Becoming first time parents definitely requires preparation. So that of course fit directly into my motto of “prior preparation prevents piss poor performance.”
Drew and I were very excited about our new arrival, Baby Cate. She was due to arrive mid-September. We did a lot of prep work to make sure we were both ready to go. We read books, went to “baby school”, sought advice from friends and family, baby-proofed the house a month before she was here. In fact, I baby-proofed the house so much that I actually “Drew-proofed” some areas. That didn’t go over well. But as much as we prepped and planned, as everyone knows, sometimes our path leads us a different way. This is why we always have contingencies in place. Hence was the case with Cate’s early arrival!
Labor was fourteen hours of no fun. I went into labor at 5:20pm on Tuesday. While on the phone with my mom, watching NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, my mom asked “so have you had any contractions today?” I replied “no, not today – no… wait….” That’s when the fun began!
We waited until contractions were about seven minutes apart, which was when Drew called the doctor’s exchange, at approximately 10:00pm. The doctor-on-call said to go and get admitted. “We’ll take her.”
So we went.
I was VERY ready. Contractions that are seven minutes apart aren’t fun. No, seriously. I’m not lying, they’re not fun, especially while riding in a car and hitting pot holes.
We arrived at the hospital, made it to the delivery room, and started to get “comfortable” as quickly as possible. Between the time we entered the delivery room to when they applied the contraction monitor belt, I had three big contractions. So those three contractions didn’t even “register” with the hospital staff. At this point, I was 4 cm dilated.
NOTE: Make sure your contractions measure with the hospital staff.
I had one contraction that registered on the belt and then they slowed down. In the interim, the nurses called the doctor-on-call who preceded to tell them to “send her back home”. At that moment I went through multiple emotions including anger, confusion, frustration, and “um, what?”.
As the midwife took the contraction monitor belt off and started to help me get dressed, (NOTE: I couldn’t dress myself at this point), I had another contraction. They could definitely sense my negativity. The midwife and one of the nurses both looked at me and simultaneously said “see you in the morning.” I think I may have given them the finger as we were rolling out the door. I don’t think they saw me. That was at midnight.
By the time we were in the parking garage, the contractions started again in full force. While on the way home, the contractions were so strong that Drew had to pull over. We even considered turning around to go back to the hospital. I think I almost fell out of the car while we were pulling over because I wanted to get out of it so bad.
As soon as we were home, Drew went to bed. I just kept track of contractions since there was no way I would be sleeping that night. I thought it was humorous that the hospital sent me home with an Ambien, as if that was going to do anything. Contractions continued until 6:30am when I couldn’t take the pain anymore. I called Drew (he was sleeping in his basement man cave) and told him we had to go. When we arrived at the hospital, they checked me in really quick. By 9:00am, 6 cm dilated, I had my epidural. Pure magic. Absolutely amazing.
Then they realized that we weren’t progressing anymore. Contingency plan! C-section it was!
Looking back, after all the planning and prep work, one of the biggest learning opportunities would have been to hear more from women about pregnancy and post-pregnancy truths. I would have also asked more questions about what post-delivery is like, not just from an emotional stand point, but from a healing and pain management stand point. That’s the stuff that women don’t like sharing – as if pregnancy is all flowers, butterflies, song and dance. I’m still not sure why most women are hesitant to share the ugly truths of pregnancy. I’m not talking about dramatic, exaggerated horror stories about bringing life into this beautiful world. I’m talking about sharing the ugly and unfortunate truths and components on your body falling apart and/or healing. These key components are not going to hurt the baby’s feelings if you talk about them. I promise. Women can benefit from this shared knowledge, AND I would have still had a baby. In fact, I’ll have another one hopefully.
I was not ready for the dramatic changes, along with the changes that I wanted to have happen quickly, like losing the 45 pounds it took me nine months to gain. If anything, besides learning how to be a great mom, balancing mommy-hood and wifely duties, loosing weight and healing from a c-section, my biggest adjustment is figuring out how to be alone with myself during the day for eleven weeks of maternity leave.
I am incredibly lucky to have eleven weeks with Cate. This is a very special time to bond with her, learn how to be a mom, etc. But let me tell you – you can only bond so much with someone who sleeps 14 hours per day and doesn’t talk back to you. I’m not saying I need hours upon hours of intellectual conversation. It’s just nice to talk to people – being a people person and all. Maybe some people think that’s wrong or “anti-mommy”, but when you have a type-A, workaholic, go-getter personality and have been in the workforce since you were 15 years old, drastically changing to the “stay-at-home” mom lifestyle is like cutting off the cast of Jersey Shore from their tanning beds. It may leave Snookie wondering,” is there even a f*c&ing spray-tan option?” Being cut-off is incredibly difficult. I’m seriously having work withdrawals.
And with this much down time, my mind begins to wander. Questions come up such as “what do I want to be when I grow up”, “should I run for local office”, “maybe I should join a club”, “oh, crap, I need to prep that presentation for the first week of December in Chicago”, “I need to scan every family photo – BUT, ugh, I don’t want to do that”, “should I open a marketing agency”, “should I join Walt and learn the family insurance business”, “what do I stand for”, “am I far enough along in my career compared to others my age”, “am I doing enough to get to the top, whatever “the top” is”, “should I become an expert at something”? It just keeps going on and on. So frustrating. My mind will not turn off.
Five and a half weeks after delivering Cate, I now understand this journey’s importance – besides having a baby. One, I will continue to prepare for all events in life so I can continue to avoid piss poor performances. This is one of my strengths.
Two, women need to share more ugly truths. Spill it ladies. Don’t be shy. I don’t like shy ladies. We need to stand up and share our stories with each other about bringing life into this world.
Three, I need to get some hobbies and not be addicted to work. Work addiction sucks. Enjoying life is a great thing, and we only have one shot.
And three, in order to successfully raise a child, I need to get to know myself. I feel like the scene in “Runaway Bride”, with Julia Roberts, where she doesn’t know what types of eggs she likes. Basically, Julia Roberts has just always eaten whatever eggs her boyfriend at the time has eaten. Scrambled? Poached? Over-easy? With or without hot sauce? She never takes the time to know and understand what she likes or wants out of life. Not cool.
In order to become a stronger person, I must continue to be a contingency planner. I must also become better at listening, sharing, having hobbies and enjoying life, and knowing myself (being alone). Here’s to future self-awareness! Where’s the vodka and poached eggs?