Matilda Part III
WARNING: This is a pregnancy/birth story. While it’s not gory or graphic, I normally find such stories deadly boring, so feel free to skip.
I was always the most maternal-minded of my friends. My sister had kids and I just assumed I would, too, because I had a nice childhood and my parents weren’t abusive jackals and while I never was much of a babysitter, I was like, yeah, I will have kids. That’s what people do.
Adrian and I didn’t really plan things, though. (Shocking, right?) It just kinda happened. I didn’t even think I was knocked up; the test originally was negative. Only a few days later, when I was cleaning the bathroom and found the stick on the back of the toilet and saw it had grown an extra little blue line did I lose my mind.
Adrian was thrilled and proud, in that sort of cave-mannish guy way. He went around beaming while telling the news, as if to say, Finally! Some social approval of me getting laid! I was sort of gobsmacked, but also pleased. We’d been married for a couple of years so we had some idea of how to be roommates. We had a house with a yard and an extra bedroom. He had a job. It was going to be okay.
The only issue was that I was terrifically incompetent at being pregnant. Pregnancy just FUCKED with me. I got every stupid ailment ever, every uncomfortable shitty thing short of forced bedrest. I got carpal tunnel. Everything itched. My nose wouldn’t stop running. I had a fucking sinus headache constantly and taking Tylenol was about as effective against that as a goddamn jelly bean. I sweated like some kind of farm animal. My anxiety was all over the place. I felt like barfing every minute, only I never could barf. I wanted to sleep constantly. I felt like I was dying, really.
By the time some of that stuff stabilized, I was so damn gravid, people were uncomfortable to be around me. My nose swelled up. I looked like WC Fields. I remember walking into an antique store at 7 months and the owner saying, “Jesus, should I boil some water and tear up strips of newspaper?”
Then my doctor scheduled C-section because of high blood pressure or whatever the fuck. I don’t really know why, actually. I could have pressed for more information, had some enlightened view on it, since I’d read all the goddamn Dr. Sears and shit, but by that point, I really didn’t care if they cut my head off and took the baby out that way. Just get her out and let this hellish project end.
At the hospital the morning Matilda was born, I was hooked up to some machine while being prepped and shaved for surgery when the nurse said, “You’re having contractions; would you like to talk to the doctor about maybe going for a natural birth?”
“NO,” I said immediately. I didn’t give one fuck about anything except this being over. It was like 5 in the morning and I was starving. And I couldn’t even feel the contractions. (I never had a single contraction, Braxton-Hicks, or otherwise, actually, that I noticed.) My doctor said the baby was not engaging, just floating out further away from my cervix like a total dummy. Like she didn’t get it, that she needed to get the hell out already. Stop swimming in your own pee and enter the world like a normal person, Matilda!
Anyway, finally I went into the surgery suite and they started sawing me open. I remember feeling intensely uncomfortable, a sensation that stopped just short of pain. I could feel all of this violent motion and movement, like just beyond the surgeon’s sheet, someone was really stepping on my belly and wrenching something out of me that was stuck. I learned later the epidural didn’t work right because I was so swollen. I guess you’re not supposed to be feeling all that stuff.
I WAS SO SWOLLEN YOU GUYS.
Also, I was mortified when Adrian tried to look over the sheet. I didn’t want him to see my guts. That seemed very embarrassing to me, someone seeing your bare guts. I didn’t even know what my guts looked like. So it seemed extra invasive for him to see them, you know?
Anyway, I just laid there all strapped down like someone being executed by lethal injection and the nurse and Adrian were talking to me because everything felt pretty awful and I remember thinking, If I just can hold on until she cries, so I know she’s here, that’ll be good enough, just hold on until then, hold on hold on hold on…
And then my doctor said, “Look at those eyelashes!” And then Matilda cried. And then I cried. And then the nurse shot me up with something and Adrian got up and was saying, Oh god oh god oh my god and then I passed out.
After that, when I woke up? That was when the good part came. The best part. Because compared to that 9 months of bullshit, my daughter is easy like Sunday morning. She is excellent, lovely, simple, funny, beautiful, and so unbelievably cool.
Happy Birthday, Matilda.