Thursday, November 04, 2004

No place for my husband

Before I had kids (well, I only have one) I thought it would be so wonderful to have my husband help me through childbirth. We had watched a wonderful movie during our birthing class which was so inspiring it filled my heart with love.The caring, kind and devoted husband helped his panting and sweating wife with tender gestures and concerned touches. They smiled at one another and pledged their undying love. "I love you," he whispered while placing a cool cloth on his beloved's forehead. "I love you more," she answered as she gazed adoringly into her soulmate's eyes. Ahhhhh, it was so beautiful and magical.

The reality was that there was no damn place for Rich in the birthing room. I don't know who the heck the husband and wife were in that movie or what planet they were from but it had nothing at all to do with my childbirth experience. Where do they get this crap from? It's false advertising! That's what it is.

I checked in to the hospital at 8:00pm on October 2, 1997. I was immediately asked if I wanted to sit in the shower to ease the pain of the contractions. Nothing can duplicate the pain of your child trying to find the exit door from inside your body. I was up for anything that could make this pain go away. What the hell was my precious baby doing in there and how did she get a chain saw? "Head for the birth canal, sweetie. Don't hack your way out," I silently pleaded to my daughter.

I quickly agreed to the shower and plodded into the bathroom. I sat on the plastic wobbly stool that is usually reserved for the elderly bather and I aimed the warm spray at my protruding stomach.It was magical. I sat there for a while just enjoying the pain free moments when Rich suddenly became alarmed. (Rich claims that "a while" was actually two hours but I can't verify that.)

"Look at your feet! They're turning blue! You have to get out of the shower," he sputtered and called for my nurse, Maggie. Just then I got a sharp pain and dropped the shower head. I breathed through that contraction and was in a state of rest again when Rich stated the obvious. "You dropped the shower head."
As I slowly reached down to retrieve it I wondered how I could hit Rich over the head with this piece of metal and make it look like an accident. I just wanted him to shut up. I know that isn't a loving thought for a wife to have about her husband but I was in excrutiating pain and he was in the way. I grabbed the shower head firmly. Before I sat in an upright position I noticed his concerned face was right in my line of fire....... so I clunked him over the head. Hard! (To this day he says I punched him in the face with my fist but everyone knows I hit like a girl so I know that's not true!)

I left the shower and Nannette, my mid-wife, gave me a shot of Nubain before I was ushered to the birthing chair. Nubain is the miracle drug that "takes the edge off." I don't know about that. I was pretty edgy. The Nubain caused me to have bizarre hallucinations in between my contractions. So here I was sitting across from Rich and Maggie, huffing and puffing so hard I thought my lungs would burst when suddenly I saw them: blue and white ceramic cereal bowls all stacked one on top of the other. What did this mean? I tried to convey this image to Rich, but he was busy making Maggie laugh with his Arnold Schwartzenegger impression. "Use your Kegel muscles. You are strong woman. You can push out this baby like spitting out a cherry pit." He was babbling some kind of silliness and at any other time I would have laughed too. But not while I was seeing cereal bowls and my insides were trying to come outside!

Maggie laughed hysterically and said to me, "Oh my god he is so funny!You are so lucky.
Hello!! Is anyone going to help the pregnant woman panting in the birthing chair or is this open mike night at the Comedy Stop? Rich and Maggie looked like two distorted faces laughing in silence. I couldn't hear them anymore. I only heard the silent screams inside my head.I willed Rich and Maggie to disappear. I closed my eyes and waited a few seconds. Damn! They were still there.

Sometime later,while I was still writhing in the birthing chair, I noticed Rich was in the corner across the room looking guilty. He was snacking on his crackers and cheese and chugging a Pepsi. I didn't even care at that point. I love him dearly but what was he doing in the birthing room with me? What purpose did he serve other than to irritate me and amuse my nurse? I thought back to the olden days when men paced in the waiting room while their wife gave birth without them. Some time later the nurse announced the sex of the child and the husband passed out cigars. Bring back the good old days, I say!

Near the end of this ordeal,Nannette, made another appearance and she suggested I transfer to the bed. She had been checking on me all night and now it was time to get things moving. She instructed me to breath. Rich made his last attempt at helpfulness. He stood close to my bed, leaned down and encouragingly said, "Breathe, Honey."
That was it! I had had just about enough of his chit chat. My eyes spit fire at him as I growled, "I AM BREATHING!!!!!!!!!!"
He must have ducked for cover because the next thing I knew, I pushed out my daughter in one push and at 4:59am on October 3rd, Lillianna arrived. Nannette plopped Lillianna on my stomach. My hot little wrinkled baby looked like a SharPei puppy lying there. I patted her head in amazement.
Nannette asked Rich if he wanted to cut the cord. He waved his hand back and forth in protest and said, "No! No! That's why we pay you!" That was fine with me since I didn't want my husband to have a weapon. He might try to get revenge for the shower head clunking earlier in the evening.

Maggie asked Rich if he wanted to hold Lillianna. He shook his head no and backed away from the bed. I laughed at him and said, "Yes you do. Hold her!" He had such a look of fear on his face, you would have thought he was asked to hold a basket full of cobras. He put his arms straight out in front of him.As Lillianna was placed in his shaking arms he slowly brought his daughter closer..... and closer......and closer, until she was resting her head next to his thumping heart. All thoughts of killing my husband and hiding the body vanished in that moment.
We were parents of a beautiful baby girl and we were very much in love with each other. All was right with the world.

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