The eve of my son’s twelfth birthday seems like a good time to sit and reflect on the last decade plus two years we’ve had together. People I know make a lot of posts on social media about their kids but since he hit 9 or 10, he’s been more hesitant and self-conscious about me posting pictures of him for the world to see. Which is fine, honestly, as time goes by, the more I hate social media anyway and don’t think it’s really your fucking business what my kid is doing or, for that matter, what *I* am doing. (Unless I’m recapping Game of Thrones while drinking and posting it to my Instagram stories because LET ME TELL YOU, this is my new favorite hobby. I’m sure it’s annoying but whatever because you people post the same 7 pictures of your dogs every day.) Anyway.
A month before I had my kid, my doctor put me on bed rest because my blood pressure was spiking. This was after a completely miserable pregnancy, chock full of morning sickness, sausage fingers, more morning sickness, scraping my child’s drunk father off the floor (literally AND figuratively), sciatica, working 14 hour days, boobs that got bigger than my head, creeps I didn’t know rubbing my tummy and alluding to wanting a threesome while I was working one of those 14 hour days, and other fun things like my body deciding it was going to reject certain food immediately upon consumption (mandarin oranges) or just…leaking like an old car. You know fluid is coming from somewhere but you’re not sure where, or what it could be. So a friend drove me to my final doctor’s appointment (before which I’d spent the whole weekend pissing into a large orange jug and keeping it in my fridge so she could monitor my urine protein) because my kid’s dad couldn’t be bothered to get up. At the appointment the doc takes one look at my blood pressure and orders me to go to the hospital. I looked her dead in the eye and said, “You mean I pissed in this jug for NOTHING? UGH.” I was already pragmatic about pregnancy and motherhood because I romanticize nothing but seriously, do you know how hard it is to piss in a jug EVERY FUCKING TIME you have pee when you’re 9 fucking months pregnant?
I shuffled my flip-flop clad sausage feet into the hospital and got myself checked in. My friend was shooed away while the hospital staff poked me with needles because no one tells you that most of pregnancy is getting poked with needles and your goddamn blood drawn til you’re pretty sure you look like Nosferatu but if Nosferatu was a fucking whale. I was pleased to learn my hospital room had cable (A luxury I’d not had at home, so was stuck easing my pregnancy insomnia with reruns of Becker on Fox 35 at 4am. Ted Danson is a treasure.) I flipped it on while nurses tried to shove needles in my arms and hands (turns out, I’m a squirter and not in the sexy sense – a chorus of “WHOA!” arose when the attending nurses popped the needle into my left hand an a perfect arc of blood went shooting across the room) and shove some shoelace thing up inside me to soften my cervix. Being comfortable getting fisted by strangers is another fun part of pregnancy many people don’t discuss. You can thank me for these nuggets later. Hours passed and I watched A Baby Story on TLC which fucking sucked but it was between that and news channels or MTV which was apparently only playing that damn Gwen Stefani/Akon song on heavy rotation, interrupted only by Shake Weight commercials. My child’s father finally showed up at some point. I was starving but wasn’t allowed to eat anything which HELLO IF YOU ARE EXPECTING A BABY PLEASE EAT BEFORE YOU GO TO THE HOSPITAL. Around 4 or 5am, Purple Rain came on AMC. I was stuck in bed with a catheter (also a fun cool thing I had happen several times throughout my pregnancy) so I got comfy and watched Prince drive Appolonia around the cool waters of Lake Minnetonka on a little motorcycle. As the credits rolled, something terrible brewed inside me and I realized the end was nigh and my labor had begun.
Labor pain is a special kind of pain. Some women had described it to me as like a really bad period. I had (and still have!) really bad periods. This was not that. Well, it was like that but also worse and also like I was being drawn and quartered. Have you ever felt your hips separate? Boy is that a fun sensation! And by “fun” I mean the worst dull pain I’ve ever felt in my life. So up top, I’ve got regular old (but worse) period pain and down below it feels like someone is tearing my legs away from my body. I’d never taken any Lamaze classes or anything because 1. I was working 12-14 hour days and 2. My “partner” fucking sucked and gave me as much support as a lacy bralette gives GGG boobs. (That’s to say: None at all.) I asked for drugs. They gave me drugs. The drugs dulled the pain of my contractions, but heightened it in my hip sockets. It also made me vomit uncontrollably. Which, of course, I haven’t eaten except ice chips and a couple of red popsicles so that was super fun to watch evacuate my body. So all this shit started around 7am. By 2:15pm, the nurse is like ALL RIGHT, YOU READY? And I was like, “Well, no, but that’s why we’re all here, right?” I pushed and pushed and pushed some more, and sometime around 2:35 the nurse was like, “hold up, gotta grab the doctor” (which, what? Shouldn’t she have been there? Maybe she was eating a sandwich.) The nurse was also like “oh, btw, we’re gonna let the baby chill there for a few, you cool?” Reader, “there” meant in my vagina. The top of his head was prairie dogging, but out of my vagina. Some clever soul dubbed this the Ring of Fire. I will let you marinate on that and figure it out. The doc strolls in, says ALL RIGHT ONE MORE BIG ONE, and POP, there’s the baby. He let out some kind of weird guttural noise and I think I said “OH SHIT.” Convinced I’d been pushing for 4 days I was shocked and pleased to learn that it was 2:44pm. I love efficiency. The cord was cut, the doctor stitched me up (only 3 but I felt all of them wheeeeee!) and bam, I’m a mom.
The attendants wheeled me to another, better room and asked if I wanted the baby in the room or if I wanted to rest alone and I said ALONE PLEASE because if you ask other mothers, I am terrible. But seriously. I’d already been in the fucking hospital for more than a day. I’d been poked, prodded, stitched, vomiting popsicles, and hungry. I wanted a nap. But alas, naps are pipe dreams in hospitals (or as parents, really) and every time I’d doze off, in would come another doctor or nurse to put her hand inside me or treat my abdomen like a piece of delicious pizza dough. Finally they were done doing all my kid’s testing and whatever else so he was in the room with me and I realized that I hadn’t changed a diaper since 1990 and also that I was solely responsible for this 8.5lb nugget who was already not excited about being swaddled. (His father had left the hospital to go get drunk with his friends. Under the guise of “having to work.”)
The next few days, weeks, months were a blur on par with my 22nd birthday when I drank everything the bar had to offer and then some. My already enormous boobs swelled to JJs and my nipples resembled bloody ground turkey. I never stopped leaking from everywhere. My vagina felt like ripped sandpaper. The first poop after childbirth was somehow even more terrifying than birth itself – I cried. 6 weeks later I was back at work, still leaking and not sleeping, but at least I had quit breastfeeding and my nipples were healing and also my kid was a champion sleeper in his own room.
He was a good baby, which saved me from descending completely into madness and depression. He cried when he was uncomfortable and that was pretty much it. Hungry, wet, full of poop. I felt bad once because I was starving so I ate spaghetti and meatballs while he was in his swing, screaming while I shoved lukewarm noodles in my mouth and said between bites, “CAN I EAT PLEASE? I HAVE NEEDS TOO GODDAMMIT.” When I was done, I scooped him up, changed his diaper, and gave him a bottle and all was well. We watched Becker together and went for walks around my neighborhood. The logistics of doing things with a baby, especially when you’re by yourself mostly, are somewhat difficult to navigate but I quickly learned that leaving the house without a thousand things for a trip to, say, the mall wasn’t actually the end of the world. He and I both hated co-sleeping which was a welcome relief, and I had friends who graciously volunteered to pick me up from work when my kid’s dad had the (my) car and had to work.
It was a blurry, leaky, overstuffed, floppy time and I never wanted to do it again. So I didn’t. I impressed everyone, especially myself, by not throwing my child into the trash (not that he ever really warranted it if I’m honest) or becoming a pill-popping alcoholic like Judy Garland. It helped that my kid was a super cute baby who wasn’t terribly needy and I had lots of friends around to help. That said, I was also horribly depressed, and my lack of support from my child’s father was astounding (pro tip: if he’s in a band and doesn’t quit or at least take time off for a couple of years, DEALBREAKER LADIES. I’ll have a lot of people mad at me for that but I am out of fucks to give. YOU try healing after giving birth and also working 40+ hours a week and also doing everything else. Fuck your stupid band, BE A PARENT. BE A PARTNER.) (Oh also if he’s a raging alcoholic who’s probably cheating on you – those are also very important dealbreakers.) Through it all though, I managed to raise a super cool kid. 12 years went by in a flash. And also in a vat of molasses. Time is a flat circle. Wait. No. I have lots more memories to share, most of them as non-fuzzy as these. But for right now, I’m going to give myself a pat on the back because I pushed a fucking baby out of me. (Also, I’m going to listen to Purple Rain.)