Friends and family would skew my placemats or pictures on the wall for sport. Pillows were always fluffed and there was never clutter around my house. I didn’t mean to by so crazy, but somehow, order in my home gave me a sense of peace. I naturally flee from chaos, so I made my home as chaos free as possible. I can’t stand it when things don’t go the way my well-ordered mind thinks they should. I’m completely Type A, quite frankly have a few control issues, and I truly had no idea what was in store for me as a new mom. I’m sure you’re wondering what to possess me to think I wanted kids.

I read everything I could get my hands on about babies. I was in murky water as I had never really liked babysitting when I was younger and my sister had been more of a nuisance as an infant than a learning project. I listened to what my friends said, but I also knew that I was organized and prepared, and I would certainly be different as would my genius offspring. The first tool I took advantage of was a revolutionary book called Babywise. It told me everything I needed to know about what to do with an infant to ensure a predictable schedule and routine, making sure that aforementioned genius child would adhere to my rules and not her own. I believed every word; I think I read it twice, cover to cover, highlighting points along the way.

I also decided that I didn’t want any intervention that wasn’t necessary. Now I know any mom who has had an epidural is shaking her head right now, but let me explain why I thought I could be super woman. Several years prior, I had a good friend who needed a birthing coach because her husband was stationed overseas and would not be available to go to classes and possibly miss the birth. I readily agreed and found the whole experience completely fascinating. Her husband did make it home, but I was still the birthing coach and was able to see how a baby is born up close and personal without having to feel anything but her hand cutting off my circulation. She didn’t have time for an epidural, and she did great, so I thought I would be able to do the same. I should mention this was her fourth child.

So we embarked upon birthing classes using the Bradley Method, which is a 12 week course that emphasizes health and nutrition, education about how your body works and reacts during labor, simulated labor, and husbands as coaches. We found a certified teacher about 25 miles away, so we signed up and headed over to our first class. We arrived at the coach’s home eager to learn. I think there were two other couples attending as well. The first thing I noticed was the smell of cat litter boxes. The first thing I saw was clutter. There was a room off to the left which should have been a living room, filled with boxes, books, magazines, furniture, and who knows what else with no way to walk in or through. There were piles of clothing stacked on the staircase leading upstairs and couple of kids in need of a bath hanging on the railing. In the room itself, we were told we could sit on the floor or the sofa. Neither was a good option. The sofa looked filthy and didn’t smell great, but the floor was worse, with cat hair everywhere. There were empty Coke cans and food wrappers on a table in the back and some empty cans on the book shelves. It was a germophobe’s worst nightmare. I couldn’t think of an escape that wouldn’t be rude, so I eventually sat on the smelly sofa. The information was good, so we decided to keep coming, though I started bringing a towel to sit on.

Although I filled my mind with information and made plans for how I wanted to give birth,  I was again destined to learn that I really had no control over the situation. At 36 weeks I had some symptoms that needed checking. I called my doctor and was told to come in. In denial, and assuming I’d be put on bed rest, I threw on some clothes and didn’t pack anything to take with me. I assumed I’d be back home in a couple of hours with my husband at my beck and call. Ignorance is bliss, as they say.