Labor hurts. Ok, to say labor hurts is like saying pouring lemon juice in a paper cut stings a little. Labor is intense, painful, long and messy. There is liquids coming out of everywhere, drugs going in everywhere (because while I am all for women who choose natural birth, I will take what the 21st century has to offer me so I do not feel the final pangs of my vagina being ripped in half) and every ten minutes, some random person comes in to check your progress by sticking their fingers in your no-no zone and calculating the centimeters. So, as stated, I opted for drugs to alleviate the pain, but I was lucky enough to feel some wonderful contractions before the nurse could bring me the life-saving narcotics.
“Here comes a BIG one!” my husband said enthusiastically in my ear. He was carefully monitoring the machine that was diligently tracking each arc and decline of the ever increasing contractions. If I had my wits completely about me and was not concentrating of making sure I would not poop during labor, I would have pointed out to him that I actually knew a BIG one was coming, and I didn’t need the help of the machine and its beeps, clicks and long printouts. Telling a women in labor that a “BIG one” is coming would be like telling a person a train was coming as they lay in the middle of the track relishing in the vibrations of the planks and listening to the panicked screams of the engine as it barreled towards them. Thank you, Captain Obvious.
Yes indeed, it was a big one. So big, that my husband felt the need to document it with a picture. He snapped a close up of the bell curve readout coming off the machine. Again, had I not been in fear that I would sully up the bed any more than I had, I would have asked him to save the photos until later. With that monstrous jolt to my uterus, I called again for the nurse to bring me some pain killers STAT. Five minutes late, she arrived with a syringe and my friend, synthetic morphine. Before administering the dose through my IV, she gave me a warning, “Now, some people tend to freak out a little bit. Just let it wash over you and breathe. If you feel like you are going to freak out, close your eyes and call for me.”
I didn’t realize we were doing LSD. I was about to ask exactly what was IN the synthetic morphine when she pushed the plunger and I felt the instant calm of a million gallons of NyQuil rush over my body. Everything felt, well, groovy. Pain stopped. My husband’s repeated “how far along is she?” and “I am bored” comments faded away. (Yes, he said bored…because I could actually rush the miracle of life. Did he think I was having a good time?) All I could hear was the monitors and the zen music I had brought from home. I tried to reach my water glass which was literally next to my arm. The drug made it seem like it was across the room, and the harder I tried to reach it, the shorter my arm became. Finally, after watching me for a bit, my husband asked if he could get me my water.
It’s important to note his attitude at this point; it will come back later in the tale.
FINALLY after 11 hours of being stuck at five centimeters and enough petosin to swell my ankles to the size of cantaloupes, the doctor announced that the baby was ready. GREAT! Bring on the epidural! The five inch needle didn’t scare me at all. When they came in and moved the covers so I could turn around, my husband observed that it was “quite gross under there.” Again, thank you for the information I was already privy to. One can tell when one is sitting in pungent ick, but my dear friend morphine told me to just not care.
Epidural in and legs sufficiently numb, I was ready. The entire pushing process was something I had completely psyched myself up for. It had been nearly a day since I had actually eaten anything. The sweat and soiled clothing was making me feel more like the lining of a New York City dumpster every second. The anticipation of seeing the alien I had carried for months was getting to be too much. I knew the faster I pushed, the faster I could shower, eat and hold my son. So, when the doctor said, “PUSH,” I forgot about my fear of laying a log on the lap of my OBGYN, and I pushed. Two more like it, and relief like I have never known overtook me.
They placed my son on my chest. He was covered in white goo and red blood. His little eyes tried to focus on me, but couldn’t. He was crying, but when they set him on my chest, she stopped immediately and just looked at me. I was overcome by love. Love for my newborn son, who I knew I would love until the end of time. Love for my husband who had gone through so much with me, and was here to share this moment. I began to weep from all the love in me.
My husband leaned into me. I lifted my face, expecting a kiss or a caress. He opened his mouth and said with no hint of emotion, “You know I will never love you as much as I love my child.”
Taken literally a second after being told by my husband that
SNAP. The flare of the camera light faded as it captured the disbelief in my face. What did he say? Did I hear that right? Shouldn’t the correct sentence have been, “I have never loved you more than I do now,” or at least, “Thank you for giving me my son.” The labor, the determination, the rush of love on my part, it couldn’t be just one-sided. What did he mean?
The nurse picked my son off my chest and explained she was taking him to the pediatrician and to get cleaned up. My husband said he was going to go with so I could have some privacy. My doctor peeked up from between my legs and informed me I had a second degree tear and I was all stitched up. I had been totally unaware that he was down there. The shock of what my husband said, and then the exit from the room without so much as a kiss on the forehead had completely blocked out all the post-labor happenings.
I should have known then. I should have known a year earlier. I should have known right from the start. Our hearts tell us things that our heads want to believe. This experience was one of a hundred that should have told me with giant red flags that something wasn’t right. Hindsight is a bitch, and she only shows up after you have been through the trenches. You know how they say, “If I only knew then what I know now…”? Well, the questions is, would I have done any different? I loved my husband with all my heart; or at least I thought I did. I loved what I thought he was, and he loved what he thought I could provide for him.
Bottom line, I should have known he was gay. The signs were subtle and also bold. The last few months, it was so obvious that I worked extra hard to deny it. I had two kids by then, and wanted to make it work. I wanted to believe him when he told me years earlier that he was bisexual, but he chose me. I was naïve and happily so. I am hoping to capture my experiences concerning him, but also concerning my life leading up to this moment when I put words to a page. There is so much in life I should have seen, but only now do I understand. I want to help other people like me who have lived a life that was altered completely in one day. I want to help someone else see the truth right before their eyes – the truth of who they are, who they love and what they are capable of.