Miss D. turns fourteen this week, on December 15. It just doesn’t seem possible, and yet I look at her (taller than me at a little over 5’7 and still growing) and know it is so. My 5-pound baby is growing into a little lady. As always on her birthday, I find myself looking back on the day she was born, and I can’t help but think, “What a fucking disaster.” Not the finished product, mind you, but the whole birth experience went haywire almost from the get-go.
I won’t bore you with the details, because…
Ha! Who do you think you’re dealing with, here? Of course I’m going to bore you with the details because I am a chronic over-sharer and can’t resist a weird story, so if you are someone who has no interest in birth stories, I’m going to advise you to exit this post pronto.
December 15 was my actual due date, and I wanted to make sure that my bags were packed and everything was ready to go, just in case girl baby decided to make her debut on the day marked with the big red X. The only loose thread? We unexpectedly had my 8-year old stepson with us that weekend. We’d asked my husband’s ex-wife to have him, since I was, you know, due to have a baby and all, but no dice. Queen Bee had a party she wanted to attend, and some shopping to do, so she flatly refused. “Besides,” she said, “first-born babies never come on their due dates. They’re always late.”
I was really torked, but what could I do? QBee had said “no dice.”
“It’s okay,” my husband assured me. “She did say that if you did, by some miracle, go into labor, we could call her and she’d come pick him up immediately.”
The morning of December 15, I had a sinking feeling that QBee was right–I didn’t feel any different.
“I don’t think it’s gonna happen,” I told my husband. Later, I ate a tuna sandwich* and went for a 3-mile walk. I hurried to finish it before 4pm, because a storm was brewing and coming in fast over the mountains; I could feel the temperature steadily dropping as I headed home. Just as I reached the door, big, fat flakes began to fall.
A few minutes later, some contractions started, but nothing huge or painful. Still, I went to take a shower and attempted to shave my legs (because gee, the doctor was going to be totally revolted if he had to deliver a baby to a hairy-legged woman). Of course, I gashed my leg and bled all over the place because I couldn’t really see what I was doing down there.
By the time I was boiling the pasta for dinner, I was thinking, “Hey, maybe this might happen.” Snow was really coming down at that point, and I called my parents just to give them a head’s up. “I’m not sure at all,” I said. “I mean, I think it’s going to take a while, and I don’t want you driving an hour to the hospital in the middle of the night. The roads are going to be terrible–they are forecasting 8-10 inches of snow.” I promised them I’d keep them posted.
6:30 pm: things are starting to hurt, man. The doctor tells us to come in. We call QBee. Nada. We page her. Nada. We leave messages. No call back.
We pack up the car–with our 8-year old in tow–and drive to the hospital. The nurse checks me in, checks my “stuff” and clucks her tongue. “You’re not much more than a centimeter dilated. I want you to go walk up and down the hallways for an hour. Come back then and I’ll check again.”
It’s 8 o’clock by now and it looks like we’re in for a long haul, so I send my husband and my stepson home, hoping my husband can finally reach someone–anyone–to watch our kid. We haven’t lived in the area long, so we don’t really know anyone very well.
I walk up and down the halls, alone.
Ten minutes later, I am in drop-dead agony. I can’t believe how fast things have deteriorated. With each contraction, I have to stop walking and brace myself in a corner to remain standing. WTF? How is this so bad already? And Holy Whaa–where is a bathroom, because suddenly, I am going to evacuate a load of nasty stuff in this hallway if I can’t get there fast. I barely make it in time. I cry a little on the toilet, limp to the sink, and to to walk around some more, but increasingly, I have to stop and crumple into corners.
I’m crumpled, in my swanky hospital gown, whimpering in the hospital lobby when the doors suddenly open and out of the whirling snow, a very rotund African-American woman walks in, with three small children in tow. She takes one look at me and stops in her tracks. Hands on her hips and shaking her head indignantly, she says, “Girl? WHERE is your man?”
Suddenly, I realize that I really might be doing this alone.
Terrified, I call my mother and despite my protests, they head out in what is now a blizzard.
Back to the bathroom. More crying on the toilet, because now I’m convinced I’ve sent my parents to their deaths and I’m still going to have to do this damn thing alone. Then I throw up.
I go back to the birthing center, where a new nurse is now on duty. She takes one look at me and says, “You look like shit.”
I tell her about the actual shit, and the vomiting and the motherfucking agony, and she says, “Whoa, you’re in laborlabor.”
“Can I have drugs now?” I plead.
She hooks me up to a monitor and takes a peek. “Oooh, still not that dilated,” she says. “You know, you’re a tiny thing. I think this might take a while. Gonna wait on the meds, honey.”
I cry and whine and thrash around and a bit later, she asks if I want to get into the Jacuzzi tub. Hell yes, sister. Still no sign of my husband.
I’m in the Jacuzzi tub, flailing around like a beached Orca, when my parents arrive. “I can’t stand this. Get me outta here,” I pant.
10pm: I get out of the tub. Nurse looks down and sees blood. Nurse checks my stuff down there. “Holy S—! There’s the head! Don’t cough, don’t sneeze! I haven’t even called the doctor yet! How’d you go from, like, 2 1/2 centimeters to 9 in 45 minutes!?”
I think: I told you it really fucking hurt, didn’t I?
I say: “Where are my drugs? Please, you promised me drugs.”
Gee, it’s too late for drugs. Imagine that.
Miss D. shoots down the birth canal like a West German on a luge, and my husband barely makes it in time for her debut.
As I push our daughter out, I scream incredibly profane things to him about QBee (who never has called back or shown up) and what I am going to do to her when I see her next. Then I say to him, “I did this without drugs. Give me the champage.”
Oops. He forgot the champagne.
The doctor looks at my face, laughs and says, “You probably ought to run home and get that. We’re just waiting for the placenta to pass, so go.”
He goes, placenta doesn’t pass. The doctor’s got her arm in there, rummaging around for it, and my mother says, “Jesus, there’s so much blood on the floor.”
I don’t really remember much after that. They told me I was going to need a hysterectomy because I had this complication. After what I’d just gone through, a hysterectomy didn’t seem like such a bad idea. Apparently, I started laughing when they told me and said rather giddily, “Be my guest! I’m never doing this again.” Then I didn’t get the surgery, because I’d lost so much blood and my vitals dropped into scary territory.
Hideous experience, horrifying complications, beautiful baby girl. Two days later, I got to come home, uterus intact.
Not that I was ever going to give birth again anyways.
Nope. No way.
I should have spent a few days in bed and let everyone take care of me, but once I got home, I had this inexplicable euphoria and energy. My lady parts were total roadkill and felt like they were on fire, and something absolutely criminal was going on with my boobs, but otherwise? I felt great.
So great, in fact, that I decided that I needed to make homemade granola to give out to the nurses in the birthing center. To thank them, you know, for having to go through that.
Because that was fucked up.
So I did.
And then I made my husband deliver it to them and the whole nursing staff yelled at him.
“What the Hell is she doing up, making homemade granola!” they hollered. “That girl should be in bed, resting! Why aren’t you making her rest?!”
My poor husband. Didn’t those nurses know what he was up against?
Now, every year, right before Christmas, I get the urge to make granola. The first few years, I made a version that had a lovely amount of butter and brown sugar in it and was quite decadent. It was awesome.
Over the years, I’ve become a little more health-conscious, so I’ve tinkered with the recipe. This year’s version is probably the healthiest yet–it’s honestly not very sweet, and there’s barely enough fat in it to bind it together (it’s not one of those cluster-rich recipes, although there are some). It’s delicious, though. I think it’s best used in a parfait with yogurt and honey, or paired with a lightly sweet milk like almond milk. It’s nutty and wholesome and makes a great breakfast, snack, or holiday gift.
I think even the nurses would approve.
Healthier Homemade Granola
makes about 3 1/2 cups
2 cups rolled oats
2/3 cup chopped walnuts, pecans or pistachios
2/3 cup slivered almonds
2 tablespoons chia seeds
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup dried fruit, such as dried cranberries, cherries or raisins
1/4 cup coconut (optional)
Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. In a small saucepan, heat orange juice, honey, brown sugar and coconut oil until sugar is dissolved. Add vanilla and salt. Pour over granola and toss well. Spread mixture on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake at 300 degrees for about 25-30 minutes, stirring every ten minutes. Cool. Stir in fruit and coconut, if desired.
*That tuna sandwich will always stay in my mind; it is an epic, historical tuna sandwich. As is the scoop of coconut/chocolate swirl ice cream, which was the last thing I ate before giving birth to Miss M. Is this weird? To remember the last thing you ate before giving birth? Discuss.
ps: Lovely Miss D., you were worth it.