He arrived at 42 weeks exactly.
Everything was normal. Expected. Anticipated. Water breaks. Pain. Drive an hour to the hospital. Every bounce in the car felt like hell. I can’t describe the pain of it, because I can’t remember it anymore. Wheelchair. Emergency room entrance. Hospital. Maternity ward. Bright, fluorescent lights dulled with the fading memory of that time….
I kept my eyes closed for so much of it. I was scared, but I focused on getting through it. This will end, I told myself. This has an end, and I will get there. And I’m going to finish this experience with a baby in my arms, and I will love him so much. I will look into his large, dark eyes, and I will fall in love with the red, squished newborn face of my son. Because he is my son.
I’m in a bed now. My husband is nearby. He’s probably lost and doesn’t know what to do or how to help. That’s what the midwives are for. They measure how far along I am; 7 centimeters. The goal is 10 centimeters. I ask for the epidural, unable to talk or do anything except for endure the pain of each contraction as the wave of pain rips through my uterus. Each contract brings four waves of pain, and each one has an image in my mind: folding fan, wrench, wrench, pencil. I have no idea why that’s the imagery my brain decided to associate with the four painful waves that wracked my body each time a contraction came over me… but nothing makes sense.
The pain of a needle sliding under the skin of my hand, failing to pierce the vein. They try again, the sharp pinprick followed by the cold needle feeling its way, slithering, searching. My breath hitches. Just get through it! I hate it more than the contractions. They succeed and tape the needle where it protrudes from my skin. My hand stings constantly with the presence of the needle. It distracts me from focusing on my task.
Hours pass, but I don’t know that until later. My eyes are closed the whole time. Folding fan. Wrench. Wrench. Pencil. Over and over. They are timing my pain to see how many seconds are between each groan that comes from my mouth. How unrefined. How gross. I’m large, with a heavy weight pushing on my spine, sweaty, uncomfortable, and half naked. When did that happen? Even my hair is matted to my head. I forgot to tie it up during the commotion.
Well, it’s there now….
The epidural is still not here. I’m told it’s been two hours. I’m told that I am at the goal of 10 centimeters now. I can push if I want to. Do I want to? You might as well, since the epidural can’t come. It’s busy with a c-section. Another mom. Another pain. What a relief she must be having with all those drugs pumping into her spine.
Folding fan, wrench, wrench, pencil. God, I want those drugs, too.
But I can’t get them. My worst nightmare. I never wanted to do this without pain relief…. Just get through it. You can do this. Just get through it. It will end eventually. Okay. I don’t have a choice.
I’m starting to push, but he is not coming out. I feel him there, between my hip bones, but he’s not coming out. Why is he not coming out? What’s going on? Why is this happening?
One hour. Two hours. Three hours. THREE HOURS.
Flip over. Try on your knees. It’s not working, flip over to your back again. Push harder! You aren’t pushing hard enough!
I’m trying. I’m trying so hard. I can’t get him out.
The heartrate… it’s….
They check on him. He was okay. I know he will still be okay.
Until he’s not okay.
I don’t remember much after that. The heart rate fell. His heart rate. Not mine. And there’s people wearing white gowns and masks coming in. Machines on wheels coming in with long plastic tubes for arms, bouncing as the machines come closer to me.
No. No. No. No. Please, no, not without the epidural. Why is this happening to me? Why is his heart rate going down? Please, this can’t happen.
They told me it would be a vacuum-assisted delivery, whatever that meant. I agreed. It was that or a c-section. And the epidural was already with another mom in a c-section, so what would that mean for me…. So I agreed. And they placed something inside of me, on his head, and it suctioned to his head with an intense amount of pain I wasn’t expecting to feel. Then they told me to push as they pulled. My eyes were closed, but my vision went white, and I screamed from the pain. One of them yelled at me to stop screaming. I was embarrassed, so I tried to stop, but the pain was so intense that I…
And he came out. Warm, gushing, so warm. All I recall is how warm it all felt. All the blood.
He didn’t scream or cry. They took him away from me immediately, and we held our breaths. I could not keep my eyes closed anymore. I was suddenly awake after being in a delirious dream. I watched their backs as they did something to my son. Seconds passed.
He cried. He cried!
It could have been 42 weeks of hard work, wasted. All those weeks spent puking over the filthy toilet. Unable to eat anything except for oranges and grilled cheese for months. The constant appointments, the blood draws, the poking and prodding, the prenatal vitamins and worry, the pain of giving birth. It. Was. Over.
I smiled, but I felt weak. I couldn’t keep my eyes open. My hair, covered in sweat and stuck to my forehead, felt so cold. I began to fall asleep.
Then I was standing there beside my husband, who shook me in the bed, screaming something at the hospital staff. They rushed over to me. I couldn’t hear anything. Their movements were slow and quiet. And slowly, oh so slowly, a white haze crept into the corners of the room, slowly spreading like watercolor on the canvas.
They would have to go on without me. Our dreams of having a complete family… shattered. All of our hard work. It amounted to something, but it wasn’t what we expected. Wasn’t what we wanted. Wasn’t what we were promised.
Was it worth it, in the end?
I wonder as I watch my son trace the words etched into my headstone.
Culled from blog.reedsy.com by Casey H