Friday, August 13, 2010
And Then There Were Five--Part II
"I can make a boychild," I told my husband. "Really, I can."
He smiled, a sure-you-can-(not) smile. "I don't care what we get. Another baby would be wonderful."
I went to the library and checked out books on the subject. Then I got to work. No kidding. It was like having another job. Wake up. Don't move. Take your temperature. Record it. Check this (You want me to check what?). Do that. Touch such and such (You're kidding, right?).
A month passed. No baby. Another thirty days came and went. Miss dot-at-the-end-of-a-sentence came to visit. Again.
I sniffed in my hairstylist's chair. "It's never gonna happen," I said. "I bet I have secondary infertility."
Becky smiled at me in the mirror. "Hush, now," she said. "Go buy an ovulation kit. You're probably just off by a day or two."
Becky was right. Month three? Bingo!
"What do you see?" I asked the radiologist. "Is it still there? Is it?"
His face was an inch from the screen. "Honestly, I don't see a thing. I think we're out of the woods. I'll doublecheck the films and call you to confirm."
My breath came out in a whoosh. I grabbed my husband's hand and squeezed. He pressed back.
"So," the radiologist said. "Do you want to know the sex of the baby?"
My mouth fell open. "Really?"
My husband's eyebrows went up. "Right now?"
The doctor scooted his rolley stool around to face us. He rubbed his thighs briskly.
"This is West Virginia," he said. "I don't want to start a family feud. So do you, or don't you? Want to know."
My husband shook his head.
My husband shrugged. "I like surprises. So does my family."
I clasped my hands in front of my face and opened my eyes super wide. "Pretty please? I won't tell anyone inside the state."
My husband sighed. "Oh, all right."
The doctor wheeled the stool back to face the screen. He tapped it with his pen.
"See that right there?" he said. "That's what makes your little guy, a guy."
I grinned and clapped. "I did it! I made a boy!"
The doctor gave my husband a little shove. "You okay, Dad?"
My husband leaned closer to the ultrasound screen. His breath fogged it.
"It's a boy? Really?"
The doctor smiled and clapped him on the back. "It's a boy. A healthy son. Congratulations."
Fluid, surprisingly warm, gushed from inside me. I looked down. The legs of my blue maternity shorts darkened. The water continued on its way. A puddle formed on the back porch, between my flip flops. I shut my eyes and groaned.
The girls were swinging. "Watch how high we can go," the older one said.
The younger one looked at me and put her feet down to stop. "What, Mommy?" she said. "Why's your face all funny?"
I glanced down. "Someone bring me the phone."
"Mommy, you wet yourself."
I shook my head and spoke louder. "Just get me a phone."
"Right now?" my husband said. "It's coming right now?"
My answer was a whisper. "Yes."
"Dad's in the hospital with a bleeding ulcer, and I have someone in the office with me."
I nibbled my lip. "Last baby was born 20 minutes after my water broke."
"I'll be right there."
"You could stimulate your nipples," the nurse said, as she glanced at her watch. "Since your labor doesn't seem to be progressing."
My eyes bulged. I touched my cheeks. Hot. I crooked my finger to bring her closer. So the whole world wouldn't hear.
"Stimulate your nipples," she said. "It makes the body release oxytocin which can move the process along. Just slide your arms inside your gown."
She busied herself tucking the sheets around me, adusting the monitor beside my bed. I tapped her shoulder.
"Can you close the door, please?"
"Sure thing, honey. Your doctor's been paged. He'll be here any minute."
She pointed at the control panel near the bedrail. "That's the nurse call button if you need me. Don't forget. Stimulate--"
I put my finger to my mouth. She laughed as she left.
I had my birth plan all figured out. I'd had an epidural with child one. That was very nice. I'd gone natural with baby number two. Did the I-am-woman-hear-me-roar thing. Not so nice, but certainly doable. Given a choice, I wanted drugs on my third and final (Lord willing) labor and delivery.
"Can you write it in my chart now?" I said to my doctor. "Put it in all caps. PATIENT WANTS EPIDURAL AS SOON AS SHE ENTERS HOSPITAL."
My doctor had laughed. "We'll see."
"What do you mean I can't have an epidural?" I said. "It's written in my chart. In all caps. Look it up!"
The nurse fussed with my sheets. Patted my hands. Wouldn't look me in the eye.
"They said something like the anesthesiologist had a more emergent situation," she said.
My fingernails bit into my palms. I gnashed my teeth.
"What is more emergent than a baby emerging from my body?"
The nurse cringed. Her hands were like nervous butterflies in the air between us.
She moved towards the door. "Let me see what your doctor says."
Within five minutes I was speaking in tongues. So my husband says. I was watching a documentary on television, about Mardi Gras. I heard drums--a primal beat--and my head turned side to side, matching their rhythm.
I started to chant under my breath. "I want drugs. I want them now."
Another contraction started. My stomach churned, and my eyes wouldn't focus. I heard the nurse come back in the room, but she looked like she was walking toward me through a cloud. She held something. I squinted at it, wary.
"How about some Nubane, honey?"
I snarled my nose. "What's that?"
She brushed a stray hair off my face. "I think you'll like it," she said. "It'll take the edge off. Help you relax."
I shrugged. "Okay."
Prick. Ow! Warmth. Oooh!
I collapsed against my pillows. Let out a noisy breath.
"That's nice," I told her.
I grinned at my husband. "I'm the queen of Mardi Gras. And I'm floating. See? I'm on a parade float. On Bourbon Street. That's in New Orleans, right? Want some beads?"
I felt sultry. I tried to purr. The nurse grinned as she swabbed my arm. She walked over and deposited the needle in the red box on the wall.
"Hey!" I said. She glanced over. I smiled coyly. Blinked a couple times.
She chuckled. "Uh, no." She sat in a chair at the end of the bed and nudged my knees apart.
I stuck my tongue out at her.
"You're almost ready now," she said. "I'll get the doctor."
I scooted myself up on my elbows. "I want more Nubane, and I want it now!"
I glared at the med student behind my doctor. "And I want Doogie Howser to go away."
"Be nice," my doctor said. "He's just observing. I won't let him touch you."
I blew air out my wrinkled nose. "Is he old enough to hear me cuss?"
The med student cowered.
My doctor sat in the chair at the bottom of the bed. He put his hands on my ankles.
"You ready to do this?" he said, looking between my knees.
I winced as another wave of pressure and pain radiated through me.
"Can't you just grab its head and pull it out?"
"Easy," my doctor said. "Don't hold your breath. That's it. Breathe."
I tried to sit up when the fire started. In my girl parts.
"Will whoever has their hand on my-- Dang it! I can't even say the word 'cause Doogie--"
My doctor stood. "Keep pushing! You're so close!"
The med student got in my face. "Do you want me to pull the mirror down, ma'am?" he said. "So you can watch?"
I clenched my teeth and took a swing at him. "No, I do not--"
Pain stole my words. I fell back on the pillow stack. Doogie slunk back to his corner.
I wanted it over. Now. I pushed hard. Forced everything in me down between my legs. My head felt like it was going to explode. And I was so hot.
I panted. "Someone fan me! Fan my face! Ahhh!"
And then the pressure in my groin dropped.
"We have a head!" the doctor said.
I felt my nose drain. Then my eyes. More flesh of my flesh slid out of me.
"And we have a baby. A perfect baby boy."
Everything in me softened. Went limp. Like I had no bones. I whimpered. Heard the pounding in my ears slow.
The doctor brought the boy child to me, still slick with his white icing of vernix.
"Tell him, 'Hello,' Mom. He's a little blue. He needs oxygen."
I stroked my son's face with my pointer finger. Tears spilled onto my cheeks. "Hi, little guy."
"Gosh, he looks like his dad," my doctor said before he took him over to get oxygen and a belly button.
"I made a boy," I said to the ceiling.
My doctor laughed from across the room. "You get what you get, you know."
I shook my head. "Nope," I said. "I made a boy. With a little help. Just a little."