Saturday, December 20, 2014

Let's Get Real: "Push, Chrissi, Push!"

Having a baby is the most real experience a person can have. It's impossible to not be in the real world when you have no choice but to be aware of your body as it's changing and another body is growing inside of you. Yet people seem to have trouble BEING real about this very human experience.

A few years ago, my BFF and I were reading the entire "Twilight" series by Stefanie Meyer. She finished them way before I did, of course, because she reads fast, and I'm a mind wanderer. But much to my surprise, I did get through all four of them. The last was "Breaking Dawn," and when I finished it, she asked me, "Didn't Bella's whole pregnancy and delivery freak you out? Weren't those sections really hard to read?" Truth is, those sections didn't phase me at all. The female heroine, Bella, gives birth to a half-human/half-vampire baby girl who feeds on Bella's blood during the pregnancy, leaving Bella so weak, emaciated and near death that her spine breaks during the delivery and the baby actually eats her way out while Edward, the vampire dad, bites Bella's stomach open to complete the process of getting the baby out. I guess that since my own daughter was born after 20 hours of labor ending in an emergency C-section, these chapters didn't seem odd to me at all.

Just about everything that could happen while having a baby happened to me and even one thing that doesn't usually happen: After the epidural, my hands went completely numb. I was waiting things out in a room by myself because it would be several hours before I would actually begin the process of giving birth, but when my hands went numb, I got worried. I yelled for the nurse, but no one heard me. Then, when I tried to push the call button, my hands wouldn't move. I pushed my hands up to the button, but they literally would not move to get to the button. It was one of the longest 15 minute periods of my life. When a nurse who just happened to be walking by finally came in, I gave her an angry reaming out which of course I apologized profusely for later.

When it was time to actually deliver my daughter, I had a high fever, I vomited, shivered with chills, and broke the blood vessels in my eyes from so much pushing. The morphine the anesthesiologist gave me just before the C-section was the happiest I'd been, and I thanked him a little too eagerly which I guess made up for my being nasty when he finally did see me about why my hands had gone numb. "I've never seen that happen before," he said. Of course not. Considering he was talking about me and my life, I wasn't at all surprised.

After my daughter was finally born, I had to wait things out in the recovery room. Similar to how Bella's body had been drained of blood, my body was feeling drained of water.  I was unimaginably thirsty and was told that the cup of ice chips I was just given could not be given to me again for another two hours. As I lay there, I had the sensation of being left alone again, but this time in the middle of a desert. Although I could move my hands now, I couldn't stop the intense craving for ice chips. I spotted a different nurse nearby and lied and said I was definitely overdue for ice chips, and she gave them to me. My insanity for ice chips was so strong that the the longing in my eyes probably looked no different than Bella's did when she finally recovered from her delivery as a dead, drained human and was changed into a crazed vampire.

I can see why stories of labor would bother my friend who hasn't had a baby yet, but why does the idea of labor bother women who have ALREADY GONE THROUGH labor? Some parenting blogs have criticized that great vagina cake that Reality TV star Snooki made for her co-star JWoww's baby shower. It is a rectangular pink cake with pink icing in the middle that was made into the shape of the outline of a vagina. Snooki said that the cherries resembled  the blood and placenta when the baby comes out. There is also a big Kewpie doll head in the center of the cake sticking out of the vagina. I don't find this cake gross at all, I think it's real: When you have a baby naturally, as the vast majority of women do, the baby's big head really DOES come out of your vagina!   Not to get political, but I'm reminded of how people don't REALLY want to know how the meat on their plates gets there. If they researched it, they would be uncomfortable with actual images of animals suffering and leading horrible lives only to die by getting their heads bashed in at the slaughterhouse. At least that's how I think they are killed in the slaughterhouse. I'm not about to Google that and stumble upon those images. I'll admit that any semblance of THAT sight, I can't handle, and so I stay away from eating meat because I'm real about how it gets to my plate. However, there are numbers of moms out there who will turn a blind eye to how the meat gets onto their tables yet they're very vocal about the fact that they can't bear to look at Snooki's cake with the pink icing that resembles the vagina that their babies' heads come out of. I think they should just get real.

Now that I've described my ordeal of labor and delivery (not to mention carrying my 21-inch baby in my 5-foot frame where the pain was so bad on my tailbone during that last month that some nights, I just sat moaning on my bedroom rug in whatever position I could to make the pain bearable), you'd think that what I experienced is the reason why I decided to have only one child, but it's not. I would have gone through that again because I was able to survive it once already, so I believe I could survive it again. But the reality of actually bringing a human being into this world and being responsible for its health and happiness is some pretty heady stuff. One child was definitely the most that I could handle. I knew that and was completely real about it.