February 24, 2009

Today's the day I went into labor with Luke, my soon to be 12 year old. Thursday is his birthday. Yes, 40 hours of labor that ended with an insane mad dash to the hospital in an ambulance. What went wrong?

It was late Monday night around 10. I noticed mild contractions that were exactly 20 minutes apart. I stopped and pondered. I was pretty sure I was in labor.

Tuesday morning. Still going, quietly, mildly. Stan took me to the hospital in Philly and they said that I was laboring, but it was too early to stay so we went home.

Tuesday night. Still going, quietly, mildly, perhaps a bit closer together. The labor was not laborious, but I was beginning to get nervous and anxious. I took a bath with a small juice glass of red wine and began to relax.

Wednesday morning I was laying in bed with Seth, reading a book and when I sat up I thought my water might have broken. I called the midwife and she poo pooed this, even knowing how long I had been in labor. I knew what I knew, but what could I do. Stan went to work. He'd hung around the house all day the day before and felt like he couldn't hang around much longer. He told me to call him when things got interesting.

Around lunchtime, Seth and I drove over to my mom's house and walked down to a park at the end of the street. He played and the pains got stronger. As we walked back to mom's I actually felt a little better, like the pains had almost stopped. Later I'd hear that indicated the transition into the last stage of labor. I sat down on her couch to eat some lunch. I called Stan and told him it was time. He didn't believe me. I called my midwife and told her that it was time. She didn't believe me AND she told me that she would be busy taking her son to Hebrew school for an hour or so and could I come at such and such time? Wha? WHATTT?!

Mom took Seth upstairs to watch some cartoons and I went to the bathroom where I decided with a sudden jolt that there was only one thing in the world I wanted to do and that was PUSH THE BABY OUT NOW. I opened the door and yelled, "Mom?" And then I began ripping off all of my clothes. Why? Primal urge, stronger than the urge for, well, stronger than any urge or inclination I've ever experienced. It was so not on the normal level of desires, urges, reactions that I didn't really even know I was standing in my mother's laundry room taking off my jumper, turtle neck, tights...

And there I stood when mom came down in a rush because the hair went up on her arms when she heard my, "Mom?" and she knew. She ran into the kitchen then back upstairs where she got a robe to cover my 180 lbs of primal instinctiveness and then Seth had to come down to see what was going on and it seems from where I lay, which was on her living room floor, that they spent a lot of time on the stairs - one coming down, one pushing him back up, one peeking back down, etc.

Since no one else was reacting as primally as I, I instructed mom to call 911, which she did, but only after she tried calling George across the street who'd been an EMT and had delivered a neighbor's son 20 some years ago. Do you want me to call George? she'd asked as she held the phone. Hmmm. Do I want my neighbor, one of the one's with whom I sing in Christmas every single December 24th of my life, father of one of my "old flames" and just all around great guy to come remove a baby from my loins? Let's see....No. I want to be able to see the guy again, no strings attached. So, she called 911 and the police were the first to respond.

A poor young patrolman arrived, walked in the front door, took one look at my SELF sprawled out on the floor in my father's bathrobe and turned back around, keeping at a safe distance, and did what any self-respecting police officer would do in that instance - look out the window and pray that the ambulance comes screeching up to the curb pronto. The poor guy may have been in more pain than I.

So the ambulance gets there, she comes in, examines me and says - one of the great lies of the 20th century - You're alright, you're not even dialated yet. If I could have spoken I would have spit out - Not even di- WHAT? If I'm not dialated then my internal organs are in for a big slimy 8 lb surprise, because it's coming NOW! Just then Stan boinged in the front door like he'd been catapulted in from George's front porch. He was coming back from work to get me and saw the ambulance parked at mom's and began a 4 block panic that ended with an explosion into the house and the sight of me breathing heavy on the hearth in a big white robe. His first words were, She planned to have the baby in Philadelphia! She wants to go to Philadelphia to the midwife's birthing center at the hospital! She had it all planned out! Stan honey, I don't want to have to name the baby Benjamin Franklin after the bridge I birthed him on, 'kay? We're going to the ER - take me away! They loaded me up on a stretcher. I have never felt like more of a cliche than I did traveling across my parents front porch and down their steep steps on this contraption held by these two poor, poor people in uniform. They hadn't signed up for a Save the Whales campaign, they were just a couple a EMTs. I was sure I'd be dumped into the yew bushes.

In the ambulance for twenty minutes I held in an 8 lb baby. You try it sometime. So here's the good part. They wheeled me into the ER and who did I see? Who was the doctor waiting for me at the door? Let me see if I can get all this out in one sentence: There stood the doc we saw at the ER a year before when Seth put part of a rubber ball up his nose and the doc didn't see anything up there and told me that hey, he had 5 kids and if it was him, he wouldn't worry about it, but the next day an ENT doc pulled a CHUNK of rubber from Seth's upper nostril. So! With that in mind and on the heels of the EMT who didn't know I was dialated, I was silently daring him to tell me nothing was "up there." But he didn't. He said MATERNITY! HOLD THE ELEVATOR DOOR!

My next vision was of a beautiful doctor in a white coat and halo, standing in the hall welcoming me and my stretcher into his exquisite birthing room where he masterfully caught Luke after two pushes and smiled heavenly when he saw that, though the cord was around Luke's neck and in a knot, he was pink and beautiful and perfect in every single way. The nurses had exclaimed, "It's a girl!" at first because of his angelic beauty and then "His feet are huge!" And then they popped him into my arms, Seth ended the indecision over Lucas or Luke when he walked up to his new brother, touched a finger to his pink nose and said in the cutest little 5 year old voice, "LLLuuke!" Luke nursed like an old pro right away, Stan and I had the obligatory romantic steak dinner by the window overlooking a brick wall and soon we were home with our adorable baby.

This kid, this kid. A mom would be hard-pressed to find a better one. And on Thursday when I show his life in pictures you'll see that he's darn handsome too. Uh. Love him, I love him awful.


Paul Nichols said...

"...romantic steak dinner by the window overlooking a brick wall..."

That is an elegant, big-city picture. Beautiful. I like it!

And the whole story is great. You're a very good writer--and story teller.

Mom said...

Mothers do know best.
Great telling of the event. Happy almost your birthday, Luke.

rosemary said...

Oh sweet Luke....have a wonderful day.

KimP said...

Fabulous story. One to tell his future wife, I'm sure. :-)