In late 2009, after being married two months and spouting off about how we were going to wait to have children, I got pregnant.
My firm was facing cutbacks and I volunteered to be laid off so I could revel in the miracle of life’s beginnings, absorb the peaceful last days of un-motherhood, and act as the general contractor for our basement remodel.
I finalized designs, hired subcontractors, secured permits, scheduled construction and shopped for materials.
I got to use a clipboard.
At first, I was as a conductor. On a perfectly orchestrated afternoon, the electrician would pull up as the plumber was leaving, and the driveway would clear out in time for the lumber delivery.
At second, I ran into an enormous energy deficiency. Thankfully, once the construction was set in motion I was able to rest in the company of strange men blasting pneumatic nail guns.
The incubating baby must have interfered with my brain’s ability to pick up common sense signals. I hadn’t entertained the possibility of a glitch in either my pregnancy OR home renovation. Any bozo in their right mind knows that neither of those two things ever go as planned. This pregnant bozo did not.
A few months in, my crotch gave out.
Standing upright gave me a strong impression that the baby, along with the entire top half of my body, was about to drop out through my girl parts. If I moved my legs independently of one another, as legs are in the habit of doing, a sharp pain alerted me that I was in danger of splitting at the groin like a wishbone. To alleviate my symptoms, I settled into a delicately balanced arrangement of supportive pillows and cried for three months.
With my clipboard.
My doctor sucked. Upon hearing my complaint she told me I wasn’t handling pregnancy well. Comparatively, she had performed with her Celtic dance troupe well into her third trimester. I didn’t change doctors, which further supports my synaptic lapse theory.
At week thirty, my pubicular complaining drew her attention to my harmless Braxton-Hicks contractions. She cried, “Pre-term labor!” and sent me to the hospital for monitoring and steroid injections. I returned home thoroughly freaked out, left off whining about my busted yahoo, and concentrated on staying pregnant as long as I was supposed to.
Meanwhile, in the other downstairs...some jack-ass jackhammered a hole in the floor and poured a concrete foundation for a support post to hold a 25-foot, custom made, steel beam...six inches off the mark. The engineer came back, the city had to approve new drawings and my perfectly executed construction schedule was shot.
A few weeks later we had a heat wave while the duct work was being installed for the air conditioning system. I gained ten pounds in a week. It looked as though someone had tucked a hose under my skin and filled me like a water balloon. Desperate to escape the 103 degree inferno, I borrowed and mounted a mobile AC unit in the window of the bedroom and sequestered myself in a fortress of freon.
I continued to direct construction from my *waterbed.
(*Not an actual waterbed, just my liquid retaining body in a horizontal position.)
Until my kidneys failed.
My uber-hydrated physique sent my doctor into a spin at week thirty-nine. By this time I was unimpressed with the things she chose to give her attention versus not, and thought little of her concern. Until I saw test results confirming pre-eclampsia.
Back to the hospital.
Beginning with the least invasive method possible, a cervical dilator inserted like a tampon, kicked labor off right proper and delivered me twelve hours of intense contractions, that tapered, then stopped altogether, leaving me a measly four centimeters dilated. (Reminder: you need ten.)
It should be illegal to administer the labor inducing drug, Pitocin without pain relief. The hospital staff pretended they were respecting my wish to have as unmedicated a birth as possible, but I suspect they hated me. I suffered through the next eight hours on straight Pitocin before I begged for my life. When the Pitocin stopped, my “labor” ceased again. At six centimeters dilated. The anesthesiologist came and I professed my undying love to him while he administered an epidural. The Pitocin went back to work while I rested through the night. The next morning I was set to launch.
I had a baby and a perfect one at that. Her arrival was only traumatic for me, and for her father, whose head I nearly squeezed off while he assisted me in the birthing process.
After five days in the hospital we returned home as a family. The air conditioning had become functional while we were away. Things were really looking up.