Guest post by Lauren Levine
Most birth stories don’t start with conception, and many conception stories involve the parents to at least be in the same state where the act took place.
No, this is not an adoption story. Evan is genetically (we believe) linked to both of us but conveniently conceived in a laboratory in Tulsa, Okla., while Mark and I chewed our fingernails to the quick in the luxury of our still childless home in Rogers, Ark.
Should I go back even further and tell how Mark is convinced that the true mother of his child is Drew Barrymore, based on the well used “reading/viewing” material offered to him in the “specimen retrieval room” at the clinic?
Or should I skip ahead to me cursing at the doula, who up until this day was lovely and reasonable, but seemed to have flipped her lid when she gently offered me a position on a “birthing ball” in my comfy suite at Willow Creek hospital? Or for her outrageous suggestion that I GO FOR A WALK in the hallway of the hospital; me in the most vulnerable state with a towel wedged between my unrecognizable thighs sopping up the last trickles of water which began as a burst at 5 that Monday morning, a week before my due date, as I incredulously screamed out “There is no way this is happening, I have a hair appointment!”
Mark was lying beside me looking like a man whose prayers had finally been answered, celebrating with a less incredulous proclamation that he had now officially gotten out of a presentation he did not feel fully prepared for.
How could this be? My mom was still in Toronto, scheduled to arrive later that week to enjoy in the craft fairs and last week of my blissful pregnancy which everyone knew would go into overtime because first pregnancies are never early. I really needed my hair done for all the out of town guests who were planning to descend on us for the Bris — our big ritual celebration involving prayer, pastrami and knishes shipped in from NYC.
Back up, we hired Debbie Doula as we came to call her, to help devise a birth plan and support us in the act. The birth plan was co-created by me, a very reasonable and educated, intelligent woman who had nothing better to do than discuss and enjoy every minute of this blessed miracle gestation period.
Which really is the way it should be given the lack of enjoyment I experienced during the conception which feels less like an event and more like a 12-month blur of thermometers, charts, hormone pills, weight gain, Chinese herbs, hormone injections, tears, acupuncture, ( did I mention hormones? ) and one particularly memorable ride at top speed down I- 540 with a sterile jar of those happy little swimmers lodged safely between my ( then still recognizable) thighs praying not to be pulled over and have to explain the urgency of delivery to some unsuspecting young trooper.
This birth plan included no epidural, no episiotomy, and no interventions of any sort. Willow Creek did not accommodate water births so I had to let that part of the vision die which was not hard knowing that with the right amount of perineum massage, all the rest of my plan including the music I chose, the art materials I would use (as an art therapist I knew this was a critical element to any well balanced birth experience).
Debbie Doula, Mark and I spoke at great length about the transition period where I might feel I need medical intervention in the form of pain relief but how we all agreed that I would allow them to talk, breath, bounce and sing me through this period so I could move on to the pushing phase which some well-grounded women (like those I fashion myself after) liken to an orgasm of heightened proportions.
How could I forget that I was the girl who drank a bottle of Aleve for period cramps as soon as the clock struck 28 days?
How come no-one told me that I would not be able to hear any of their soothing suggestions over my screaming “get me an epidural” or while I was grinding my teeth along metal bedrails with the pillow (one I brought from home to make my experience more personal) over my head. We did discuss the possibility that I might cave and allow for a local anesthetic if gosh forbid an episiotomy was warranted, not that I would turn into a bounty hunter in the hallways of Willow Creek searching out any and everyone who looked like they were packing some relief from this pain.
When the anesthesiologist arrived I do remember telling him I loved him — the first time. A few hours later, when he had to return because the first treatment did not take effect I remember telling him I was glad he was back. The third time, when I was 9 centimeters, Mark was black and blue, Debbie Doula was using the last scraps of my birth plan to dry her tears after being bellowed at offensively, I remember hearing the anesthesiologist and my doctor arguing about the possible dangers of receiving an epidural this late in the game.
I remember being warned that I could become paralyzed and I remember thinking that this is something I would have to worry about later as I screamed “LET ME HAVE IT!”Ahhhhhhhhhhhh, finally the third was a charm, 10 centimeters and some quiet relief.
Let’s hear the music, bring me my crayons, but what??? Time to push? Push what?? I could feel nothing, No pain and no nothing. How does this work? With much coaching, hearing the doctor say “I am not ruling out Cesarean” and some concern over the heart rate I P-U-S-H-E-D that bugger out.
With the help of a cheering section, otherwise known as father of baby, an episiotomy, and forceps, that 7.14-oz baby was guided out of me in the best way no birth plan could possibly have accounted for.
Every memory after the final productive push is in slow motion with a soft-filtered lens. I was handed “Evan from Heaven” and while I was instantly in love with this gorgeous creature, making public announcements about how cute he was, I do remember taking private inventory, not only how many fingers, but how beautiful his lips were because they look so much like Mark’s and what are we ever going to do with that horrible flat nose? (No one told me it would look like that before it plumped up), and how I was a mommy and despite what I had gone through it all felt like nothing now that this crazy baby boy was in my arms.
The love I felt was so intense that I did not stop to care that my brother-in-law Brad had somehow been allowed in the room to take those first priceless pictures while my feet were still in the stirrups as I was being stitched.
I loved Evan so much that the moment he was in the room it felt like I had always been his mommy and he had always belonged to me. It was like all those years leading up to him coming into the room were my preparing to be with him. I still mostly feel this way. I say mostly because like all moms I sometimes question my Soul connection to such a defiant creature.
I also say mostly because I do have to admit that while I was in the room, and rather alert during this blessed event April 28th 2003 at 6 p.m., I have sometimes also wondered about my genetic connection to a boy who, while in the middle of a tantrum, engaged in a piercing shriek like he has seen an extra terrestrial, bears a striking resemblance to a certain young actress — his blue eyes looking nothing like my hazel and Mark’s brown.
“Raising Drew’s Baby” is the last installment in MotherLode’s De-LUXE Mother’s Day Getaway Giveaway birth/adoption story contest. Thanks to all who participated in the contest and I think we should do this on Mother’s Day next year!