The day my life changed… forever.

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I love this boy so much. He made me a mother.

I was eighteen years old. There was so much wrong with me, and I knew that I had no business to be in this position. I was having a baby. I was single, a high school dropout, slightly crazy, unemployed, and an all around mess. I had even dropped out of childbirth classes.

It was April 12, 1999.

My mother drove me to the hospital for my scheduled induction. I was nervous and so ready to get this over with. To be honest, I was expecting this to be the day that some magical transformation would happen, and I would finally know how to be a mother. It was impossible for me to continue to be the same person I was, I was about to be a mom. The instincts would kick in, Right?

It was insanely early and the sun had not even started to brighten the sky. We rode up the elevator to the Labor and Delivery Unit at Covenant Hospital. I was already registered and they were expecting me. Check in, and start the chores of the morning.

ID bracelet? Check. IV start? Check. Enema? Excuse me? What was that? You are going to do what to my what? Sigh. Check.

What had I gotten myself into? Okay, now for the fun part. Starting the Pitocin. Let me tell you a little about this drug. It’s whole purpose is to cause your uterus to have the most intense contractions imaginable. If you are not feeling too bad, then they have to turn it up. Are you kidding me? Turn that shit down! This hurts. Oh, here is the doctor to break my water, and attach a little probe to the little guy’s head. Did you know they basically use a contraption that looks like a crochet hook to rupture that amniotic sac? It sounds so high-tech, and it is actually the equivalent a breaking a water balloon.

Side note: I think most people imagine their physician being right there with them throughout labor. Nope. He just drops by for the crucial moments. The most important health care personnel are your nurses. I had a great one. Her name was Marla, and I will never forget her. I have a lot of friends who are L&D nurses, and I even briefly considered it. Until I saw a real baby coming out of a real vagina- ummm. No. I’ll stick to MICU, thank you very much. The Horror of Childbirth is too much for me. 

Contractions are an interesting feeling. It is like someone is reaching up into your soul, and wringing you out to dry. They start out a little uncomfortable, and then crescendo to a plateau of intense pain before they slowly subside. It is difficult to explain exactly where the pain is. Is it in your back? Your gut? Oh, there is some pain medicine. Demerol does not get rid of the pain, but it makes you not care about it at all. I felt like I was swimming. It could have been the pool of amniotic fluid I was drowning in. Turning every which way, bed up, bed down, flopping from one side to the other, there must be a position which will relieve this discomfort.

Oh, my family has come. Mamaw and Papaw, Grandaddy and Granny, and my friend Josette join my mom and stepdad at the bedside. I may be a little grumpy. This is decidedly less fun than I imagined it would be. Besides, it is nothing like the movies. For one thing, in the movies there is always an adoring husband who is just so damned grateful that this woman is bringing his child into the world. Oops. I forgot that part. Next time, make sure there is an adoring husband, That will make this experience a walk in park. I just know it. Note to self: find adoring husband. 

Ahhh. Time for an epidural. Some people say they are horrible, and they complain about the pain of getting the catheter shoved into the space around their spine. I don’t know why they are complaining. Seriously? This was sweet heaven and relief. Ummm. Why can’t I move? OMG. I am paralyzed. Ugh. What on earth is going on? Okay. Maybe I should take a nap. Yes, a nap sounds wonderful. 

Remember those childbirth classes I dropped out of? Well, I must have missed the one where they teach women how to make their cervix dilate on command. Mine was doing nothing. Nope. Nothing. My nurse began mumbling about a possible C-section. What? Cut me open? No… I don’t want to do that. Can we please stop talking about that? Here, I will think happy labor advancing thoughts. 

This was obviously going to be a long day. We sent everyone for lunch. Just because I am not allowed to eat does not mean my family should suffer right? So, it is just my mother and I and my nurse has left explicit instructions to notify her if I feel any pressure. She was going to come and check me in about an hour. Remember, I was paralyzed. I could not  feel anything at all. Except about two minutes after she went to lunch, I felt different. I could not be certain it was pressure, and I was about to ignore it. I was curious about what the new feeling was though. So, I tell my mom I am feeling something.

We called the nurse, and she came in and “checked” me. Checking a cervix must be an interesting skill. You feel around blindly in a vagina, and you have to determine what you are feeling, how big in diameter it is, and whether or not that is a baby. Are you kidding me? Why would anyone sane want this job? You are shoving your entire arm into a wet slimy pit, hoping to determine the current state of affairs in an actively breaking vagina. Yuck. 

When she checked me, her eyes got wide and she pronounced me “Ready.” What? No, I am not ready for anything except a nap. We just sent everyone away. I am not ready. That mom instinct has still not set in. I still feel like a kid. I am not ready for this. I am tired. Maybe I can just go home, and we can do this tomorrow. What in the hell do you mean I am ready? Who says? 

My mother started making phone calls to get everyone back to the hospital, and Marla was a flurry of activity. She was wheeling in equipment and pulling the stirrups out of the bed. Once she got me draped and my most personal business in the proper position, another nurse came in to see if she needs help. There was a discussion about shaving. I’m sorry. Do what? You need to shave my what? Why? There is entirely too much activity around my hoohaw at this point. 

They had me start pushing. Once again, I was reminded I should not have dropped out of the childbirth classes. I am paralyzed. What do you mean push? Push what? Good grief. I have no idea what they are talking about. These people are insane. 

Finally, I must have done something right. Marla says she can see the head. Of course everyone in the room wanted to look. Sure, why not? What’s a little vagina peering between family and friends? 

The doctor came blustering into the room. Dr Burkholder is a larger than life man with a booming voice and an air of confidence. He had already done so much for me throughout my nightmare pregnancy, and I trusted him completely. My only complaint? His hands are huge. Other than that, he is great. He donned his blue gown and sterile gloves, and started running the show.

At one point there was something concerning, I never knew what tipped them off to Ty’s distress, but they no longer had time for my uneducated pushing skills. There was this magical suction cup device that would help guide this baby out in a hurry. Once the head was out he wanted me to look down and see him. I refused. He called me a brat and told me to mind. I closed my eyes and turned my head. I never did like to do what I was told. Looking back, this seems a stupid place to exert my independence. 

Swoosh, out came Ty Garrett. His umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck several times, and he was an unnatural shade of blueberry. The doctor held him up proudly, my mother cut the cord, and they hurried him over to a crib. Seven pounds, four ounces. A NICU nurse was ushered in, and they proceeded to give him oxygen. The mood in the room was tense for a few minutes. Thankfully, he was fine after a short while.

Now, the doctor was still preoccupied with my lady bits, and I think he may have been slightly gleeful when he held up my placenta. Ewww. What the hell is that? Get it away from me. 

Several minutes go by, and he was still down there. Finally I ask him what on earth he is doing. Oh. I “tore?” Ummm. Can you fix that? Am I broken? Can you put a couple extra stitches in there to make it like it used to be? Oh. It will never be like it used to be. Got it. My vagina is permanently disfigured. Wait. Why do I still feel like a kid? Where is that mom feeling? Maybe I will get it when I hold him again. 

Everyone passes him around. The moment he was delivered, Mamaw gleefully exclaimed “Oh, he has your nose!” Poor kid. Hope it works out better for you than me. (Turns out, the nose is quite handsome on him.) My mother was practically beside herself. She loved him so much. She apparently had the grandmother superpowers that day. She knew what to do immediately. I am so grateful for all her help. I may have been inept as a mother, but he always had Nana to make sure I did not screw up too bad. 

They perfunctorily cleaned up the baby and handed him to me. I am looking at this little guy, and I know he is the best thing to ever happen to me. I am baffled by him though. I have no idea what he needs. We were supposed to do all the post birth stuff in the delivery room, however the L&D floor was  apparently hopping that day. They needed the room. We would have to bond later. Sometimes I wonder how things would have been different if we could have had more time before we were separated.

Ty was whisked away to the nursery, and I was wheeled to my postpartum room. I was certain the next time I saw him, I would feel like a mom. I just knew it. I wanted it so bad.

Let me just say, there was no magic moment. I tried valiantly to breastfeed, and I gave it a good two or three minutes before I opted for a bottle. Ummm. Breastfeeding felt weird. The most natural thing in the world felt painfully unnatural to me. Yeah, I regret that, but I cannot turn back time. I knew that my life was never going to be the same, and I had to get my act together. This kid needed me. It took a while, and the road had some bumps and turns, but I believe it turned out pretty good. I had a reason to succeed. More importantly, my life had a new purpose. But, where is that magic mom feeling? That instinct all the Supermom’s claim to have. Where were my superpowers? What is wrong with me? 

So, this is the day my life changed, forever. There was no magic moment where I magically knew how to be a mother, and I did not become a real live grown up that day.

I became a mother to a son. I love my son more than anything I can imagine. I am so blessed, and I am so lucky that he has had the patience to allow me to grow up. He was the greatest gift I can imagine, and there have been times I wondered if he got the short end of the stick with a mother like me. He has taught me so much about love and worry. He has taught me to laugh and to always try to be better. I want to be better for him.

I am not a typical mother, and some people may not understand our family dynamics, but they work for us. So, on this Mother’s Day, I want to wish all the Mom’s in my life a happy and special day. May you always be as blessed as you were The day your life changed, forever.

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I like to think we turned out okay. Even if I did not get the supermom powers. We muddle through. I love him so much. Thanks for making me a mom. It is the best thing I am.

21 thoughts on “The day my life changed… forever.

  1. Adrienne

    You do kinda look like you are thinking, ‘Now what do I do with this?’ in that pic. Lol.

    I breastfed, but let me tell you, it sucked a lot for me in the beginning. Like bleeding nipples and and teeth gritting pain. It felt REALLY weird at first, but after a while your nipples seem to lose all sensation or something. For some reason it never crossed my mind that I could give a bottle and bleeding nipples weren’t normal.

    I had my daughter a year before you had your son, but I’m so glad no one came at me with an enema. I’ll just poop on myself and you can just take care of that for me, thanks. You already stuck your arm in me and put a ton of equipment in my uterus. Being a maternity nurse now, I’m pretty sure my daughter was in some distress, hence all the vagina equipment, oxygen mask, and flipping me this way and that.

    I still have a scar from the old lady who dug around for a million years to start my IV. I was ready to punch her. I was terrified of getting an epidural. Stadol didn’t do crap but make me slur my words. I definitely still cared about the pain.

    I had been overdue, but when I finally went into labor, it went quickly. So quickly, that I threw up. A lot. I definitely didn’t want to push. It feels like someone giving you an Indian burn in your vagina or that somehow your vagina got sent to burn in hell for its sins. Try NOT pushing if you aren’t numb from the waist down. It is almost impossible.

    I ended up with a stupid episiotomy. Did you know that they leave a scar? And they hurt a lot as they heal? I sure do. I couldn’t sit without a donut cushion for weeks.

    Anyway, I’m already terrified of needles, and the doctor pulls out this giant metal syringe with a huge needle and stabs me in the vag. I didn’t have an epidural, it hurt and I yelled. That was the most noise I made during the entire delivery with the possible exception of the vomiting. Then came the snipping sounds.

    After delivery, a nurse I’d never seen before came in, didn’t say a word to me and stabbed me in the leg with a needle and walked back out. Looking back, it was probably pitocin but maybe warn me, or tell me what I’m getting, or check to make sure I’m the right patient.

    I also didn’t feel like a mother. It felt like I was babysitting someone else’s kid for the longest time. It felt weird. Sometimes I felt that someone should come take her away, since I obviously had no idea what I was doing. Then she had colic and I think I seriously though about putting her crib on the porch once or twice so I could sleep for more than an hour. The goats would take care of her while I slept, right? I mean I did save one of their babies with formula and pumped breastmilk.

    My doctor was actually in the room for my whole labor, which I now know is unusual, but I think I was only in the hospital for maybe 2 hours before my daughter was born. Dr. Brewster moved to another state later that year. I was pretty disappointed. I liked her. She was way better than the OB I ended up with for my son who tried to bully me into inducing on my due date because I suspect he didn’t want to end up working Christmas. But that’s another story.

    I’ve had natural, unmedicated labor and I’ve been induced. Inductions fucking hurt. It is NOTHING like natural labor contractions.

    It is interesting, the differences in our birth stories. They are almost exactly a year apart (4/5/98) and in the same city, although at different hospitals. Happy Mothers Day!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is interesting. I had a terrible experience at that other hospital early in my pregnancy, and had a much better experience with Covenant. More importantly, I had a much better experience once I had a doctor who viewed me something other than a teenaged problem child. (Although, make no mistake, I was a problem) That is another story for another time though.
      The only reason I tore so badly is because there was actually no time to do anything but rip him from my body. Looking back now, all the turning and what not was probably due to decels- and my baby was certainly in distress. I am so grateful that the medical team did not let me in on that secret. I would have probably freaked out.
      And, yes- inductions do hurt.
      I think every labor is probably different, and the circumstances can be altered through anything at all. Even minute changes in staffing or or how busy a unit is on that day can likely affect your experience.
      I think this may explain how some people LOVE the hospital across the street, and others LOVE the one I delivered at. It is just a matter of circumstances. Just my opinion…

      Like

      • Adrienne

        It was at Highland Hospital. I had 2 of my girls there. I don’t know if many people knew they delivered babies.

        I had a good experience at Covenant with a different baby and different OB. I found out after I had the baby that the OB I left when I had my son was one of my new OB’s partners. I was pretty surprised when he rounded on me. He didn’t remember me and was actually quite pleasant.

        I also delivered at UMC with my son after I left the other doctor. I just started seeing clinic doctors and I’m sure a resident delivered him. It wasn’t the greatest experience because I was induced and they sent me home at 24 hours. Sent a 22 year old mom breastfeeding a 10 lb baby who had had at least one episode of hypoglycemia and a little difficulty breastfeeding home at 24 hours. It was seriously the middle of the day when I hit 24 hours and they were like, get out. Even after I told them I wasn’t comfortable leaving yet.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Tammie Powers

    I was 27 when my first was born n 31 when my second came. By the second I had the mothering feeling, but the first time around I was too scared to feel motherly.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your nose is very cute! I’m glad your son inherited it. Seriously, thank you for the detailed description of that process *shudder* While being a Mom would certainly be a life-changing experience, I can’t help but be glad I missed out on the childbirth part.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for sharing this post. I felt the same way when I had my son. I was unprepared, young, and no motherly instinct at all. I did breastfed and I can say that was battle I fought and won. It was not easy but I managed to nurse them them over a year. They are much healthy because of that. Sure my breasts are a little saggy but I gave them a good start in life. Breastfeeding is very controversial subject I feel because people judge for doing it or not doing it. Which is why I don’t tend to talk about it. Because it’s a sensitive subject and each mother only wants the best for their child, right ?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hate to break it to everyone- but my breasts are deflated, and I did not breastfeed. I am afraid that we like to blame it on the kiddos, and it may just be a consequence of gravity and the delightful joy of being well-endowed.
      I know that are so many reasons to breastfeed, and as a medical professional it is my responsibility to promote it. Sometimes the guilt of not choosing the path is probably worse than formula though.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You can’t go back in time to change the past, but you can change your present and future. Personally I would have quit if not for my mom in laws help. I feel that there should be more classes and support because it’s hard. I had no milk supply over a week and my son had trouble with me because (I don’t want to get graphic but shaped a different way so it made it even harder for him to latch on). I still feel though despite everything I have gone through its really up to the individual.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I have many friends who are advocates for women’s health issues- and who promote education for underserved mothers.
        For me, I wish there were more support for single, unmarried mothers. There is such a sense of shame when you find yourself sitting with your mother in a childbirth class filled with ecstatic married couples- and you are still trying to wrap your head around this predicament you are in. It taints the experience, which compounds the shame- you may not have been thrilled, but it does not diminish the love or devotion you have for your child.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I understand except in your case you feel ashamed because you’re being judged in public. You’re unable to “hide” so to speak. That’s why we have the freedom in the blogging world. I am able to express myself anonymously and there is always the delete button if it gets out of hand.

        May I ask how you felt or what your response was to people who treated you differently because you were a single parent ?

        Liked by 1 person

      • To be honest, I never faced outright ridicule, it was a mostly internal dialog which stemmed from my failure to provide a stereotypical perfect family for my child.
        You do not fit in with the married parents, and you are frequently a lot younger than the rest of your child’s friend’s parents. I found it easier when I was in school (Community college- with a lot of other single mothers.)
        Later, when I was finished with graduate school, and a professional, people would talk about the hardships I had overcome. It is difficult when people describe your child as a hardship as opposed to the blessing they describe married couple’s children.
        I have never been married, so I somehow failed to even try to do the right thing. When you are a single mother, you are supposed to be searching for a father for your child.
        Most people have good intentions, and they speak of you fondly for juggling a career and motherhood. I was one of the lucky ones, my family stepped in, and they have provided total support. I have never done any of it alone. Which makes me different from the struggling single mothers who work three jobs, and are hailed as heroes.
        I say it all the time, I would not change anything about my life, however I wish I had been able to provide the usual family for my child. That is my biggest regret.
        I am no different that any other mother, I do what is best for my child, and I do the best I can. I love the assumptions that people have that I am divorced because I have a child. It is always a little embarrassing to correct people and inform them I have never married.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. This post made me laugh and cry and felt a hundred different things at the same time. You are funny, incredibly awesome and living proof that being a mom is more than that magical feeling which somehow comes and transforms a woman into a mother. Your story is going to stay with me for a very long time. Your love for your son shines through in every word. And your son, he adores you. I reckon you did more than alright. Sharon x

    Liked by 1 person

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