[Sixth installment  – If you are new to this journey, start at the 1st chapter in my 8 months pregnant with 2 broken legs journey as chronicled in my book Say Bump and Take a Left, How I Birthed a Baby and a Business after a Huge Bump in the Road.]

Chapter 3
The Birth
What’s That Smell?
As soon as I adjusted to my life with two casts and a Bump, I got rid of the Bump and acquired a newborn.  This wasn’t as easy as falling out a front door, however.

My in-laws were supposed to stay with us to take care of our three year old when I went into labor.  As if Karma had taken control of my life, I actually broke my legs on the same day that my Mother-in-Law had knee replacement surgery.  I have a great relationship with my Mother-in-Law, and I love her dearly.  No, Really!  Jean and I are the only two females treading water in this testosterone pool.  Our knowing looks at each other are born of years of experience with the Johnson Men.  Even though we are 30 years apart in age, and are products of totally different child rearing practices , hers from the MidWest and mine from California, this one common life experience made us kindred spirits.  Okay, I did bug her about her weight, and claim that carrying it around with her for the last 30 years is what caused her OsteoArthritis, but that’s not going to come back on me, is it?  I actually keep my mouth shut a lot more now, lest I create for myself the habits I complain about in others.

Well, my amazing Mother-in-Law hobbled her way to my home just two weeks after her surgery to take care of Evan when I went into labor.  They lived three hours away, and my labor was short with my first delivery – 4 hours – so I was a bit nervous being 36 weeks pregnant that I would be delivering this one solo.

They arrived, and we waited.

I started to get irrational.

Did I say “started”?

My in-laws arrived on a Monday, and planned on returning home the following Friday if I hadn’t popped yet.  I really started to panic on Thursday night before bed, because I was convinced that if they left, Duane would have a relaxing day playing with our 3 year old while I pushed hard and cursed all men whose names begin with the letter ‘D’!

I woke up around 2 a.m. on Friday morning for my second commode visit since falling asleep.  I stood up, took a hop to my little friend, did my business, took a hop back to the bed and laid down to snooze until my next visit.  I closed my eyes then felt something wet.  I sat up and got the full effect of the break in my bag of water.  I poked my husband and said, “My water just broke”.

“Huh?  Are you sure?” he mumbled.

“No,” I said sarcastically.  “I always wet the bed right after I visit the commode.”

I was so relieved – literally and figuratively!  My in-laws had to stay now!  My relief vanished, however, with the arrival of my first real contraction.  My Doctor had to break my water to keep labor moving with my first delivery, so I wasn’t familiar with these uncontrollable spurts of peeing sensation.  (Now that I’m 47, I no longer need the onset of labor to cause that.)  The memory of what came next flooded my mind like my amniotic fluid was flooding my sheets.

If you have never given birth, I would have expected you to put this book down after the first page.

You’ll put it down now.

You have missed one of life’s smelliest adventures if you have never in your life had a cast anywhere on your body.  The least smelly time with my casts was in the beginning, and not just because I had that shiny new cast smell.  I didn’t know this, having never experienced the joys of breaking a bone, but the casts needed to be changed after just one week.  This had less to do with olfactory stimulation, and more to do with muscular degeneration, however.  My calves now resembled bamboo poles, and the casts needed to be refitted so I didn’t do more damage.  I didn’t need loose casts to do my damage, I had various bodily fluids.

My casts had occasionally gotten damp during my daily sponge baths, but I hadn’t really noticed any smell until the amniotic fluid hit them.  Unfortunately, I had to sit on my bed peeing and waiting for my husband to wake my in-laws and get my stuff in the car.  My supposed irrational insistence on a waterproof mattress pad didn’t seem so irrational anymore.

Labor had started in earnest now, and I knew it was going quickly.  When we got to the hospital, my husband had to leave me in the car to commander my ride – a wheel chair.  The nurses started to laugh when they saw me being wheeled through the door.

Really, they laughed!

I was checked into a labor room, trying to breathe through contractions, and nurses kept coming into my room from all over the hospital to see for themselves if the rumors were true.  There really was a woman in labor with both legs in casts.  My Mom finally showed up and took on the job of keeping the Nurs-arazzi at bay so I could focus and not kill someone when they interrupted me during a contraction.  I’m one of those women who delivers her babies using what’s called “natural child birth,” AKA painful sadomasochism, because my fear of huge needles in my spine far outweighs my fear of labor pain.

Labor progressed quickly, about four hours again, and I was ready to push.  Actually, I was trying to keep myself from giving in to this overwhelming urge to push.  The nurse had just declared that I was dilated to 9 cm, and would probably be ready to push in about an hour.  She was obviously a new understudy in my labor production.  The shift change had just happened.  Within five minutes of her departure, I was shaking the entire bed with each contraction, trying to divert the pushing urge, and screaming for her return.  She confirmed a “10”, and then told me there was a waiting line for the delivery room.  The nurse actually had to convince the Doctor that I was a “good pusher” to move me up the queue.

I was quickly moved to the delivery room, and prep’d for delivery.  One nurse held up my blue cast, and my husband held up the pink one, because there was no way my plastered feet were going to fit into those stirrups!
The Doctor was not in the room yet.  She was delivering another baby, and my nurse was coaching me to push a few times to get the baby into position.  Nurse Understudy still hadn’t learned her part however, because one push and the head was half way out.

“Stop pushing and hold it in until the Doctor gets here!” was the next thing I heard.

That’s It, She’s Fired!

I actually yelled, “What?!  Are you kidding?!  Hold It In?!”

That last bit was shrill enough to interfere with the beeps on the monitors.  I wanted to kick that nurse upside her head!  She was in the perfect position, and I would have done it if I didn’t have a baby’s head between my legs!
I started screaming through clenched teeth, yelling, “Where’s the Doctor?!” as I shook the delivery table again trying to divert the pushing urge.

What seemed like hours actually turned out to be about a minute, and the Doctor was there, gloved and ready to catch.  Two more pushes and Riley was delivered and put on my rapidly deflating bump.

He didn’t cry.

He wasn’t breathing.

I rubbed him, and talked to him.  The nurse whisked him away and my husband instinctively followed once he saw the look on my face.

I finally heard a faint cry.

Glorious Relief!

My son was born, with a little help to get his breathing started, at a healthy seven pounds, two ounces.  I couldn’t hold Riley for about an hour, because he had to stay under the heat-lamp to get his temperature up to normal.  When the nurse finally wheeled his little portable oven over to my bed, I saw that my little guy actually had a ring of bruises around his forehead.  I guess my Kegel exercises were good for something.

~Mary Kathryn Johnson
Author ~ Entrepreneur ~ Mom