This week is Anson "The Chief's" fourth birthday and I've always wanted to write a more vivid account of his birth story. At the time I was too scared to explain the entire story--no more! Here it is in four parts:
We didn't do anything but pick up our bodies, put them in the car and drive to the hospital. I didn't take a bag, a blanket for my baby, a camera, supplies, nothing.
We just picked up and left.
My mom and Page drove ahead of us. When we arrived Page had thoughtfully debriefed the nurses on my situation. I was given a large delivery room and a white hospital gown. It was then I broke down.
I didn't want to be in the hospital. I wanted to be at home. But here I was with my mom and my sister and my husband and nurses who were going to take care of me and I was going to have a baby. I allowed myself to find peace in this situation. I decided to take the best of what a hospital could offer:
I asked for an epidural.
After I was settled in, Chup started to sober up. He realized he needed his camera and offered to go home and get it. It was estimated that the pitocin would probably help me progress, but I wouldn't be ready for a couple hours. He left while my mom and sister stayed with me.
I gave my information, insurance and health background to our nurse who tick-tacked at the computer next to my head. I asked which doctor was on call that day. I felt uncomfortable telling her it was the very doctor who drove me away from a medically-assisted pregnancy. I was insecure already about being the wacko patient.
"You are lucky," she said, "this doctor is one of our best."
When the anesthesiologist came into give me the epidural, with a needle the length of a yard stick (it seemed) I started shaking uncontrollably. My mom had left the room (the beeping of monitors was making her crazy) and so Page got in bed with me and held me.
"It's ok," she said, "this is part of having a baby."
I felt so lonely. I wasn't prepared to feel loneliness in labor. I shook and cried.
"You need to prepare yourself for going home," Page said to me again, "it might be hard to see your hopes there. I don't want you to look around at the homebirth supplies and think you failed."
Then suddenly my nurse came flying into the room with an oxygen mask.
"You need to put this on RIGHT NOW," she said as the mask filled my face. A monitor was beeping rapidly in my ears and I could feel my heart trying to keep up with the pace. The nurse watched the monitor with wide, alert eyes.
"Are we ok?" I mumbled through my mask.
But she didn't answer until the beeping dropped to slower intervals.
"Yep, ok," she said leaving the room.
Then I could feel my legs disappear--a tingling sensation that started from my thighs and went down to my toes. The epidural was working. In little time I wondered if I had two legs or eight.
"I feel like an octopus," I told Page.
My dad came to visit me, "You can do it Court!"
Chup called to say he was at Target buying batteries for his camera. This made the nurse really snippy.
"He should be here with you," she said. Then she checked me--my body completely numb to her prodding. I hadn't seen the doctor yet, I was told he was with another patient in another hospital fifteen minutes away.
"I need to tell you something," I said to the nurse, now my primary care giver, "the reason I stopped going to the clinic was because of this doctor. He wasn't kind or compassionate and I hated how he talked about my weight."
"Oh listen," she reassured me, "you'll love him."
But I wasn't convinced.
"Call your husband," she said, "you are ready to have this baby."
Then my room was a flurry of activity. Nurses in and out and doors opening and shutting and Page and Mom were talking nervously and at some point the doctor arrived, waltzing into the room and says to me, hand on my belly.
"Ooh! This one is going to be a BIG ONE!" Then, to my nurse he said, "What do you say? Eight, nine pounds at least!"
He didn't remember me in the slightest.
Enter: Chup with camera, looking white and overwhelmed.
"Ok Courtney," said the doctor, hidden behind a mask, sitting on a stool at the bottom of my hospital bed. My legs were strapped into stirrups, the legs I didn't know I still had. "Push like you are having a bowel movement."
Then, the oxygen mask again, on my face. I couldn't feel the lower half of my body so I couldn't really decipher if I were pushing or not, so I just made a face like I was pushing.
I pushed once and everyone cheered.
I looked at Chup, he was holding my hand but a million miles away.
I pushed again. More cheering.
"One more," said the doctor.
I pushed again and out came my baby boy. The doctor caught him and held him up to show me. I reached out for my baby, wanting to touch his body and give myself to him immediately but instead the doctor gave my baby to a technician, one I had never seen before in my life, who took him across the room to a table.
I couldn't see him.
Page and my mom immediately resisted,
"When does she get to hold her baby?" they asked.
Chup had followed, like in a trance, with the camera. I was in a state of pure perplexity. Time moved really slowly for a second, the oxygen mask was taken off my face and the doctor was talking and sewing but I had no idea about any of it.
Finally, after an eternity, they gave me my boy. He was wrapped from head to toe and I couldn't see his body. I just wanted to put his skin on my skin. I wanted to see the limbs we grew, the chest, his beating chest. I wanted to curl his toes and put his hands in my hands. But here he was, like a mummy and I couldn't get to him.
(If I spoil this baby for the rest of his life, it's because of that moment right there. I am so sorry for that moment. So very, very sorry.)
The nurse rattled off numbers in my ears but I didn't pay any attention until it came to his weight.
"Just barely seven pounds," she said.
"You were way off," I said to the doctor.
After everything was cleaned up, the medical team left and Page and my mom went home I sat in bed with my baby--his skin was powdery white and his tongue protruded just the slightest--and my husband. All three of us were in shock.
After the barrage of family, flowers, presents, food, and celebration in our large delivery room we found some time to name our son. The only name we could ever agree on was Anson. And I wanted to add Oslo, after his Norwegian heritage, but Chup stood firmly against it.
"Well, we could do Idaho," I suggested never dreaming Chup would agree. Though he was born in Utah, our baby had a rich heritage of Idahoans on his father's side.
"I like it," Chup said, scribbling it down on the yellow sheet meant for birth records.
And on a very rainy Memorial Day we took our Anson Idaho Kendrick home to our house where I didn't feel sad at all. In fact, I wondered how soon until I could do it all again.