Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Firstborn of Many Bretheren

I hope you don't think the title is blasphemous. Chris was my firstborn- and many brothers followed- but he certainly is not Jesus Christ, the true Firstborn.
This is Chris' birth story.
I was previously married. Since I can almost never utter The Ex's name without feeling as if I need to wash my mouth out with bleach, I think I will just refer to him as "WHN"- short for What's His Name. I mean that in the most unkindly way. (I wish I could figure out how some folks can line through their writing while leaving it on the page- someone want to explain to me how?)
I got married the day after my 18th birthday. Chris was born after I turned 19.

So much lousy stuff happened during my pregnancy, I could go on about that for weeks- so I will just add the things relevent to his birth.
First of all, my folks were right about WHN being a lowlife. But I was married to him and wanted them to show them we COULD make things work. So I didn't ever tell them that when his meager paydays rolled around- he bought dope before he made allowances for rent and groceries.
For much of the pregnancy, I just flat didn't get enough to eat. He made $4.20 (four dollars and twenty cents) a MONTH too much to qualify for foodstamps. We didn't live in an area that had WIC. I was too stupid and 'proud' to tell my parents I wasn't getting enough to eat. Once I week I went to a Bible Study with my Granny- and she always bought me lunch. I would eat every crumb- and any leftovers anyone else had! My mom went on a diet, and brought me over about 40 boxes of powdered geletin that she wasn't allowed to have. If Mom or Granny didn't buy me a meal (and I lived so far away I usually saw them only once a week or so) I would have a can of veggies and some jello as my food for the day. WHN and I eventually were evicted from the place we were living- and my Granny and PaPa (grandpa) took us in while we waited placement in a government apartment. My last couple of weeks, I was finally getting enough to eat!

I was living with Granny and WHN was staying with a friend (yeah turned out to be a GIRLfriend) closer to his job as my due date approached. I was due December 19th. Along about the 3rd, I went in to the county clinic for my regular appointment. My bloodpressure was through the roof, I had 'protein' in my urine, and some other symptoms that had my doctor (Dr. Scott Freeman) really upset. Pre-eclampsia. He had me admitted into John Petersmith hospital right then. Do not pass go- do not go home and pack. I was in for the duration of the pregnancy.

Really, I felt fine- other than being SOOO hungry! The hospital meals just weren't enough. But I 'ballooned' all the way up to 116 lbs by December 11th- the day I actually went into labor.
I was so excited to be having contractions. I wasn't allowed out of the bed at all, except long enough to go to the potty. I was in a room with 3 other 'charity' cases- and we were watching soaps. My Mom had come up almost every day to visit. On "General Hospital", Dr Leslie was about to deliver Monica's love child by Dr Leslies husband. Monica and I labored together....

I had asked the nurse when she came in- how long do I have left before the baby comes? I had been naively "laboring" all morning. She sent a stray doctor in to check on me. He examined me pronounced me "Not In Labor". A short while later, a nurse came in with a shot of "something". She layed it on my tray and told me that the Doctor wanted me to have this. I wondered why... I wasn't in really in pain- I was excited... I had been in the hospital more than a week and I was ready to go home with my new baby. (The apartment WHN and I had been waiting on had opened while I was in the hospital, and he had moved in).

The nurse insisted on giving me the shot- I stupidly thought it was to START my labor. Nope- It was to 'relax' me. Very few people are more naturally relaxed than me... and I wanted to have a baby- NOT relax. Before the shot could take a good hold on me, Mom suggested I might want to potty. So I went into the bathroom. I peed. Then I stood up- and passed several liver patties onto the floor. And a lot of water and other gore.

I yelled for my Mom- who called the nurse. The nurse wasn't at all concerned about the huge clots on the floor-but said it sure looked like the Doctor was wrong- I was In Labor after all. I was removed from among my cheering room-mates and wheeled to the Labor Ward.

Chris was born during the last era where fathers were Not Allowed into the labor or delivery rooms. I was in a ward with a dozen women in various stages of labor. By Myself. One was a screaming lady who had crossed up from south of the border just in time to give birth. She screamed, and screamed, and screamed.

I just went into my own little world as the labor got stronger and stronger. Petersmith was a teaching hospital, so periodically student doctors would come by and do a series of internal exams (yes, a series of interns examined me one after another- I was a charity case and had no say so in the matter). At one point, I was pronounced "intact". I demanded to know what was meant by "Intact". I was told that it meant- for my silly information- my waters had not yet ruptured. So I enquired as to what was the nature of the wet slimy subtance I had been laying in for several hours? I was re-examined (Oh Joy!) and Oh MY! She is NOT Intact.

Apparently I wasn't totally forgotten behind my cloth curtain. At one point, a nurse said she thought I ought to be sent back to my room- as I was obviously Not In Labor. She could tell, because I wasn't complaining and screaming. The second nurse said I could not go back to the room- my water had broken. (They discussed me as if I were Not There.) So they made the call to Doc Freeman to tell him he may as well make his rounds before coming to check on me. He suggested they send me to X-Ray to be sure my pelvis wasn't too small to deliver this baby... which I supposed would have kept my labor from progressing. I had not heard his end of the call, and wasn't aware of my destination.

Orderlies were called for, and I was wheeled up to X-Ray. I had asked one orderlie if This Is IT- I was going to the Delivery room? He said "No- Xray."
I was surprised. No one had actually checked me in quite awhile. I was sure I was ready to push.
So I was tranferred to the XRay table- even MORE sure I was Ready To Push.
The Xray Tech took my pictures- SCREAMED at the orderlies (like it was THEIR fault!) To "get (me) to delivery- STAT! Why the heck had they brought (me) to XRAY?".

So back onto the gurney I went. (Ready to push) "DON'T PUSH, LADY!!" Back into the elevator. "DON'T PUSH, LADY!!" Down the hall. "DON'T PUSH, LADY!!" into the delivery room. More demands that I not push... while I am transferred to another table. "DON'T PUSH, LADY!!"

Doc Freeman skated into place just in time to catch Chris. He weighed 5lb 1/4 ounce. Just a quarter of an ounce above the cut-off that demanded he be put into the preemie nursery. He wasn't premature- he was small-for-date, due to poor prenatal nutrition. Born at 4:20 am December 12th, 1979.

My fun didn't end there. I was placed in a recovery ward to be monitered for the next 24 hours (due to the pre-eclampsia), lest I spontaneously go into convulsions. My new baby was Not Allowed. About five hours later... an orderly came for me. He helped me into a wheelchair and we started down the hall. I thought I was finally going to be put in a room and get to see my baby. Nope. He said he was taking me for my surgery.


Yep- He was taking me to get my tubes tied. He said I had signed consent forms. I had NOT. He checked his paperwork and said Miss ____? I have your paperwork right here.

Wrong Name. Wrong patient.

What if I had not spoken up? Would the surgeon have checked to see if he had the wrong patient? Or would I have had a lawsuit... and no more children?

My Dr. Freeman came to the ward to check on me as as he made his rounds- He told the nurses to Give Her The Baby. They said it was Not Allowed. He demanded. He won! So I finally got to see my tiny baby son- hours after his birth.
Chris' birth story is the beginning of the reason's we turned to home birth.


sassy_seneca said...

This is awful!... and funny at the same time!!

buckynay17 said...

Goodness, I am so glad that I didn't have to go through all of that! Poor mommy.

truth said...

O my goodness! This brought back painful memories. But I am thankful that you heard the surgery part and spoke up. Scary thought.