I was sixteen hours into labor with our baby and in the midst of the worst contraction I'd had so far when I told Wyatt to take me home. "I've changed my mind," I gasped. "I don't want to have a baby. We can get a puppy instead."
Wyatt chuckled softly. He was wise enough to know that only a fool would laugh out loud at a woman in labor. "Blair, we can't go home," he said. "Right now your best options are narcotics or an epidural." He was right of course. I think my "fight or flee" instinct was kicking in as the pain from the contractions increased. I was getting too tired to fight after being in labor for so long, so some part of my brain had decided it was time to flee.
We were standing in the middle of the hospital delivery suite. I'd been standing and walking intermittently during my labor. They'd taught us in Lamaze that staying on your feet moves things along, and I was all for anything that would get our baby safely out of me. But now I was beginning to think longingly of lying down in the bed and not getting up until the fat lady had sung, or in this case had her baby. I'd only gained 25 pounds during my pregnancy, but it was all right in front. I looked like I was smuggling a beach ball around under my shirt, and I hadn't seen my feet in 3 months. Even lying down in bed, I could only see the tips of my pink toenails peaking over the huge mound of my stomach. I hadn't painted those toes, by the way. Wyatt sticks out his tongue to help him concentrate when he's doing my pinky toes. It's the cutest thing.
Wyatt had his arms wrapped around me. I had my face buried in his chest and the collar of his shirt crushed in my clenched fists. I had grabbed the first thing I could squeeze when this contraction hit. I wondered briefly if any laboring woman had ever squeezed her husband's family jewels during the midst of a contraction, not that I would ever consider doing that to Wyatt. But a little naturally occurring physical discomfort on the man's part would only be fair. I'm sure that the fact that a man doesn't feel any physical pain when a woman is in labor with his child proves without a doubt that God is not a woman.
I hadn't replied to Wyatt's comment about narcotics or an epidural, both of which I had been opposed to a few hours ago but we're starting to hold a major attraction. I didn't say anything because the breath had been sucked out of me by the pain, which was Wyatt's cue to say, "You're holding your breath. Breathe Blair."
I was hurting, but not too much to stomp his foot. I was sick to death of Wyatt and the nurse telling me to breathe. I'd told them both I was breathing just fine, thank you very much, or obviously I would have passed out by now.
Wyatt didn't even flinch when I stomped his foot. It takes more than a 5 foot 4 inch, 136 pound pregnant woman to make a dent in a 6 foot 2 inch, 200 pound former NFL defensive lineman. Running through his statistics like that made me realize that I hadn't thought out this childbirth thing thoroughly when I married him. If I had, I'd have gone for a short, skinny man, which just goes to show how much the pain of labor warps the mind, because I adore Wyatt. He'd been a rock during my labor. He'd only slipped up once, in my opinion, which is the only one that matters since I was the one walking around in an indecent hospital gown and having things stuck into my various orifices for the sake of our unborn child. He, on the other hand, was fully clothed and no one had stuck things into any of his orifices for the sake of our unborn child. Anyway, back to Wyatt's faux paus. Someone needs to tell men that when their wife's in labor, they shouldn't wonder out loud why dilation is measured in centimeters instead of inches. If they do wonder why cervical dilation is measured in centimeters and not inches, and if they should feel the need to convert it to inches, they shouldn't voice any of this out loud. I'd told him in no uncertain terms that I didn't give a damn why it was in centimeters, because in centimeters or inches it hurts the same, and he needed to do the %$!* calculations in his head and shut the %$!* up. Some of the words I'd used were ones that weren't generally in my vocabulary. I found that labor expands your ability to curse exponentially as you dilate.
My water broke at the moment I stomped Wyatt's foot. It was like the cork popping from a champagne bottle. It went everywhere, or so it seemed. The leg of Wyatt's jeans got wet where I was leaning up against him. I don't think he even noticed. He picked me up and carried me over the puddle and put me in the hospital bed. Within seconds my labor nurse was coming at me with a pair of gloves on. I assumed the position, an almost reflex reaction at this point. From the eight month on, a pregnant woman's vagina is pretty much a medical grand central station.
The nurse's exam revealed I was right at eight centimeters, which I had found out in Lamaze class is the beginning of a phase of labor called transition. I don't know who decided that the last part of labor should be called transition, but as this new wave of contractions hit me, I'd have bet my new Mercedes SUV (Mercedes convertibles and babies don't mix, and I wasn't driving a mini-van) it wasn't a woman who had given birth. Nothing that felt like these contractions would have ever been called anything as innocent as transition by a woman who had actually been through the process. A woman who had given birth would have called what happens after you reach eight centimeters "excruciating, mind-numbing pain from hell."
Have I mentioned that my doctor thinks the baby will weigh nine pounds? When you're in labor with a nine pound baby is probably not a good time to question God, but I wonder if He didn't make some serious errors when He designed childbirth. I believe it's sort of like that little error He made with bumblebees. It's been proven that it's impossible for a bumblebee to fly, but obviously it does anyway. I'm betting childbirth is the same way, and it's actually impossible for a full-term baby to emerge from a vagina. It's just never been made common knowledge that women are doing the impossible. There's probably some government conspiracy involved in keeping this secret, because women would have the upper hand forever.
I took to my labor bed after my water broke, and after I decided that childbirth is actually impossible. I'd done the improbable during my cheerleading days and remained standing for the most part. Doing the impossible was definitely going to require me to lie down for a while.
I watched the clock, and as the minute hand made its slow trip around, over and over again, I became increasingly disagreeable and logic totally left my thought processes. Wyatt would probably argue that I've never been very logical to begin with.
At one point, I wiggled a finger and motioned Wyatt to come closer. The nurse was busy taking an inventory of some instruments of torture over in the corner. I swear at one point I heard her ask the nurse trainee working with her to bring in the larger ratchet.
Wyatt leaned over the bed. "Wyatt," I whispered, because I didn't want the nurse to hear. I took a handful of his shirt and pulled him closer still. "You have to take me home now," I said. "Okay? Don't tell them. Let's just go, right now." Whereas I had been sort of kidding earlier, I was serious this time.
Wyatt was silent for a moment. Then he said, "Blair, honey, you're having a baby."
"No," I said emphatically, even as I felt my stomach start to tighten again. "I'm not. I've changed my mind. I don't want to do this, and I want to go home."
My whisper evidently wasn't quiet enough, because Wyatt's eyes cut over to the nurse, who had stepped over to bed, evidently to offer him moral support against a crazed woman laboring to bring a large baby into the world. I gave her a mean look, and she shrugged and said to my bewildered husband, "It's not unusual for a laboring mother to want to back out at the last moment. They never succeed, obviously…" she said, gesturing to my stomach.
Wyatt took my chin in his big hand, and gently lifted my head so that we were eye to eye. "Blair, listen to me. You're dilated almost all the way, and you're 90% effaced, whatever the hell that means. You're going to have a baby very shortly, no matter where you are. We're not going home."
"You are so letting me down," and I gave myself over to another contraction. I shuddered hugely, gritted my teeth, and pushed down hard in a way that was completely independent of my will.
"Don't push!" the nurse yelled, and Wyatt barked "Get the doctor, now!" in his best police lieutenant's "don't f—with me" voice. The nurse left the room in a run, leaving a stunned and slightly frightened nurse trainee behind. When Wyatt uses his lieutenant's voice, people on the receiving end of his roar jump, and people on the sidelines like the nurse trainee usually get really still in the hope he won't notice they're there.
I was hurting more than I had ever thought was possible for a human to survive, and I was very much afraid that it was going to get worse before it got better. I started to cry. I was rapidly loosing control. The pain consumed me completely. My only focus was trying to get through the next second without dying, or at least that's what it felt like.
Unfortunately, I voiced aloud my opinion that I was dying, and then I think I said something like "Omigod, omigod, OHMYGOD, this hurts! Make it stop!" I was shaking like a leaf, and cold and hot all at the same time. I dimly remembered reading about the shaking being common. It's called "birth quakes". Ha ha. I was scaring Wyatt, and some dim part of my brain was telling me to get a grip for his sake, but I couldn't manage it. I heard the nurse trainee, who was brave enough to venture over to the side of my bed, tell him that I was fine. According to her, it was actually a good thing that I was coming unglued, because it meant I was close to delivering. When is it ever a good thing for someone to think they're dying? I was going to have a bone to pick with God later about that "in pain shall a woman bring forth children" bit he put in Genesis. In fact, I had several bones to pick with God after nine months of pregnancy. I would make God a list of my childbirth grievances when this was all over, and the thought cheered me ever so slightly.
Wyatt took my hand, and I hung onto it like it was a lifeline. I squeezed it for all I was worth. The nurse trainee was trying to give me instructions, but my mind wasn't registering anything she was saying. I had eyes and ears only for Wyatt, and he realized it. "Don't push, babe, okay? I'm going to stay right beside you. You're going to do fine, everything's okay, but don't push again until the doctor gets here."
My doctor, Dr. Mitchell, made his appearance in just a little bit, along with my original nurse and two other nurses. Dr. Mitchell is a really good OB/GYN who just happens to be a nice looking man. He's a second generation OB/GYN. His father, Old Dr. Mitchell, was my Mom's doctor and had delivered me and my sisters. When Young Dr. Mitchell moved to our town and took over his Dad's practice, it was a no-brainer for me to go to him.
Old Dr. Mitchell looked like Tom Selleck, and his son is a younger version of his father.
Young Dr. Mitchell works out at Great Bods. Having my doctor come through Great Bods several times a week has been a nice little perk for me. I've gotten my pregnancy questions answered on a regular basis, and he graciously agreed to help me with a "moms to be" workout class, free of charge. I really should have given him a discount on his membership for his help with the class ,but when I offered Dr. Mitchell said he'd just consider it a community service. I really like Dr. Mitchell.
Wyatt, unfortunately, couldn't help but give Dr. Mitchell a bit of a cold shoulder whenever they ran up on each other at Great Bods. It didn't help any that Dr. Mitchell was obviously an alpha male too. At my first OB visit for my pregnancy, Wyatt had gone with me and had accompanied me back to the exam room. Dr. Mitchell did a complete physical since it had been a year since I'd seen him last. Wyatt took a keen interest in checking out the wallpaper during the proceedings and trying to not be obvious about the fact that he was gritting his teeth.
I asked Wyatt in bed that night, after a particularly nice bit of sex where I think Wyatt may have been unconsciously reclaiming his territory, what he thought of Dr. Mitchell. "I'd like to punch him in the face," he said. "He's a man. When he told you that the best time to do a breast exam was in the shower when your breasts were soapy, he was imagining you doing that. It's either that, or he's gay. Next time he decides you need an internal exam, we'll buy one of those spatula thingees…" I bit my cheek to keep from laughing and told him, "It's called a speculum" and he snorted and said "whatever the hell it is, anyway, we'll get one of those, he can tell me what to look for, and I'll tell him what I see. Hell, we can do it over the phone. You won't even have to go in to the office." I did laugh then, and Wyatt laughed too. "He makes me feel about as mature as a sixteen year old boy," he said. "I wish you had chosen a female obstetrician, but I've asked around. He's one of the best doctors in the state, so I'll make the sacrifice and you can keep going to him." Wyatt had gone with me to almost all of my doctor visits, which is pretty amazing considering his schedule at work.
Right now Wyatt was looking at Dr. Mitchell like he was the second coming of the Lord, but he hid his relief by saying "Where the hell have you been?" Dr. Mitchell took it in stride. I'm sure he'd heard that and worse from panic stricken fathers. Dr. Mitchell just grinned and said "I was napping so I'd have the strength to deal with your wife."
Everyone got really busy moving equipment in place from the corners of the room, and as Dr. Mitchell moved into place at the foot of the bed, he said in a disgustingly cheerful voice, "So Blair, you're finally ready to do this thing. It's about time. You got lazy on us after you checked into our little hotel," I wanted to make a scathing reply, but it's hard to cut someone off at the knees when your teeth are clenched. I think I growled at him.
I lifted up my butt when he instructed me to, and a big blue pad went under me. He examined me, and I was indeed at the magical ten centimeters where I could push my baby out. My body had already known that.
"Okay, let's break this bed down and get this done," he said, still disgustingly cheerful. The nurses moved some levers, and Dr. Mitchell pulled the bottom third of the bed away and pushed it aside. My legs were lifted up and out until my calves were resting in some truly heavy duty stirrups they had popped into place. The bed was raised some more until I was more in a sitting position. A large mirror was placed at the foot of the bed, and a nurse asked if I could see.
"Yes," I lied. I didn't want to see. My body was about to be ripped into. Why in the world would I want to watch? Also, it's obvious that the position a woman gives birth in was arrived at by a slightly perverted person. My legs were up in the air and my very naked butt was visible for all to see, and there appeared to be about as many people crammed into the labor room as you'd find in your average busy airport terminal. I didn't want to be reminded of these facts by a huge mirror reflecting my hiney back at me.
"Okay Blair, I want you to push now," Dr. Mitchell said.
"I don't think so," I replied in a shaky voice. I couldn't bring myself to push now that I'd been told I could. I was actually afraid I would die if I pushed. I didn't think my body could withstand the pressure.
"Blair you have to push!" Dr. Mitchell said again, quite firmly.
"NO!" I said, and I yelled.
"Dad, your turn," Dr. Mitchell said with a nod to Wyatt, and crossed his arms to wait until I got with the program.
Wyatt got his face directly in front of mine and met me eye to eye. He brushed tears away from my face with a hand that trembled. "Blair honey, everything is fine. You're doing just fine. But you have to push. The only way out of this is through the pain…..come on darlin', push for me just a little, okay?" he said in his most broad southern accent, which I had found got more noticeable when he was afraid.
I pushed, but not a little and not because Wyatt had asked me to so very sweetly. I pushed because suddenly it was all I could do. I pushed because my body had decided there was nothing in the world more important to me but the need to push. I pushed like I was going to turn myself inside out. It was like trying to pull my lip up over my head and swallow myself.
"Excellent," Dr. Mitchell said, and there was a huge grin on the man's face. "A few more like that and you'll be done."
A few more? Dear God, was he insane? I couldn't; it wasn't possible.
But I did. Over and over an urge came over me that made me have a great appreciation for the phrase "force of nature." Nature was going to make sure I had this baby, whether I wanted to or not. The need to push overcame my entire being, and I pushed with all my might. All of the people in the room, and the fact that my behind was shining for all to see, didn't bother me in the least now. I would have gladly invited strangers in off the street to watch if I thought it would help bring this baby safely into the world and leave me intact and whole. Judging from the look on Wyatt's face, I think he would have escorted strangers in at gunpoint if he'd thought it would make the baby arrive any quicker.
I pushed for what seemed like forever, and my body was tiring rapidly. The baby, however, according to the monitor, was laboring like a champ. Dr. Mitchell decided we needed to try a new position.
A nurse placed a hand under my knee and lifted my leg from the stirrup. "Dad, you take Blair's other leg like Anne's doing, and you're going to press Blair's knees back to her chest." Wyatt didn't hesitate. You'd think he'd been trained as a labor nurse because he was just as ruthless as the nurse. Almost immediately both my knee caps were a mere inch from my shoulders. It must have been worth being doubled up like a roll away bed though, because it didn't take long for Dr. Mitchell to say, "Excellent! I can see the baby's head!"
On the next contraction it felt like someone had lit a blow torch and applied it to my butt. The doctor was telling me to stop pushing. My body had other ideas. It was in push mode, and it wasn't ready to stop. Dr Mitchell piped up and said, "Pant, like they taught you in class."
My mind drew a complete blank. Pant? Class? What class? I don't think I could have told them my name at that moment if they'd asked. I couldn't think of anything but how tired I was. I turned to Wyatt and he read my face. "Do it with me babe," he said and he proceeded to demonstrate a perfect Lamaze class pant. You can't pant and push, it's a proven fact.
A few more seconds, or minutes, or hours passed and I panted like Lassie after she ran all the way home to tell everyone little Timmy had fallen in the well. Dr. Mitchell said "Okay, a little push now. Try to control it and maybe we can keep the episiotomy down to a few stitches."
Ha! I would like to say now for the record that I did my best to ease the baby out like I was instructed and I ended up with 12 stitches in my butt. I made Dr. Mitchell count because I knew my Grammy would ask.
Finally, Dr. Mitchell said "The heads out…" I heard some suctioning noises and then there was the incredible sensation between my legs of my child leaving my body. The pain was gone immediately, and the next thing I knew, Dr. Mitchell was placing a baby on my stomach. "Here's your son!" he said, a large smile on his face. "I'm betting he's nine and a half pounds if he weighs an ounce. He's going to need to stop at a barber shop on the way home. He's got enough hair for two babies."
Our baby did indeed have a head of dark hair, but all my attention was focused on the fact that he hadn't cried yet. He was making sounds like a weak kitten and his arms and legs weren't moving. Worse still, he was a horrible color. Then the nurses started rubbing him with blankets, and he went from a sickly gray to pink in the space of about three seconds. He gave a loud wail and then he was crying to beat the band. His arms and legs began to move, and his little feet kicked my belly, where he had been just a minute ago.
The first time I ever laid eyes on Wyatt, my hormones had perked right up and my mind had yelled "Oh my God, I want to have his baby." Now our baby was here, and he was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen. At that moment I fell even more deeply in love with my husband. My tough cop, who according to his mother hadn't cried since his father died when he was ten, had two big tears unabashedly running down his cheeks as he touched our son's head almost reverently.
The baby was cleaned up and weighed, and he came in at 9 pounds and 2 ounces and 21 inches long. The nurses handed the baby over to Wyatt, and Wyatt brought him back to me. With a tenderness I would not have thought was possible from my big husband, he handed our son to me.
As soon as I was stitched up and decently covered, Wyatt went to tell everyone in the waiting room that our son was here. We were inundated by family at first, but the nurses managed to keep the crowd down by politely herding people in and out, except the grandparents.
My Dad looked down at his grandson lying in my arms, and I could practically see him formulating plans for my Mom's real estate firm to sponsor a T-ball team. I could also see his eyes were gleaming suspiciously, and a tear slipped out as I pointed out the finer points of my son's appearance to him. My Mom seemed to be rather stunned. She just kept saying "9 lbs and 2 ounces!" to Siana, Jenny, Wyatt's sister Lisa and anyone else who'd listen. My sisters and I had all been around 7 pounds, and I think Mom was coming to the same conclusion I had when I hit transition. Childbirth is actually impossible, but women do it every day. Mom snapped out of it when she noticed Roberta crying. Mom put an arm around her shoulder. Wyatt was holding the baby at that moment, and he bore a near perfect resemblance to pictures I had seen of Wyatt's dad holding him when he was a baby.
Everyone had their time with me and the baby and Wyatt, but I was getting really tired and wished everyone would just leave. I saw Wyatt glancing at his watch. In my hormonal state, I suddenly felt panicky. I wanted everyone to leave, but not Wyatt. I just knew he was preparing to leave and go to work for a while. He'd been out of touch with the police department for well over 24 hours, and it knew it made him antsy when he was out of touch for that long. I cut him some slack on our vacations and let him keep his cell phone with him all the time. He didn't have that freedom within the confines of the hospital.
He stepped over to one of the nurses and said something to her quietly and she nodded. She slipped out and soon a charge nurse appeared and announced that visiting hours were over and everyone except the father needed to "skedaddle" in her words. She had a firm but gentle attitude that brooked no fuss. I expected Wyatt to catch my Mom and get her to stay, but he didn't. When everyone was gone, he came over and took the baby from me and sat down beside the bed. Our son's head was cradled in his large hands, and he spoke to the baby in a soft, crooning voice that made my heart melt. Then he looked over at me. "Thank you, Blair. He's beautiful."
"It was nothing," I said.