Summary of Part One: I peed in my pants. If you need the details, click on October 13 on the calendar in the right hand margin of this page to read Expect the Unexpected When You’re Expecting – Part One.
Despair. That’s what I felt as we rode home from Dr. Katz’s office. It’s bad enough to think you’re in labor and find out that you’re not. It’s worse to discover the new baby is not the only one who is going to need Pampers. Pat offered for us to go out to dinner in an effort to cheer me up. It wasn’t really in our budget, not to mention there were about 47 frozen meals waiting to be consumed at our apartment. We went home, ate meatloaf and cleaned up. That’s when the ache in my back turned from dull to sharp. It wasn’t consistently sharp, but it came in waves. I’d get a sharp pain in my back and then shift positions. As soon as I got comfortable, the sharp pain would strike again. This went on for a while when we decided to call my father-in-law for advice. He was an obstetrician-gynecologist.
“You are having contractions.”
“But my stomach isn’t tight and it doesn’t hurt. It’s all in my back.”
“It’s called back labor.”
“But when my doctor checked me I was only a half centimeter dilated and barely effaced.”
“I don’t care. You’re in labor. You need to start timing the contractions and when they are five minutes apart for about 30 minutes, you need to call your doctor. And then you go to the hospital.”
So I started timing the contractions. I’d had three contractions at regular ten minute intervals when it happened. My water broke. Really. There was no mistaking it this time. I felt a sudden pop, like when a thick rubber band is stretched to its limit and violently snaps. I leaped from the sofa, sprinted the twenty or so feet to the bathroom and by the time I got there was soaking wet all the way down to my socks. For lack of anything better to do, I lifted the lid and plopped down on the toilet. With each contraction, and they were coming pretty frequently at this point, gallons of water surged forth from my loins. I sat there paralyzed by pain and fear and screaming for Pat.
“My water broke! My water broke! We need to go to the hospital. Call Dr. Katz!”
Poking his head through the bathroom doorway, “Are you sure?”
“YES! LOOK AT THIS!”
He retreated and quickly dialed Dr. Katz’s phone number. I strained to hear his side of the conversation from my perch on the toilet.
“Dr. Katz. It’s Pat Datoc. Antoinette’s water broke.”
“Hang on. I’ll check.”
Pat ran back into the bathroom, litmus paper in hand.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Dr. Katz wants me to test the liquid just to be sure it’s amniotic fluid and not urine again.”
Before I could protest any further, I was silenced by another excruciatingly intense contraction accompanied by another burst of water. With the quickness of a cat, Pat shoved the litmus paper between my legs and under the cascade of water, sprinted out of the bathroom and back to the phone.
“It’s definitely amniotic fluid, and she is gushing.”
“Okay. See you there.”
“I’m excited! Aren’t you?” Pat asked as he returned to the bathroom and began to get undressed.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”
Stepping into the shower, he continued, “Dr. Katz said that you were barely dilated and effaced this afternoon. It’s going to be a while before you have the baby. I’ve got time for a shower.”
“NO YOU DON’T… AHHHHHHH…I’m going to have this baby in the toilet.”
I never realized how long of an undertaking proper hygiene is until I sat, in labor, waiting on the toilet for Pat to shower, shave, apply moisturizer (can’t be ashy when your wife’s in labor), floss and brush his teeth, choose an outfit (do men do that?). Anyway you get it. Finally my husband emerged from our bedroom, dressed and ready to take me to the hospital. The contractions and accompanying bursts of water were hitting about every four to five minutes. Next problem to confront: how to get to the hospital without flooding the car. Pat pulled a panty shield from a box in the medicine cabinet and handed it to me.
“How about this?
(Think theme song from Twilight Zone here: Doodoodoodoo…Doodoodoodoo. Were we even in the same dimension?)
“I need a towel.”
I folded Pat’s favorite Washington Redskins beach towel into the world’s largest maxi-pad, tucked it between my legs and off we went to the hospital. I don’t remember much about our arrival or checking-in. I suspect there were some forms we completed, and questions we answered. Somehow I ended up in a room wearing a hospital gown, but I can’t recall how. The only detail I remember until I received the epidural was PAIN. I take that back. I remember Pat encouraging me to breathe, just like we’d learned in the eight weeks of birthing classes we’d faithfully attended. Let me tell you something. There is no amount of “heee-heee-heee-hoooing” that can replace the peace and comfort derived from an epidural with a side of morphine. A “heydie-ho” and a salute to all you natural child birth moms out there, but it’s not for me. I take Tylenol when I have a head-ache. In the words of Carol Burnett, “I’m about to push something the size of a watermelon through a hole the size of an olive.” GIVE ME DRUGS. After I had been in labor for about 170 hours and when he could no longer stand my begging, Dr. Katz ordered me an epidural. (Side Note: I don’t fawn over much. I don’t go gaga over movie stars, but boy oh boy that anesthesiologist. He was my hero.) There are advantages and disadvantages to having an epidural. The advantage: you can’t feel anything from the waist down. The disadvantage: you can’t feel anything from the waist down. More on that later.
I was only dilated about three or four centimeters so it was looking like I still had some time to waste before the baby would make his entrance, and you know what? I DIDN’T CARE. Dr. Katz explained that since I was settled he would be going home for a few hours, and you know what? I DIDN’T CARE. He even suggested Pat do the same, and you know what? I DIDN’T CARE. I was left in the hands of Dr. Katz’s very capable chief resident and instructed to get some rest. I must have been pretty tired because I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. The capable chief resident arbitrarily decided it was time to check my progress and awakened me for a pelvic exam. Not a great reason to wake up, but I tried to be a good sport about it. Dr. Capable Chief Resident seemed like a nice enough fellow until during the exam he shamelessly broke wind. I know. I know. Hard to believe. At first I thought I was hearing things, but then there was no mistaking it. In the middle of my pelvic exam, he let another one rip, and it was one of the loudest (and I hate this word, but there’s no other way to say it) fart I had ever heard. “Dr. Flatulence” completed his exam, snapped off his rubber gloves, tossed them in the trash, and grinned.
“You’re at about six or seven centimeters now so you’ve still got a way to go before the pushing starts. Try to get some more rest,” and out he march without so much as a sheepish look on his face.
The nerve! Not even an “excuse me” uttered by that man. Boy was Dr. Katz going to hear about… Suddenly I heard it again, only this time I was alone in the room. OH MY GOSH! It wasn’t him. It was… ME. I shuddered to think that I broke wind in front of that nice doctor, and if that’s not enough, (again, no nice way to say it) I farted, no not “pooted” or “tooted” or “silently hissed”…I FARTED loudly in his face. Poor man. The epidural disadvantage: You can’t feel anything from the waist down. Another chapter missing from WTEWYE.
Pat and Dr. Katz came back to the hospital and in plenty of time. Pregnancy and labor had been long, painful and embarrassing, but delivery was a piece of cake. Three pushes and Christian was born. There he was. Ten fingers, ten toes, and a head full of hair. Perfect in every way. There’s nothing that can prepare you for the birth of a child. In fact, along the way I’ve learned there’s really nothing that can prepare you for parenthood. Perhaps the best advice is this: expect the unexpected and enjoy the ride.