The day I gave birth to a second-grader

Today was my daughter’s last day as a first-grader and her first day as a second-grader. Which only means that she’s that much closer to legally dropping out of school when she turns 18 during her senior year. Yes, I worry about this already. And I can’t stop looking at her and thinking, “Oh, god. You’re not a baby anymore, yet you still cannot tie your own shoes, or ride a bike, or properly floss your teeth.” Then I do a little jig inside because I still have some time left with her before she starts sneaking cigarettes, skipping school, and kissing sleazy boys named Vic and giving me ammunition (read as guilt) as I remind her of the day she was born (and the day she was almost born).

My pregnancy was not an easy one. Aside from the stress of a broken engagement and an already damaged relationship with BabyDaddy (in this household, we refer to him as Mr. Dumas), my baby was not positioned correctly. EVER. It was confirmed that she was being carried in a breach position and that I would never be able to give birth naturally (and here is where I must argue that if a baby is coming out my body, she is being born naturally – she was not manufactured at the Ben & Jerry’s in Vermont). My baby decided to ride the wave of the womb in a standing position with one foot in my ass and the other foot in my hoohah. The nurses didn’t believe me when I told them there was a foot down there and I demanded an internal ultrasound. Behold!! Five toes!! In my hoohah! And she was a kicker! I suffered massive bouts of dehydration and consumed approximately 2.5 tons of Wendy’s chicken nuggets, per month. I also developed an expensive habit of paying for the buffet at Shoney’s on Thursday nights solely for unlimited access to fried chicken. And I didn’t even eat the chicken. Just the fried chicken skin.

Forty-two pounds later, I watched two planes crash into the World Trade Center towers. Because I’d been raised in the military and grew up outside of Washington, DC, I was appointed “All-Knowing Expert on Terrorist Activities” by my fellow hotel coworkers and found myself answering every question with, “I wouldn’t worry unless a plane actually hits the White House or the Capitol Building. Now let’s go watch some TV!!” Then my father’s best friend went missing in the Pentagon and my whole world changed. I grabbed my stomach and clenched my teeth in pain and found myself in the emergency room 4 hours later with a few bags of fluids going through my body. Whatever it took to keep my baby inside until after midnight. Whatever it took to not allow her to be born on this day that would carry the burden of increased cultural and religious intolerance and the heightened opportunity for historians to tell more lies. I held out until 12:04am on Wednesday, September 12, 2001, and was released from the hospital at 4:00 that morning. I was still pregnant.

For the next three weeks I stayed in bed. I was 30 minutes from the hospital and afraid of going into labor again with a breached baby. My c-section was scheduled for October 5th at 8am but because someone believed that my body hadn’t been through enough already, the real labor pains kicked in at 3am. I clawed my way out the front door, clutching my belly with one hand as the other hand grabbed onto the brick exterior of my house, all while my father told me to get a move on (note to all men: saying this to any pregnant woman is a sure-fire way to get your ass kicked). Once I arrived at the hospital, I was told to practice my breathing exercises since the drug guy wouldn’t be in until 7am.

Uh…what? #@&$**@!!!! Aaaaaaaaarrrrggggggg!!!!! Tears!!! Whining!!! More tears and whining!!!!!

My strategy worked and within an hour I had a good dose of Stadol. Wow! is all I can say about that stuff.

Over the next few hours, I was cared for by a sweet Scottish nurse who made sure I was drugged and happy (the opposite of the terrifying Nurse Ratchet, my post-natal nurse). The epidural only numbed my left side and didn’t take very well the first time around so the doctor strapped me to the table (all One-Flew-Over-the-Cuckoo’s-Nest-like), flipped me over sideways to the right (hoping to drain some more to my right side), and pumped me with some more drugs. My mother said I looked like Jesus on the cross. Except I might have been drooling.

After a few test pinches on my not-completely-numbed belly, I fought against general anesthesia and waived my right to sue them if they would just hurry the hell up and get this baby outta me! Like I said, I was drugged and anxious and probably having an out-of-body experience, but the doctors agreed with me, called me “one tough woman!” and went in for prize.

Hello, baby!

And that is the story of my daughter’s birth (and almost-birth). And in case anyone was wondering, our good friend John survived the attack on the Pentagon. Another miracle of September 11th.

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About Dena

I'm a suburban Clevelander by way of Oklahoma City, by way of North Florida, by way of Southern Maryland, by way of Upper Michigan, by way of Northern Italy, by way of Lower Michigan, by way of Texas. Because of living in so many places, I have something in common with almost everyone I meet. I love reading, writing, and American history (especially reading or writing about American history). I'm interested in culture of place, historical trauma, and writing about the kinds of histories most people don't know about.
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2 Responses to The day I gave birth to a second-grader

  1. Windy Days says:

    Whoa! That was intense. Dena, before you do something like that again, tell me get my inhaler first.

  2. Chris says:

    My second baby turns 21 in November…God help. 😉

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