First of all, I believe I now fully understand why parents are so outraged, mortified, and depressed when their children pierce their tongues, get tattoos, dye their hair purple, or go sky-diving. For one thing, I find myself staring at this beautiful baby boy in awe and disbelief that such a perfect, perfect, perfect little person grew inside my belly. This baby. This beautiful baby. Inside my belly. I can imagine myself, 18 years from now, as a middle-aged mom tearfully pleading with my almost-adult son to NOT get a skull-and-cross-bones tattoo on his back because, for heaven's sake young man, do you not remember that I grew you from scratch inside my belly??!?
Secondly, I believe I also understand why moms aren't grossed out by anything. I'll share a bit of my labor/delivery experience, not out of some narcissistic belief that the world actually cares about a contraction-by-contraction retelling of Avram's birth, but more just for the sheer hilarity of it all, and I think it makes for a good story.
Before I talk about delivery, I'll say that I was surprised by how completely unladylike and humiliating pregnancy was. It was definitely not a nine months of cheeriness, glowing, rainbows, and sunshine. I was an acne-covered, bloated, exhausted, moody beachball with carpal tunnel, gas, sciatic pain, and one single pair of shoes to squeeze my fat ham feet into. On top of all that, I was more terrified and nerve-wracked than I have ever been in my life, for reasons to be disclosed in a blog yet to come. I didn't think pregnancy would be a walk in the park, but I certainly did not foresee the loss of any and all dignity I may have had pre-baby.
So, as if pregnancy wasn't disgusting and dehumanizing in and of itself, labor and delivery sure took home the cake. They don't really prepare you for the fact that every Tom, Dick, & Henry is going to have a front row seat to multiple showings of all your down-unders once you're admitted. Since my hospital was a teaching hospital, every doctor was accompanied by a troop of eager students ready to observe my every injection and inspection. Even though they always asked for my blessing in allowing the peanut gallery to be present, I had little say in the matter since I was too busy staring down the clock to see if 10 minutes had yet passed since I last pushed the button for the "happy juice" (which, I might add, was ter-rif-ic. The Dude abode).
Since I was admitted due to my contractions, my water still hadn't broken. Now, I had imagined water breaking would be like wetting my pants. Wrong. They used this giant plastic stick (which looked eerily similar to those little plastic swords for cherries in cocktail drinks), and next thing I know I feel like a beach ball-sized water balloon explodes between my legs and the entire bed is soaked. I think even the doctor was a little surprised. As if that wasn't awkward enough, when the doctor came in an hour later to check on my "progress," beach ball 2.0 exploded even bigger than the first and practically turned my bed into a floating recliner.
So there I am, floating literally and figuratively, for about 13 hours before they announce that it's time to start pushing. Now, I don't know about you, but I imagined that when this time came that there would be an entire army of doctors and nurses at my side ready to catch this little person flying out of me.
When the pushing began, it was me, J, and the nurse. She looked at J and said, "Alright, you grab that leg." I don't think I've ever seen J more confused or petrified. I was even a little uneasy that this was going to be his job; I mean, who's going to catch the baby? Who's going to get me water? Where the heck is everybody??
So, after three or four big pushes, I looked up at J to make some comment about the lack of personnel, and he looks at me a little funny. Next thing I know, his face goes flush, and passes out flat on his back. No joke. He was down for the count. Flat. On. His. Back. If I hadn't been so heavily drugged or incredibly annoyed, I would have started laughing. Instead, the nurse gets on her little walkie-talkie and says, "I've got a dad down in labor room 8, dad down in labor room 8." Next thing I know, three nurses come barging through the doors and I'm thinking, "Great! Finally! The army is here!" Wrong. One of them gets J an apple juice, the other one starts fanning him with my chart, and the other one gets him a chair. Now, not to be graphic, but I'm thinking, "People, what does a girl have to do to get attention around here? For heaven's sake, I just did you-know-what on the table. The TABLE." But no, as soon as J was situated with his chair & juice pack, conveniently facing the wall, the army retreated. You would think they would leave someone behind to take J's place holding my leg, but, no, we had to call my mom up from the waiting room.
As if I hadn't been fully stripped of all and any decency, I was diagnosed with post-partum preeclampsia and all but tied down in a hospital bed for 32 hours. Since they didn't want me walking around--one for fear of my blood pressure continuing to sky rocket and two because I was hooked up to all kinds of IVs--I had to have a catheter. I don't know if many things are more humiliating that having a nurse come in every hour to empty a bucket of your "output." Especially when they throw in a "Wow, I don't think I've ever seen that much urine before." Really makes you feel like a lady.
Again, all that to say, when this little person finally popped out, all soaked in blood and mucus with this nasty cord attached to his belly and goop all over him, I was in love. I had never seen anything more beautiful. No matter how disgusting he looked and smelled at that moment, I couldn't have loved him more. No matter what kinds of gross or humiliating things I had to go through to have him, I didn't mind one bit once I saw his face. I get it now. I get how crazy and bizarre and obsessive and blind and googley-eyed moms are.
The last realization I've come to in the last seven weeks is that the city is no place to raise a family, at least as far as this little family is concerned. I know that everyone's opinions may differ on this, and I certainly believe everyone is entitled to whatever opinion they hold. But, personally, the countdown until we leave the city has begun.
After growing up with a large piece of property to freely roam, complete with ponds, fields, wooden fences, barns, gardens, and trees, I already knew that I wanted my kids to grow up with their feet in the grass, their hands in the mud, and their heads in the trees. J & I didn't need much motivation to begin looking for jobs outside the city, but a conversation with our new neighbors certainly sealed the deal.
Our upstairs neighbors have lived here for 8 years, ever since their oldest was born. They have 3 daughters, all under the age of 8. A couple months ago, they drove back to their hometown in South Dakota to visit family. While they were enjoying an evening outside at a relative's house, the middle daughter asked, "Mommy, what are those?" My neighbor told me she about died when she realized that her daughter had never seen stars before. After hearing that story, J & I are looking for any and every opportunity to get out of here. I don't care what I have to do: my baby will know what stars are.
For now, it looks like we are here for one more year, which we are totally at peace with. With this crap-hole economy, if you have a good job with good insurance you're a fool to leave it. So, we are praying and waiting and believing for a job to open up somewhere where there is more grass than concrete and more trees than buildings. I'll tell you one thing, you grow up thinking your hometown is so lame, but a ring, a baby, and two years in the big city later...Fort Wayne doesn't look so bad after all.