Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Yesterday I helped Giacomo come into the world. He was due a couple weeks from now, but they induced his mama at midnight on Sunday because he was pretty big already. I got home yesterday morning about 8:15 and called the hospital.
“I just called you,” she said. “My water broke about 20 minutes ago and the doctor came in right after that. I’m dilated to a two. And Joe isn’t feeling well, his head hurts and he’s laying down.”

I told her I was on my way and got down to St. John’s in about 25 minutes. She had just asked for her epidural and Joe was not just sleeping he was pretty much unconscious and burning up. I sat with her while she labored through the contractions which were regular, but not too big. I reminded her to breathe, but not too fast, in through the nose and out through the mouth. I thought to myself how annoying it must be to be in that kind of pain and have someone tell you what to do.

The anasthesiologist arrived. In my head Heart was singing "Magic Man." His name was Roger and he was a very tall asian doctor who looked like he was about, oh, maybe twenty years old. He put the epidural in and hung the bag. They do them on drip now and why anyone wouldn’t want something to take the edge off, I have no idea. In the middle of that procedure Joe’s parents and his sister and Ocelli arrived. They set up a waiting area in the hall which was not okay with the chirpy nurse who came in to tell us to do something about them.

St. John’s is an awesome place to have a baby. They have big, clean rooms with huge flat screen TVs. But I don’t like the nurses. They are not very nurturing. Not at all. Too many details to go into around that so I’ll just leave it there. Except to say that if you’re a nurse and you find yourself behaving passive aggressively with your patients, e.g. saying things like “That baby’s not very happy in there,” and then enigmatically leaving the room, well, maybe it’s time to find another line of work.

Anyway, once Joe’s parents got there and I got the nurse to take his temperature (which I bet they bill for) it was determined that they should take him home because it’s not cool to be in the room with your 102+ temperature and whatever virus is making you so hot when your baby is being born. I think this is why the nurse got passive aggressive because it was an incredibly stupid thing to do, but still, don’t freak mama out! She’s going to have to push a giant baby out of her vagina and her husband isn’t going to be there with her.

No. It was me and Aunt Mia and Ocelli who is four and promised to be very good and sit in a chair against the wall where she couldn’t see all the action. So after the room cleared we all sat around talking and put on some cartoons for Ocelli and settled in to wait. Thought it would be a long time. But mama was feeling some discomfort because of epidural light and thank God she got that because her contractions were coming almost on top of each other and they were HUGE! I was watching the tape and watching her and although she could feel them she was able to breathe through them. When she started shaking about 10:30 we thought it might be a reaction to the drug, but then it got more and more violent and the only other time I’d seen her shake like that was when she was ready to deliver Ocelli.

I went out to the nurse station where all eight of those ladies were sitting around having coffee talk and said, “Excuse me, she’s shaking like a junkie that needs a fix. Do you think this could be due to the epidural? Or is it possible she’s ready to go?” They all looked at each other like I was the biggest pain in the ass and allowed that it might be poassible that she was “complete,” and I stood there looking at them like, so is anyone going to come check? But no one moved so I went back to the room. A while later the nurse came in and checked her and said she was ready to start pushing.

Oh golly, that was fast and there were just two of us to do the helping and the filming. Luckily, one of Ocelli’s babysitters volunteers at the hospital so she was able to come and sit with her because we couldn’t leave her unattended, even with the mindsucking cartoons on TV because she could still hear her mama making the distressing sounds that women are wont to make when they’re pushing out a baby.
While Mia filmed, me and nurse Ratchett pushed mama’s legs up to her chest and as I counted to ten she pushed as hard as she could. Because her epidural was so light she could really feel to push so that baby came moving down pretty fast. Although if I had a 9lb. 1oz. baby coming out of me I would push pretty damn hard too. She had to stop so the doctor who arrived to catch could put on his gear. He's a funny guy who says things like, "Now we're cooking with gas." And "Wow, this kid's a linebacker!"

He is huge! And adorable! He has lots of curly dark hair that the nursery nurse parted down the side and combed over very debonairly. With his little sideburns and his big cheeks he looked a little like a very young Marlon Brando in the Godfather. I went with him to the nursery because after all that work his mama wanted to make sure that he didn’t get switched or stolen so I promised I would never take my eyes off of him

As I watched them do all the things that they do to babies I wondered what it must feel like. You’re in your own world and the next thing you know you’re laying naked on a table with a bright, warm, light shining down on you and people are looming over you poking you with needles and sticking a thermometer up your butt and you can’t really move… And I thought this is actually a lot like the stories people tell about alien abduction – being naked and unable to move on a metal table and getting the anal probe. What if those stories are only people’s latent birth memories?

As I stood there pondering this, a new father whose wife had just had a baby girl came in with her, and looking a tad shell shocked he said, “There’s a lot they don’t tell you about the whole thing.” I looked at him. “You know in Lamaze class, they don’t tell you everything, you know?” He looked a little green. Happy, but a little green. “You mean about all the blood and goosh?” I asked. “Yeah. Man, they don’t tell you about that.”

And he’s right. There’s no way you can know what it’s like unless you’re there to see it. Not even the movie they showed in 7th grade health class which featured an episiotomy, an image I will have seared on my retina forever, showed exactly how much um, stuff, is involved. It is nothing like birth in the movies or on TV. It is incredible. What it takes to get here into this world down that birth canal is messy, and primal and bloody. And powerful. That’s probably the best word to describe it because once the head and shoulders come out the rest is just a whoosh and then there’s crying and laughing and awe. And a lot of goop.

As soon as Giacomo came out I picked up Ocelli who was standing to the side but edging to the nether regions to get a better look and lifted her up to see her brother and to see that her mama was okay. The doctor was great because he explained everything he was doing, cutting the cord, delivering the afterbirth – or baby’s apartment – and then sewing mama up because that baby's huge head made her tear a little. And thankfully explanation was enough and she didn’t want visuals to go along with it.

Aunt Mia got the whole thing on tape to show daddy and it all took less than 10 minutes. But just like when Ocelli was born and I saw her huge head and the miracle of her birth I think that adoption is an excellent choice for me. It’s a miracle that women can grow babies and give birth, but if my vagina has a vote, it votes no on the whole pushing out of the watermelon sized object.

Birth is a miracle, but there is a lot they don't tell you.

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