Whenever I’m desperate for something to write about, I’ll ask one of my kids for an idea. As often as not, the answer is “me.” This week my daughter Lizzy suggested I write about Nick Jr.
Last week my twelve-year-old Tom suggested I write about “The Magical Day” he was born.
I thought that’s very sweet, but there was one little problem. The result of that day was absoulutely magical, but the 24 hours of labor before he arrived via a cesarean section at 12:30 a.m. was not.
For almost seven of those hours, I was 9 1/2 centimeters dilated. The C-section had to be performed while I was under general anesthesia.The “trendy” walking epidural I had been given during the long hours of labor was raised and lowered so many times in anticipation of my delivery, that by the time my doctor did the c-section, no spinal anesthetic would work.
I woke up around 2:00 am that December day in the recovery room with my husband at the foot of my bed holding a moving bundle of blankets that was our beautiful baby boy.
My husband was all smiles as he brought our newborn son to me. Because of the general anesthesia, and some complications it was causing with my oxygen levels, I could not hold my baby. So I touched his tiny little feet and said, “Hi Tommy.” My son turned his head around to the voice he had been hearing for almost 42 weeks.
That was a magical moment and one I will never forget.
But the day was not what I had fantasized about for almost 10 months.
My husband and I would dream about what it would feel like to finally meet the child we so desperately wanted after four miscarriages. We had gone through so much, surely we would get the birth story that would rival any that I saw on “A Baby Story.”
Early that Wednesday morning in December, I thought I was well on my way to getting my perfect baby story. It was 10 days past my due date, and when I started to get contractions at 3:00 am while watching reruns of “Law and Order,” I knew this was probably it.
I woke my husband, and I remember never wanting to leave our bed as we lay and timed contractions. My husband was anxious to get to the hospital. We lived in Queens, but our doctor and the hospital were in Manhattan. I was thinking of savoring the moment and cocooning with my husband and soon-to-be-born son. Joe was thinking of getting his pregnant wife into the city through rush hour traffic.
Months earlier, I decided that when I started to get contractions, I would first go to my sister’s East 85th St. apartment a few blocks from the hospital. While she was in Los Angeles on business, the place was ours.
My plan was that I would labor at Wendy’s and then go to the hospital. My husband decided not to argue with me, even though he wanted to go straight to the hospital. He respected my wishes and brought me to my sister’s. I barely walked up the two flights of stairs and waited for Joe to park the car. The pain was intense, but I was adamant about not calling the doctor until 9:00 a.m.
The plan was to go to the doctor’s office, and I was going to stick to it. There was no way I was going to be one of those first timers who arrived at the hospital only to be sent home.
By the time we decided that my plan was not going to work, it was a weekday at 8:30 a.m. on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Good luck hailing a cab. My husband left me off to the side of Third Avenue because the teacher at our Lamaze class had warned fathers not to look for a cab with an obviously pregnant wife. I stood on the corner of 83rd street holding onto a lamp post. Not a pretty picture.
When I saw a garbage truck pass by, I thought perhaps they would take me to the hospital. Finally my husband hailed a livery cab and gave the driver $20 for a eight-block ride.
Fast forward 16 hours later, flat on my back, and feeling like a Mack truck hit me. It was taking so long to get my oxygen levels back to normal that the nurses suggested my husband go back to my sister’s place to get a little rest.
We had requested a private room so he could stay with the baby and me, but it did not look promising. We said goodbye, and I was left alone in the recovery room, no husband and no baby. I never saw this on “A Baby Story.”
I thought my luck was picking up when they wheeled me into my room, a beautiful private room. Even though it was a shift change, I begged the nurse to let me see and hold my baby because even though my son was seven hours old, I had never held him.
I still remember the pure joy and pure fear as she put him in my arms. I was in my room, holding my perfect son and I was all alone. Well, not really alone, because now I had him. The beautiful baby in the blanket.
To make this day even odder, my husband did not come to the hospital till about 1:00 in the afternoon. I thought maybe he was just really tired because we had spoken on the phone a few times and he didn’t say anything was wrong.
Turns out that being up 24 hours and full of adrenaline made him forget the instructions from my sister to not lock the deadbolt. Yes, my husband was locked in my sister’s apartment until he could get a locksmith to get him out because her super was out Christmas shopping.
I can still remember him coming to my room with the most beautiful red roses and a box of chocolate cigars to give out. He had the biggest smile on his face and that room became our whole world for four full days.
As I write about this, I see that Tom was right, the day he was born was magical: in a Joe and Kathy kind of way.