Friday, March 31, 2006

18 months ago today

...I waddled into the OB's office for my 39-week checkup. My blood pressure had been fine for the whole pregnancy, but not that day.

"Look at that, your blood pressure has really shot up," the doctor said.

"Oh, really, what does that mean?"

"That means you have toxemia. And the cure for that is to get that baby out. I'm calling over to Labor and Delivery now to let them know -- we're going to induce you tonight."

"Oh my God."

A few hours later, Mr. Fraulein and I were back at the hospital, clutching my overnight bag and pillows from home. There can't be a more surreal feeling in this life than the crazy, overwhelming anticipation of taking off your clothes, getting into one of those delightful hospital nightgowns, and settling your giant self into that adjustable hospital bed, knowing that very soon, your baby is coming out. I had never been in the hospital before in my life. I will never forget how odd it felt to be in that room, dragging my IV pole with me every time I had to go to the bathroom. Sitting watching TV with the baby monitor stretched over my swollen belly. Taking phone calls from my freaked-out parents.

They started the induction later that evening by giving me a drug called Cervidil to soften up my cervix. After this, feeling just minor cramps, I went to sleep.

Then the next morning -- 18 months ago tomorrow -- Pitocin. This was the thing I'd been dreading, after so many friends' stories of Pitocin-induced labors that lasted 18, 24, 30 hours and more. A few hours later, I was surrounded by what seemed like a cast of thousands in the delivery room, cheering me on, chanting, yelling, PUSH! PUSH! And the waves of pain, ebbing and flowing like water, going away completely in between the contractions, which came as such a surprise to me. And Mr. Fraulein clutching my hand.

Somebody up in the sky, or somewhere, was smiling on me that day. In spite of the Pitocin, after just nine hours of labor (including two hours of pushing) the Peanut emerged, yelling, into the world. Mr. Fraulein heard her yelling before she even came out. And after nine months of thinking she was a boy, we discovered that we had a little girl Peanut on our hands.

The first things I saw were her feet. "It's a girl!" people yelled from all directions. I was stunned. I had truly felt like some cosmic voice was telling me I was having a boy. So much for mother's intuition.

And then they gave me an ice bag to sit on, and someone produced a hospital dinner that tasted, to me at that moment, like it came from the finest restaurant in the world. And the Peanut aced her APGAR test and settled onto my breast for her first meal.

Happy 18-months-in-the-world, little Peanut!

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