Thursday, October 24, 2013


It was time.  I had waited for this moment for years and it was finally here.  I was going to meet my first child.

Having been raised Mormon, being a mother was the most important thing to me.  When I was in school, people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  Consistently responding, "A mother," I was always told that I needed to have a profession with which I could earn a living.  This confused me since my mom was a stay-at-home mom, as were most of my friends' moms, but I would answer "An author" just to appease them.  If I had to make money, writing stories seemed like the best way to do it (little did I know!)

The plan when I was in high school was to go to BYU to get my Mrs. degree.  I ended up not going to the Y, but I still got married at the very young age of 19.  As I walked toward my future husband in my JCPenney wedding dress, my manta was, "I'm carrying his baby - I have to marry him.  I'm carrying his baby - I have to marry him."  Still having some of my Mormonism in me, I believed that I couldn't have a baby without a husband.

We were both ecstatic about the pregnancy.  Well, I was - he just wanted the baby without all of the hassle of me being pregnant (it actually was the beginning of the end of our marriage.)  He made it clear that he would not be bothered with anything having to do with my pregnancy, so I dealt with my changing body and raging hormones on my own, leaving him alone if I felt any negativity so he wouldn't feel the need to make me feel childish again.

Years later, he told me that he had intentionally knocked me up so he could finally have a baby - he was much older than me (nobody else was stupid enough to give him a child).  Before he knew I was pregnant, we had plenty of sex.  It all but stopped after I told him I was carrying his child.  He later admitted that the only time he wanted to have sex with me was when I specifically didn't want to.  Sex was about control for him.

But, I enjoyed being pregnant - feeling my baby move within me, hearing the fast heartbeat (the father didn't bother going to my appointments with me, so he missed that), and the joy of knowing I would have a pink, chubby baby of my own.  I didn't suffer from the normally bad parts of pregnancy - heartburn, morning sickness - I was immune.  I was in this glowing bubble of pregnancy bliss.

Not to mention that the pre-natal vitamins made my hair and nails amazing!

I still remember the night I went into labor so clearly.  I had been having Braxton Hicks for weeks, but this was nothing like that.  This was real.  It was time.  I awoke my husband at 2:00 and told him he needed to drive me to the hospital.  When he asked if my contractions were 5 minutes apart, I let him know that they weren't.  He was tired and grumpily instructed me to wake him when it was time.  Sitting up alone in the middle of the night, I carefully timed the precious moments between agonizing pain.  Finally, it was time, so I carefully woke him so he wouldn't yell at me again.  We loaded into the truck and proceeded to drive down the road, which was dark and foggy, but luckily devoid of ice and standing water (I had made sure of that a few days prior, knowing that water had surged over one of the bridges the week before).  Thank heavens we lived in a very rural area, so there was no traffic out on such a cold winter night. 

Excitement bubbled up in me.  To be honest, I was at the end of my pregnancy and suffering from the all-too-normal plight of wanting to not be pregnant anymore.  Plus, I would get to meet my baby.  We decided to not know what gender it was, figuring it would be nice to find out.  Actually, my husband made that decision.  I thought it would be nice to know so we could prepare and buy gender-specific items, but gave in to his demands.  I had learned that if he wanted something, he would yell and threaten, making my life as miserable as he could, until he got his way. 

We were driving down the road, a little too fast in my opinion, when another contraction hit.  This one hurt.  A lot!  I unbuckled **gasp!  I have never ridden in a car without a seatbelt before!** and turned around in my seat, clutching the headrest to me.  All of a sudden, this wasn't so much fun.

We arrived to the hospital without any incident (phew!) and I made my way through the cold hall to my room as my husband parked the car.  We had so many plans, so much great stuff in the bag we brought to help me through it.  We checked out the bathtub which was meant for women in labor and saw a green scummy ring around the top.  Um, no.  So, we did our best to try to get me comfortable through each contraction. 

In my moments of rest, I suggested that we call our family and/or friends so they could be there with us.  My husband refused me, saying that he wanted it to be a special day - just for us.  Not wanting to anger him, I resigned myself to sharing the news with them after the fact.

My husband had urged me to not use any drugs and just go the natural way.  "Women have been doing it for centuries - you can do it.  It's better for the baby if you don't."  I would do anything for the good of my baby.  No pain medicine, no epidural.

At one point, it all seemed too exhausting for my husband.  He laid down on the couch and fell asleep, leaving me to suffer alone in silence (I was too good of a wife to bother disturbing his sleep with my excruciating pain, and I didn't want to give him yet another reason to belittle me).  My delivery bag was beside him, all of the items unused.

A nurse came in a couple of hours later and checked me.  "Don't you want to push?"

I nodded, not knowing what it all meant.  My room bustled with excitement moments later.  It filled with half a dozen people, my bed was converted into a delivery table, and my husband was awakened.

During the delivery, my husband was far too excited about the birth of our child to be able to notice me.  He was down with the doctor, watching the action.  TV had told me that he would be with me, encouraging me, telling me how great I was, but I should have known that my husband wouldn't be like those idyllic men on TV.  I was the last thing on his mind.

To my horror, the doctor on call arrived and reached down there during one of my contractions.  "Can you wait a moment?" I requested through the pain.  He assured me that he was going to massage that area to make the delivery easier and that it had to e during a contraction.

Pain exploded within me like I've never known.  I'd heard of the Ring of Fire, but had no idea what they were talking about.  It is a pain which will never be forgotten.  There isn't really a need to try to describe it beyond the name.  Just imagine it - a Ring of Fire down there during a contraction and then continuing until after a head pushes its way out of a far-too-small hole.

My labor was only about 4 hours, so I wasn't as tired as those women you see on movies.  I was able to push my baby out in about 20 minutes.  It was such a relief!  The Ring of Fire was gone, the urge to push was gone, and the contractions were over.  The nurse tried handing me my newborn, but I requested that she clean up my new baby girl before handing her to me.  My husband had just given me the nightgown I was wearing and he would be disappointed if I let it get messy.

Things happened next for which I was unprepared.  I was given medicine to help deliver the afterbirth since my contractions had ended.  My legs shook uncontrollably.  I was colder than I could have imagined, so a nurse brought me a warmed blanket (heaven!)

Finally, my daughter was brought to me so I could nurse her.  Making a noble attempt, I tried.  Knowing my husband wouldn't want me showing my naked breasts to anyone but him, I refused the female nurse's offer of help and struggled along on my own.

After about an hour, the excitement had worn off and my husband was once again tired.  He left my daughter and I alone in my room so he could go home and sleep in his bed. 

We weren't alone for long.  While he was gone, I was just starting to fall asleep in my uncomfortable hospital bed when his mother and step-father showed up to meet the baby.  She was sure to tell me how awful I looked, reminding me of the first Christmas I spent with her.  It was the first one I had ever spent without my family in which I was 7 months pregnant and she had told me how horrid it was that I had gained so much weight and how gross I looked.  Being the dutiful daughter-in-law, I just smiled at her.  Looking back, it amazes me that I was able to carry my daughter to term without any semblance of a spine.

When they left (after far too long) my daughter and I were once again alone.  I had gotten four hours of sleep the night before and had pushed a baby out of my body.  I wept for so many reasons, exhaustion being one of them.  One of the biggest reasons was the fear that my baby and I would be alone a lot.  Little did I know how right I was.  On her 1st birthday, her father decided it was more important to be with his friends than to be home with us, celebrating the day of her birth.

Apparently, that day wasn't all that important to him.  I wonder if he even remembers it.

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