catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 8, Num 25 :: 2009.12.25 — 2010.01.07


New life

I’m so glad I have a living will so that I know who’ll be raising this baby after I kill my husband, and then die in the delivery room, I thought as I felt the pressure of ten tourniquets squeezing my uterus into submission and the weight of a sumo wrestler sitting on my lower back, while I slipped an inch and a half closer to death every 45 seconds.  I was sweating profusely, I was exhausted, and I was annoyed that I had scraped my right hand trying desperately to tear the left front pocket off my husband’s Levi’s several hours earlier when he mentioned something about the Giants game playing on the television in the hospital lounge.   That was the second dumbest thing anyone had ever said to me.  The absolute dumbest came two minutes after that, when he said, “Don’t worry-your body is designed to do this.” 

Suddenly, I couldn’t breathe-or was I, perhaps, just afraid to?  Yet another tourniquet, squeezing and thrusting me even closer to death’s door, was on the horizon, as if it were a distant scene that suddenly needed to be brought into proper focus with a super-zoom lens.  I knew I could no longer take it.  Who am I kidding? I wondered.  Quickly, I glanced at the clock incredulously as it inched from 5:30 to 5:31.  Fourteen hours of labor, and I had absolutely nothing to show for it.  “OOOOh, Sweet Jesus,” I screamed, over and over again, wishing that I could die, wishing that I could be delivered right into His presence, wishing in my heart that someone could just throw me into the picture window on the right side of the room so that the pain of shattering the glass would temporarily distract me from the pain of a slow death.  I begged, unsuccessfully, for help as I alternated between dry heaving and thrashing back and forth on the bed like a fish out of water. 

The cold, smooth metal side rails of the bed were now wet with my perspiration, and the sterile beige and brown room smelled so nauseatingly strong of disinfectant, that it seemed to burn the lining of my nostrils.  The constant beeping of the contraction monitor was intermittently interrupted by the sound of the constriction and release of the blood pressure cuff on my left arm.  Just as I was about to re-enter the monotonous, now predictable rhythm of being face to face with God, just before being rescued at the brink of doom and then being forced to do it all again, I realized I was mad.  I was mad at every woman who had ever told me that birthing was no big deal.  I was mad at my husband, who was sailing through this entire experience without so much as a change in affect.  I was mad at the labor and delivery nurse who seemed more concerned about her manicure than she did about me, and I was mad at Eve.  

It bothered me that mine was the only voice I heard as things got frighteningly worse.  But somewhere along the line, someone must have told me that an anesthesiologist was coming to give me an epidural.  He seemed to take his time getting there, and then had the audacity to read me a documentary-length script on how I would only feel relief until I was fully dilated, and ready to push the baby out.  That was a little like telling a drowning person that they could only have the life jacket for an hour.  I didn’t care.  I needed a way out, right then and there.

After about one hour of bliss, I began to feel as though I might just be able to make it after all.  I remember being surprised that there was anything at all that could break the severity of the torture I felt.  But then came the time to push, and push I did, as though my life depended on it.  It was raw, excruciating pressure, and just when I lifted my hips off the bed, just when I was sure that I would never sit or stand ever again, just when I shouted out that I was positively at my breaking point, I pressed my eyelids closed, as if the visual input were as offensive as the rest.  When I opened my eyes again, I saw her; I saw my baby girl, held upside down by one foot.  She gave one quick scream, just enough to let us know she was breathing on her own.

Instantly, I had a new understanding of God’s unconditional love for me as I beheld this child who I knew I would cherish forever, no matter what.  Katherine Anne, our beautiful 7-pound, 9.5-ounce baby girl, had just invaded our lives in a way that I knew we would never, ever get over, and instantly, I knew that I wanted to do this all again one day.

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