Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pieces of Me Part IV

One morning in the fall of 1984 as I was making my husband a nice fresh egg salad sandwich for his lunch I opened the mayonnaise and made the mistake of looking at it and promptly realized I was pregnant. The by now all too familiar heat raced through my body, my mouth watered uncontrollably as I tried to not lose it, a cold clammy sweat broke out all over my body and I let out a strangled “Well damn it to hell” as I tossed the eggs, the bread, the mayonnaise and my morning coffee into the sink.

My husband rushed into the kitchen, shirt undone, face still have lathered with shaving cream and seeing me hunched over the sink, mayonnaise slicked knife still clutched in one  hand making horrible gagging sounds and moaning said (this is why I love men, right here) “Is something wrong?” While I resisted the urge to turn and stab him with the mayonnaise knife right where his motile little marathon swimmers nestled all smug in their beds I could not help but shout “Does it look like something is freaking wrong?”  Not being a dimwit, he took in my posture, my flushed face, my aggressive almost to the point of “The Exorcist” manner of speaking and tone of voice and jumped up and down, clapping his hands with joy saying You are pregnant! Yahoo, whoopee and any number of other exclamations of unrestrained joy.
After the birth of our son the previous August and the success of his first year my dear hubby, who at one point had thought about leaving me because I had conceived, was ready for a soccer team of his own. He was talking four, five, six, hell TEN kids. He wanted to dance around the kitchen, to call our parents, to tell our daughter and toddling son. I wanted to quit sweating and heaving.
As he bounced about I lay on the cool linoleum floor and wondered how I would ever tell him that this was it, the last one, no more, no how, no way did I ever want to feel that surging heat that meant 18 more years of my life belonging to someone else, of my heart alternately swelling with pride or quaking with fear and shriveling with guilt. My son was still not sleeping through the night, being plagued with vivid dreams even at the age of 1. This would mean TWO sets of diapers, TWO sets of bottles and TWO children clutching hungrily for me in the night. While I was only 24 it had taken me twice as long to get my figure back as it had at 18 (after my daughter was born). My house was covered with toys that stabbed bare feet, clogged toilets where tiny cars and He-Man tooth brushes had ‘accidentally’ fallen in while the bowl was emptying, other people’s children standing shoulder to shoulder with my own, lined up beside the bed staring at me, asking in hushed voices “Are you awake yet? We’re hungry” at 4 in the morning. Slamming doors, crying, shouts of “I HATE you”, singing, squealing, laughing, “I love you mommy”, cartoons and Sesame Street, the Chipmunks Christmas album in August played over and over and over again until I just wanted to scream “Give him the damn hula hoop already!” One more child we could squeeze into the maelstrom that was our teeny house, any more than that would kill me.
After the initial wrenching hour of discovery the pregnancy was smooth sailing. I took my son’s bottle away, telling him he couldn’t stay a baby forever, he was 14 months old at that point and I informed him it was just time to man up and use a cup. He pined for a week, begging me, crying and clutching my ankles, asking for just one more mommy please, just one more.  I would be gentle and firm and then go to my room and cry for the both of us. At 3 o’clock in the afternoon, as hormonal sleep claimed me I would put him with some crackers in the playpen, turn on terrible, trashy  TV for my daughter and pass out for an hour.
My husband was making decent money that year and we had health insurance, a rare occurrence, so other than the ordinary day to day stressors life was pretty sweet. I got rounder and rounder and bustier and bustier and slid through nine months of mild weather and happy holidays at a comfortable pace. As the time drew nearer I tracked down a second crib, bought a few items that were necessary and a few that were just for fun, something I hadn’t been able to do during the last pregnancy. Teddy bears and a soccer ball, pretty new green and yellow onesies and pajamas. At that point in time the sex of a baby was still a surprise and this time one I was not worried about in the least. Either-or since I already had one of each would be just fine with me. We settled on names early on and for the first time ever enjoyed the experience itself. My son who was an accident waiting to happen had me racing to the emergency room on a regular basis but the unborn baby was good as gold.
One reason why this pregnancy was such a joy was because I had decided it was the last, NO MATTER WHAT. We had been waging a mostly silent war fought in quick, hard battles when the children had gone to sleep. I was getting my tubes tied, it was decided, I had already filled out the paperwork, signed the disclaimers, made arrangements for my mother to help my husband with the kids while I was recuperating. He was in turns heartbroken, angrier than I had ever seen him, reasonable and pouty. The argument always came down to this… “When you carry the babies, nurse them and change them, you can decide how many we will have” It was a statement he just couldn’t argue with though he tried his damdest.
My baby was due on June 21st and I woke feeling heavy and achy and uncomfortable. I called my sister who kindly volunteered to chauffer me around so I could make sure everything was stocked, cleaned, fed, watered and ready so I wouldn’t have to worry about it after. We went grocery shopping, scrubbed floors and washed laundry, made beds, cleaned toilets and vacuumed. My husband cooked out on the grill and when, by midnight, nothing had happened to make me think the baby was going to come that night we went to bed.
I was dragged out of sleep by the cry of my son, lost in another dream he was thrashing about and shouting. I stood up to go to him and felt what can only be described as the bottom falling out, literally. I went from no labor to the final stage of labor in one quick hot instant. SHIT! I yelled at my husband who leapt up, naked as a jay bird and tangled in the sheets yelling at me in return SHIT SHIT SHIT. We both threw on clothes and I slid down the hall on my butt, yelling to my kids that everything was okay, aunt Mary was there and I would see them tomorrow with the baby. I bumped down the stairs still on my rear. I had a feeling that if I stood up the baby was going to fall out on its little head and we were 30 minutes from the hospital.
I was picked up and dumped into a chair which was dragged to the car where I was tipped, like a load of manure from a wheel barrow, into the front seat. I could see my sister dialing the phone, calling the doctor while she waved and yelled “Good luck!”. The car roared to life and we raced into the night. It was 2:07 AM.
My husband drove like a maniac, taking corners on two wheels, hammering the horn at the one unlucky car in front of us at that time of night. I would scream for him to slow the hell down but then another wave of contractions would hit me and I would scream “Hurry up! Hurry the eff up!”. We made the 20 mile trip through sleepy small towns in record time, arriving at the emergency room doors at 2:24. I had no choice but to stand, to wait for a wheel chair would have meant the baby coming out on the sidewalk. I am no stranger to embarrassment, no prude by any stretch of the imagination but I was ab-so-lut-ly not going to have my baby bare assed on a sidewalk in the middle of the night.
I began walking with my hands between my legs which were bowed like an old cowboy, quickly if not gracefully toward the entrance just as my midwife drove up. She tried to get me to lay down, wasn’t happening, she tried to remove my dress, unbuttoning one strap then the other only to find that I could, indeed, stop the baby from tumbling out AND button a button with one hand while suffering terrible contractions and cursing like a sailor. The three of us, myself, my husband and my midwife created a millipede like creature with flailing arms and awkward gait until we finally made it up to my room where we broke apart, myself to the bed, my hubby to the chair and the midwife in baseball catcher position at the foot of the bed. As nurses rushed in with the requisite instruments for tending to the new born I felt a lovely rend and knew my baby was tired of holding on. Looking down the length of the bed I saw the midwife smile and then tense. My husband and I both saw the lines deepen around her eyes, the tight set of her lips, and watched in horror as first our baby’s head, then feet, then head again, then feet again, then head flashed in front of her grim visage. At the end of the baby-gyrations she held a perfect little doll up over her head and yelled “it’s a girl and she is fine!” Apparently the cord had been wrapped around and around the baby and she had tossed and turned the little gem, unwrapping as she delivered her like a lovely gift at 2:31 on that beautiful, beautiful morning.