So many of my good friends and family members are pregnant or have just had babies recently. My little dude is 18 months old, and it seems like just yesterday I was sitting on a cold table at the OBGYN as an ultrasound tech squirted warm goop on my belly and told me I was having a boy.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. I say a pregnant woman needs a village just to get her off the couch.
For the entirety of my gestational period, I needed a tiny village of oompa loompas to cart my pregnant ass around, fetch me sprite and make sure my feet were covered when I was lying on the couch, moaning and whining between barfs.
Seriously, nobody warns you about real morning sickness. Sure, they tell you you’ll feel queasy, might barf, and you should keep saltines by your bed (which by the way, didn’t do anything but fill my stomach with stale crackers and more bile). They don’t tell you about the times when you’ll projectile vomit without warning. When I was pregnant, my trigger was seeing the toothbrush by the sink every day. That’s all it took, and I was hauling ass outside to throw up off the carport. Throwing up in the toilet was a no-go, because as soon as I was done, seeing the inside of the toilet bowl would make me throw up again. The neighbors probably thought I was insane.
Of course, I had the most thoughtful and helpful loved ones to help me through, including my pets. Take for instance, my cat Gatsby, who, when I was 4 months in, proceeded to sit by my feet and throw up a chipmunk head on my shoe. Have you ever heard a woman scream and vomit at the same time? I threw a towel over that shit and left the house for the day. And my husband wondered why when he griped at me for not cleaning it up, I told him to go fuck himself between bites of ice cream. He moaned nonstop for nine months about how I used too much toilet paper. I tried to explain to him that you want to be extra clean when you can’t even see what you’re wiping.
After all, some men think giving birth is closely the equivalent to having a really big turd that takes 40 minutes of toilet-reading to eject instead of the usual 30. Nevermind that I needed all that toilet paper; toilet paper had become a damn luxury. Firstly, I needed it to wipe after urinating, all 30,000 times a day. For every time I stood up after peeing, I then had to sit down and urinate again. Secondly, I must have it for wiping my mouth after barfing repeatedly. Thirdly, I needed it to blow my nose and wipe away nosebleeds, since pregnancy increases blood flow and mucus flow and turns the mommy into a giant nostril. Fourthly, I needed it to wipe my bloodshot eyes after the latest crying jag, usually brought on by especially heart-warming episodes of 90s sitcoms, Publix commercials, or accidentally stepping on Gatsby’s tail.
Oh, the joys of pregnancy. I’m not sure which part I liked the best; there’s so many juicy tidbits to choose from. There’s watching your hips spread so wide you’re sure the baby will just fall out of your vagina; there’s stocking up on nothing but bags and bags of Doritos and Pizza Rolls because that’s all you want to eat, then the very next day discovering that Doritos and Pizza Rolls make you puke; there’s the prenatal horse pills, completely mandatory that you take, that give you bacon-burps which in turn make you nauseous; the mere act of looking at a toilet making you gag;fears of the fetus pushing its way out of your body through your belly button like in Alien; having to sleep with a body pillow wedged in between your legs so that your stomach doesn’t hang uncomfortably in the balance; having your nice, average-sized, perfect tits suddenly turn into giant twin cantaloupes that could launch a full scale attack on China…
Nine months of waiting, anticipating and feeling your brain and body prepare for the arrival of a new human, and still, nothing prepares you for that moment when they finally come into the world. It doesn’t even matter that 9 months of hormone invasion have rendered you psychotic. You’ll never forget that day. Or, if you get the really good drugs, maybe you will.
I gained over 65 pounds when I was pregnant, so by the end, I was waddling around with bad, taped up knees, maternity shirts that didn’t cover my Buick of a belly, and a face so swollen you could’ve sworn I was a human Jello jiggler. I woke up the morning of feeling like I was in labor, but since I’d been having Braxton Hicks contractions since I was 5 months pregnant, who knew. After an hour at the OBGYN my doctor told me that my contractions were only 13 minutes apart so I should go back home and wait. I cursed him all the way to the car. After all, I was too big to get behind the wheel so I was relying on my anxious and opinionated Grandmother to drive me everywhere. She felt, as I did, that this was just a matter of waiting it out. Well, I didn’t feel much of anything but hungry for a biscuit, actually. She told me that I should wait it out.
The next two hours consisted of her driving me to various stores and forcing me to pace around in hopes of bringing on harder labor. I was forced to do this. At one point in the Family Dollar someone pointed at me and asked me if I was having triplets. I believe I may have cussed him out as well, but not before buying three boxes of Fruity Pebbles.
When I finally arrived at the hospital, I was indeed ready for admittance, and in full labor. The next few hours are a blur. I remember my brother and my husband eating Pringles by my bedside and watching soap operas. The room was full of people, probably 20 or more, friends and family all amusing themselves by taking picture after picture of my various chins. With each contraction the cameras flashed. I really felt the love just then. Or it may have been pure unadulterated rage, I can’t recall.
It took me approximately 8.2 minutes to decide that all my exhaustive planning for a natural birth was a giant chunk of bullshit and plead for an epidural. Back labor = a special kind of hell.
Finally it was time to push, and I let out a banshee scream on my first attempt. ‘Try to be a little quieter’, the doc suggested, ‘Focus your energy on pushing and not screaming.’ What a bastard. It was all I could do not to kick him in the chin, and had my epidural not been working so good I would have.
Two hours I pushed, and pushed in vain. Nothing was happening. At this moment I realized that marrying a guy with a huge head was a REALLY bad idea. The more I looked at that head the more I wanted to rip it off. This was bad. Then the doctor had the idea to use the vacuum to coax the little guy out. He put it on, hiked his leg up onto my bed, and pulled back with all his might. The nurses all stood back to give him room. He pulled and he pulled. Then, a huge THWAP and off came the vacuum and my doctor flew across the room and landed on his ass.
‘Damn!’, my loving, supportive, tactful husband exclaimed, ‘It’s a good thing you couldn’t feel that shit!’
The next few hours are really blurry because they gave me the good drugs. I recall being told I had to have a c-section, and my Grandmother coming into my room as I was being shaved for surgery to tell me that she was praying for me, as I desperately tried to shut my legs to hide my exposed junk and realizing to my horror that they were still in stirrups. I remember puking all over the extremely handsome anesthesiologist and flopping around like a fish all over the operating table.
The thing I remember most, though, was when I first heard my Callum’s sweet, low cry. He has a very deep voice for a little boy, and that was the first thing I noticed. I began to sob uncontrollably – it wasn’t until that moment that I realized fully that there was a human being joining my life. For all the humor and torture of that day, it was absolutely wonderful.
Of course, after I had Cal, the next week was spent in the hospital with saccharine sweet nurses leaning over me asking me if I’d been able to fart yet, and eating disgusting ramen noodle broth without noodles. I’ve never watched so much Golden Girls in my life.
In seriousness, I really love the transition into Motherhood. I have this new-found respect and admiration for all the friends I have with children. My best friend Jess had Dylan, my godson, when she was 16 years old. I’ve been with them his whole life and long before, and never really thought of what she actually went through to give him that life. I was 27 when I had Cal – I cannot fathom how frustrating and challenging it must have been to go through all of that at 16. All the things that come with being a new mother – dealing with nursing problems, jaundice, postpartum depression, your own body’s recovery – it’s all so hard. The women who go through this, are strong beyond their wildest imagination.
I personally spent the first two weeks after having my baby in the same yellow housecoat with greasy hair, watching Friends reruns over and over and drowning my sorrows in piles of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese while breastfeeding with a Boppy pillow. I would recommend this method for any impending Mother.
I think it’s all about balance, towing that fine line. I’ve been the one throwing the parties and griping about certain friends not making it because they couldn’t find a sitter, or wondering why they always have to bring the kid. And I’ve always been the one to say, ‘I will never give up my identity when I become a mother’.
And I don’t plan to. But I see now that the focus just shifts a bit. You don’t have to give up anything – but you’re gaining a lot. You’re still yourself with the same interests and dreams and hopes, but you just shift things so that the focus is on the child. And it’s not really a big, fat sacrifice as you’d imagine, but more of a welcome transition. After all, it can be exhausting to be so obsessed with yourself. It’s nice to sit back and relax and not worry about the ever revolving world of you for a while.
I really think it’s good for the soul, to put someone else first. In the first few months after having my son I got more compliments than I ever had previously. I was not focused on myself and my own insecurities for a change, and I was just allowing myself to BE. To be in the moment. When that focus finally came back to myself, I was able to re-evaluate my life and my wants and needs and have never been happier in my own skin.
I’m just laid back, enjoying the ride and putting all my energy into my little family, myself and my career. I take care of myself first and foremost, because that’s what’s important, and the rest just falls into place. It’s very happy-making to have your life finally be in perspective, to find that niche. We all want to create a legacy, to have someone to pass our lives down to when we’re too old to carry them anymore.
I’m so happy to be going through this time with other like-minded women who I really like also going through the same experiences. It makes me happy that we can relate to one another.
Despite this, I will never have another child. Seriously, projectile vomiting. This cabbage patch factory is CLOSED.