Thursday, December 01, 2005

My marriage, part five

Disclaimer: Ah, to hell with it. If you find anything offensive, that's your problem.

I actually never thought that it would come to this, five parts (!) and still a lot more to write about. But since I started this, I'll have to finish it too.

To you who have commented on the previous parts, don't worry if I haven't answered. I feel it's better to tell the whole story first.

Let's start at December 31st 1991. RedHead had grown a bit tired of being pregnant. She had gained almost 62 lbs (28 kg) and resembled an apple on a stick. Her feet had swollen to the extent that even my shoes began to look small. But this was supposed to be the last day of pregnancy, New Years Eve, and the next day a new life as parents was to begin. How fitting to start a new life at the start of a new year.

We ate well that evening and drank non-alcoholic wine. As the clock was nearing midnight we put on warm clothes and sat down on our balcony to watch the fireworks. It was a strange feeling, knowing that one phase of our lives was soon to be over and another was starting with the new year. We were both a bit scared and at the same time looking forward to it. It was almost as we expected that when the fireworks were over, LazyWorm was going to announce his arrival. Well, he didn't.

Half past midnight we went to bed. RedHead was laying with her back firmly pressed against me and I had one arm under her neck and the other on that big bulge that contained our offspring. None of us seemed to be able to sleep. Some parts of my body started to react on her warmth and she giggled that we maybe should take "one for the road", just in case. So we had some very tender and satisfying sex and both thought that we soon would wake up and rush to the maternity ward.

No such luck. We took "one for the road" every evening for a couple of nights and nothing happened. Then the holidays were over and I started work again. By that time the company had hired enough people so that the plant was able to produce from Sunday evening to Friday afternoon. I started out by working early mornings, which meant from 06.00 to 14.00. Since there where so many new employees, production was very bad.

The first two problems me and HammerFist identified was the lack of proper training and corporate standards. Not one single person judged the defects at the same level as the next person, which meant that there was a lot of confusion about what was approved and what was not. We demanded the plant manager to come up with a solution. By the end of the week he had set up standards which everyone easily could understand. Rejects dropped by a staggering 50 per cent, but only on my shift since I was the only quality controller.

The next week I worked nights, which meant we started Sunday night at 21.00. My main concern was to enforce the standards the plant manager had set up and helping people to judge defects. And then, one morning about 04.00 I got a phone call. A very piteous voice said:
-I think the water just broke."

I played it cool, walking up to my foreman and telling him that RedHead's water broke and I needed to leave. He in turn almost chased me out of the building and as soon as no one could see me, I ran. It still makes me laugh, thinking about it. As I came home the first thing I saw was RedHead trying to push the dog away from the pool of water on the bedroom floor. I quickly gathered a plastic bag for the car seat, a couple of sandwiches and the bag with clothes that had been prepared several weeks earlier. While RedHead got dressed I took a quick run with the dog.

It was a 40 minute drive to the maternity ward but only because it was very cold and with a risk of slippery roads. Had it been summer, I probably would've broken all speed records with the old Volvo.

I've always known a lot about women's body's, about pregnancy, periods, all that stuff. In fact, I think I would've been an excellent woman had not Mother Nature made me a male. What I didn't know was what an utterly horrifying event childbirth can be. It's one thing watching it in biology class, in a documentary on TV or in a Hollywood movie and completely different experiencing it first hand. Well, second hand since I didn't do all the work.

In my mind the whole event would not take more than five or six hours and then we would celebrate in champagne and admire our offspring. Friends and relatives would come by with gifts and congratulate us and I would be smoking a cigar, all puffed up with pride and joy.

Friends, reality was just about to catch up with me, pull out the rug under my feet and I was going land on my skinny ass. Really, really hard.


Those five hours just went by and nothing happened. From time to time RedHead moaned and groaned and I changed the cold compress on her forehead, holding her hand and trying to be supportive. I was starting to feel helpless and that's a feeling I hate. RedHead told me to try and get some sleep but I was afraid that I would sleep through the whole thing. I barely dared to leave her to get a smoke.

From time to time the midwife came in and checked up on us. Eight hours after the water broke RedHead's womb still only had opened little more than an inch. I was starting to worry about the dog. I knew she'd be alright for ten hours but after that I would probably have a real mess on my hands. I called one of RedHead's friends, in fact the only one I trusted with a spare key to our apartment, and asked her to take the dog for a walk.

At three o'clock RedHead started to get real bad labour pains and threatened to kill me. The helpless feeling I had before was now tenfold. An hour later the labour pains stopped and the midwife told RedHead to try and get some sleep. They were monitoring the baby and everything seemed to be fine. I sneaked out and got a smoke, all shook up and starting to realize that child birth was a bit different in real life. I couldn't edit the bad parts.

At five o'clock in the afternoon the doctor came in and told us that they were going to give RedHead intravenous drip to jump start her labour since LazyWorm's heart rate had gone down a bit. She had been open about halfway for several hours but nothing seemed to happen. Half an hour later all hell broke loose, at least from my point of view.

For the next few hours I was going to be beaten, threatened, get my fingers crushed and tossed around like a rag doll by a woman that was half my size. Somewhere in all that commotion I managed to get out for a smoke (on RedHead's order) and met my brother in the waiting room. He told me that he had become a father to a beautiful little girl the evening before, due to a planned caesarean. (Damn cheater!)

Then he asked me how we were doing. To both his and my surprise I broke down and cried like a baby. I hid my face behind my hands and sobbed something about how helpless I felt and how brave RedHead was, fighting like a tigress.
-Is it that bad?"
-You have no idea. You have no fucking idea how bad it is."
Then I pulled myself together, congratulated him and went back in.

If you haven't been physically present at a child birth, ie in the very room it's taking place, you just can't imagine it. It's not just the blood, the cursing, the screaming, the death threats, the smells, the machines and all that other stuff. It's a roller coaster through hell and you don't know if it's going to stop anytime soon. There are no words to describe it. It's a living hell. Trust me.

If I had been uncertain about my feelings towards RedHead before, I sure loved her now. This once tiny little woman had been carrying our baby for the last 42 weeks and her reward was to lie there in great pain. You can't imagine how much I admired her strength, in fact the strength of all women having babies. Why would any women go through all this agony if it hadn't been for love? And how can a man not repay that love?

I comforted her by the best of my abilities in spite of her screaming that I would pay for this, dearly. The midwife comforted me by telling me that she had heard women in labour screaming the most awful things at their partners and that RedHead's ranting was a mild breeze in comparison.

And then, a couple of minutes after nine thirty in the evening I heard the midwife tell RedHead to push. And RedHead pushed. She pushed so hard I could see every single vein on her body. I became afraid she'd burst an artery or something. Then she fell back, exhausted, and started to cry.
-I just can't take it anymore. I wanna go home, please let me go home. I don't wanna do this anymore, please take me home." It almost broke my heart. And then a new labour pain came over her and she pushed.

At exactly 21.45 the midwife cut LazyWorm's umbilical cord and so our son was officially born. He weighed 3.610 g (7.96 lbs) and was 51 cm (1.67 ft) long. A healthy baby boy with all the fingers and all the toes he was supposed to have.

Who did I call first to tell the news? Remember, I had been working nights and at the time LW was born I hadn't slept for 32 hours.

Did I call my mother? Nope.
Did I call RedHead's mother? Nope.
Did I call any relative? Nope.

The first person I called was my foreman, HammerFist, to tell him that I wouldn't be able to come to work that night. He just laughed, congratulated me and said I shouldn't worry so much about work.

I went back to the labour room and silently sat down and watched RedHead breastfeed LW. It's still one of the most wonderful inner images that I cherish. The memory makes me all gooey inside.

In fact, I have to stop writing now because of it.

2 comments:

Virginia Gal said...

oh that is so sweet (ps, my husband, whoever he may be, will not be allowed in the labor room with me, I might kill him).
Can't wait for part 6!

Shark-fu said...

Fantabulous!