First day in the hospital!

First day home!

At 12:20am on Saturday, August 21st, 1993, my little angel made her entrance into this world eight pounds, twenty-one inches long, healthy, beautiful, precious and perfect in every way. Anjelica Sierra Joy.

The first thing I said to Lou on the morning of the 20th, was, “today’s the day.” My water hadn’t broken or anything, but I had been restless since 2am. I went to work anyway to get budgets done. People kept telling me to go home, lecturing that what I was calling cramps were labor contractions. I did leave around noon, after transmitting budgets to corporate. Lou and I worked on getting his seminar mailings stamped, labeled, sorted and boxed for to the post office. I made an early dinner and cleaned up, since the contractions were still pretty far apart. Around 6pm we decided we should head to the hospital. Astrid, our new nanny-to-be came along for support. They processed my intake, did an exam, said I had a long way to go, and sent me home with some sleeping pills and forecasted that I’d 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.

I took the little pills and went to bed around 8pm. Perhaps they gave me the wrong little pills because there was no sleeping. The contractions just got stronger and faster. Lou called the doctor’s office 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. We got to the hospital around 10pm, but I was apparently just one of many people in labor, and was left alone, curled up in a wheelchair in a hallway waiting by myself for a long time while Lou parked the car. I begged for an epidural, but the lone anesthesiologist was with an emergency C-section. I was not the least 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 mandatory classes were ridiculous and was particularly annoyed that all the focus was on the mother. He told the instructor that the classes really should incorporate more of the effect of pregnancy and childbirth on the father. 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. Needless to say, he wasn’t interested in learning coaching skills.

Eventually, the anesthesiologist did come by and said I was too far along to get an epidural, but finally gave in to my desperation. 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 quickly. I’m usually the quiet one in any room, but that night, I was a screamer when the doctor stuck this plunger thing up me to pull the baby out. It lost suction, the plunger popped off her head, and they shoved it right back up there to try again. This was the first time Lou had ever met my doctor, who was between my spread open legs using a dent puller to get our baby out.

Lou brought the camera we purchased for recording the new baby’s life and videotaped us when we went to the hospital the first time that evening, and again after the baby was 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, and keeps talking about how it will take a while for that to get out of his brain when he thinks of or sees me down there.

The next day, Lou came to visit, and brought Anjelica a little Dumbo elephant stuffed animal as her first present from her Daddy. We were both exhausted from the late night, and 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 at home, and sarcastically asked, “What am I? Chopped Liver?” I pointed out that his mother didn’t call me at the hospital, 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. My friend from work, Sandy and her husband, Rob came to visit, and brought some champagne and my very favorite treat: brownies. I only got to have one brownie, though, because as soon as they left, Lou nabbed the brownies, and threw them in the trash, stating, “You don’t need these.”  I said 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 fat; I gained 26 pounds total while pregnant. I cried after he left, unsure if I couldn’t brush it off because of hormones or exhaustion.

In the middle of the night, they brought me Anjelica 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. But Lou had to go to his client in PA, and he wanted me to come home before he left. When the nurse came to fill out the birth certificate information before checkout, 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, and I always assumed it would be spelled with a G. I cautioned that she’ll have to correct people her entire life, just as I have. He insisted on using J anyway. I specified the spelling of her middle name, Sierra, which literally means mountain, but my translation of her name is Earth Angel.

Our next-door neighbors decorated the mailbox and outside the house and made some food for dinner, which was greatly appreciated. It was a beautiful day and Lou wanted us to sit in the backyard when I put Anjelica down for a nap. I wanted to lie down too, and didn’t want to sit outside, but agreed after I could see he was disappointed when I hesitated. We ensured the portable monitor worked in the yard, so he was right that it would be no different from being upstairs. It’s clearly going to take a while for him to get used to taking care of a baby, because when she woke up and cried out, I went to get up, and he told me to sit down. I assumed he was going to go get her for me, 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 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 left for PA. He actually asked me to pack his suitcase for him, clueless to what my body went through. I wished I was still in the hospital, or that someone was staying with me. People offered, but Lou didn’t want anyone from my family here. We don’t even have a guest room, so in his opinion they would just be in the way, and probably not be much help either.

I packed his bag, he left for PA, and I was home alone on our 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 doing ok, until I felt a sharp pain and felt blood gush from between my legs. I couldn’t tell if I was bleeding from the inside or out. 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 laid on the family room couch with Anjelica so that I didn’t have to keep getting up, except to change her diaper or my bloody sanitary pad. When Lou finally called to check in, I broke down crying when I told him about the bleeding. He called Astrid to ask her to work overnight to help with the baby. She watched Anjelica the next morning while my neighbor drove me to the doctor’s office. My episiotomy stitches had ripped through my tissues, 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 bassinet 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. Anjelica is sleeping upstairs, at least for now.

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