Anjelica’s first day on Earth
August 1993 – Part 2
At 12:20AM on Saturday, August 21st, 1993, my little Angel girl was born. She was eight pounds, twenty-one inches long, and healthy, beautiful, and precious and perfect in every way. Anjelica Sierra Joy.
What a month it has been getting to this point. The baby’s room was finally finished, and I sewed bumpers and blankets for the crib. Work has been crazy; I’ve been working on a major capital project and had to make my first video teleconference presentation to the top management at HP in California. I wore a suit jacket and stayed seated the whole time so they wouldn’t realize I was nine months pregnant. I don’t know why I cared, but I just didn’t want them thinking of me as the pregnant one instead of listening to what I was saying, which basically was that the project they all thought was so great would not be worth doing from a financial standpoint. Overall, I think it went well given that I wasn’t telling them what they wanted to hear. I was due on August 18th; our annual budget was due on August 20th, and it was my job to make sure it got in on time and right. So I was glad when the 18th and the 19th passed and I still hadn’t had a baby. I woke up on the morning of the 20th and felt different, and told Lou, “today’s the day.” My water hadn’t broken or anything, but I’d been having cramping since about two in the morning. I went to work anyway to get the budgets out, and people kept telling me to go home, and explaining that what I was calling cramps were labor contractions. I did go home around noon, after I knew everything was sent off to corporate. Lou and I were still working on getting the seminar mailings stamped and labeled, and off to the post office. I made dinner and cleaned up, because the contractions were still pretty far apart. Around 6pm we decided we should go over to the hospital. Astrid, our new nanny-to-be came with us, and hung out for support. They processed me, checked me out, and then said I had a long way to go, and sent me home with some sleeping pills saying that I’d probably be back the next day. That was fine with me, because I really didn’t want our baby born exactly on the one-year anniversary of her grandfather’s death.
So I took the little pills, and went to bed around 8pm. But I think they gave me the wrong little pills because there was no sleeping. The contractions just got stronger and faster and faster. Lou called the doctor’s office and told them the timing and they said to go right in. Easier said than done. I couldn’t stand up straight to walk, and our bedroom was on the second floor. I literally crawled on my hands and knees down the stairs and to the garage. I couldn’t even sit upright, I was so cramped and bunched up. We got to the hospital around 10pm, but must have been one of many people going into labor just at that time, because I was curled up in a wheelchair stuck in the hall waiting by myself for a long time. Lou had to go move the car, and there were no nurses available to help me. They finally took me to a room, and I was begging for an epidural, but there was only one person who could do it, and they were busy with an emergency C-section. I was not prepared to go through labor and delivery without drugs. We went to the birthing classes, but did not develop the breathing skills to deal with a natural childbirth. Lou thought the classes were ridiculous, but we were required to attend. He was really annoyed that all the focus was on the mother. He told the instructor that the classes really should incorporate more of the effect on the fathers and the impact of pregnancy and childbirth on the men. She was polite and acknowledged that he had a point, but that would probably be great for a different course from the childbirth classes we were in. So needless to say, he wasn’t thrilled about learning any of the coaching skills.
Eventually, the anesthesiologist did come by, but said I was too far along to get an epidural. I begged and pleaded, and she finally gave in. What a difference. There was no pain at all, and I had to look at a monitor to see when a contraction was happening. But she didn’t give me a full dose, and the drugs wore off pretty quickly. I’m usually the quiet one, but I found out I was a screamer. They probably heard me in New York when the doctor stuck this plunger thing up me to pull her out. The worst thing was that it lost suction and popped off her head, and they shoved it back up there again. This was the first time Lou had ever met my doctor, and here he was between my spread open legs while he tried to Roto Rooter out the baby. He really had been great, and I’m sure he’s delivered thousands of babies and heard it and seen it all.
Lou brought the video camera we purchased for recording the new baby’s life, and had video taped us when we went to the hospital the first time, and then again after they had the baby cleaned up. Neither of us wanted to videotape the actual birth. Just as well, because when he saw what came out of me along with the baby, he was really grossed out. He’s still talking about that… it will take a while for that to get out of his brain when he thinks of or sees me down there. I didn’t look at that stuff – I just focused on the baby, who was absolutely beautiful.
Lou with Anjelica still in the hospital – first day as a Dad
The next day, Lou came to visit, and brought the baby a little Dumbo elephant stuffed animal as her first present from her Daddy. I think we were both tired and exhausted from the late night, because when I mentioned that I had talked to my mom and sisters on the phone that morning, he was upset that they didn’t call him, and sarcastically asked, “What am I? Chopped Liver?” I pointed out that his mother didn’t call me at the hospital, either. But that didn’t seem to matter. He’s just hung up on the fact that people give all the attention to the baby and the mother and that nobody seems to care about the father. I guess he has a point, but I don’t think it’s personal. My friend from HP, Sandy and her husband came to visit, and brought some champagne and my very favorite treat: brownies. We had to drink the champagne out of foam coffee cups, but it was fun. I only got to have one brownie, though, because as soon as they left, Lou nabbed the brownies, and threw them in the trash, saying, “You don’t need these.” I said I wasn’t planning on eating them all at once by myself, and that I would have liked to share them with the nurses. I didn’t make a big deal out of it, but I was really upset. They were mine, not his to throw away. And I’m not a fat pig, either; I gained 26 pounds total while pregnant. I don’t know if it was the hormones, or exhaustion, but I ended up in tears after he left.
In the middle of the night, they brought me the baby to breastfeed. I woke up hours later with her still sleeping in my arms. I was really tired, and my insurance would have let me stay another night, since she was born after midnight on the first night, that day I was in labor didn’t really count toward their maximum allowed. But Lou had to go to his client in PA, and he wanted me to come home before he left. So we checked out that Sunday morning. When the nurse came to fill out the birth certificate information, she asked how to spell the name, and Lou answered, “A-N-J-E-L-I-C-A.” I asked, “J?” He said, “Yes, like Anjelica Houston.” We had agreed to the name, but never talked about spelling. I always assumed we would spell it with a G, like most people do. The J’s are rare. I’m used to people constantly spelling my name incorrectly, and told Lou that she’ll have to correct people her entire life. He insisted on using J anyway. I picked out (and got to specify the spelling of) her middle name, Sierra, which literally means mountains, but for me, her name defines that she is an Earth Angel.
We went home, and found that our next-door neighbors had decorated the mailbox and outside the house and made some food for dinner. It was really nice, and I appreciated it. It was a beautiful day and Lou wanted us to sit out in the backyard when I put
the baby down for a nap. I wanted to lie down too, and didn’t really want to go sit outside, but agreed after I could see he was so
Anjelica going down for a nap with Dumbo on her first day home
disappointed when I hesitated. We tested to make sure the monitor worked ok in the yard, and it was fine, so he was right that it would be no different. I think it is going to take a while for him to get used to taking care of a baby though, because when she woke up, and cried, I went to get up, and he told me to sit down. I thought he was going to go get her, but he just turned off the monitor and said, “OK, we know she’s crying now.” He thinks that picking up a crying baby is just teaching them to cry. I totally disagree. At this age, you are teaching them that they are safe and can trust you to be there for them to take care of their needs. I got up anyway and said I wasn’t going to let her cry. I don’t care what he thinks.
He was just upset because we didn’t have a lot of time before he had to leave to go to PA. He is clueless as to what my body went through to have this child. He actually asked me to pack his suitcase for him. I was really tired, and was going to be home alone. I wished I was still in the hospital, or that I had someone staying at the house with me. People offered, but Lou didn’t want anyone from the family staying here. We don’t even have a guest room, so in his opinion they would just be in the way, and would probably not be much help anyway.
Jo and Anjelica first day home
But I really needed help. I packed for him, and he took off for PA, and I was left home alone on my first night. Taking care of the baby was easy. Walking up and down the stairs between her room and mine was the problem. I was tired, but was doing ok, until I felt a sharp pain and started heavily bleeding. I couldn’t tell if I was bleeding from the inside or on the outside. I called the doctor, and he said to just lay down and give it time to see if it stopped on its own, and that it could be a number of things but not to panic. Easier said than done. I just stayed downstairs on the family room couch with Anjelica so I didn’t have to keep getting up. When Lou finally called to check in on me, I broke down crying when I told him about the bleeding. He called Astrid, and asked her to work and spend the night with me to help with the baby. She watched Anjelica the next morning while my neighbor drove me to the doctor’s office to see what was going on. My episiotomy stitches had ripped out, which he’d never seen happen to anyone before. He decided that it was better to leave it be rather than try to repair it. I have no idea what I’m going to look like down there now.
I stopped bleeding, and could handle the second night on my own. Despite the fact that Lou didn’t want a bassinette in our bedroom, I borrowed one from one of my managers at work. Lou’s not even home half of the time to be bothered by a baby in the room, so he’ll just have to deal with it for a little while. I tried before she was born, but it didn’t work out. I had borrowed this little portable crib that’s been in my family forever. I stripped, repainted, and put a new mattress in it. I think I did a great job, and it is fine, but Lou insists it is too old and not safe. So it is in our attic now. Maybe the next person in my family to have a baby can use it. At least I do have Anjelica sleeping upstairs… for now, anyway.