Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ready or Not

I should have known the difference between wetting my bed and my water breaking, but I'm a first time mom, so bear with me on this one...

So, here I was, in the eighth month of my pregnancy, when I awoke with a start, feeling a gush of something hit the sheets. My first thought was, "Oh, great, now not only do I wet myself when I laugh or sneeze, but I am going to start wetting my bed?" Indeed, this little one inside of me had put such pressure on my bladder that I found myself answering with emphatic "YES" responses to the Flomax commercial on television just two days earlier:
"Do you urinate often?" Yes.
"Do you find yourself stopping and starting?" Yes.
"Does your need to urinate wake you up at night?" Yes!
I got excited, thinking that the pharmaceutical companies had finally come up with a magical cure for prenatal bladder pressure, when the voice over said, "...then you may be suffering from an enlarged prostate." Oh. So, back to my story...

I got up and made it to the toilet with what I thought was urine running down my leg. And then it hit me. This could be something else. I turned on the bathroom light, which woke up my husband and started the chain of events that would culminate in the birth of our daughter. But I was still in denial as K. said, "Are you ok?" Um...I think I wet the bed? K sat up in bed, asking frantically, "You wet the bed?" "Well, um...I'm not really sure..." to which he replied, "Oh, here we go..." I came back to bed, still wetting myself, when Kyle suggested that we call the hospital to find out what to do about this overactive bladder. I decided to go back to the bathroom while he scrambled for the phone number. The nurse listened to my story as I explained that I was 36 weeks pregnant and suffering from adult onset bed-wetting. She explained that this sounded like my water breaking and that I should come in. I scrambled to take a shower, wash my hair and shave my legs while K. packed a bag since we had not bothered to do that yet. He gathered a hodge-podge of mis-matched shirts and sweats, underwear, toothbrushes and the digital camera while I blow-styled my hair because you just never know who you might run into.

On the 15-minute drive to the hospital, K and I decided that we would take this "false alarm" to heart and really get serious about having a baby when we returned home. We would take stock of the nursery after my shower on the 1st and buy any remaining items we would need. We would pack our bag for real, with a focal point object, chap stick, soothing music...all the items the baby books suggested. And then, the doctor checked me and confirmed that this was not adult-onset bed wetting, but rather my water had broken and I needed to settle in. I responded the way any mother would when told that she was having a baby after just two hours of sleep and having eaten nothing more than popcorn for dinner the night before: I burst into tears.

Fortunately, I would have the next 25 hours to wrap my brain around the idea of motherhood and K. would embrace impending fatherhood by standing watch over his family with ice chips, popsicles, and juice, offering back rubs and encouragement in between catching a few moments of sleep. He was a trooper, only complaining once of his "aching back," from attempting to sleep on the hard sofa bed before I stopped him, pointing out that if you have a penis in a labor and delivery ward, you don't get to complain of an aching back.

As I mentioned before, we forgot to pack a focal point object, but it turned out that I obsessed over Kyle's mismatched outfit instead. Why was he wearing a powder blue tee shirt with paint stains and black sweatpants? Couldn't he call his mother to bring him a clean shirt? How about a white tee shirt? Why don't you go change your shirt before it's time to push? Wouldn't you be more comfortable in a matching shirt? And it worked! Nagging my husband about his shirt served to distract me for a good six hours before giving in and asking for an epidural.

Finally, as the clock struck midnight, the doctor informed me that it was finally time to push. A team of nurses, OB/GYNs, and pediatricians assembled to welcome little A into the world. The nurse asked me if I wanted a mirror to see the action but I politely declined, explaining how I fainted at the vet's office when my dog had to have his blood drawn, so I was not at all keen on seeing what I overheard a resident calling, "trauma to my bottom." And so I pushed blindly, holding K's hand and working harder than I ever thought possible to see that little face. And my Mormon-Catholic hybrid child-bearing roots did not fail me; it wasn't long before I pushed one last time, heard a shrill cry, and met my little girl. This was followed by a wave of nausea as I lost all those popsicles and jello at once.

K stayed with little A while the doctors worked on repairing the aforementioned trauma to my bottom. Seeing my daughter's face for the first time was beautiful, surreal, and exciting all at once. I will never forget the moment I added "mother" to my identity. Stay tuned for what it all means!