From the Daily Prompt First Site. I thought that it was appropriate to post this story, which I wrote a while back and posted last year.
Doro Tou Theo – Gift from God
I jolted awake at exactly 3:00 in the morning. It was the worst feeling that I had ever had. The pain rrrrrrriiiiiiiiipppped through my back in a way that felt like I was having a back spasm only it wasn’t a back spasm. I had had quite a few and they had never started in the middle of the night. Back spasms had never came out of nowhere… back spasms NEVER jolted me awake out of my sleep. It had to be … not a back spasm.
This is NOT how it is suppose to start!!! At two weeks past my due date, it could only be the baby coming. Oh my gosh, the baby is coming!!!! Wait. No. What happened to mild cramp-like contractions slowly and steadily increasing in length and strength over the process of birthing your child? I was sweating from the severity! So much for looking pretty for the “when the baby is first born and in Mommy’s arms” picture.
RRRiiiiiiipppp!!!!!!! Another one!!!!! Oh dang this hurt!!!!!
Breathe, breathe, breathe… Think of the classes, those birthing classes that I paid such focused attention to. Breathe… Breathe… Breathe…
I woke up my husband to tell him that I was finally in labour, exactly two weeks past my due date. He told me to go back to sleep. Misery loves company but this daddy-to-be was not going to be my company in misery. Instead, when he finally wakes up, gets dressed for work, decides that he is going to go hang out with the guys at work…
I get dropped of at the in-laws at 9:00 in the morning. I mean, isn’t this who we all want to see when we are in labour? He tells me not to panic and be dramatic, that I don’t need him yet and told to call him when the contractions are strong and regular. Are you KIDDING ME?????? All night is regular enough to me. I am in pain, but I am excited. I can’t wait to finally meet this little creature who has been living inside me. Ooooohhh this hurts.. Focus, Easter… I can’t wait to see the eyes, the little fingers… Deep breath.. Oooohhhhhh deep breath, Little face, little fingers… My little gift from God…
Ok, deal with it. Just wait it out at the in-laws. God bless them, they are old-country, old-school Greek-background who decided that feeding me and having a non-stop dialogue of what to do and how to sit and what to eat and who did what during you-know-who’s labour would keep me distracted and happy during labour. It was so nasty; this pain. Story after story, plate of food after food after food that I could not and would not eat. Except for a bowl of grapes. Now that was what I wanted, cool, fresh, yummy, tangy grapes. “And when Anna gave birth, they rushed her to the hospital and……” Ooooowwww… Breathe, breathe, breathe. Beautiful little face; tiny little fingers.
Oh, dear Jesus this Pain… Oooooohhhhh this hurt sooooo much!!!! I later learned that I was having back labour which just means that the baby is facing your front instead of your back, and ding-dong-dang, it flipping hurt. Focus on the positive, the baby is coming! Owwwww….. The baby is coming and you are going to be soooooo happy… Ooooowwwwwooooowwwwwwch! Little sweet baby… RRrrrrrriiiiiiippppppp…
Nothing helped. I felt like my insides were being ripped out or shredded apart or used as some kind of torture experiment. I remember someone telling me about labour and how horrible it was and I figure this must be my lucky day. I tried lying down on my back, then sitting on the couch surrounded by pillows, I tried bending over the back of the couch to take the pain away from my searing back and then lying on the floor in front of the couch with my legs thrown over the seats. Focus on the baby… focus on holding that newborn.. Focus on seeing that little face for the first time.. Nothing. Nothing, nothing, nothing helped to make me comfortable… it just hurt. It flipping flopping freaking hurt.
I finally convince the dad-to-be that I really need to get to the hospital, to see someone, to do anything to relieve this horrible feeling. I seriously can’t take it any more. I guess he finally was convinced by his cousins and buddies at work that he should go take care of me and his on-the-way baby and he mosies his way to his parents’ home by 2:30. In the afternoon. Yes, almost twelve hours after I have started labour with our child-to-be, he decides to finally, finally show up and take me to the hospital. (How was your day sweetheart? Did you enjoy your day? Were you productive!!!??? Was there anything ELSE THAT MAY HAVE DISTRACED YOU TODAY LIKE THE FACT THAT YOUR WIFE IS IN LABOUR WITH YOUR FIRST-BORN CHILD????????) He is completely at ease without a care in the world as he walks through the family-room door where I am TRYING to not lose my sanity from the pain. You may have picked up on this already, but just in case you didn’t, let me explain that he does not do well with others’ needs. In general, does not do well with others at all when they are in pain; his coping strategy is to completely become oblivious to whatever stresses him.
We are in the car from west Toronto to Markham. (About a 40-minute drive on a good, traffic-free day.) Ever have a back contraction on the way to the hospital while seated in a car. No? Oh.. well.. take all that I have said above, increase the every strengthening and lengthening contractions, and I think I am dying. My seat-belt is a noose for the pain.. I arch my back, I twist to the left, I twist to the right, I take my seat-belt off and turn around to lean over the back of my seat, leaving my bulging, aching belly facing down. Ok. That is a little bit better.
I could not believe that birthing could be like this. No one would ever, ever, ever have a second child no matter how great the first one is. Not after going through this!!!!! Everything I had heard about coping, focusing, breathing and partners that help you through was a lie. All lies. Everyone lied.. who said.. oh yes, it was my mother that loved to talk about her 2-hour labours where her babies just flew out after a few pushes. “and you know Easter… with your brother.. your father just barely got me to the hospital in time… “!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh those lying voices!!!!!!!!!!!
Finally after a forever-feeling sixty-five minutes of traffic, we are at hospital. Drugs.. drugs glorious drugs!!!!! They give me something that is now la la la-ing through my head… I start singing a song. I am so happy. The baby is so happy. We are just soooo happy to finally be free of pain and ready to meet each other. Tiny little face… tiny little fingers… I can’t wait to see you my darling little baby!!!
OOOH, wait no – the pain came back. I am almost in tears. I am in tears. This is horrible. I must be ready to birth this thing by now. I am my mother’s daughter, after all, and a miserable 14 hours has gone by. The doctor sees that I am only 6 cm dilated and decides to give me an epidural. Ok. Will it work? Will it help with the pain? I am sooooo in!!!! Give it to me baby, uh-huh, uh-huh. The anesthesiologist saunters in and explains to me in a monotone, done-this-30-times-today-already voice, everything that I already knew from my pre-labour classes. Please shut up (oops, sorry) I mean, please just give it to me.
My contractions are about four minutes apart now and I am insane with pain. The contractions look like unending mountain peaks without valleys on the graph paper that was keeping track. He tells me that I have to lie on my side and stay completely still for the epidural to work. Ok. I am in. Please just do it. I can feel the injection meeting the thin skin of my spine, I can feel it entering (oh man that is not a pleasant feeling), just seconds away from pain freedom! RRRRrrrrrippppppp!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I moved, he said.
Are you kidding me???? I didn’t move, my body had a contraction. I stayed still. … We will just have to try again. Super long needle. I don’t care… just hurry! Please., please… He does it again. Success!!!! The needle was in place and the epidural begins. I don’t feel a difference. He turns up the volume. Ok.. Well… I am not pain-free, but the worst of the jagged edge that is cutting through me is relieved. Now I can focus.
How much longer until I meet you, my sweet one? How much longer until I can touch your little face, look into your beautiful eyes? Seventeen long hours have gone by and I am very tired, still in pain, and just want to meet this sweet, little angel that I am about to birth. I can’t believe it, but the epidural has actually stopped working. I stare out the window and focus on deep breathing. My husband has stopped rubbing my back, has stopped trying to hold my hand. He had stopped trying to be with me in this ordeal in any way at all, as a matter of fact. He decides to sit in the chair that is in the very-far-away corner of the room and just try to sleep. It is night time again and he is tired. You’re kidding right? No. He goes to sleep. And snores!!! That’s ok, I am so close to meeting my little one now. I know it is soon because almost a full day has gone by. If it only could get to the giving-birth part.
Have you ever met one of those nurses that really truly cares about those she is with and is comforting soothing and wonderful? That was baby number two. This time, I got the nurse that no doctor and no patient wanted. At hour 20 after hours of failed epidurals, humiliating inside-checks, a husband that is turning green and then falling asleep snoring in that far-away corner, telling me to try to hurry. Miss Nurse-of-the-year tells me to push.
Yessss!!!!!!!! This is the end part!!!!! Oh baby, little sweet baby, with your sweet face and little tiny fingers… we are at the end!!!
Ms Nurse-of-the-year leaves the room. Daddy goes back to snoring. I focus and push. Focus and push. Focus….
I am in so much pain that all I can do is try to breathe deeply between the contractions, pushing and tears.
No “hee hee hee hee hoooooooo” for me.. Just a simple in-through-the-nose and out-through-the-mouth is the best I can do and that is only if no one says a word to me, disrupting me from the depth of my daunting focus.
I was exhausted, weak, crying and unable to push any more 4 hours later. I am seriously crying and telling Nurse-Nasty that my strength is gone and to please let me see the doctor. She tells me to stop pushing. Yeah, right. Like you can just stop pushing in the intense contractions. At least there was the positive flip-side to pushing in that I felt I was trying to be productive. I sooooo want this to end. I sooooooo want to hold my baby against my skin and feel the little heart beating against mine. I wonder if the baby is hurting? If the baby is in pain with each relentless contraction too?
Nurse-personality finally believes me and goes to get the doctor.
Bless his heart, he comes in screaming at Nurse-Neglectful for having me push 4 hours already without letting him know. He was maaaaddddd!!!! She was quiet and sheepish. Ha!!! (Wait – God says forgive your enemies… ok, done, now let’s have this baby!!!) The doctor was swift, concerned with my exhaustion and the possibility of the baby being stressed and he wasted no time. God bless him!!! I had a spinal tap given… (In case you don’t know, that is where you become completely numb from the mid-torso and down).
“La Ia la la la loooooove this doctor”, my soul is singing. I feel nothing… and I mean nothing from my waist down. This is soooooo cool!!! I think.. “toes, wiggle”. Nothing – they are not going anywhere. Wow!!! Is this some kind of exhaustion-drunk euphoria like an oasis in the hell-desert of birthing? No pain la la la la la. Then the doctor gets really smart and tells me to push. That really seemed hysterical at the moment. Hahahahahha I can’t wiggle my toes and you ask me to push? I certainly cannot push.
“Push Easter”. La la.. la… Visual.. I am all about the visual. “picture the letter J” yes ok. “Sproxee” he says to me in Greek. Only he says it wrong and I have no clue what this wonderful doctor is saying. He may as well be telling me to wiggle my toes, but in his cheery-yet-mispronounced way, he is telling me to push. My husband gets it and says it right. Then Dr Sweetness tells me to relax. Lol you are kidding, right? I am more relaxed and happy than I have been in more than a full day. I have no pain, I have NO pain, no feeling, no contractions hurting, and I am going to be holding my baby soon. No pain, I am soooooo relaxed.
He turns to the side table and in his hands are… forceps!!! Oh. My. Gosh!!! Those things look HUGE!!!!!!!!! “You are SO NOT PUTTING THOSE IN ME!!!!!!!“ He explains that we could try this or end up trying a cesarean in the very near future as he is now very concerned that the baby will be stressed with much more time going by. He shoots the nasty nurse a dirty look, I shoot the nurse a dirty look. Ha! It felt so good to do so bad.
Oh – I didn’t tell you why I pushed for 4 hours.. As she explained to Dr. Niceness, she did not want to disturb his nap!!!! Another dirty look and he practically dismisses her with his silence!! Ahhh!!! That will show her.
Oh yeah, I remember that I am not supposed to be alone here. Just where is my husband??? Back in the corner of the very large birthing room. Better. Out of site, out of mind. He needs that Nurse-Nasty over there with him more than I do. Dr. Loveliness is taking care of me. He smiles at me and tells me that everything is gong to be ok. He tells me that he knows that it has been a long night for me and that it will all be over with soon bt that I may be sore for the next few days because of the excess time pushing. Another swift but nasty look in Nurse-Nobody’s direction. (smile)
Helpful Hubby comes over to the birthing table He looks like he is going to faint seeing the forceps. Lol really. In go the forceps – I don’t feel those nasty looking things at all other than a bit of weird pressure in weird places. Minutes later out comes a very crimson baby.
My crimson baby!!! Finally, my dream come true, my baby is here, crimson and screaming, but finally here!!!! This baby is topped with the darkest, fullest head of hair I had ever seen on a baby. Seriously – it was sooooo much jet-black hair!!! This must be from the baby’s father’s side. All of my sisters, my brother and I were completely bald except for these tiny little peach-fuzzy hair. But this!!!!
“Easter.. you have a strong and angry looking little girl!!!!!!!!!!”, Dr. Save-the-Day tells me.
A girl?? Oh boy!!!! I knew it was a girl!!! Everyone said that it was a boy but I kept telling them that i had five dreams, five dreams of giving birth to a girl. Are you telling me that this hairy little baby is a GIRL??? I knew it… but how is that at all possible??? I pictured an almost-bald, pink, pale baby. I could understand if it was a boy. But I smile. I smile and smile. My little dream-girl is here. Finally after so long, after so many wishes, dreams, imaginations, prayers… she is here and I am happy.
Other than being happy that this affair is finally over and that I have a smile from knowing it is a girl, I feel a little numb now. My toes still don’t wiggle Coool!!!!
But I am so tired and drained that I cannot even really be emotional about it. I feel guilty. Where were the tears of joy? Am I not supposed to be crying tears of joy? I am waiting for my moment of drama, but instead all I am thinking about is that I was right, I had a girl and my toes won’t wiggle and I just can’t stop the wonder of it.
Dang – betcha those forcesps are going to start to show their true colours when my toes start to wiggle again!!
But the tears of joy? My movie-moment-of-camera-zooming-in-to-tearful-new-mom-and-beaming-dad, just isn’t happening. Dad is still pukey looking in the corner. No wait, the doctor and nurse are talking to him now. I am still not crying for joy. Well, that is not entirely true; I have tears of joy, but they are only because I am so flipping happy that I cannot feel that betraying, painful back of mine.
Guilty again. I am already a terrible mother and my child is only three minutes old. I look at my husband and he is holding my newborn daughter and still I am only happy that this horrible day of tormenting pain is over. No.. this lifetime of pain wrapped into one hellish day is over.
New-born Daddy walks over to me and hands me our daughter. I take her from him.
I take her from him….
The universe changes in that infinite second. Something cosmic, like a star that had fragmented all through the Heavens, something in the universe changed.
Like angel-dust falling from Heaven-above, it happens. She looks at me. She looks RIGHT at me. Not at my nose, not at my hair, the wall or my gown. She looks right at me. Right in my eyes. I draw a deep breath in at the surprise of emotion that is flooding through me as this timeless bond is made. It is now just God, me and this precious, dark-haired little baby. There in that very moment she pierced my soul with her own. Precious miracle.
How is it possible? She is so crimson and dark, but she is looking at me. Staring at me… studying me. A tiny little person wrapped in swaddling blankets boring her way into the depths of my heart. Nothing mattered anymore. Not my toes, not my back, not the already forgotten pain, not the exhaustion which had now turned to elation. Nothing mattered but her. Oh my God I am so in love. I just wanted to stare at her, hold her forever….
I felt as if we were lifted into the dark of night, everything else melted away at this moment. Twenty-five hours after we started our love song, we had made it through and here we were now in a private little dance of our spirits.. Just this little creature and me and our Creator. We danced with the darkness of the universe around us. I was as complete as I have ever been in my life, holding this 4-minute old little gift given to me. Twenty hours before my own 25th birthday, this beautiful girl was put into my hands.
As we were wheeled to our room, with my one hand over her chest, she grabbed my thumb and held it with her tiny fingers. I know that it was not possible for her to reach and intentionally grab on to something but intentional or not, she grabbed at my thumb and held onto me as I held on to her as we started our lifetime together. This beautiful creation, this gift from God, doro tou Theo, I love you.
As a small after note, I love nurses.. I have been hospitalized a LOT in my life, wonderfully blessed by these men and women who dedicate themselves to one of the most difficult positions that I think anyone could have. My respect and admiration for those that do this daunting task is very high. I just happened to have a nurse that.. was one of the very few that was not as good as most.