Before I Had A Child…(Haiku)

I used to think that

You could just tell a child ‘no’

And they would listen…


When it rains

This past weekend was great. Fabulous weather, fabulous family, fabulous life. So why the hell have I been crying all weekend, I ask myself. I never cry. EVER. I’m not a crier…never have been. So why the eff have I been a sobbing mess these last couple days? My period came and went with the same waves of angst, rage, and bitterness that always concludes with an uncomfortable day of whining…and that was it. Nope, that’s not the reason for the tears. Saturday-cry. Sunday-cry…WTF?

As I tried to figure out why I was such a hot mess this weekend, several reasons pop into my head.

We’re poor. I mean, really poor this month. As my husband and I assessed our bi-weekly finances, we realized we had about $4.54 left until Friday. Our car is almost paid off. As we’re nearing the end of our 75-year contract on our Cobalt, we have incurred late charges over the years. Now, since we’re at the end of the loan, we’ll have to pay extra this month and next, so that it is paid off on time. What’s an extra 50 bucks, you ask? Well…that 50 bucks means a lot. And I’m pretty sure that 50 bucks is why I’ve been a teary-eyed, red-faced, emotional wreck this past weekend.

My husband called his parents, who gave him gas money for the week. At least he’d be able to make it to work. I saw the 50 bucks on my kitchen table, and felt good. Then I opened the fridge and realized we didn’t have enough food for the week. I looked at our diaper supply which was dwindling down to about 4 diapers. DEF not gonna work. We talked about it, and I told him that I’d have to use that money on the table for food and diapers…we’d have to figure the whole ‘getting to work’ situation out…after our kid had the things he needs.

I decided I’d call my mother, and explain the situation to her. Maybe she could help.

Alas, she did not. Could not. Whatever you wanna call it.

As I hung up the phone, I began sobbing. HARD. The feeling of being 26 with a child and a family and not being able to get him the things he needs…well, it’s awful. I’m almost crying again as I write this all down.

This is the first time in quite a long time that we haven’t had money. We’ve successfully depleted our savings, and with another few months before I get my student loan disbursement, pretty sure there won’t be any ‘savings’ for a while.

My husband saw me there, crying. He decided to call his parents back and see if they could help us out. They said they would pick us up some groceries, and I felt a little better…a little.

Nolan went down for his nap, and then I heard a knock on the door. It was them. The ‘outlaws’, we like to call them. We opened the door to see them standing there, soaked from head to toe, holding several bags of groceries. These people went out and bought us food in the middle of a hail storm. Thunder, lightning, and pouring rain and hail. And then they delivered it to our door.

As they came in, I started unloading the food with shame. I felt awful. God damn it. Now I’m crying AGAIN. Aaaaanyway….

I mean, it’s awesome knowing that there are people that care about us, that will help us as much as they possibly can, but it is still so awful to know that if they hadn’t been there to help us this week, we would be selling our things at a pawn shop, or going to a food bank for food. Knowing that if I had gone to school a few years sooner, or NOT gotten laid off two years ago, that things would most likely be different. Looking at those groceries made me so thankful and so sad at the same time. I now understand the shame and sadness that TRULY poor people must feel every day.

As I unloaded the items, I couldn’t stop it. It was coming, and I knew it. I popped like a balloon filled with tears, and I exploded all over them. I don’t think they really understood why, but they’ll read this, and then they’ll get it.

So, as it would seem, the next month will be a difficult one. Spent pinching pennies, clipping coupons, and finding deals. After that, the car should be paid off, so that’s a good chunk of money we’ll be able to save, and with school starting back up soon, I’ll get my loan disbursements, and we should be back to normal.

On my drive home from work yesterday, I cried again. Same reasons. I realized that poor moms probably cry a lot. I also realize that there are people that have it much worse than us. There are people with no homes, living in shelters, and stealing food just to live. Then I remembered that, when I was a kid, my Dad used to do those things to support us. He used to go out in the middle of the night to find metal and cans and junk to scrap so he could put food on the table for us. He also did many more unsavory, undesirable, sometimes criminal things just to support his family.

I got home from work and saw my little boy, in our nice little apartment, watching a nice, big TV with his Daddy and  that Anne Murray song started playing in my head…”even though we ain’t got money, I’m so in love with ya, honey.”

I know it could be much worse. And the amazing American Beauty quote comes to mind:

I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me… but it’s hard to stay mad, when there’s so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once, and it’s too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that’s about to burst… And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life… You have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m sure. But don’t worry… you will someday.

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.

How Having a Baby Changes You

I miss the freedom, I thought to myself the other day while trying to detain my 11-month-old son who crawled frantically across the Pergo floor to try and escape me. He smelled like rotting carrion on the side of the road on a hot day. It must have been the fruit and cheerios mixed together. I scooped him up and put my face in his little belly and blew some raspberries on his stomach. He giggled and laughed as I lay him down on the couch to change his poopy diaper. As soon as the pants come off, a meltdown ensues. He rolls and kicks and screams. He hates getting his diaper changed. While I’m trying to make sure poop stays off my in-laws’ very expensive furniture, I find myself in a daydream-type state. I wonder what life for us would be like if I hadn’t gotten pregnant.

My husband, Nick and I have been together since high school. On our fourth anniversary, when we were opening presents on Christmas morning, he had asked me to marry him. I said yes, and a year and a half later, we got married. I was working a very good job, we were making great money together, and we were doing excellent. We could afford anything we wanted. We had a brand new, flat-screen TV (when they were a new thing, I might add), one of the best and fastest computers you could buy, a brand new car, a beautiful apartment with more rooms than we really needed…we had anything and everything we wanted.

We would frequently eat out, go to the movies, hang out with friends, or just sit around and do absolutely nothing. We did a lot of that. Nothing, really. And it was nice. We could just do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted, however we wanted to do it. There was nothing to stop us. We could just stay up late, drinking beer and having wild sex if we wanted to or play video games all night long. There was no reason to limit ourselves in almost every aspect of our daily lives.

My husband has a pretty subdued personality. He doesn’t like to draw any kind of unwanted attention to himself, so he is usually pretty quiet, maybe somewhat socially awkward. He would rather stay home and watch TV or play video games then go out to the bar with friends or be in any type of large-group environment. He likes to hang out with a few friends, on a nice, quiet night, having a few beers, no one getting too loud, and everyone going to bed relatively early. I, on the other hand, am almost completely opposite.

In my early 20’s we had no child, no real responsibility, fabulous jobs, and money to do whatever we wanted with. I have, what some people may call, an impulse-control issue. I see something. I want it? I get it. Whatever it is. Doesn’t matter. It’s that simple. I wanted to be a real-estate agent, so I did it. I wanted to quit that and do something else, so I did that. I just did whatever the hell I wanted. If I wanted to go out to the bar and get hammered on a Thursday night, then I would do it.

I had already been thinking of having a baby for a few months before Nick had asked me to marry him, so by the time we married, I had already been thinking about it for almost two years. I decided we should try and get pregnant, and see what happened. He was reluctant. We had a few scares over the years, but nothing serious. He knew I wanted to start a family. We hadn’t gotten pregnant in the first six years we’d been together, and after much “convincing”, I suppose he slipped-up on purpose and decided he was also ready to start a family.

I had been rehearsing this day in my head for quite some time at that point. I had taken a few pregnancy tests over the years, a few days late and scared…just trying to make sure. I never got a positive result, and I always wondered what I would do, how I would act, and what I would say the day I saw those two little pink lines. I was trying to get pregnant now. It was different. I wasn’t taking this pregnancy test out of fear; I was taking this one with hope. Well, maybe there was a little fear in there, too. I saw the plus sign, and immediately grabbed the other test in the box, praying I had some more pee left in me. That one said positive, too.

“Uh, Nick. Come here,” I said, not a yell, not a scream, but just loud enough for him to hear downstairs from in front of the TV.

“Whaaaaaaaat?!” he yelled back, annoyed. He most likely assumed I was going to ask him to do something.

“Come HERE,” I said again, and he came up the stairs into our bathroom, where a pregnancy test lay on the instruction sheet that was enclosed. He picked up the test, pulled it close to his face, set it aside and grabbed the instruction sheet.

“Are you sure you didn’t mess it up, or something?” He asked, his eyes huge, a half-smile, half- terrified expression on his face.

“Yeah, I’m sure,” I said back chuckling. “How could you ‘mess up’ peeing on a stick and waiting?”

“I DUNNO!” He said back to the mirror, a look of fear on his face. His eyes were large, his mouth wide open,  rubbing his bristly, patchy beard. This was all becoming too real for him, I could tell. We just looked at each other and you could feel the anxiety, but you could also feel the happiness and the excitement. We both wandered back downstairs, where we sat on the couch, completely silent for the next 10 or 15 minutes,  pretending to watch TV, but neither of us really was.

Holy shit. I thought to myself. I know he was thinking it, too. We really did this. We made this happen. What was going to happen next? What do we do? What can’t I do? Oh, God, I’m pregnant now. Now I can’t drink, or eat too many shellfish, or roller blade. Then panic set in. Oh my God. Now I need to call the doctor and ask them what to do. It was all over from that point on. Nothing would ever be the same.

I immediately adopted and loved this new lifestyle. I traded in my late nights out with friends for day trips to the museum and walks in the park. Shopping became a new favorite hobby. Especially for baby things. How could you NOT buy baby things?! Over the months I was pregnant the excitement built even higher when we found out we were having a boy. This just reassured our ideas that we always get exactly what we want. It was a beautiful thing to watch my husband’s transformation from scared and unsure, to excited, happy, and looking forward to our future.

Nolan came into our home like a hurricane. We were only 24 years old. This was our first child. We had no clue what we were doing. After the one-hour labor fiasco I had just endured, my body stitched back together, and not being able to sleep more than a 2 hour stint at the hospital, by the time we came home, I was exhausted.  Neither one of us had any clue what we were doing, so everything was a two-man operation. One late night, he was having a middle-of-the-night bottle, and my husband went to change his poopy diaper. For some reason, he left the old diaper off while he turned around to grab a new diaper, and all I saw was a stream of poop flying through the air. It got all over our bed, Nick’s hands,  and the floor. My husband was gagging, and almost throwing up. I was laughing hysterically, clutching my chest, and pointing my finger at him. We quickly cleaned everything, and put Nolan in-between us, and just laid there and stared at his little, perfect face. My husband looked at me and said, “We have a family now. Our own little family.”

I then began to hysterically cry, realizing that my life was now more complete than ever. All I could see were the years to come – apple picking, carving Halloween pumpkins, opening Christmas presents, doing arts and crafts – all kinds of other corny things I had always looked forward to doing with my own family. Every Halloween it seemed so awkward to me to carve my own pumpkin alone. Now that would never be the case again.

Nowadays, when Grandma and Grandpa take the baby and we have a “night off”, we go home and relax…maybe even sleep. The last time we ate out at a restaurant was Panera. We have to go to “family-friendly” places now to drown out the sounds of a baby who wants his All-Natural Cheese Doodles. I still go out with friends once in a while, but I have become a much more responsible, laid-back person. I worry about money. We can’t go spending on frivolous things like we used to. My husband and I went to Wal-Mart the other day and bought a large package of diapers, a large box of wipes, 10 jars of baby food, some baby socks, some of his Cheese Doodles, and a few other things, and the total came to $130. Not to mention he grows so quickly he constantly needs new clothes.

Who could resist?

Having Nolan has definitely changed both of us for the better. We are much more responsible, less apathetic and lazy, and we both have a little person to take into consideration. Everyone says it, and it’s such a cliché, but “It’s not all about us, anymore.”  Even going to the grocery store is a production, now. We went from having more than enough time, money, and patience to having almost none of ANY of those, and we love it. When I sit watching his little hands shovel Spongebob macaroni and cheese one-by-one into his little mouth, I know we did the right thing. Every time a little old lady walks up to me in the store and tells me that I have the cutest baby she has ever seen, it just makes my life complete. I would say, having a child with my husband is the most satisfying and fulfilling decision I have ever made. I would trade all the drunken nights and wild sex in the world for snuggling with my cute little companion for life, any day.

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.”