Audrey from Barking Mad is here to kick off our 2nd week of birthdaypalooza! I'm posting this in advance in hopes that I will have a newborn at home by the time you're reading this. Don't worry, I'll post something as soon as he gets here!
Audrey is one of my favorite people, and one of the wonderful women I've met online who I feel I can really call a friend. She is honest and bold, even when she doesn't think so, and she has been unafraid to put herself out there. She has been through a lot, and lately has been blooming in amazing ways. Sometimes, like today, she is hysterical! If you want another really great blog to add to your reader, full of crazy good photos, humor, honesty, and the cutest little girl in the whole world, click over to her place when you're done here!
Birthin' Babies the Old School Way
Just the mere act of writing the title to this post makes me feel…well, ancient! However, the fact remains that I gave birth to my first child a little more than twenty two years ago. Yes, I said TWENTY TWO YEARS!
In the span of more than two decades since that child made his way into the world, the things that used to be par for the course back then, during labor, are now just a blur in the annals of childbirth.
Reading Rachael’s posts makes me wince sometimes when I think about what an ignorant, uninformed, undereducated (when it came to my body and the process of giving birth), teenager I was.
I was 19 when I gave birth to my first child, Joshua. I was so very excited about this growing baby inside of me and becoming a mommy…until my water broke (“Ewwww! This is sooo, like totally GROSS! Like, I’m going to gag!” were the words I uttered when something that sounded like a balloon popped, between my legs.), and labor began. I was sitting in the car, perched on a pile of towels, as my former husband drove like a bat out of Hell to the hospital, when that first real contraction hit me. I grabbed the handle of the door with one hand, dug my nails into my ex’s arm and told him that I wanted to go back home and maybe think about doing the childbirth thing another day when it wouldn’t hurt so bad. Yeah, like I said, ignorant!
My ex and I had taken a series of Lamaze classes but I don’t think it really prepared me for what was about to happen. Not even remotely.
One thing no one ever prepares you for is the series of dents your pride is going to take when you have everyone on the labor and delivery floor looking between your legs at some point or other. That was one of the biggest knocks my teenage-pride took…along with several others that I’ll probably never forget as long as I live.
Back in the old days, when I gave birth to Joshua one of the first things they did was shave you from practically navel to knees. Yes, I’m completely serious. My first Labor and Delivery nurse for that particular journey through Hell was a rather large (I’m talking, probably 6’3” and 225lbs) Jamaican woman with long, ebony cornrows with multi-colored beads that clack-clacked every time she moved, bright red lips that looked like she’d slathered them with motor oil, and she smelled like Patchouli. She immediately both entranced me with her accent and terrified me with her sheer size and refusal to take any of my bullshit! From here on out I’ll simply refer to her as Bob Marley.
“Look mon, you gonna spread you legs for me like a good girl and we gonna get this dun, you understand me now!” It wasn’t a question. Then she proceeded to shave me from nearly navel to knee, with my mother standing to one side and my husband to another. Bob Marley didn’t seem to care who was in the room at the time. She had a job to do and she was intent on doing it.
Over the course of the 50 hours I was in labor, until it my blood pressure shot so high that I was rushed in for an emergency c-section, I had a series of encounters with Bob Marley that would stay with me all these years later.
About 36 hours in, after several rounds of Pitocin to try and speed up my labor and at the same time, Nubane to dull the pain, it was decided that I was due a really special treat. I was stupid enough to think they were going to let me eat. Nope. That wasn’t it. I wasn’t even given any ice chips or a lolly to suck on. In came my favorite nurse, back on shift after saying goodbye to me the night before. She didn’t come in empty handed though. She had a long tube in one hand and a bucket in the other and wore a sadistic smile on her slick red lips.
What fresh hell was this?
For all intents and purposes, up until that moment in time, I was pretty much out of it. I was so gorked out on Nubane and exhausted from fighting the contractions being brought on from the Pitocin that she could have come in with a sawed-off shot gun and I wouldn’t have bat an eyelash. However, there was something about that tube and the bucket that made my eyes grow wide and my stomach tighten. Just what was she going to do with that stuff?
Stupidly, I asked her exactly that. “Um, what’s that for?”
My mother, obviously conspiring with Bob Marley told me just to hush and turn over. Then she told my dad and my ex to leave the room. Bob Marley looked down at me and all I can remember are those glossy red lips telling me, “Now mon, you gonna turn over on you left side mon, and pull you legs up tight to you belly, just roll up like a wee bog bug mon, get on over on you side!”
In what was clearly a futile attempt on my part I pleaded with her to tell me what she was going to do; “OK well, can you just like, tell me, like what you’re doing with that thing, and that bucket thing, like, ‘cause I totally can’t see what you’re doing and ….WHAT THE HELL?????”
Right at the exact moment I asked what she intended on doing with that stuff was the moment I realized I was about to get my first enema. Up until that point I had no idea what an enema was! Talk about learning on the job!
Bob Marley squeezed a bag full of stuff and the next minute was…well, it was awful. If you’ve ever had a surprise enema, or if you are as old as dirt, like I am, then you remember what those pre-birth enemas were like. For a 19 year old who only knew an enema as something one of her childhood friend’s little brother got when he wouldn’t eat his dinner, this was not something I was expecting, nor did I remember anyone telling me I’d get a bag full of soapy water shoved up my bum that would probably end up scarring me for life!
OH.MY.GOD! The horror. The humiliation. And the sheer nerve of Bob Marley!
“You just gonna lay dere like dat, on your side and evacuate dem bowels so you not be pushin’ notink else out with the wee babe!”
In reality, I laid there and whimpered like a frightened puppy. Once the, um, effects of the enema had passed for the most part, Bob Marley decided it was time to come in and check me to see if my labor was progressing. She told me to, “Turn over and spread your legs like a good girl, we gonna see if dat babe is completely done cookin yet!”
I did exactly as she asked and then when she was bent over I let loose with a fart that I hadn’t exactly been trying to hold in.
And that, folks, that right there is how we did things back in the old days!
Even as humiliating as my entire labor ordeal with Joshua was, and despite the fact that I was given a general anesthesia for his birth – which meant I was knocked out cold, the moment they put that baby boy in my arms, all of those sucker-punches my pride had taken, were a thing of the past. I was fully alert. Not a single thing mattered except that beautiful cherub, his wonderfully soft skin, his heavenly smell and the simple wonderfulness of his being.