A Tale of PTSD & The Second Birth
Y’all, I know nobody wants to read about my labor story, but I thought you might need a good laugh. (Trust me, it’s good. Even better than last time.) I hope this will be a welcome relief from the clickbait in your social feeds. Personally, I am all done reading about the Nashville Statement and people defending confederate statues and also what everyone would do if they were Joel Osteen. Because that is all so very relevant in the middle of cities drowning here and abroad, congress acting shady, threats from North Korea, white supremacy on front street, the refugee crisis… you know, any host of societal issues OTHER THAN THOSE that folks could busy themselves with. Listen, I am all the way through with it.
Please adopt me as your mentee long-lost Auntie Maxine.
Anywho, I’m pretty sure my husband’s uber rating is ruined, thanks to our trip to the hospital for the birth of our second son. For example, I had to stop and squat for two contractions on the sidewalk before I could even get in the car. I also asked Cody to get some plastic bags for the car ride, just in case, and when I needed them to throw up, I said, “Babe, the plastic bag,” and he hands me a quart size ziplock bag. (Good thing he brought two.) I also started having contractions every two minutes, so that’s always fun, with a random man you don’t know, driving you in traffic for an hour.
The front desk guy, on the first floor, at the hospital gets me a wheelchair, which they immediately take from me, upon arriving to the whatever floor triage is on, and of course, they asked me to fill out paperwork, even though I am leaned over the counter unable to speak. They won’t let Cody back in triage with me, so he starts the paperwork and they put me in a tiny rectangle, separated by four curtains, and another preggo moaning lightly like a cat, next to me, the beast, and let me know they might not have a room for me. I had to pee, and when I tell the nurse, she takes me to the dirtiest triage bathroom you ever did see, and I ask her for a toilet seat cover, and she says, “Oh, we don’t have those, and see, what I do, is I just squat over the toilet.” Oh do you, do you squat over the toilet when you are 45 minutes from having a baby? Hear me sister, you better believe that toilet seat was covered with a few layers of toilet paper, with a quickness.
They sent a Physicians Assistant to check me, and she said I was dilated 6cm, and then I had my first push, and since I had an epidural (like a sane person) during my first labor, and didn’t feel anything, I absolutely thought I shat myself. At this point, I am begging for drugs, and a demon has literally possessed my body, and contorted my face, as I growled at both of them, “GET ME MY HUSBAND AND GET ME A ROOM NOW.” Which they do both, immediately. I should also mention that Mr. Front Desk Admin has come in three times to get “information” from me, while I am barely dressed, and in triage, there’s no sheet to cover you, like a decent human being.
We’ve been in our crap room, all of five minutes, when Admin Boy comes in for the fourth time, and I finally yell at him to get out (HELLO IS ANYONE PAYING ATTENTION TO THE STRANGE MAN GETTING FREE CROTCH SHOTS. ANYONE? BUELLER?) and I am seriously feeling like I might die, still asking for the epidural, with a terrible IV in my arm that will be bruised for a week afterward, when one of them says, and I quote: “She’s crowning! Get Dr. Lee!”
And I, of course, start sobbing, and say, “Oh no, oh no, oh no…” like the faith-filled woman I am, quickly followed by, “I can’t do it, Cody, I cannot do it. I didn’t prepare for this. I am so, so scared.” He grabs my face, because he is actually full of faith, and says, “You can do this. You can do this. It’s going to be okay. You’re strong. And our son is coming,” and he held my face and we took some deep breaths. Dr. Lee ran in, and we push three traumatic, guttural, primal times (the struggle and the screaming is real, apparently), and our sweet, 8 pound, 11 ounce baby was on my tummy, making his way up to my arms. Because of course, you have to birth the placenta, which I didn’t feel in my first labor, all drugged up, crying and happy, staring at my husband, kissing his face, looking all pretty, cause I slept right before the pushing I didn’t feel, in my big birthing suite, with my mom coaching us, and big windows overlooking the city. Yeah, well, this time we went to war, in a dirty hospital, with crazy nurses, one weird admin, and a doctor we met for the first time. It was a different kind of pretty.
And we both had PTSD.
Also, I’m holding my actual baby, when the epidural guy walks in. All kinds of late. You literally can’t make this stuff up. But, as it turns out, Dr. Lee was the best, since our favorite, Dr. Hanna, was in Los Angeles. And everyone accepted my apology for yelling at them when I didn’t know I was in transition. (Except for the toilet/nurse situation. No apology necessary.) And our sweet baby came out healthy, delicious and yummy. And since Cody was giving updates, he called my mama, so she and Levi could come meet Lucas, and it was all worth it. (But, if you live in New York, do not birth your baby at NY Presbyterian. Don’t do it. Do not even do it. Or you will be forced to share your recovery room with another woman and her baby and her family, with your beds one foot apart, and share a bathroom, which is completely unsanitary (you know, blood, open wounds, body fluid) and you will find yourself cleaning the toilet before and after you pee, because hello, the risk of infection and maybe you’re just weird like that, even though you just had a baby and can barely stand up. Also, your husband cannot spend the night with you. So, just go to Jersey and have your baby, like some of our other friends, who are wise. Or some other borough. I’ll take a ferry to Staten Island next time, I don’t even care. Test me in this, New York.)
Last few moments with just Levi, contracting on the couch… Right before my water broke on our freshly washed sheets. Naturally.Look at this cutie in the Uber ride on the way to the hospital!Getting gifts from baby Lucas.
Meeting his beloved NeNe for the first timeOur strength and rock… So thankful for my incredible husband and dad.Snuggle Monkey.This ain’t happening again y’all. Our night nurse though… The sweetest, most wonderful, loving human, who loves marriages and totally rooted for us. He crawled in bed with me a few times. Then, he slept at our office, cause he had to, for a few hours.
So cozy, this precious one.This is the same outfit we brought Levi home in. And he took his first car ride in a CAR CANDY KARAOKE SUV, which was more than sufficient. I loved singing the Polish version of an Aaliyah song with Cody. There was a microphone and everything. It’s like God said, hey, that was rough, but I love ya, so let’s have a giggle, and also, here’s some skittles.Levi’s an awesome big brother.
Flowers from one of my best friend’s and our sister, Ito, who showed up at the hospital, and made me cry with love. She’s so good at just showing up. And these little shoes have been passed around our Downtown church community, and even though Lucas was already too big, this was so special to me. Welcome to the world little nugget.
So, the moral of the birthing story is: Things are largely overwhelming, mostly terrifying, and relentlessly frustrating. But, in the middle of all that, is the precious gift of life. Life in the face of a friend, in the intimate knowledge of hope, in the treasure of family. Life in the little things – flowers, phone calls, laughter, lattes, solitude, and self-care. I wish I could grab your face, and hug you close, and remind you: It’s going to be okay. You can do this. You’re strong. Life is coming.” It’s a different kind of pretty, and as C.S Lewis says, “Courage, dearheart.” I so love you. You are a precious gift, and I am in this with you.
You’ll also be very happy to know that Cody’s Uber rating is still a 4.7… Me, on the other hand, now that’s a different story.