22 years ago tonight, I was in full blown labor for the first and last time. Here’s the story of how I became a mother.
I was 19 years old. The world was mine, or so I thought. I had a great job at Steelcase. I had a full social calendar, and I lived at home rent free. I worked nights. If you’ve ever worked nights you know that translates to partying all the time. Your co workers become your people. They are on the same odd schedule, and understand the lifestyle.
There were love interests here an there, but one that seemed to really catch my eye. He had long blonde hair, a bit of a surfer type. He was 10 years older, but at the time that didn’t matter. I thought he was the bees knees. Our whirlwind romance only lasted a few months. I was in denial that pregnancy was even a possibility. It’s possible to be late and not be pregnant. There are lots of medical explanations. I remember looking at that pregnancy test, in a small bathroom of a rental house downtown, and knowing my entire life was about to change.
I left him. He didn’t leave me. He might have felt obligated to stay if I had given him the option, but in my heart I knew I didn’t love him. I knew that I had a limited amount of time to get my shit together. He went to a wedding in Hawaii, and a friend and I went and grabbed my things from his place. Our relationship isn’t a co parenting love story, but it isn’t a World War one either. We aren’t friends but we aren’t mean. We are 2 people with 2 different perspectives and experiences of the same situation.
I am not the worlds best secret keeper but this one I held for a little bit. The roller coaster of emotions, is a hell of ride when mixed with pregnancy hormones. Once it sank in, like really sank in, I was actually a bit excited. I remember feeling so mature and adult like. I had absolutely no idea what in the hell I was doing, but I sure liked to act like I did. Not everyone responded to the news the way I would have predicted, but looking back I can’t blame them. I wasn’t exactly responsible at the time.
My pregnancy was hell. I mean that in the most loving way. I did not glow, I puked. All day, everyday for the first 6 months. I had lost so much weight that I was monitored frequently. I couldn’t work, I couldn’t function. Thank God for my mom and my stepdad. I know it killed them seeing me so sick. The sense of helplessness that they felt as parents must have been torture. They got me through though. They even took me to birthing classes. Let me tell you how fun birthing classes are when everyone in the class has a spouse or significant other, and there you sit with your mom and dad. That shit right there builds character.
All the birthing classes in the world could not have prepared me for what was about to happen. In my family we do things together. We aren’t Greek, but I had at least 8 people in that labor and delivery room. My mom and stepdad. My dad and step mom. My moms mom and dad. My dads mom and Morgans dad. I’m certain at one point or another I could have killed every single one of them. With every contraction I would cry out “I’m sorry”. Finally I broke and begged for an epidural. Now this was 22 years ago in a small town hospital and I swear to you I can’t make this shit up. After what felt like forever the nurse finally came in and said that the doctors phone was busy for so long that they sent someone to his house to get the order. At the time I didn’t even care. All I wanted was for the pain to stop. I was vomiting and certain I was not going to live through it.
The anesthesiologist in every surgery or trauma is always the most important person . The one that controls your destiny. Unfortunately that evening mine was not on his game. I can still remember being hunched over on the side of the bed trying like hell to sit still. Watching every episode of A Baby Story had prepared me for the shock of a needle being inserted into my spine. What it didn’t prepare me for was the fact that they can miss. They can miss that sweet spot so many times that your grandpa steps up and says “I think you’ve tried enough times, it’s time to pack up your stuff and go”
So now I got to labor with some placebo shit that basically let’s you sleep between contractions. Of course with 8 people in the room and 4 of which had to take frequent smoke breaks that wasn’t very successful. The smell of the cigarettes turned me into a bit of a monster. Of course the smell of a candy bar on my moms breath as she was just trying to help me remember to breath, caused an out of body experience too. Then my sweet grandma throwing a cold washcloth on my face mid contraction only to have me rip it off and death stare her and spew something at her with a low animal like growl.
My body did me no favors with pregnancy and it definitely did none with labor and delivery. After 22 hours this stout dark Indian man with thigh high white rubber boots came in and finally said, “it’s time to do a c-section the baby is in distress”. At that point I didn’t give a shit what they did. It happened so fast. A lot of rushing around and a lot of tears. The last thing I remember, which still makes me laugh. I was laying on the operating table and the last thing they asked me was “how much do you weight?” Well, I said 160 with such conviction. Sweet Jesus I was well above 220 at that point. I’m pretty sure once I was out they had a good chuckle and called bullshit.
11:25pm February 07, 1999 Morgan Paige was born. I wasn’t the first to see her or hold her but that’s alright. When I was finally able to look into those eyes it was all so clear. She was sent to save me, and in the end that’s exactly what she did.