Olya Coming is our favorite crazy person. And if someone can have a crazy birth, that’ll be her! Read her story, but never EVER do this at home. Or anywhere. Even if your feng shui or astrological plans break down.
It was January, and I weighed 210 pounds. Of course I did; I used to eat 7 hot pockets in a single sitting. I believed in the “Eating for two” adage and followed its dictates strictly. To this day, I can’t make sense of how you can eat so much, and never feel full.
I had an overseeing doctor, but I cheated on her with another. Because of this:
“How’s your blood sugar?” (asked during the last month of my pregnancy)
“How exactly don’t you know?”
“I haven’t had it measured.”
“Well, wouldn’t I need a doctor’s note, then!”
Visibly bored, the doctor took a yellow Post-it note, tore it in half (thrifty, seeing as how she charged only 40 lv. per visit), wrote “Olya – blood sugar” on one half and sent me to the lab.
The one with whom I cheated on that Milli Vanilli of a doctor, was the one who took a look at my results. He was one of those tall, thin, aging but well-preserved men, with an air of perfect cleanliness, as if they’d just put their top-hat on the peg, having walked out of a Wodehouse novel.
“Dear girl… do you watch the Discovery channel?”
“So you do know that those large elephants there have difficult births, yes?”
From that moment on, fondly and with paternal care, he would call me “Fat One”. It was our thing and I liked it. For him, I was Fat One, and he was my tall, forthright gentleman, who would deliver me from pain, come the moment of truth. I’d cleared with him how I was going to have a natural birth, no sedation, and I’d warned him I would use anything and everything to get relief and he should not cave in. He looked quite unflappable even before those exhortations, anyway.
My term was on the 17th of January. My husband’s birthday. I adore him, with a few lapses, and I wanted my son to be a Capricorn,
January 16. No sign of contractions. I buy a Gustav Klimt puzzle: 2500 pieces. I sit on a huge rubber ball, eat sandwiches and work on the puzzle, passing the time.
January 17. I watch the last few MISFITS episodes and I don’t want to imagine what life will be like with no more seasons to go.
January 18. Still no signs of contractions. I finish the puzzle, flirting with the thought of starting on a tapestry.
January 19. My maid of honor Veronica calls. She knows about feng shui, African shampoos, horoscopes, human design and gluten-free fashion trends.
“Just letting you know that Aquarius is in tomorrow. Your choice.”
This is the turning point; I get up from the goddamn ball (for the first time in maybe 2 days), knocking over the puzzle, which scatters all over the floor, prompting a disdainful look: I haven’t tied my own shoes in 3 months, see if I bend over for you, bastard…
I go to the computer and start an Internet search on how to induce labor naturally.
First hit: Raspberry leaf tea. It’s January. We have 95 acres of raspberries and not a single fucking leaf.
Second hit: Testosterone. According to the article, a pregnant woman is an estrogen bomb and if testosterone enters her body, somehow, this will induce labor.
Third hit: Raising body temperature. Pregnant women shouldn’t take long baths, go to saunas and generally warm themselves up. Especially during the last few days.
I think about it. I need testosterone.
I turn to my husband. He’s over there at the kitchen, being Capricorny in that adorable way that makes me want to give birth to a Capricorn more than ever. I ask him to make me an infusion of whatever leaves he can find and then ejaculate into the cup, to save me from my torment of expectation.
He looks at me the same way he has for the past 3 months, then asks me to go lie down.
I explain that this sandwich-sculpted mound of flesh has to give birth today.
“Me. You. Bathroom. In 15 minutes.”
He agrees. I’m not sure he realizes the nature of my overture.
The bathroom is big; the bathtub itself is triangular with a massager, and now it would seem huge to me. Then, it seemed the size of a tangerine crate. And inside, a ballerina and a sumo wresthler tried to take a bath and have intercourse.
To this day, if I start doubting my husband’s love, I recall that life-and-death struggle in the tangerine crate and I know that the man loves me very, very much. More than he loves himself.
We get out of the bath. I lie down, all wrapped up, getting warm. I stand there, alone on the second floor, for about 15 minutes.
And then the first contraction wallops me. Oh, yes, I know immediately what it is.
I bellow to my family downstairs:
Plates crash, people scramble. Even though my bag has been ready for a week, the whole house has been rearranged 16 times, all the pictures, toys and baby clothes have been washed and folded and sorted by color… turns out no one is ready for the announcement.
After a few moments of running into each other, hugging, tearing up and crying “cheers!”, “whaddarwegonnado?” and “calm down!”, my mother and my husband enter the room.
Downstairs, I call the gentleman-gynecologist that will assist me.
“Hello, it’s Fat One. The contractions just started.”
A sigh, and then him telling me I should stay at home until they last for such and such a time, at such and such intervals. Then I should start for the hospital and call him again.
I sit at the kitchen table. I want more sandwiches. I rejoice at my contractions. I time everything with the world’s first iPhone.
4 hours later I’m in hell. My favorite documentary has just ended (my husband put it on, knowing it’s the only way to distract me from the pain). I’ve been lying down; now I get up by myself for the first time in 3 months. We start for the hospital. I scream at the people in the other cars through the window. My husband drives full throttle, running red lights everywhere. I get in the hospital, no longer screaming.
“Have you shaved?” comes the first question. Then: “Have you called the doctor?”
Oh God. It’s 11:30 P.M. I haven’t called the doctor. So I do. Says he’s coming.
They get me to a VIP room, they break my waters, they do an enema. It’s the most wondrous experience and I tell them I’d pay them to do it again. They explain there’s no more waters and it’s only a once-a-birth offer. They let me waddle around, squatting, leaning against the walls, screaming to my mother: “DUNTOUCHME!” The gentleman comes by from time to time, checking for cervical dilation. It’s been 12 hours since my first contraction. No dilation. They move me, my mother following. They strap me to an oxytocin IV. I scream. I threat. I tell them my whole family are lawyers. I beg for sedation. I try to wheedle drugs out of them. I think I’m swearing. Sometimes, as I say some stupid thing or another, the doctor turns and looks at me the way I look at my son now when he tells me: “Mommy! I’m never going to the kindergarten again!”
Someone gives in and they start dripping diazepam into me. When the oxytocin triggers a contraction, it’s a hellish torment of pain. When it stops, the diazepam takes hold, and it’s heavenly, and I sleep, and I know nothing.
Somewhere far away, from hell, my mother says: “Oly, breathe, we’re losing him.” The diazepam is still winning, so all I can muster is a puff, as if I’m cleaning my glasses. The doctor asks: “Is the team ready?” In 10 seconds I’m entering the operating room. At the entrance, the three men dragging my body, a holy temple to sandwiches, start asking me questions:
“Allergies? Medications? Have you eaten?”
“Er… A while ago…”
“5 or 6 sandwiches.”
They share a look over my carcass. Someone sedates me.
At 6:30 a Capricorn is born, with Scorpio rising, who will drive me crazy for the first 4 years of his life. I will start drinking. I will hate all thin people taking pictures of themselves going to the beach, going skiing.
It will be a heavenly utopia, a prison and a freedom of the spirit. I will want to be with him all the time and not see him for a week. He will turn me into a schizophrenic with considerable cooking skills.
I wake up at Trauma. The last thing I heard was “Breathe, we’re losing him.” There is no baby around. Just a cleaning lady, making the bed next to me.
I ask her: “Is my baby alive?”
She turns, scowling at me for interfering with her life, and answers: “I don’t know.”
I break down, hysterical. My mother and my husband go in, looking high on ecstasy. Their eyes are huge, their faces are red and they seem better than fine. I’m instantly envious, like any sick person next to the healthy, who take their happiness for granted. They scream at once: “DYAKNOWHOWBEAUTIFULHEIIIIIIIIS!”
I’m still crying. I’ve let down the whole world. I haven’t given a natural birth. Thus begins the longest postpartum depression in the history of winemaking. More stories about it will probably follow.
Until then, cheers.