No Regrets, Kid.

Today would have been my Dad’s 54th birthday.

Sometimes I think birthdays are the hardest days. This day is supposed to be all about him.

In my house, we never celebrated birthdays, as they were ‘just another day,’ and ‘overly marketed by corporations to sell things you don’t really need.’

Since he died, all I want to do is celebrate his birthday.

Go back in time, and give him some great birthday parties to remember.

Go buy him a really awesome laser scope or rain meter or something weird that only he could enjoy. Something to make him feel like he was remembered and special and show him how much he meant to me.

But we never had one of those birthdays for him, and we never will.

I think that’s the saddest part of all.

Even studying grief and death…it doesn’t make it any easier. It just gives you tools to better cope. I still find myself having the instinct and thought to give him a call sometimes and tell him something ridiculous–and then when I remember I can’t…

I lay in bed at night sometimes and all I can see is him laying lifeless and cold in a wooden box.

And the boots on his feet.

The boots he built his dream home with.

He had more plans for those boots.

When I look at my son I sometimes think how proud my Dad would be of him. How much he would absolutely love to get a warm little hug or see him walk and talk and experience new things.

Sometimes I manage to forget for a while, and then it all comes back even more vividly than before. You think you’re okay and that you’ve ‘moved on,’ but you haven’t and you never really will.

When someone you love dies, everything changes. Literally every single aspect of your life and mentality has changed forever. You will never be the same person again.

It’s like when the loved one leaves this world, they leave these little pieces of themselves behind for everyone that loved them. They stick to us and envelop us and help us along our own paths.

Sometimes it’s easy to celebrate life, make him proud, and be the most amazing person I can be.

Sometimes I get weak and sad and angry and don’t see the meaning of it at all.

But then I remember something he said to me when he was dying.

“No regrets, kid. No regrets.”

It’s hard not to live in the past and it’s even harder on days like today to keep your head up and simply move forward.

But that’s what he did. All the time.

I cry sometimes. I get angry sometimes.

I feel guilty for NOT feeling sad or angry enough sometimes.

It will be this way for a long time, this I know.

All I can do is follow the path his death has sent me on and try to be the best person I can be in the time I have here on this Earth. All I can do is try and live with no regrets.

So this year for your birthday, Dad, my present to you is a promise to live with no regrets–NOT reckless abandon, but an honest, good-hearted, kind and compassionate, learning, intelligent, regret-less life.

Instead of regrets, I will have lessons and learning experiences. I promise to take those experiences to heart, and not to waste any time on meaningless emotions and actions.

I promise to appreciate those around me, tell them I love them, earn and give respect.

I promise to make you proud and give the memories I was able to share with you to my son.

I promise to LIVE.

That’s what my Dad taught me.

I understand now, Dad. I understand so much more.

Happy birthday.

"Sundays too my father got up early 
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold, 
then with cracked hands that ached 
from labor in the weekday weather made 
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him. 

I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking. 
When the rooms were warm, he'd call, 
and slowly I would rise and dress, 
fearing the chronic angers of that house, 

Speaking indifferently to him, 
who had driven out the cold 
and polished my good shoes as well. 
What did I know, what did I know 
of love's austere and lonely offices?"  -- Those Winter Sundays
                                           Robert Hayden

Pregnancy Is Contagious

Every time I hang out with any of my friends that are pregnant, this feeling of impending doom washes over me. This last weekend, I was seemingly surrounded by pregnant chicks. Outnumbered, if you will. Then I remembered that I have two other friends, who were not present that are also pregnant. That’s FOUR FRIENDS, all of them an incubation chamber.  Something about pregnancy feels contagious. Then, i realized…that it IS. You can’t help but feel like you may be next…

Oh, yeah. It’s so much fun!

Pregnancy is absolutely contagious. If you already have a child, or children…you know how it works. You see all your friends being happy, and excited, and knocked up, and looking forward to the rest of their lives. With more kids. Even if you don’t have kids, you can’t tell me that hanging out with friends who DO have kids doesn’t make you think twice. You see that whole happiness and ‘circle of life’ thing happening, and you start thinking.

If you’re not thinking about having any children, just hang out with some pregnant friends. It never fails to make you think twice about your choice. No matter how concrete in your ideals you think you are, you will always find yourself second-guessing your choices after a nice day of good old-fashioned, wholesome fun with some knocked up counterparts.

You start thinking, ’19 is a good number.’

You recall all the heart-warming memories of being pregnant, and downplay all the awful things…like having to give birth naturally, or not sleeping for three months. Everything just feels like it’s covered in velour and soft and squishy and full of love.

And then everyone goes home. You sit there telling yourself, “Aw. I miss being pregnant. I miss that feeling of excitement and nervousness and anticipation that life is changing. I want another one”

Then, all at once, you snap out of it. “WTF is wrong with me?”

THIS, my friends, is how pregnancy is contagious. Women get this squishy feeling when they see another preggo, go home, watch “Look Who’s Talking’, and mount their men. All in efforts to have another one. Just because they got this crazy idea from other pregnant chicks. It’s brainwashing, I tell ya. Pure brainwashing.

So, in conclusion, I will restate that–yes– pregnancy IS contagious.


Your relationship didn’t work? Again? Try This.

I suppose I’ll never really understand why people break up, and then get back together. Any insight on this would be greatly appreciated. As I do my morning Facebook troll, I yet again see a long list of people who have been ‘frequent offenders.’ People who’s relationship status keeps bouncing back and forth…with the same person.

“Stacy is single.”– Good, I think to myself. That guy was an asshole, anyway (from what I’ve read on her previous statuses).

Two days later,  she’s right back to ‘in a relationship’ status…with the same douchebag. I don’t get it.

I’ve seen several of my ‘friends’ do this. And I am dumbfounded. I just can’t figure out why two people who obviously can’t decide if they like each other enough to stay together keep going through the motions of trying to ‘work things out’, or whatever women tell themselves they are doing.

Isn’t the definition of crazy doing the same thing, over and over, and expecting a different outcome? If it didn’t work the first five hundred times, it’s probably not meant to be. I can’t tell you how many people I have de-friended just because I can’t bear to see another relationship change, or I’ll blow. I’ll explode all over their page, in a sea of opinion. Offering advice (good advice, at that), asking questions…well, let’s just say, these people get a little ‘defensive’ when you question their ridiculous relationships.

It never ceases to amaze me how naive women can be, and how dumb some men are. All women want is someone who will change–just for them. All men want is to be left alone, and to not have to change much. They want someone to take them they way they are, and be their friend. So when two dumb, naive people get together, I believe this is where the problem lies.

Some things in relationships are deal-breakers. Cheating. Lying. Being disgusting. Being overly, inexcusably mean to the other person all the time. Those are all deal-breakers. Well, to ME anyway, they are. Why do ‘deal-breakers’ change between people? How is my idea of a ‘deal-breaker’ different from yours? How can you take someone back after they’ve cheated on you, or any of those things? I really just don’t get it.

From what I’ve seen of people I know, age is a big factor in this. The younger the person, the more waffling. I like to think we get smarter as we get older, and maybe we’re willing to take less shit. Maybe that’s why. Hopefully some of these people get smarter. Hopefully.

I overheard a neighbor drunkily talking about her relationship the other day. They are younger, probably my age–late 20’s, maybe early 30’s. In her slurry speech, she proclaimed, “Oh, yeah. Josh (name changed) and I have been together three years, now. Well, really it’s six, but we broke up, like, a BUNCHA times before we got back together again. And it was all because of this girl I used to hang out with…” The story went on, but I couldn’t bear to listen. I knew this one. This was the one where she broke up with the guy because her friend said that HE said all these things about her, but–lo and behold– he would never do such a thing. Does everyone think like this?

Which lead me to this post.

Let me just say, that after being with the same person for almost ten years–if you break up with someone, it’s for a reason. Don’t suck yourself into thinking that they’ll change, or that things will be different. Or that you’re secretly meant to be, and this time it’s gonna be awesome…’cause it won’t. It’ll suck, and most likely be even worse than the last go-round. The only way things will be different, is if you try again with a different person. 

Relationships shouldn’t take that much work. They should just be. Just the way they are. You should be mad sometimes, and happy others. You should look forward to the future together. You should have personal goals, and goals for the relationship. You need personal space, and together-space. Personal interests, and things you love doing together.

It’s not rocket science, people. If you have a feeling that it might not work–YOU’RE RIGHT. Go put energy into finding something else to fill the space in your heart until you find someone that can help you complete it.

Beauty is in the eyes of…

My Son

            My son is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. His eyes are blue, like the sky on the most perfect spring day. Most of the time, they are perfectly round, like little blue raquetballs, darting around, taking in his surroundings. When he gets tired, the shape of them changes to almost almond-shaped, outer edges pointing downward like a ski slope.

Before he was born, I was positive he would come out looking just like me. I am dominantly Italian, with dark, deep features–dark hair, dark skin, and dark eyes. I thought surely that my features would overtake my husband’s, but I was happily surprised to see that they didn’t—light hair, cute boyish features, and blue eyes. The doctors assured me that his eye color would most likely change, but alas, they did not. And I couldn’t be happier.

I watch him intently as he eats his meals with tiny, chubby little hands grabbing wildly at fruits and macaronis, stuffing them into his cute, pink little mouth, one by one.  At the mere mention of food, his eyes squint into a smile, wrinkled at the outer edges, and with little arms reaching up toward me, we go into the kitchen to eat.

You can tell a lot about a person by their eyes. I’d like to think you can tell a lot about a baby by their eyes, as well. I can tell if he’s tired, happy, content, angry, or sick—all just by looking into those little blue eyes.

We recently taught him to “wink”. If you wink at him, he closes his eyes tightly and harshly, squinting as though he is staring directly at the sun. His round eyes turn into a wrinkled mess of skin, and his mouth opens wide into a large smile, showing all 16 of his teeth. He then repeats this process about six to eight times, until he gets the desired laughing reaction from his audience.

In his eyes, I can see the future. I can see where I’ve been, where I’m going, and where I need to be. I can see Christmases and Halloweens to come, monster truck rallies, sports events, and life passing by. I can see the first day of Kindergarten, graduation day, and his wedding. I can see my son, my husband, and myself. Above all, I see my life, and my purpose. To look into the eyes of something you created with the one you love is an experience unlike any other. I take one look into those laughing eyes, and I just know that this is where we are meant to be.

They say everything happens for a reason…

I never really knew or understood how life-changing it could be when a loved one dies. On May 21, 2011, I watched as my father took his last breaths at Saint Peter’s Hospital in Albany. It had only been five or six weeks since we found out he had stage four lung cancer, and by that time it had progressed to a point at which there was nothing more they could do. He spent his last 11 days alive in the hospital, and the last three of those on hospice care.

The pain I felt in my heart was overwhelming. Indescribable. Unless you have been in this same circumstance, you will never understand. To watch someone you love very much die right in front of you is hard enough—the things that happened in my life immediately following the most heart-breaking experience in my life made it even more overbearing.

We immediately moved back into my mother’s two-family home to try and help her with some expenses, and to just be there for her. She quickly found that, with taxes coming up soon and his final expenses (he had no life insurance) she wasn’t going to be able to afford the mortgage. She put the house on the market, and it sold in five days. They wanted to close by the end of the month, so we had about three weeks to vacate the premises. The last day before we had to be out, I went downstairs into my mother’s apartment to say goodbye to our cat who we had for about eight years (he was staying with the house per the new buyer’s request), and I had a realization. My whole family was now gone. Everyone. Growing up, it was my Mother, Father, The Dog, The Cat, and I. Our dog had died in February, my Father in May, now the cat was gone, and my Mother was moving away. My entire family was gone. I had taken them for granted for so long, and now they were all gone. I could still call my mother on the phone, but they days of her being close by were no more. Now it would be weeks – even months between seeing her

We found out later that week that it would be my husband’s last day at work. He worked for a subcontractor for DirecTV, and they were bought out by a larger corporation. Almost everyone that worked there was out of a job, including him. So, along with everything else that was going on in our lives, now this. We had no money saved up to move into a new apartment, and with him losing his job we really had nowhere left to go. We called my husband’s parents and asked if we could stay at their home for an undisclosed length of time. They have a nice home, with two extra bedrooms, so I suppose it worked out fine.

Now, here we are a month and a half later, living in a home with five people and six cats. They already had four cats—Fuzzy, Cleo, Lucy and Flash, and we have our two—Clamps and Tiny Dancer. I have never before in my life had allergies to any animal. However, living in a house with six cats, I have developed the itchiest eyes I have ever had, along with a nose that at times runs like a water faucet.

I feel awful. We are a married 25-year-old couple with no savings, a one-year-old child, and two cats. We are such bums. Living in a house with this many living creatures just does NOT feel natural. I’m not sure how the Amish do it. I know it seems more economical to all live together and conserve things, but not at the expense of my privacy. My husband and I have had our own household for almost eight years. At first, I must admit it was nice to have dinner on the table at 6 o’clock every night, and have the dishes done, and not have to clean much but at a certain point I want to cook my own dinners again. I wish I could be using my dishes, and sitting on my brand new furniture. We were so unprepared for all of this.

I am currently in the process of taking control of my life. A month after my father died, I decided to enroll in school. He had always told me to go to school and do something with myself, and after what I had saw and heard from him over the last week or so of his life, I knew I did NOT want to waste ANY MORE of my life…ever. If something that quick and drastic could happen to someone like him, then it could happen to anyone. Even me. I looked at my family’s situation and knew I couldn’t depend on anyone to change it. Not my mother, not even my husband. I knew I couldn’t complain about something I wasn’t willing to take action on. I took on a second, part-time job at Stewart’s and eventually quit my full time job to work there only. Working two jobs and going to school full time, along with having a family was too much for me, so I decided that one part time job was enough. School needs to be my number one priority if I’m ever going to get my family out of the situation we’re in.

My husband recently heard of a good job opportunity, so he’s in the process of interviewing for that, and applying to other companies in the area. Hopefully he will get something soon (UPDATE- He got that job!). For now, I suppose things worked out all right. We are all still alive (for now), my mother is happy in her new life, I am on a career path that will make me very fulfilled (and rich, hopefully), my husband is able to stay home with the baby so we can avoid day care costs, and we are all okay. We’re also saving up some money and most important of all – I now have direction. Something I never had before. I know where we are, and I know where we need to be.

I would have to say that my father dying changed my entire life. It hurts me very much to think that he is gone, but in a way, it made me a better person. I now have an appreciation for life that I never had before. I have purpose and direction and a will to succeed. It’s hard to think of my father’s death as a positive experience, but when I think of all the knowledge and power that I received from having gone through that, I can’t say it was bad. If it was going to happen anyway, I am so glad that I took what I could from it and gained what I did. I feel and know he would be proud of me right now even though we are living with my husband’s parents. All he ever wanted was for me to work hard to reach my full potential, and I never did before. It feels satisfying to know that I am doing everything I possibly can to make my life turn into what I want it to be, while I still can.

Having a baby soon? This should ease your mind…

“No need to worry or rush. You can wait an hour or two before coming into the hospital.” The sleepy foreign doctor declared. What? I thought.

                “Yeah, OK,” I replied doubtfully, and pressed the “end” button on my cell phone with my shaky fingers.

“What did he say?” my husband muttered, half asleep.

“He said to wait an hour or two before coming into the hospital.” I replied.

“Oh. Can I go back to sleep, then?” He asked, eyes half-opened, rubbing his eyes with his fists.

“What?! No! Absolutely not! How could you sleep at a time like this?!” I yelled back.

He stumbled out of bed to try and calm me, but by the time his feet hit the brown carpeted floor of our bedroom, I had flown down the stairs into the kitchen to get things ready. There was still so much left to do. I began grabbing all our pre-packed bags and opened the case of Dr. Brown’s bottles I had received at my baby shower, haphazardly tossing them into the dishwasher. I went into our half bathroom downstairs to throw some makeup on and run a brush through my hair. During my stint as a stay-home pregnant wife, I had watched countless hours of daytime TV. One show that stuck out in my mind was Julie Chen telling pregnant women to brush their hair and put makeup on before going into the hospital, so they would look decent in the inevitable upcoming barrage of pictures that would take place.

This was going to be easy. I had watched all the shows, read all the books, magazines, and doctor’s office pamphlets I could handle over the past seven or eight months. I knew what was coming next. I would get to the hospital in plenty of time, labor for days, and be drugged up beyond recognition. That’s what happened on TV. They were educational shows on TLC, so they were right. They had all the facts.

I wasn’t in any pain at this point. My water had broken at 2:47 am, and Dr. Cutler had instructed me to wait a while before coming into the hospital. Around 3:45 am, we loaded the car up with our belongings, my husband put the car seat in the back, and we were on our way.

It was November 16th, 2010. It was dark and cold on our ride into the emergency room. The roads were desolate and quiet at this time in the morning. I recall wondering if the people in those houses we were riding past knew the gravity of the event that was happening on the road outside. Would everyone else’s life be changed from now on, or just ours?

We joked and laughed our entire ride into the hospital, walking into the emergency room recalling one of the numerous chick-flicks I had made my husband watch with me over the last several months. At this point, I was doing great. I was in no pain, and I knew I had this all under control – or so I thought. We made sure at this time to call all the necessary people to inform them that the show was underway. My husband called his boss and his parents, and I called my mother to let her know what was happening.

“Jack will show you the way to the maternity section of the hospital, ma’am. Please follow him.” The kind woman at the desk instructed, extending an arm toward a dark hallway. My husband and I eagerly followed him through the locked doors, and into the maternity ward. They showed us to our room, and our nurse was already there, prepping the machines, wires, and everything else that would be hooked up and attached to me. Technology beeped and buzzed all around us as she handed me my stylish hospital gown.

“Take everything off,” she said, smiling. “Even your underwear.”

I did as I was told, stripping down naked, all except my socks. There was NO WAY I was taking my socks off. They would have to pry the socks off my lifeless feet to get those. I glanced up at the clock. 5:35. OK. We were making good time. I wasn’t even in any pain yet. The nurse hooked my belly up to one machine that monitored the baby’s heart rate. It was steady and good, so she removed the device that was looped around my giant stomach.

“I’m feeling some cramping in my lower abdomen…kinda like period cramps, but not too bad. Are those contractions?” I asked.

“No,” She said. “I don’t think so.”

She continued fidgeting with the wiring, and started asking me a list of ridiculous questions like, “does your husband beat you?” and, “do you use street drugs?” I wondered if the people whose husbands DID beat them answered those questions honestly.

She continued asking me ridiculous questions, and I just tuned her out. My mother had arrived, and she kept telling everyone that would listen about how “women in our family go quickly!” I asked her to please stop saying the same phrase over and over again. I knew that. I didn’t need to hear it four thousand times.

My mother, eating her donut and loudly slurping her coffee, instructed me to get up and walk the halls. I put my blue fuzzy slippers on and began my trek throughout the halls of Saratoga Hospital. My husband’s parents had just shown up as well, and they were sitting in the dimly-lit waiting area reading People magazine. I waddled over to the threshold of the waiting room, peeked my head through the door, and said hello. They were beyond excited and were going to stay as late as they needed to. I began to feel some discomfort as I stood talking to them, grabbed my stomach, grinding my teeth for a second, leaving mid-sentence. I continued my walk through the halls with my mother trailing me repeating her new catch phrase,

Women in our family go very quickly, you know?”

“Yes, mother, I know,” I replied back. “please stop saying that.”

We wandered back into our little room with the beeping machines. I glanced at the clock. It was around 6:30 am. When was this going to start? I was having a few moderate to severe period style pains, but nothing to really call serious. I sat on my uncomfortable bed and felt the scratchy, starchy sheets underneath my bare butt.

“Oh, shit!” I yelled. “Shit, shit shit! Aaaaaah! This does not feel good.” I was having contractions, I knew it. My nurse begged to differ.

“Here, honey. Let’s put the monitor on you to check the baby’s heart rate.”

She hooked me up to that same machine again, told me I was not having any contractions, and promptly removed the machine.

“Uh…well…I’m in pain, over here. Can you check me or something?” I asked, begging her for salvation with my big, brown eyes.

“Aw, honey…you’ve got quite a ways to go, yet. We’ll check you in a little while.”

“OK.” I replied, annoyed. I let out a huge sigh, and she left the room.

“Uh, you guys, I am in pain here.” I reiterated. My mother and husband looked at me with doubt. The nurse knew what she was doing. I did not. They were not about to take my word for it.

Gradually, the pain got worse and worse to a point where I could no longer walk around my little room. I sat in an uncomfortable stiff-backed blue chair, stomping my feet on the floor with each contraction. My mother was standing next to me timing them.

“Uh, your contractions are two minutes apart,” she told me. “I’m gonna go get that nurse again.”

I made my way slowly back to my bed, and sat on the edge. It was beginning to become all too real. I tried everything I could think of to stave off the pain, but nothing was working. I began to sob, blubbering uncontrollably. This was not what I was expecting. Where the hell were my drugs?!

The nurse came back into the room, gave me a quick once-over with her eyes, and hooked me back up to that stupid machine.

“Nope,” she said. “You’re still not having any real measurable contractions.” She restated. “My shift is over for the day. It’s 7am, and Paula will be your nurse for the rest of the day. I will be back around 7pm tonight, so I will see you then!” She said with a smile, waving and exiting the room. By now, I was getting to the point at which I wasn’t sure how much more of this I could take. I was a strong woman, but I had no clue how strong I really was. I was about to find out.

My new nurse, Paula came into the room. She was a stern-faced, slender woman with her nice blonde hair pulled loosely back in a clip.

“Hi,” she said dryly. No smile, no fake interest…nothing. “I’m Paula, your nurse.”

“Paula, I am in, like, serious pain here.”  I said to her, tears drying on my face, rocking from side to side in my bed. The pain was bad enough now that crying was out of the question. Anger was beginning to set in. “Can you please check me?”

She put on a pair of latex gloves. They made that snapping sound that you hear in the movies when doctors pull them onto their hands. As she reached up and felt my cervix, all I could feel was an enormous amount of pressure radiating from inside my body. It felt as if the pressure was getting too much, and I would explode all over the room, and pieces would fly everywhere, covering Paula’s mean face, and that ridiculous machine.

“You’re four and a half, maaaaaaaybe five centimeters.” She stated. “Do you want an epidural?”

“No, she doesn’t,” my husband interjected.

“YES! Yes I do, please. Let’s do that.” I gave the final say, and that was that. Paula the nurse made the calls to the anesthesiologist and Dr. Cutler and began prepping me for my epidural. She inserted an IV into my left hand, and when she turned it on I had an awful stinging and burning sensation on my hand. It felt as if I was in a mobster movie and someone was putting out a lit cigar on my hand go get me to crack. I began to have another gut-wrenching contraction. I looked back to my wrist and letting out an “OW!”, then looked down at my belly only to let out another cry.  I rolled back and forth from side to side of the bed, feeling as if someone were twisting my organs, stopping, then twisting even harder.

“You need to calm down, ma’am.” Paula said, letting out a sigh and rolling her eyes.

“Yeah, honey, you need to relax.” – my idiot husband.

I said nothing back to either of them, closed my eyes, and tried my hardest to breathe through these awful, twisting, burning contractions.

“Drink this, please,” Paula demanded, holding out a small cup that looked like a brown, tiny single-serve coffee creamer. I asked no questions, and breathing heavily, snatched the cup out of her hand, threw it into the back of my mouth, and tossed the empty container back in her direction. I had no time for this. I didn’t even know what was going on. I did know I felt like my internal organs would fall out any minute. The pressure was building, and I began to see stars, so I kept my eyes closed. I exhaled with force as much as I possibly could. I couldn’t see straight, let alone think straight. How long has it been? I looked up at the clock. About 7:15. WHAT?! It had only been about 15 minutes. That was it. I needed those drugs stat. Isn’t that what the doctors say? STAT.

“Where are my drugs?!” I half-yelled, half-cried to Paula.

“They’re on their way,” she snapped back at me. I could just see what she was thinking. It was written all over her face. Here’s another one. Some first-time little bitch who needs to toughen up. She’s only halfway there and she’s already throwing in the towel. This is going to be a long day.

                Somewhere in my half dream-like state I heard that foreign voice reign through the room. Oh, God, there he was. FINALLY. Dr. Cutler had arrived to save me from all of this torture.

“So, we’re going to have a baby!” He said. So cliché. I was already annoyed with him. He put my legs up into the stirrups and checked my cervix.

“Nine centimeters, fully effaced.” I heard him say to the staff that stood around my wide open legs.

“WHAT?!” I screamed. “No! You can’t make me do this!” I shot straight up, swung my feet over the side of the bed and pointed to my lower back. “You can’t make me do this without drugs! Get it in!” I pleaded. “HURRY!” As soon as my feet hit the floor and my body was upright, I had the most overwhelming need to push I’ve ever had in my entire life.

“Oh my God, I have to push.” I said, eyes wide open, mouth about to hit the floor. I can only imagine the look of sheer horror that was on my face.

I felt the doctor’s hand on my shoulder, easing me back down onto the bed. He checked me once more, and said, “It’s time. It’s time to have a baby!”

“No!” I begged. “Please! You can’t make me do this! You can’t make me!” Then, all of a sudden, my body gave one involuntary push and I knew there was no chance in hell I was going to get that epidural. They instructed me to grab behind my thighs, inhale, and push as hard as I could.

I knew that. I watched all of those shows. I knew I was doing it all wrong. I didn’t care. I tried for a brief moment to come back into myself, to get a hold of some kind of reality, to buckle down, and take it like a woman. Women have done this for thousands and thousands of years, I thought to myself for a fleeting moment. I can do this. I don’t have a choice. I had been writhing around on this awful bed for what seemed like hours. My voice was raspy from screaming.

“You need to relax and focus, honey.” my husband said, putting his hand on my shoulder in, what seemed to me, to be false sympathy.

Fuck you!” I screamed. “And fuck you, PAULA!” I looked at her like a raging bull, eyes huge, nostrils flared. She looked back at me with a look of sympathy and guilt. I remember hearing her confess to the doctor that she had just checked me no more than 15 minutes ago, and she thought I was nowhere near giving birth. Now, here I was roughly 20 minutes later, pushing a human being out of my vagina with no drugs because some know-it-all nurses didn’t believe I was in pain. Paula’s attitude toward me quickly changed. From then on, she was much more pleasant and helpful. I suppose taking someone for a wimp, and then realizing they really are in as much pain as they say they are must be a wake-up call for a nurse. I guess most people over exaggerate their pain. I wasn’t. She knew that now.

“I can see the head!” everyone in the room said at once.

“I am going to make a small incision.” The doctor said. Like it really mattered at this point. I saw the scissors get closer to my most sensitive areas, and I felt the cut that he made. It felt like using a brand new pair of metal scissors on a fresh piece of construction paper. I was in so much pain, that it felt almost relieving when he made that incision. Almost.

After that, the baby had settled. I was no longer having contractions, and I was no longer in too much overbearing pain, and I was able to just lay there, half-dead. I was blacking in and out of consciousness. They all kept urging me to push, but I had almost nothing left to give. I was out of steam, exhausted, and every inch of my body hurt. I was done. I lay there for a few moments, refusing to push anymore. I remember glancing at the clock. 7:36. Really? It seemed like I had been there for hours…maybe days. The next 25 minutes were me lazily pushing, trying to get this alien out of me. The initial shock of the pain had subsided, and I was left with a feeling like I had been beaten with a baseball bat from head to toe. You’re doing this all wrong. I said to myself again. I knew then and there that if I wanted to get this show over with, I had to search inside myself and find the strength to just do it. Just grab my tired legs and push as hard as humanly possible. I had already been pushing for about 40 minutes; I couldn’t handle much more of this.

I inhaled deeply, held my breath, reached above my head and grabbed the rails on the side of the bed, and put every ounce of energy I had left into pushing. I could feel the pressure in my face as my blood vessels were popping. Then, I felt it. I felt everything. It felt amazing. It was the most relieving, relaxing feeling I have ever felt in my entire life. He was out, he was screaming, and he was OK. It was all over. The entire past nine months was over. I let out a sigh of relief that I am still surprised didn’t blow the roof off that hospital.

“It’s a boy!” the doctor proclaimed. I have no idea what his face looked like, so don’t even ask. This guy was a cliché machine, I thought. Couldn’t he come up with some other way of announcing it? “8:06 am! How much do you think he weighs?” he asked me.

“Six pounds, something…” I said back with the hugest sigh of relief, not really caring about his question. Did he not just see what I did? Why would he ask me questions like this right now? “Is he OK?” I asked.

“He’s great!” My husband said, pacing back and forth between my bed, and the table they had the baby on.

That was it. It was over. They placed the baby on my chest, and I was too tired to even cry. I held him close, leaned back, closed my eyes, and took a few deep breaths. “Can I have some drugs NOW?” I asked. The answer was a resounding “no” since I was planning on breastfeeding. Oh, well. At least I tried. It was all over, and I had done it. My mother looked at me with tears in her eyes and said,

“You did it, kiddo. See? Now you know you can do anything.

“I have never, in the entire time I have been in OB, ever seen anyone go that fast,” the doctor said, astonished. My mother, ruining the heartfelt moment we had just had, replied;

“I told ya, women in our family go very quickly.”