My baby just turned eleven years old.
Typically we spend the anniversary of his uterine eviction playing in the sand on the beach…this year was a little different. Things are…different.
Lately I’ve felt a bit inadequate. As a friend, a wife, a mother, a daughter…even a writer. I’m not very queenly at all. But reflecting on the days surrounding the last time I gave birth sparked a special kind of remembrance.
My Squirrel Master is a rainbow baby. He was conceived after a grievous loss.
Nothing can prepare a mother for the pain of hearing “I’m sorry, there is no heartbeat.” The disbelief that follows, the numbness that she can’t quite shake. There are always well-wishers who are keen to point out the fact she’s been blessed with three healthy children and while she rages internally at their idiocy, a tiny sliver of guilt creeps in and she wonders why she can’t just ‘be happy’ with the family she has. She feels inadequate. Inadequate to mother the kids she has, inadequate to safely carry another precious soul in her womb.
Her body will heal, though her heart may not. She struggles through Thanksgiving and Christmas, ripped to shreds, clinging to a stuffed bear that her husband gave her in the hospital the day she miscarried. “Something to remember them by,” as if she could ever forget. Still, the gesture brings her comfort.
A few months later she becomes violently ill and passes out on the living room floor where one of her other children has the wherewithal to call their father. There is an ambulance ride and a hospital stay where she hears the whispered words, “Elevated HCG levels…she’s pregnant.”
This news unleashed a storm of emotions, mostly a gripping fear that I would lose this baby, too.
Instead I got sick. Not just nauseated…I was diagnosed with a condition called Hyperemesis Gravidarum which is basically barfing your eyeballs out. A PICC line was placed so I could receive intravenous fluids constantly and still I vomited. My unborn baby was monitored closely and appeared to be thriving. I was too weak to do anything so I just laid around and cried when I wasn’t puking. And every time I visited the doctor, I feared the words, “I’m sorry…your child is gone.”
As luck would have it, I carried my youngest child two weeks longer than any of the others. My blood pressure was cooperative and probably thanks to the fluids, I avoided pre-term labor. Then came the time for him to be born.
I started contracting regularly at a local festival. We were wandering around looking at crafts and shit when I felt the first annoying contractions. I had already decided I’d have a natural labor, so I kept my complaining to a minimum (which is to say I only bitched about it six thousand times while we were milling about). We went home and put the kids to bed. My contractions continued, but they were irregular. Mr. Tip decided to get some sleep, figuring we’d have a long day coming up. I debated over kicking him in the ding-ding but my stomach was gargantuan and I couldn’t get a good angle so I just let him sleep whilst swearing under my breath.
By the next morning, it REALLY hurt, so we made our way to the hospital where the doctor agreed I was making progress, but not quite enough to be admitted. He encouraged us to enjoy the beautiful day and walk around outside for awhile.
We went to Cracker Barrel. Where, despite my pissy uterus, I managed to snarf down an entire Country Boy Breakfast. The satisfaction was short lived, however, when I had to go shit up the Barrel’s bathroom. Mr. Tip became concerned that I was giving birth in the toilet so he yelled in the room “ARE YOU OKAY?” Some old woman in an adjoining stall hissed “GOTDAMMIT I’LL BE OUT IN A MINUTE.” After my bowel evacuation I was feeling a bit unsteady, so I staggered out of the stall to the sink and splashed some cool water on my face. My elderly turd neighbor exited her stall and freaked the hell out because I was clinging to the sink and hurling the remainder of my breakfast.
“OH MAH GAWD,” she screeched. “DO YOU NEED AN AMBULANCE?”
“No,” I smiled, sickly. “I’m in labor and I should NOT have eaten that.”
She petted me gently. “Was that your husband checking on you?”
My eyes filled with irrational tears. “I hope so. This really hurts.”
Gripped by another contraction I breathed slowly and prayed for it to pass quickly.
“I was never able to have a child of my own,” she whispered. “I have no idea what you’re feeling but let’s get you back to that young man who is about to break the door down.”
Mr. Tip was less than impressed with my monstrous poop and subsequent pukeapalooza. “I told you not to eat that.”
He was seriously jonesing for a slap in the junk.
“So, I think we should go back.”
“They said it was still a long ways off. If you go back, they’re going to start an IV. If they start an IV you’re going to get pitocin. You don’t like pitocin. Let’s drive around or something.”
We went to Hustler. The porn palace. Where I waddled around and gave the dildo-shopping women knowing looks. Clearly they had their lives all figured out.
After that I was pretty much done with all of it and insisted we go back to the hospital where I had progressed one whole centimeter. Go ahead and kill me.
I got my IV and the nurse started some pitocin which made it hurt even more, but I declined an epidural until she stopped asking me if I wanted one.
Which is when I decided I REALLLLLLLY wanted one. “OH MY GOD I NEED AN EPIDURAL!” I screeched.
The nurse took a moment to check my crotch and shook her head. “It’s too late.”
“YOU’VE ASKED ME ALL DAMN DAY AND NOW I NEED IT!” I wept.
“You’re transitioning,” she explained. You’d think that after evicting three spawns I would understand this gibberish she was speaking, but I’d never experienced this hell they call “transitioning” before.
“MY FUCKING INSIDES ARE RIPPING APART!” I howled.
“That’s progress!” the satanic bitch grinned and upped my drip.
“I SERIOUSLY CANNOT HANDLE THIS, OH SWEET JESUS HELP ME!”
I have vague recollections of my husband mumbling “I told you so,” (definite candidate for a dick kick), my mom telling me to breathe, the nurse farting around with my IV and finally the doctor strolling in.
“GET IT OUT OF ME!” I screamed, desperate.
“Go ahead and get her up in stirrups,” he shrugged.
“She’s only at 8,” the nurse argued.
“GET ME IN STIRRUPS!” I wailed.
Once my vagina was exposed to the entire universe, it was determined that I was at 9 centimeters but MIGHT be able to push past the rest. The doctor looked at me and said “No noise. Just push.”
So I pushed through the most insane pain ever and I felt his little body slide out of mine and the doctor laid him up on my chest and handed Mr. Tip the scissors to cut his cord. There is always a moment of bewilderment…a thick, electric pause where time stands still and the room holds their breath as the new life fills his lungs for the first time. And cries. The most glorious sound in the world. My new son wailed lustily…but then his eyes met mine and he immediately settled while the newborn assessment team did their thing.
The room was fairly quiet until my dad, who had been crammed into a corner, horrified by allthescreams and let’s face it, the sight of my gaping cootch, said “You just scared the hell out of every mother on this ward. That anesthesiologist is going to be one busy sonofabitch tonight.”
With my baby nestled against my boobs and my crotch being sewn up, the doctor ordered some epic pain meds and I allowed them to take him to the warmer to be weighed and checked over.
He was perfect.
It is amazing how these past eleven years have flown by. My boy is not so little anymore. He has big thoughts and bigger dreams. He wants to build bridges when he grows up. Or maybe he’ll be a pirate. A nice one though…not a mean one. He’s not sure yet. He loves the ocean. He will sit next to me for hours and be hypnotized by the tide. Sometimes I wonder what he’s thinking, but mostly I am honored to be beside him. Like all of my children, my love for him knows no bounds–he is endlessly precious to me.
He’s beautiful and selfless and kind. He adopts cats without my consent. He farts a lot. He forgets to unload the dishwasher. He wears the same underwear for days at a time. All of his socks have holes in them, even the new ones. He wipes his butt with my face cloths when he runs out of toilet paper. But he comes in and kisses me every night, after I’ve put him to bed. He has a smile that lights up my soul.
He is my truth that rainbows exist to give us hope, and to remember the storms that brought us here.
I love you, Squirrel Master.