I know not everybody enjoys a birth story.
And certainly not everybody enjoys a birth story that highlights some shortcomings of the American healthcare system, particularly with pregnancy and neonatal services (because that’s almost exclusively treating women…and my experiences I know would have been worse if I weren’t white).
But my kid was born twelve years ago today, and this is my blog, so I’m writing one.
Our son wasn’t due until mid-January of 2008. But he came the Saturday before Christmas in 2007.
Because it was the Saturday before Christmas, the hospital was operating with a skeleton crew, and it was very clear that the staff who WAS working did not want to be there. We were inconveniencing them by having a baby that day. How dare we.
It should also be said that at my OB/GYN’s office (and this is a common practice that I understand the reasoning of), I was required to see all five physicians on staff during my pregnancy, so I was ‘comfortable’ with whoever happened to be on call when I went into labor. I liked 4 of the 5 doctors. The other doctor was the one who answered the emergency call I made when I had my ectopic pregnancy and advised us (in an annoyed voice, because we’d called her at 3 a.m. on a Saturday then too) not to go to the hospital because there was nothing anyone could do about ‘a routine miscarriage.’ In the required appointment I had with her during my pregnancy, she did an ultrasound and noted our son’s length and long limbs and asked me (in what I assume she considered a joking manner) if I had thought marrying a man who was 6 feet 4 inches tall all the way through (I’m short, in case any of you forgot…5’1 on a good day). I didn’t find her funny. Guess who was the doctor on call to deliver our son the Saturday before Christmas? Yep.
My delivery was rough. When our son was born, he looked like he’d lost a prize fight. He had a swollen black eye and a bruised up forehead (more on this later).
I had already decided not to post his newborn photo online because I worked with a woman who routinely used her lunch hour to look at the newborn pictures posted on local hospital websites and make fun of the babies’ appearances and things like the wardrobe choices the parents had made, etc.
She would have 100% mocked my son. He had a rough day. Rougher than mine, even, probably.
The insensitive jerk of a doctor with no filter said that if J and I were to have another baby, she would DEFINITELY schedule a C-section.
I had an epidural, but I had emphatically stated that I didn’t want any additional pain meds. They make me feel weird and out of it and overly tired, and I wanted to enjoy my new baby. The doctor administered a narcotic injection anyway. I immediately passed out. The nursing staff had to use smelling salts to bring me back to alertness. J was kinda pissed (one reason of many that I love him). “She said she didn’t want more pain meds…”
The nursing staff advised me to immediately try breast feeding. Breast feed every half hour or so, because your baby is jaundiced (from the bruises on his face and rough birthing experience), and needs to eat more. So I was exhausted. We asked for formula to supplement. We got shamed for that. By the nursing staff (who wasn’t very helpful) and the pediatrician recommended to us by my family (we’ve since switched pediatricians because that doctor never listened to me). It was also implied that the jaundice our boy had was somehow MY fault.
No one came to see us at the hospital except my parents and my godfather (I really love my godfather). They were all busy. It was the weekend before Christmas, after all.
We didn’t go anywhere for Christmas, because we brought The Boy home from the hospital on Christmas Eve, and we had to take him right back to the hospital on Christmas Day to have his blood checked because of the jaundice.
My mom was annoyed that she hadn’t bought a ‘baby’s first Christmas’ ornament and now it was too late…they were all sold out. “You weren’t due for three more weeks…”
Anyway…that was the truth of my birth story.
I love my son so much I can sit here and make myself cry thinking about him.
But our birth story wasn’t wonderful and romantic. It was mostly having people make it clear we were doing everything wrong and inconveniencing them.
I know this isn’t a very positive and upbeat post for my son’s birthday and three days before Christmas. But it’s real. My nurses weren’t helpful and selfless and friendly. My doctor wasn’t a hero. Our son’s birth wasn’t really celebrated by anyone (including my parents, to be honest…I think they showed up because they thought they were supposed to). Except us.
Before this sounds like I’m mourning this day, I’m not.
Today is the day J and I became a family.
Today is the day our amazing son was born.
And he grows into a person I’m more and more proud of every day.
Happy Birthday, kid. I love you so much. Today, I’m not focused on the insane amount of stress and anxiety we were filled with the day you were born, that was exacerbated by people who are supposed to relieve it. Today I’m focused on YOU and how kind and thoughtful and smart you are. On what an absolute miracle you are. You’ve made my life exponentially richer for 12 years. ❤