Once settled in our room, the reality of the situation finally hit Bashert and she began to cry. I was scared for her, but all I could do was be there. My heart was breaking for her, that is, until my patience wore out. Once the contractions started again in earnest, Bashert began to panic. The level of pain she was in was not what she had bargained for and she wanted her epidural NOW. I may not remember many things with extreme clarity, but her face when Nice Labor Nurse told her the contraction level she just experienced was only a seven? Wowzers. “Only a seven, only a SEVEN? What is the highest?” she asked the nurse. Nice Labor Nurse replied, “Ten.” Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, that was it for Bashert. Never, ever tell Bashert what the side effects or the upper limits are of something that involves her health in any way. She will suddenly be included in the top 0.001% of all people who had that reaction. Seriously. Ask her.
Nice Labor Nurse left the room after dropping that innocent little bomb and Bashert had another contraction. After it was over she asked me to check the monitor, “That was a ten, right?” I looked at the screen reading, “Nope, Babe, still a seven.” She was ready to throw in the towel. In between each contraction it was “Where is he? Why isn’t he here. How much longer? Please go ask them to get him here.” I was ready throw in the towel. I knew the guy was on his way in so I stepped out into the hallway pretending to talk to the nurses. I stayed in the quiet for just a minute or so and then with energy somewhat restored, I headed back into the battle zone. “He’s on his way up. It won’t be long now,” I lied through my teeth. But it was just enough to ease her mind a bit. All in all from the time we hit the birthing room to the time the guy arrived was only really only about twenty minutes, an eternity to Bashert.
The epidural procedure was interesting. Bashert was, for once in her life, impatient for someone to administer drugs through a needle. Her fear of all things needle was legendary. Needles bent at the touch of her overly tensed skin. Not really, but I remember countless times of having to hold her hand or cover her tear filled eyes for a simple blood drawing. I had fear in my heart for this going down well. But Bashert was desperate, so there was hope.
We sat her up on the bed and she leaned on me for support while the doctor began the procedure. Nenè, who had been dozing on the couch sat up to see what was going on. She was seated behind Bashert’s back. When the doctor pulled out the syringe and needle to be used for the epidural, Nenè’s eyes widened and mouthed, “Oh, wow!” She held her hands up miming the length of the needle as if showing the size of a prize winning fish. I smiled at her and let my eyes tell her in no uncertain terms was she to let Bashert know what was really going on behind her back.
The entire time the anesthesiologist was working he and I were trying to figure out from where we knew each other. It was so funny. Bashert is always the one who runs into people she knows. Really. She can leave the country and still meet someone she went to grade school with and here I was trading possible common places with her savior, the anesthesiologist. This reversal was a great distraction even though we never did make the connection. As Bashert says, “It was bashert.”
The transformation was heaven. For the first time in at least two months she could relax her body. It was like watching those psychedelic movies from the sixties where someone is tripping out and watching their hand float in front of their eyes. She was sooooo chilled. It was nice for us all. The anxiety level in the room decreased immediately and we all soon fell asleep. Most of us anyway.
Bashert, obviously had the bed. Nenè claimed the couch. That left the hard rolling chair for me. It was convenient to sit next to the bed and be able hold Bashert’s hand and talk softly with her; however, a comfy La-Z Boy it was not. When I could no longer stay awake, I pulled the chair up next to the bed as close as I could and folded my arms over the edge of the bed to rest my head. I can be a heavy sleeper, but every move that night translated to a very edgy Cee waking up at full alert. Man, I was tired. And stiff.
At some point during the night, the monitoring device Bashert was wearing ceased to make its beeping noises. Somehow that penetrated Bashert’s euphoric epidural haze and she woke me in a panic. She was terrified that something had happened to the baby. Since none of the nursing staff had rushed into the room at that point, I figured that nothing too bad was going on. They do tend to react in an emergency situation, you know. Anyway, I took a look at the monitor and I could still see the baby’s heart rate and the seismic waves of Bashert’s contractions, so we figured that either the sound had given up the ghost or someone had turned down the volume. Either way just seeing that little heart graphic pounding away was a relief.
Time seemed to have stopped in our hospital room. It was always just ‘now’. So when Dr. Ken and Nice Labor Nurse came in to tell Bashert it was time to really start pushing, I really had no clue as to the real time of the night. It was just now time to push. Bashert was not too happy about it since she was enjoying her first real night’s sleep in such a while, but trouper that she is, she complied. And promptly started feeling sick.
In our house, nausea is enemy number one when it comes to illness. We treat Phenergan® like white gold. Its wonderful magical powers to relieve a horribly upset stomach is priceless. So when Bashert began to feel sick to her stomach, she figured some of the lovely stuff would be in order. Oh, no…not this close to delivery. They did not want to introduce anything new with any hint of a sedative effect at this point. Bashert’s face was quite the study of disappointment when Nice Labor Nurse handed her the ubiquitous kidney shaped plastic bowl.
On and on the ‘now’ of the night moved. The contraction monitor stopped working, but Bashert could feel the oncoming contractions in a disassociated kind of way. There were no longer levels of measure, they were just contractions. This was a good thing because Dr. Ken was not pleased at the rate of Bashert’s progression considering the meconium in the amniotic fluid. He ordered the administration of oxytocin to speed things up a bit. Things plucked along nicely until Nice Labor Nurse backed off the oxytocin to slow us up again. Seeing our confusion, she told us that there was another mother on the floor in labor emergency. We would have to wait a little longer to see our son.
Activity in our room began again in earnest when a new labor nurse walked into the room. It was shift change. I looked at Bashert and she at me. Eyebrows raised in unison, we both whispered, “Oh, my g-d. Our baby is going to be delivered by Barbie!” I kid you not, Nurse Barbie had bleached blonde hair, nails painted fire engine red and more make-up on than Honey-Boo-Boo. We were scared witless.
Thankfully, our fears were immediately allayed. Nurse Barbie swept into the room and took charge. “Let’s get this baby into the world!” Nurse Barbie was confident and assuring. Bashert and I shrugged and went with it. The oxytocin drip was restarted and things went to town. Soon I could see little Yoda’s head crowning. Talk about surreal! I had never seen a birth, not even did I watch Nenè being born – the reality of it was too much for me, yeah, it is not like the sanitized stuff seen on television, not by a long shot. I was excited, scared, fascinated and freaked out all at the same time.
It was the weirdest thing to be able to reach down and lightly touch his head. The same head I had rubbed those late nights through Bashert’s abdomen. It was so strange to touch him and realize that he would soon no longer be part of only Bashert, but be part of the world. It really is an overwhelming thing to experience. I finally realized why the other partner is the one crying at the baby’s birth. The intimacy of the relationship between birth mother and her baby cannot be denied; it is a symbiotic relationship (not to spoil the moment but it is actually a parasitic relationship, but really? Ick.) The relationship for us on the other side of the uterus is a more etherial one until we actually get to see, hear, and feel the little one. The abstract is no more.
In preparation for Yoda’s birth and subsequent baby naming ceremony and during her creative textile spurt, Bashert made a kippah (yarmulke) for him. It was a tiny little thing about 3 inches round. We had fun making bets as to whether Yoda would have enough hair to use Velcro to hold it in place or if we would have to tape it to his bald head. When I saw Yoda’s head full of black hair begin to emerge, I leaned up and whispered to Bashert, “Velcro.” Poor thing, she looked at me like I was nuts. I could tell she was thinking “What in the hell are you talking about – I’m a bit busy here.”
Dr. Ken interceded by telling us the baby was coming. I looked back down and he was delivering Yoda, but stopped. I looked closer. The umbilical cord had wrapped around the baby’s neck, twice. Dr. Ken carefully slipped his fingers underneath the coils and cut them away. It happened fast and in slow motion all at once. My anticipation (and admittedly some dread) about being able to cut the cord was dashed, but the safety of the baby absolutely came first. After the cord was loosened Dr. Ken helped slide the rest of the baby out into the world. Quietly.
He did not not want Yoda to cry yet because of the meconium. If Yoda cried there would be the chance that he would aspirate it and that would be a bad thing. So as soon as he was fully out, the other attending Nice Nurse whisked Yoda away to the little portioned off area to make sure he had not done so anyway. The quiet was unsettling. The wait was unsettling. It seemed that from the beginning of this journey all we did was wait. I held on to Bashert but could not take my eyes from the concentrated work Other Nice Nurse was doing. When that first plaintive, mewling cry came out into the room, there was a collective breath released. All was going to be okay.
Other Nice Nurse, kept trying to get a diaper on Yoda to bring him over to us, but each time she did, the little booger pooped. Four diapers later, he was finally put into Bashert’s arms. Our barely six pound, little boy had finally made it. Delivered by Ken and Barbie, our Judah Kol, the voice of Judaea had arrived. He looked like Curious George after losing a street fight, but he was here and our wait was finally over.