My older son’s birthday falls five days after (and six years before) his brother’s. If I’d known I only had one fertile week per year we might have closed that gap or even added another kid to the family. Well, maybe not, because Andrew was a lot of kid.
I did not handle his delivery well. Afterward, I wanted to tell everybody I felt like I had joined a secret club where no one tells you the truth until after you’ve given birth. I had no clue what I was in for despite prenatal classes; who are they kidding describing labor pains as “discomfort?” My friend Fran’s advice was better: make a big sign, “Give Me Drugs.”
My water broke while I was still in bed on a Sunday morning, sounding like a balloon popping. I went to the bathroom and was overcome by a nauseating wave from head to toe. Fear struck, no getting out of it now.
The doctor on call allowed me to go to the hospital right away. My pains weren’t localized, but all over my body, and the contractions weren’t strong enough to move things along, so I was given a drug to make them stronger and an epidural which didn’t fully take.
I’m sure my resistance worsened my “discomfort.” Don’t fight it, the nurse advised. I basically acted like a toddler answering No, No, No! when the nurses came in every ten minutes wanting to stick a hand up to see how I was progressing. At one point I was curled up in the fetal position when the doctor told me to roll over and I refused. “You’re having a baby, Betsy.” Oh yeah, I forgot.
I pushed for two and a half hours and still no baby. I couldn’t imagine how they were going to get this bowling ball out from between my legs. I suggested they get forceps. The nurse whispered in my ear, you don’t want forceps, they hurt. A lot.
I didn’t yell or swear or have an out-of-body experience and I don’t remember much after that until the doctor held Andrew up and he and I looked at each other with the same shocked look, eyes wide open and mouth in a big 0. Then the doctor sewed me up for almost an hour without anesthesia. I told you the epidural didn’t work.
My sister drove five hours to see my baby and me and still blames me for telling her the wrong hospital. She should have known I had no idea where I was going. This was before hospitals turned labor and delivery rooms into spa facilities and gave tours to win over prospective moms.
I wanted my new baby to stay in the nursery between feedings; I was terrified to take full responsibility for him. Really, my husband and I were amazed they’d just let us take this baby home.
Andrew wasted no time letting us know, if only we’d had a clue, that he was unique. He tried holding his head up from the very first night. It wasn’t until years later I realized he never once put his head on my shoulder.
Thus began the Andrew adventure.