Fragments of Birth: PART I

I have a saying:

Sometimes when there’s too much to say, there’s nothing to say at all.

That’s how I feel about the past 15 days. I mean, seriously, how can I really sum up what the birth of Isaiah, Christmas, Advent, New Year, and everything else has meant in one blog post? Or one essay? It’s just too large and…overwhelming. I feel I could write one short story on just Torrelle Pryor and the Rose Bowl..and that’s not even the most important thing these days.

I wish I could write all the details in chronological order to give you and idea of how the whole birth process went…like how Nick was sick and quarantined himself downstairs while I was, unknowingly, going into labor upstairs and when I finally managed to get myself downstairs and said, “Something’s going on. I am having really strong contractions.” He nodded and said, “Ok, what should we do?” and then fell right back to sleep, snoring all the louder.

I wish I could write how we never packed that damn hospital bag even though we kept swearing every night for the past 5 weeks we would get to it and never did until, literally, Isaiah was pushing his way into the world and I was heaved over the bathroom sink in pain while Nick kept asking, “Babe, it says to bring warm comfortable socks…what socks do you want?” While my face turned into the devil and snapped, “I DON’T CARE WHAT SOCKS YOU PICK, JUST GET IT PACKED!”

There’s no way to really describe how the car ride was to the hospital with Nick coughing and rolling down the window so not to spread germs while I nearly screamed at him, “WHERE ARE YOU GOING? WE NEED TO GET TO THE HOSPITAL! YOU’RE GOING THE WRONG WAY!”

Nick, the driver, was on his way to the doctor’s office, not the labor and delivery unit at the hospital. His response, “Oh. OHH!! Yeah, you’re right. What am I thinking?”

This was followed by a very rare and nasty demand,”GET ON THE HIGHWAY! I’M IN LABOR!”

I can’t really relay the details of my parents and sister racing to the hospital, my sister breaking every kind of driving law there is – texting, speeding, changing lanes without signaling (I’m sure) – with descriptions of what my parents are doing: “We’re in the car saying the Joyful mysteries of the rosary. Be there in five minutes.” She later told me that my Dad kept muttering, “We should be saying the glorious, not the joyful mysteries,” while my mother set curlers in her hair and kept comparing Isaiah’s birth to Jesus Christ.

Nick called his family with Ron taking one slight pause after Nick told him I was in labor and saying, “Ok, we’re on our way.” And then when he called Keith, he could already hear the beeping of the car door in the background because Uncle Keith was already loading himself up for the trip to Cleveland – stopping in Columbus to get Jay – to see his first nephew.

Text messages galore went to our friends and extended family. From Ohio to LA to the Philippines, digital technology helped us delivery our biggest news: Isaiah was ready to come into the world.

And then there was the waiting for the c-section: my sister looking horrified every time I bent over with a contraction, my mom covering her face with a scarf while Nick was yacking his lungs out with a terrible cough, and my Dad – God love him – who ferociously unraveled the mile long data results that was measuring each contraction and my patient doctor who kept urging Anesthesia folks to “get going” so Isaiah could be delivered. It was a busy day and I had to wait (seemingly) forever for my spinal epidural. But, circa 3pm, it was time.

Whoever says that c-sections aren’t that bad are lying. They are. I’ve had surgeries before. This being the third on my lower abdominal area, I am no stranger to surgery and recovery. I’ve never been awake during surgery though and it was terrible. I’m not trying to scare people off, but it was. How could I sugar coat it? True you don’t feel pain but YOU ARE BEING SLICED IN HALF WHILE ANOTHER SMALL HUMAN IS BEING PULLED OUT OF YOUR BODY.

When people say c-sections aren’t that bad. Remember one thing: they’re lying.

Perhaps it was that my blood pressure kept dropping from the anesthesia and making me nauseous. Perhaps it was the fact the nurses and doctors kept talking about holiday shopping lists while they mangled my insides. Or maybe it was the way I had no prep time when they pushed down on the top of my stomach, causing my head and shoulders to come off the table and me to burst into tears only to be followed by the most miraculous sound I’ve ever heard: a cry from my son.

And then, suddenly, c-sections weren’t that bad.

I remember staring into Nick’s eyes the whole time and thinking I’d have to remember to tell him how the deep green of the scrubs he was wearing made him look very handsome, even with a hair cap on his head. His surgical mask covered most of his face but his eyes told me everything as we wordlessly stared at each other through the whole process. His cry was strong and I hear Dr. McElroy exclaim, “Oh my!” when she saw how big he was. One of the nurses said, “This kid’s gonna be a quarterback!” and someone behind that blue curtain replied, “Quarterback? Try a linebacker.”

And then Nick cut the umbilical cord. And then I got to touch the cheek of my baby with one hand because my arms were outstretched and pinned down. And then they took him away. And then they stitched me back up. Half an hour later, exhausted and on Mars, they rolled me out of surgery while someone called after me, “Congratulations! You gave birth to a toddler!”

I remember the small things.

I remember how the IV in my hand was poorly inserted and mountain of tape made my skin itchy and dried blood made it look absolutely horrendous. I remember my face being itchy (side effect from anesthesia) and wanting to rip out my nose stud. I remember waiting in the recovery room with Nick and dying of thirst but not being able to have anything but tiny ice chips which felt like heaven on my tongue. An hour had nearly passed and I still had not held my boy.

I was getting anxious.

Isaiah’s blood sugar was low and they gave him a bottle to see how he handled it. He was fine. I was disappointed his first food was artificial, but it was medically necessary, so I got over it quickly.

His body seemed tiny to me despite everyone’s insistence on his future NFL career. And then I saw the other babies in the nursery. The truth was clear: I had given birth to a giant.