First Born Son
My angel-baby. My first child. My first son. He was literally a dream come true.
I remember waking up at 4 AM on April 27 the year he was born--17 years ago today. I was at my aunt and uncle's house because his dad had left on the 11th of April to go on WestPac. He was somewhere in the Persian Gulf at this point. I walked out into the living room thinking that if I was in labor and it hurt this bad...."Are you in labor?"...I jump out of my skin and probably swear and stuff...My Uncle Mike was sleeping on the couch and I have woken him, too. I'm surprised that this child didn't immediately exit my body after this interruption to the stream of thoughts I was processing in my head. I answer him that I think I am. Sheesh! How am I supposed to know? I am 22 years old, away from home and wishing my mom was here, living temporarily with an uncle who is a former Delta Force medic and an aunt who has never given birth. These are all observations in hindsight, mind you, because at this point all I am thinking about is that labor hurts more than I expected.
As the day wears on, my contractions keep coming. Around 1030 I think they're about right for him to take me to the hospital and he does even though he doesn't think it's time yet. They send me home. Nothing's going on yet. I'm irritated.
We go to lunch at this place and my uncle says that greasy is good. So, I order a BBQ burger and onion rings. I have about 2 bites and end up in the bathroom. Greasy is NOT GOOD when you're ALREADY in labor...just my personal experience, maybe, but won't do that again! We go home and I try to lay down and rest. My uncle is out sweeping the deck, whistling, singing to himself...and I am done with Happy Joe Lucky already and tell my aunt that when she calls to see how things are going. Shortly after that, I sneeze and water shoots out. I interrupt my uncle to see if he thinks my water broke. He gives me some dumbass answer about how is he supposed to know, blahblahblah, and he thinks it would have been more of a gushing. Ok. Whatever. I go to the bathroom and even more water. I think he's wrong and tell him to take me to the hospital again. He complies.
At the hospital, we are sitting in uncomfortable chairs waiting our turn to be seen. I am an emotional wreck. I am in pain. I want my hubby or my mommy or someone who's going to care that I am being ripped apart from the inside out. I am about to lose it as they take someone NOT IN LABOR in before me. I go into the small bathroom and I cry. I come out and can't get it together in front of my uncle and tell him that I am so mad at hubby for having to leave, and that having a baby hurts and that now I don't want to have the baby because I'm scared. He tells me it's too late for that. Thanks, Captain Obvious! You've been a real big help. Luckily, the nurse comes out to get me at this time. They check the fluids and tell me that my water did indeed break...HA! Vindicated! They also think my uncle is my hubby and bring him in. Balboa Naval Hospital is a teaching hospital and they seem to want to show everyone all your business. So, we explain he's my uncle and doesn't get to "see". They tell me they'll take me to a labor and delivery room shortly. He stays with me while I wait to move.
Once I get all situated, the nurse comes in and asks if I want drugs. YES I WANT DRUGS. NOW! She tells me they have some other drug they can give me before they give me the epidural, but I have to sign something. SIGN ME UP! My uncle, having been in the Army for so long, is admonishing me for allowing them to give me some kind of test drug. He's never had a baby so he has no idea! He is also giving me crap for having said I wouldn't need drugs. Well, Uncle Mike, before I had my first morning pains I did believe that. Now, having experienced what I don't yet know is NOT the worst of it yet, I think drugs sound good. The anesthesiologist comes to put the epidural line in so they can give me the meds that way. They give me this first drug and it starts to over-numb me and makes it a little hard to breath. They immediately back that down. Phew! I feel good!
That doesn't last!
I am not progressing at all. I've been in labor over 12 hours and they can't give me the epidural too early because it could further stall the progression of my labor. I am at 4 cm dilation for what seems like FOR-EV-ER! I am watching the contractions on the machine shooting off the paper and the pain is shooting through me in just that manner. Mike keeps telling me to "ride the wave"..."pretend you're a bowling ball on a surf board and ride the wave"...I have something I'd like him to ride or another idea for what to do with that bowling ball, but I am done with hearing his voice. When my aunt comes in, my gown is open and my butt is showing. She goes to cover me and I flap it back open telling her he's seen it all already. My modesty is done with. Pain has caused me to turn into the devil. Seriously! After conversing with the doctors and hearing that it's going to be a while--yeah, just shoot me and put me out of my misery, please--they go to dinner. I am glad to be rid of them. I cry again. It hurts, I still want my mommy, I still wish hubby wasn't a million miles away, and I am tired and can't sleep because it hurts.
When they get back, they tell me all about the yummy shake and Big Mac and whatever else they had. My uncle goes back to reading his book and my aunt talks to me. They check and I am at 6 cm finally. So, now I can get my epidural kicked in. When I get to 10 cm, I still have a "lip" that they can't get to go away. So, they make me get on all fours, rock this way, rock that way, blahblahblah. Finally, around 2330 it's time to push and the pain is excruciating. I tell them the epidural isn't working anymore. It's pushing the juices, but now they think they must have dislodged it in all the moving around. AREYOUKIDDINGME?! So, for the next 4 plus hours, I push out my 9 lb 9oz 23" baby boy. It's taking so long that they have to put a fetal monitor probe on his head which leaves a little pin-dot scar.
When the pushing actually starts doing something, the nurse (who was a midwife in her home country of Dominica) yells for me to stop. The cord is wrapped around his neck. I remain perfectly still. I don't even know if I am breathing. The cord is off and we commence pushing. Mind you, the doctor-in-training has one of my legs bent at the knee and pressed back to my chest and the other is being held by the nurse. The look on my aunt's face makes me laugh in my head a number of times as she watches the baby come out. I know that in her head she is wondering how the hell you push a child that size out of such a small whole. When she sees me looking at her, she smiles big as if to act like it's all just fine. My uncle is all into things at this point and has a big smile as he urges me to push and watches the baby come out. Oh, yeah, at this point, he's seen parts of me even my husband hasn't.
They can't get him out. He's stuck. They get a towel to wrap around him to help extract him. Seriously. I can't make this stuff up. They shake him back and forth to pull him out and I think this has got to be a comedy. Once his shoulders are through, it's all smooth sailing! His shoulders were (and still are) so wide. They were so big that they broke his collarbone getting him out. I feel his knees and feet slide out and the feeling is truly euphoric. That is the exact word that enters my head. Euphoria.
They rush him to the warmer under the lights and a team of people rush in. They ask who will cut the cord and I tell Mike it's him. I need him to go away for a minute and let me relax. I realize that he's not crying. I am starting to sit up and forward. As I fix my eyes toward him, Mike, who is standing there with him and he medical staff, turns to look at me. We both share a panic-stricken moment where we believe something's not right. As our eyes lock, he cries...he screams. Thank you, God! My boy lives. The team rushes him out of the room.
My aunt and uncle leave to give me a break and go home to get some much-needed rest. My boy was born at 0348 the morning of April 28th. Almost 24 hours in labor later. The doctor-in-training comes back in and tells me he needs to finish me up. He goes about his business in my already sore girl-parts. Thankfully it was only momentary. He talks to me as he does his thing. I am hopeful he knows what he's doing and that I am not his first. What really strikes me, though, is that he is so joyful. He tells me what a beautiful baby I have and asks me what I am going to name him. I tell him Matthew Jacob. He gushes more. This guy is going to be a great labor and delivery doctor. He is so genuine and caring. I can remember his kind face to this day, but not his name.
I was so tired once this was all over and I still hadn't seen MJ. I was waiting to be brought up to my room once shift change was over in the morning. I hadn't slept in over 24 hours already. I got up to walk to the bathroom. My legs didn't know how to move anymore. I wasn't expecting this. I can't remember if they told me I wasn't supposed to go on my own or not, but I did it anyway. When I felt my girl parts, I was very concerned and hopeful they'd return to normal. Oh, being 22, without your mama, and having your first child is not for the faint of heart; let me tell you! I got safely back to the bed and shortly thereafter the Hospital Corpsman came in with MJ. He asked me what I was calling my son, I told him. He said, "Matthew, I am Anthony. Your first best friend." I was so moved.
I held my little boy for the first time almost 4 hours after he was born. I touched his white little face. He looked like an old man. He looked like Charlie Brown with his little round head. He didn't have one of those cone heads that most babies get. No wonder he was so hard to get out! As I held my baby boy in my arms for the first time, I could not imagine loving someone more than I loved him in that moment. I couldn't wait to tell his dad, but I had to wait until 0800 to call Red Cross and give them all the information in order to send the telegram to him in the Gulf.
I didn't get to keep him long because he was having trouble holding his body temperature and they had to take him back to the "french fry warmer". Anthony came back for him. I kissed him good-bye and the nurse brought me some food. It was a terrible Belgian waffle square, eggs and milk. I ate a little before it was time to call the Red Cross. I gave them the information and they told me they'd send the notification. I wished I could be there to see his face and hear his voice when they told him.
Around 0900, they moved me to my room finally. While I was in the hospital, I didn't get to see MJ much. I got to feed him a couple of times and see him when they told me about his collar bone being broken (it healed in 17 days...green stick breaks in babies are easily healed...just a safety pin to hold his arm against his body through his bodysuit) and before and after his circumcision. The scream from him when he was circumcised cut right through me. UGH! I remember thinking that being a 13 year old Jewish boy and having that done without anesthesia musta really SUCKED back in the day! By Saturday afternoon (MJ was born early Thursday morning), we were being released to go home. Of course, we weren't going to our home, we were going to my aunt and uncle's and they had a party that day to say good-bye to a friend of theirs who was moving to Ohio.
When we got back to their house, the most amazing thing happened, hubby called from the USS Lincoln on a satellite phone. I was amazed that he got us since we'd barely walked in the door. He told me the story of how he was given the news, asked about his son and told me how much he loved us both. He asked me to send pictures as soon as I could. After his call, all I wanted was to take MJ home. To our home. So, I said good-bye to my aunt and uncle and went home. I am pretty sure I wasn't supposed to be driving, but I was a rule breaker. Just the ones I thought were stupid, of course :)
When I got home, I couldn't wait to hold him, sit in the rocking chair in his room and just enjoy this time with him in my arms. I held him against me--amazed at how long 23" is as it crosses your body and laughing about the fact that just days before he was lounging inside my body--loving him with all I had. He was my boy; my first born; my angel-baby...and I thought he would always know my love from this day forward.
He brought us such joy. His blonde hair and blue eyes, eating Kix without his hands after he'd dump them on the floor, sitting in a pasta pot and laughing. He made us laugh a lot. He did everything so quickly...talked, walked, read. It wasn't all joy, though. We had lots of heartache, hurt, and anger, too. In the last year, I have seen him mature in many ways. I was blessed to be with him on March 23 when he accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior. Now, I get to watch my angel-baby turn into a young man. To prepare for his own future. To become the man that God intends for him to be. I am excited for this new journey as I was when he was first born.
Matty, I love you bunches and tons! You are special. Never forget that!
Love always & forever,