Two days past my due date, I sat on the couch, miserable, watching TV and eating a fried eggplant hero. My husband sat beside me, completely exhausted from his 12-hour work day; we both were anxious because the next day I was scheduled for a C-section.
A few bites into my sandwich, I felt the most piercing back pain radiating through my entire mid-section. “I think I’m in labor,” I said, half joking, half, “oh my god, is this really happening?”
The sensation of having to go to the bathroom took over and I ran to the bathroom. I found that I was bleeding. As I rolled onto my bed, crying, my husband called my doctor. “Take her to the hospital,” the doctor said, “I’m not there but my associate is.”
This was the first awful thing – maybe even ominous – to have happened: His associate was the one I had had a fight with two weeks earlier regarding the necessity of a C-section.
As the pain increased, we grabbed our bags and drove quickly to the hospital. Once there, I was made to wait an hour just to be seen by a nurse.
“We’re giving you medicine to stall the labor. We’re out of beds,” the grumpy, understaffed nurse said. The “medicine” was Demerol. All it did was make me sleepy, but I was still in intense pain. I was experiencing back labor – the nurse who monitored my contractions said they were so powerful they were coming through via my belly. I was also dilating quickly, so the grumpy nurse reluctantly gave me a room to labor in (after I made her order an epidural for me, of course).
Once the epidural was in place, everything seemed to be a breeze – until it wasn’t. I was starting to feel pain again. There was a doctor on staff who was literally Doogie Howser; he couldn’t have been older than 18, and he thought he was totally brilliant.
“You’re not in pain, Lisa,” he told me.
“My name is Liza,” I corrected him. “And I’m extremely uncomfortable.”
We went back and forth a few times until he agreed to pump more epidural into my body. Once my water broke (after 22 hours of laboring), things started to move pretty quickly. I was moved into a surgical room because they insisted that my son would be over 11 pounds and that I would not be able to deliver him without intervention.
During delivery, I vomited every few minutes. They refused to let me move myself so that I could breathe. They yelled at me, told me not to cry, scream, or make noises. They told me I was wasting time.
The head of the OB-GYN department at the hospital came in to tell me I was “pushing incorrectly.”
“Then you f–king push!” I yelled back.
Absolutely nothing was done to make this time a happy one. I passed out a few times from the pain, had a temperature of 104 degrees, and was begging for a C-section.
After many tears and screaming, my son was born at a healthy eight pounds, two ounces. My husband wasn’t even allowed to cut the cord. My son also had a 104-degree fever, and had swallowed meconium. He was whisked away to the NICU, and I wasn’t allowed to see him for 24 hours.
My little boy refused to eat, and I was in my room, still hooked up to all sorts of wires pumping me full of stuff I no longer needed. I demanded I be taken off and the nurse told me she needed doctor approval. I was furious.
Once in the NICU the next day, I asked for help with breastfeeding. “It’s Memorial Day Weekend. All the breastfeeding nurses are gone. You’re on your own,” a staffer said. With a blue sheet covering me, I attempted to get my son to latch, to no avail.
He would, however, allow me to feed him formula; the nurses preferred that anyway so that they could monitor his intake.
I can honestly say that nothing surrounding the birth of my son was joyful. It was degrading, painful, emotionally draining, and discouraging.
Though I love my son more than life itself (cliché, I know), I will never have another child. My husband and I have made the final decision. We are one and done. The entire experience was so sullied that just thinking of doing it again gives me hives.
Had it been different, maybe I would have wanted more. But it wasn’t different.
And because of that, I can safely say our family is now complete.
Courtesy of Liza Larregui