Friday, June 8, 2007

Happy Birthday, Son

Thirty one years ago today I was in labor at Research Hospital delivering my oldest son.

Just the day before I had had my last office visit with my OB/GYN Joe Williams. His parting words to me had been : "If I don't see you before, be at the hospital at 7 a.m., and we will induce labor."

Following the appointment, I was at lunch with my mom and aunt when it hit me that this time tomorrow I would be in pain. A wave of nausea washed over me, and when I expressed my thoughts, my mom asked, "Why? You've known all along you are going to have this baby at some point."

"I know, but now I know the appointed time of the labor, the appointed time of the pain, and the anticipation is a bit scary." (That all seems so silly now!)

The rest of the day was uneventful, and at 5:30 the next morning, I was up showering and packing my suitcase. I don't know why I had to be up so early -- except I'm sure I showered, fixed my hair, and maybe put on makeup, if that was allowed. (In those days, I'd never leave the house looking unpresentable.) Anyway, to muffle any noise, I had shut the door to the bathroom.

We were staying at my parents' house, as we lived an hour away from Kansas City, and my mom, who was getting ready for work, (She was supervisor of the recovery room at the same hospital.) told me our dog Smokie was poking his nose into the crack of light under the door as if he knew something noteworthy was going on.

By 7:30, I was in the labor room where my water was broken, and I was hooked up to all the monitors, waiting for contractions to begin. Eventually someone came in and poked me for an IV drip. I hate needles and immediately tensed until I was as flat and straight as a plank. "Relax, relax," the nurse kept repeating.

At some point, a group of student nurses came into the room to observe, and when their supervisor asked me if they could observe me all day, I said, "Sure, that's fine."

As the contractions strengthened, a nurse administered a shot of Demerol, which I thought was not working because I could still feel the pain. I pressed the call button and told the voice on the other side that I could still feel the pain and thought I needed another shot. I could tell she suppressed a laugh as she explained, "The medicine won't stop the pain; it just takes the edge off." I could just hear her telling her colleagues about my first-time-mom naivete!

The labor continued, slowly but surely, and my husband, who was going to school that was an hour's commute each way, dozed in the chair and then went to lunch with my mom. Along the way, my mother-in-law arrived and was sitting in the waiting room, where my husband delivered updates of my progress. Every hour or so, my mom checked in to note my progress.

Preparing to wheel me to the delivery room, a kind nurse was rubbing my back as the contractions strengthened. It helped take the edge off the pain. After a few minutes, she asked Jim to take over while she took care of some other duties. Jim said yes and gave me a couple of strokes then stopped. I whipped my head around and snapped, "Don't stop!"

To which he replied, "I think having babies makes you cranky." (GRRRRRR!)

The atmosphere of the delivery room was electric -- as though we were waiting for a noted celebrity to make his entrance. Student nurses lingered in at the edges of the crowd, like wallflowers awaiting their turn to fully participate. Nurses came and went through the swinging doors, reminding me of a serving staff moving from kitchen to ballroom. The doctor rushed in and took his assigned seat, finally saying that blessed word: "Push!"

And then -- there he was the star of the afternoon -- our son, our first born, who was received with a round of applause and (on my part) a grateful sigh of relief! As the nurses were cleaning him, I watched him craning his neck, inspecting the room, marveling at the crowd. (Okay, maybe not that -- but he did look awfully intelligent!)

In the meantime, one of the nurses went to the waiting room, where by now, my mom had joined my mother-in-law, and said, "Dixie, Dr. Williams wants to see you."

As my mom stood, my mother-in-law remarked, "She's not going any where without me." So, there they were, peeking through the doors, so they could see their first grandchild.

Later when he was bundled, and I was wrapped in a wonderfully warm blanket, I stared into his eyes, marveling at the awesome miracle he was (and is) and the awesome responsibility that was now mine.

I love you, Son! Happy Birthday!

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