This is the last one in the birth story saga.
Wednesday: sometime about 4.30 pm?
Once my hour has elapsed, there is a flurry of activity. The room is suddenly full of doctors, people taking blood and injecting me with I don't know what. One of the doctor subjects me to a 10 minute quiz about antibiotics. I am allergic to pencillin, right. So, she asks, can I have ampimoxilliynocillin? I have no idea what that is. What about oxytocillinohcillin? Um, pass? Have I ever had methotreycyllinocillinocillin? Dunno. Fracocyllinmethocyllin? Duhydrofandgoocillin? Look, I finally tell her, I haven't a clue. I am usually very healthy and have not required a prescription of antibiotics in approximately eight years. I don't know the names. I am not a pharmacist. Can we move it along, please?
Meanwhile, I am told I am going to the theatre where I will have a "trial by forceps". The first part of this sounds very jolly- the theatre! With front row seats! Oh goody. The second part is less appealing. Who wants a further trial at this point? Not me. But all this means is that basically, I get three more pushes with some assistance from the salad tongs to drag the baby out, after which we will proceed straight to C-section. Do not pass Go, please collect baby. I am given a barrage of information about the possible procedures, which I am too exhausted to take in, and there is long-winded discussion about consent, until I finally hold up my hand and say, "Just. Do. Whatever. You. Have. To."
E. disappears off somewhere to change into his Dr Doug Ross outfit. As I am wheeled down the hall to the theatre on my own, I start crying. I am disoriented and the lights are shining in my face. The radio is playing very loudly. They ask if I mind the music, and I say I don't. They heave me and all my various tubes onto the table like a sack of potatoes. Feet into stirrups. I am so sweaty and my hair is in my face. One of the nurses is kind and askes me what has happened and strokes my hand for a minute as I sob. Another Drug Doc comes along and starts fooling with the epidural so that we are good to go with the section right away if need be. He sprays a little jet of cold air on parts of my body to see if I feel it. Pretty soon, I don't.
Goddamnit, I think, they put me through how many hours of hell and I'm going to end up with a C-section anyway? Well, screw that. I make up my mind that I am so pissed off that it's come to this that in fact, I don't want a section after all. I am going to push with every last ounce of my utterly sapped strength.
E. comes back. He sits by by my head and holds my hand. Then Three is there and it's like before- she looks at the monitor and tells me when it's time to push. Now. Breathe in and...I push like never before; it is as if I am completely outside myself, outside my body and into some other dark, silent place where there is nothing but the pushingthepushingthepushing.
I stop, gasping. And then I hear Three say that the baby's head is out.
"Oh, thank God," I say to E. I suddenly know, with a sense of the profoundest relief, that somehow we're going to be OK.
One more push, the last one, and again I give it my all, though I cannot muster the same force as before but it doesn't matter, because the baby is out. She is here, born to the sound of Duran Duran singing "Rio".
They place her on my chest briefly. In moment I will never forget for as long as I live, we look at each other. She has a red forceps mark down the side of her face and is staring at us with one open wide otherworldly eye. E says, "Oh, it's you."
They tell us it's a girl, with a long enough pause that for a moment I think perhaps we got it wrong after all in the scan. Then they whisk her away for what seems an interminably long time while I am stitched up after the episiotomy that I didn't know I had had. Everything is a bit of a blur. It takes another eternity once I am wheeled into recovery to undo all the bits and pieces of medical paraphenalia- though I am left with the IV drip and a catheter which I will come to abhor with violent loathing over the next two days. Eventually they bring Botany back, wrapped in a blanket. Finally after a fandango involving having to shift my floppy self between beds again, I am taken to the ward, where the baby is placed in a funny little raised plastic crib beside me. E. and my mother say goodbye, kiss us and head home to collapse.
I ask for something to eat and drink, and somebody brings me tea and toast. I fall asleep while I am eating it. I don't remember a lot about that first night, except snippets. There are three other women in the same room. It is exceptionally hot. I am still sweating profusely. I am given a sponge bath. Can't feel my legs. Can't get up. Have to ring bell to get someone to hand me baby to nurse. No recollection of her first latch on- we seem to fall into a nursing pattern automatically. Fall asleep again. Baby cries. Where am I? Room dark, lights in the hall, disoriented again. Oh my god, there is a baby- wait,that is my baby. Can't get up- ring again to get someone to help me stop her crying so we don't wake the entire ward.
In the dim light, I nurse her again, holding her in my arms. I think, I can't believe we made it. Thank god we made it. She's here. She's finally here.