Natalie’s Story

June 29, 2017

Plenty of Time by Natalie Giacone
 
I took my time deciding to have a baby. There was of course the issue of needing to fall in love with a worthy man, for a change. And the fact that I moved to South East Asia in my early thirties where sex tourism tempted or tainted, depending on perspective, most of the available western men. So by the time I was in labor in the Frauenklinik in Munich Germany, when the Midwife said, “We take our time here,” I was 39 years old.
 
My pregnancy was low stress as I was written off from my teaching job with full pay because my blood test showed a lack of mumps and rubella antibodies. The German labor laws found the environment unsafe for my unborn son due to the small children sharing the same building with the teenagers, whom I taught. At 39 – having educated, learned, and waitressed for the past cumulative 25 years, I actually pushed pause on the grind and was able to be present with my four arms, legs, and eyes, two hearts and lungs, and the many hiccups and kicks.
 
So when the moment finally arrived and I was supine in labor listening to my son’s heartbeat on the monitor and the Midwife says “We take our time here,” I was not put off. I was emanating patience and gratitude. I had lived a lifetime. Zip lined in the treetops of Laos with the Gibbons, spent uncountable holidays on islands in Thailand, lived in three different continents and traveled to over 20 countries. There would be no regrets for starting this family. No waiting until the kid is 18 to pursue my dreams. By doing all the other stuff first, I had made the baby decision the ultimate dream.
“I know the hospital’s philosophy,” I say. “That’s why I chose you. I am not interested in a Cesarean section today.”
“Well, we have plenty of time,” she says as she looks at my monitors and writes things down.
 
And time seemed to be the mantra of my pregnancy. I had waited plenty of time to meet the man loyal enough to love forever. I had spent the last 6 months not working: homemade cooking, juicing, green smoothie drinking. I was 39 weeks and five days and over the moon that we did not need to induce as I had worried, having had heard friends’ experiences.
 
It was a Saturday. I spend the morning going for a long walk trying to bring on labor. I had read in an Internet mom forum that if you walk on uneven surfaces it confuses your cervix and brings on labor. There is a two hundred year old cemetery across the street from our apartment with a small concrete border along the pathways. It is more or less a quiet park with relics and wild flowers throughout the seasons. I had walked these paths many times reading the tombstones for German baby boy names. Watching the foliage turn Crocus purple and get covered in snow to then bloom again. And in the last two weeks of pregnancy, waiting with one foot on the concrete border, one foot on the dirt path, hands around my bump, breathing deeply; I felt ready.
 
I remember having breakfast with friends after a walk. One suggests stress balls for labor, ones you can squeeze and ones you push together, different colors for visualization techniques. My goal was no drugs. I had the good fortune to go over my birth plan with my insurance covered home visiting midwife. She mostly helps out after the birth with breastfeeding, belly button care, first baths, nail cutting and my recovery, but she had trained at the Frauenklinik, my birth clinic, and this was helpful with me being a Californian delivering a baby in Munich.
 
My husband is German but grows very bored with translating, so I am faced with improving my German and finding other options for clarification. Teresa was a very comforting early 20 something, from the Alps, filled with an abundance of knowledge and beautiful English. She gave me the run down. Upon admittance, the hospital would offer me Paracetamol. Then they would put an IV in my arm for further emergencies and pain medicine, such as an opiate called Meptid, which is a bit weaker than the other opiates offered and will not inhibit a water birth, which was my end goal. Of course she went in to great detail regarding the Epidural, referred to as PDA, pronounced with the German (Ahh) so the pain relief is also in the name, PDAhhh.
 
I was armed with an abundance of knowledge but I still needed those stress balls. My friend Karen knew where we could get them, a comedy store walking distance away. I repeat, a comedy store! As soon as I wrapped my hand around them and squeezed, I was cocooned with comfort, and could not let go. To avoid making any choices regarding texture and color, I purchased all the ones I liked, four of them and, of course, packed them immediately upon arriving home.
 
“Tightening again!” I say at dinner to my husband. He reaches over and feels my stomach. “Did you record it in your app?” he asks slightly patronizing. This had been going on for the past two weeks. Each time, he starts to believe and each time I climb into bed without any further conversation and fall asleep. But tonight, they continued for two continuous hours, varying strength and intervals. I had him call the hospital for me. The woman said we could come in but probably it would be a lot more time ahead since it was my first. We agreed that I would take a bath and then revaluate. I had been taking baths almost daily throughout the pregnancy. I would even place my computer on the toilet seat cover to watch midwife shows, some reality based, some fiction. I had become obsessed with the dress rehearsal of labor. The bath became the only place I could relax, adding more hot water and losing myself in other peoples’ labors. These shows provided me with diverse births and complications, building to a crescendo of screams and fear yet always culminating to the release of many babies, sometimes three or four an episode! So it would be fitting that this would be the first place for my first real contraction. The pain hit me like the flu; I urgently needed the toilet. Afterwards, I found some relief but also a good deal of blood. “Now, we have to go to the hospital!” I announce to my husband, who promptly decides to take a shower while I get dressed.
As we leave the house, he looks me over and says: “You look great. Why aren’t you screaming and freaking out like your midwife shows?”
I feel the need to defend and say: “I guess I’m in between contractions? But if anything… we are going because I saw blood!”
 
The local university, Ludwig Maximilian, runs the Frauenklik and it is a ten-minute walk. I had been walking past this building for months. I remember the sound of the suitcase wheels rolling on the concrete. I remember passing a group of family restaurant goers. I felt so calm; it felt so normal. It was around 22:30 with the smell of rain in the air. Despite the pain being less, the walking brings on more contractions. It was more than the Braxton’s Hicks but less than the contraction in the bath. In full dramatic movie form, as if I am going to deliver him right there on the road, I have to keep stopping and when I do, I hold onto my husband and make little noises. I am living the manifestations from my imagination. Everything is real but not, teetering in the dreamy category waiting to get bigger.
 
Admissions confirmed that I was not yet dilated and that they would send me home where I would be more comfortable but we waited for an ultrasound before leaving. Of course, I had already sent the sms labor alert to my entire family and friends back in California.
“Now you have made everyone crazy!” he says this as I walk around the small admissions room. I roll my eyes and give him a shoulder shrug. Then I lean over the counter for another contraction and just like that I am wet.
“My water broke.”
“How do you know?”
“I know; I am wet. Where’s the call button?”
“Well, wait a second more to be sure.”
“Hit the call button!”
The head midwife comes in with a -it’s almost midnight- look on her face.
“My water broke.”
“Show me.”
Like a toddler trying to toilet train, I pull down my pants to show her. Satisfied with the show of blood and water, she says:
“Okay, no need for ultrasound. Now, we have to admit you. Let me call down and get you a bed. Do you have any special food preferences?”
“Ahh, no.” And she leaves before I finish shaking my head.
 
“What are you dong now?” he asks.
“Texting!”
***
 
We spent the night in the delivery room, an enormous room in a 90-year-old building. We would not know it for another 24 hours, but there was an almost full moon lurking behind a storm, drawing our son out to this world. The windows were practically floor to ceiling and they rattled with rain and wind, perfect irony for us, a literal and metaphorical storm had arrived. It seemed like years ago that I purchased the stress balls, but they were all laid out on the bed still with the price tags. I was determined to use all my birth techniques to avoid the drugs. I got into comfortable clothes, I paced the room, I used the yoga ball, I got on my knees, I ordered my husband to massage me, which was by far my favorite pain management technique. However, the earlier adrenaline drained from him and he was caught more than once with his eyes closed when I needed him. I finally gave in and asked for the Meptid. No offense to my husband, but he was no doula. If he was going to sleep that meant I was handling the night alone, which meant no massages.  The nightshift midwife upon seeing me constantly standing and moving said I should stay rested since my “mutermund” (German for mother mouth) had not progressed beyond one centimeter. She added the opiate to the IV, and promised me a bath in a few hours. The lights dimmed to almost dark, my heart rate decreased. My husband lay next to me, snoring, in another bed. I tried to match my breathing to the rattling windows, whistles of wind, and familiar animal sounds of my husband. It felt like magic was brewing. I tried to summon the residue from the thousands of births in this old room for support. I had plenty of time before the real hard stuff would begin, I thought. And then I got sick and threw up…. missing my sleeping husband by a few inches.
 
***
 
Midwife morning shift change woke us up, although there was a part of me that had not even came close to sleeping. Goodbyes and introductions took place. My muttermund had not progressed. It had been 8 hours since my water broke. We were instructed to go downstairs to the ward, where I had an assigned room. Breakfast was waiting for me; my husband could eat at the buffet. Then we could come back to the delivery room and have a bath if I still wanted one. I couldn’t believe I had to leave. I naively thought we’d be in this room until our son arrived. We took our bags and slowly followed the midwife student down the long hallway to the elevator. I stopped more than once for a contraction. It was embarrassing being in such pain in a public hallway. Random people, non-personnel, were in the vicinity. And to make matters worse, I had to keep reminding my husband to massage my lower back! I could not understand why he couldn’t remember how important this was to me. Unfortunately, I could not get a lot of words out during the contractions, so I would yell mid hallway, leaning on a window sill “Back! My Back!”
 
Once in the ward, I try to eat but am still sick – I throw up again. He eats the rest of my food, trying not to look at me since I am holding my head over the container, and he then says what a husband should never say to a wife in labor.
“I don’t think I can do this another 8 hours! What should we do?”
 
I remember lying on my side and not being able to move. The room got fuzzy. The part of me that did not go to sleep took over and accessed my memorized birth plan. I had already taken the opiate, which I had hoped to avoid, leaving the epidural for a last resort. His need to be comforted rather than comfort me seemed like an emergency: a mental plan was made. I feel like I yelled at him immediately, but more likely minutes of disbelief passed before I finally spoke and said:
“You need to eat more, drink more coffee, go outside breathe in the day, call your brother; but get it together. There is no getting out of this. Once you’ve had enough food and coffee, you will take me back upstairs, so I can have a bath and get an epidural.”
“But you didn’t want an epidural.”
“Yea, I know.”
 
I have no idea what he said in return or if he even responded, but we made it back upstairs within 30 minutes. The head midwife told us to wait in the hallway while they prepared the bath. Having more hallway contractions, I looked out the window and could actually see the entrance to my walking cemetery. It added to the surreal, yet grounded me. We eventually decided on Maximilian for his name, which although tombstones existed with this name, did not come from the cemetery, or the University hospital. It was a road trip to Tuscany back when I was officially 12 weeks pregnant. After going through the official German boy name list, yes there is a list, we agreed on three names: Maximilian, Leopold, and Louie. Over the course of our trip, we then referred to our baby by each name for approximately two days. Maximilian felt right, making the other two names contrived..
 
The bath was a mixture of hot and cold sensations, a Shakespearean cold fire. Every time a contraction came, I had my husband turn on the cold water from the water nozzle. We kept the routine up for a little over two hours and by the time we made it back to the head midwife, I had progressed to 2-3 centimeters and they were offering me the epidural.
 
“Don’t mess up.” I say to the anesthesiologist. I don’t think she was impressed. Realizing that I should not make her feel uncomfortable that she has so much comfort waiting for me assuming it worked.
“Sorry. I trust you. I am sure you’re great.”
“Yes I am.” She said adjusting her doctor jacket.
I continued to recite as I stared down at her white jogging shoes everything I had read that could go wrong: “numb legs; chronic back pain, migraines, slowing down the labor.”
“Good God, what have you been reading? First of all, not everyone gets numb legs. Back pain comes with recovery of birth and lifting your child. Every one is different and I think women just blame the anesthesiologist when things don’t go their way.”
After nine months of being an epidural hater, turning my nose up to the women who chose it too quickly during my midwife shows, I suddenly switch sides: “Yeah, everything gets so exaggerated in those online mom forums.”
 
Her assistant has me sitting up and my feet are hanging over the bed. My back is exposed. The head midwife is standing close to me making sure I don’t move when the needle hits my spine, almost hugging me. I can feel her breath on my face as we make small talk and then I hear:
“So, I am going to insert the needle a little higher than normal. I’m not going through your tattoo. It’s all theory but it could go wrong and nothing is going to go wrong on my shift.”
Glad the anesthesiologist takes pride in her work. “Okay, but how is that going to affect things?”
“It means as soon as baby passes the numb nerves you will feel everything.”
A contraction wave rolls over me. I lean on the midwife. My husband is still in the room; I can see him out of corner of my eye. He looks bad.
“Honey, go outside for this. You don’t need to be here.” The contraction passes.
“Go for it. Pain relief is pain relief. I will deal with the other stuff later. I did want an undedicated delivery anyway. Now I get to have both.”
And the rest is a blur.
The pain goes away. I lay down. I shake the anesthesiologist hand saying
 “I hope to not see you again!”
Smiling and adjusting her coat again, she says: “That’s how we know that I did my job right!” And she disappears.
 
And then after 12 hours of labor, a blanket of pain relief covers me. I stop feeling the drumbeats of labor but still can hear them in the distance. I let my husband go home, for a few hours – allowing him a shower break, a like-epidural of his own. I’ve never seen that man so uncomfortable.
 
***
“We have plenty of time. And if things change fast, we can assemble a surgical team in 5 minutes,” the head midwife says before the afternoon shift arrives, and the goodbyes and hellos start again. She had just added the synthetic Oxytocin to my IV since my epidural had taken effect. My birth was officially medicated; no water birth for me. Now I just needed to avoid a Cesarean in order to keep a fraction of my birth plan intact!
 
This was my third group of midwives. My delivery room had a door leading into the midwife office, which was sometimes open. There was a certain orderly sense with the shift changes. Noises of things being put away, papers shuffling. Clean, well-rested new people were greeting each other and making their way over to me. Besides some catheter drainage moments, the afternoon was mostly uneventful.
 
Then I met the doctor. She was starting her 24-hour shift, so assured me that she would be with me when the baby arrived. She wanted to do an ultrasound to see the position of the baby’s head.
“Don’t get me wrong, I want to do what it takes to have this baby vaginally, but what kind of emergency would cause you to do a Cesarean,” I asked.
“The baby’s heartbeat and or your heartbeat being irregular.”
“But I heard them say his heartbeat is irregular, a few times.”
“Yes, but nothing to worry about yet. We are keeping an eye on that.”
“What else?”
“Well, the position of the baby’s head; it looks like,” she pauses as she looks at the screen, “his head his still not aligned with the birth canal at the moment. Again, it is still early; he will adjust. No reason to rush him.
 
***
“Whyyyyyy?” We hear this over and over through the wall of the adjoining room. Apparently she did not have the PDAhhh. My husband disagrees, that this is not what she was saying but he is not a native English speaker, so what does he know! Eventually she added, “Whyyyyy Baby, Why?” right before the final push. We heard the new baby cries. The midwives were rushing around passing through our room to hers. Bringing in warm towels. It felt like one of my midwife shows. I cried a little. My husband got more impatient and uncomfortable. He finally put in his headphones. When the midwife student came back to drain my catheter after birthing the baby next door, I realized that she looked different. She had an -I just saw the miracle of life glow. I wanted to ask her all about it. I felt bad that I was her drudgework. I asked enough to learn that it was a boy, her third child, delivery was fast, and everybody was doing fine.
 
Then it happened. The evening shift came back. And the same girls that gave me the Meptid and promised the bath were back, even the head midwife that frowned at me when my water broke was there! I was so happy to see them. They felt like old friends. I asked how their day was, if they got to spend any time outside. They answered all my questions and were incredibly tentative. Every 30 minutes, they would lay me on the opposite side to align the baby’s head with the birth canal, which was hopefully going to happen before midnight, but after almost 24 hours I was only dilated to a 7-8.
“There is plenty of time,” I heard one of them say, again. I was losing my gratitude, bits by bits over the past 24 hours with each breath, each beeping sound of the heart rate monitor, each squeeze of the blood pressure armband. Plenty of time to bruise my arm from the squeezing, plenty of time to evaporate any reasonable patience left inside me. And my hair! My hair was everywhere. The machines would not let me tie it back myself. The cords blocked me from any hair band twist maneuver, left hand had the IV and right hand had the blood pressure armband, so twisting my hair back seemed impossible no matter how hard I tried. I asked my husband to pull it back for me and he had no idea how to wrap the band. I explained it a few times and each time it was a loose unhelpful catastrophe. Could he be anymore useless!? I was glad we were having a son.
 
They brought the bed back in the room so we both could rest before the pushing.  The inexperienced student was assigned to us. She felt more like our baby sitter. Even bringing us tea, which I promptly threw up. Then as we approached midnight and realized that the baby was not going to be born on this day but the next one: I lost it. My husband had retreated in his own defeated world; I, Medusa hair woman, hit the call button.
“What are you doing?”
I don’t answer
“Natalie”
“I have a question.”
“What is it?”
“It’s hard to say to you.”
Less experienced midwife student arrives. I can hear the door open, her shoes sticking on the linoleum as she walks over to me.
“I want to push. Can we check my muttermund, again?” She fiddles with the gadgets and the screen.
“I feel like I have to go to the bathroom. Maybe I already have?”
Okay, I will be right back
She returns with more experienced student midwife and together they are very sweet. As they look. I can feel them quietly and quickly wipe me clean. Lovely, so I was right.
“Sorry, you are still at 8-9. It will be more time.”
“More time! But, I am shaking and I have a headache and I don’t know if I can handle waiting any longer!”
Experienced midwife puts a thermometer in my mouth and explains the shaking is from the labor. She compares it to running a marathon. Turns out, I have a fever. They make notes and try and reassure me and eventually start to leave. Lying on my side, one of my stress balls has made it back in my hand. I squeeze and squeeze. Then I see experienced midwife return: “Is there anything we can do for you, anything at all?”
“Besides getting this baby out of me, no. Wait, can you put my hair back?” She promptly takes my hair band and pulls it tightly back for me. A sigh of control comes over me. The girls leave. The contractions can be felt. The baby has passed the point of the numb nerve endings and my pelvic floor is responding. I am told not to push so with each contraction, I kind of lean into the push without pushing. Like leaning into a curve on a bike without steering, I don’t really do anything the momentum does it all. I can feel him inching a little bit more with each curve.
 
The midwives return with the doctor and the ultrasound machine. I’m told that his head is still not in position for pushing. They apply a gel to my muttermund and tell me to push on the next contraction. Although it feels great to finally steer instead of lean, it was wasted energy: I can feel stagnation. They explain the gel was to help move him past the last undilated centimeter. They put antibiotics in my IV for my fever. I’m starting to worry about the looming c-section. I am starting to welcome the idea. I don’t want to steer. I want to surrender. The head midwife appears with the doctor and the two student midwives. Everyone is in between my legs. Head midwife reaches inside of me and speaks to the students in German. Who then each have a feel. The doctor explains that the gel worked, baby is almost in position. Would I like anything to eat, to drink, as they want me to start pushing soon. Suddenly it feels like it is all happening too quickly as if the past 25 hours have not happened.
 
Fear grabbed my feet and asked me to move up. I had no energy so just shook my head. Fear removes all the monitors’ sticky stuff from chest, even the blood pressure armband. My husband, the traitor, joins Fear to help move me higher as they click and snap the bed apart. Fear settles in between my legs and manages to stand around me, waiting for the next contraction for pushing to begin.
 
25 hours since my water broke, our work is about to begin; I’m shaking, feverish, and with headache. Somehow I see through the fear and understand. The doctor sits at the center where the bed came apart; my legs are spread with each foot fixed to a midwife’s hip and each hand in their clasp; my husband beside me. I am pushing, abstractly, pushing. I can feel him moving and it is so scary. I see him rip me apart in my mind’s eye and I lighten my pushing. Husband in my ear: “I love you. He is almost here. I love you. You can do this. Let’s meet our son. I love you.”
 
“I can’t.”
 
I remember from my midwife shows– this is the part where all the women swear that it’s impossible. With drugs and without, old and young, disbelief and fear take over. I am intellectualizing a memory from the second hand experience of observation and the memory tells me to listen to my midwives. This is the most vulnerable part of the birth because the woman is faced to depend, trust, and surrender to the caregivers. If they had suggested forceps, vacuum, or a caesarian, I would have blindly accepted. I remain eternally grateful that my caregivers suggested the obvious:
 
“You have power,” experienced midwife says.
“I can’t.”
“You have power!” this echoes inside me.
“Okay. Okay.” I say and surrender.
 
And with each new contraction, I lean forward into the midwives, they pull me even more forward, husband supports this by pushing my back. Meanwhile I am pushing into my rectum, my pelvic floor.
“Do you want to feel his head?”
“No” I might ‘have the power,’ but I was afraid of freezing with the slightest change in movement.
“We’re putting oil on his head to make it easier.”
 
“I love you. Maxi is almost here. I love you. You can do this. Meet our son. I love you.”
 
“One more big push and then stop and wait for directions.”
 
I drink water. I look into my husband’s eyes. I ask the midwives if I am hurting them with my feet on their hips. I can feel hands inside me and I want to tell them to get out of there! It’s not polite to be so rough! But of course, I don’t. The part of me with the memorized birth plan remembers to say: “Don’t cut the cord right away. Wait for it stop pulsing.” They nod. I like the idea of speaking about post birth activities. Contraction comes. We resume position. I have never felt so animalistic, so primal, and so POWERFUL.
“Okay stop. Now listen to me very carefully. No pushing.”
More German exchanged between them; I feel the doctor’s hands. “Now cough and clear your throat.”
I read about this so it wasn’t confusing. I do a fake cough. I clear my throat. I can feel the muscles affected and more tugging and pulling.
“Next contraction. Little push.”
We wait. I push, a little. And then he is released.
 
“Look at his cone head,” I say. “Hi baby.”
1:47 in the morning.
Beyond pale – floppy arms and legs
The cord looks like a deep-water sea creature
So much hair
So much to see
As we wait for him to breathe
Hands and toes, blood
He is a blurry manifestation coming into focus
As we wait for him to breathe
I can still feel him inside
The sting of him outside
I am holding my breath
As we wait for him to breathe
I am using – all of my wishes, casting – all of my spells, and my – eyes have not left his body. Until his body
shakes with first lung rehearsal
And before I can’t
wait a second longer
he is lifted to my chest
We smell each other
I am hugging the depth of my core,
Hugging myself complete
 
I breathe again.
 
They give me medicine to birth the placenta. Then with some painful pushing on my stomach, the placenta springs out of me, almost involuntary. They confirm the pulsing of the deep-water sea creature cord has stopped. They ask Andreas to cut it as they clamp it. The man who hates hospitals, who said he could not cut the cord, filled with adrenalin, accepted the task. Watching him cut the cord with our son on my chest feels cliché perfect and it is.
“Are we done?”
“We need to look for tears, but yeah, we got all of it.”
“fuck yea!” I say, realizing that the most innocent five-minute old baby is on my chest. Looking right at him, I apologize for my language, probably will not be the last time.
 
I am told I have a small tear inside and will need two stitches. Andreas takes the baby for skin to skin and sits next to me. We look at his small hands that seem to be whiter than the rest of him. He is only a few feet away, yet I long for him back in my arms. I am thirsty, so thirsty. I drink a liter of coconut water. Maximilian comes back to me and he finds his first food, later we would call this the “milk bar – open 24/7,” which is true as my son will double his weight in 2 months time. Pictures are taken, texts messages are sent, but mostly we bask in the family feeling for the first time: eye contact, silences, and tears. The stuff that forever moments are made of and words can only describe.
 
Then it is time to go back to my room in the ward. They wheel me in the bed down the public hallways. Andreas pushes Maxi in his sleeping box on wheels. He is still wrapped in blankets and needs clothes and a diaper. Once we are handed over to the nurse, I explain that I am dying to pee. We agree that she will take me to the bathroom and Andreas will bring Maxi to get dressed. We are whispering which feels appropriate to the new life around us but really it is because it is 4am. The nurse wheels my bed outside the ward bathroom and helps me out. As I explain that it has been over 15 hours since I have stood, blood gushes down to the floor and covers my slippers. Standing in a puddle somehow is reminiscent of my water breaking. We leave the blood and my hospital bed outside the shared bathroom. The nurse helps me sit and hands me two soft thick pads, Andreas nicknames them surf boards as they become a part of our life for the next four weeks. Once alone in the bathroom stall, I am so happy that things mostly still work; I cannot completely empty. When I return, the blood is cleaned up and the Nurse instructs me to walk with her to the room, holding on to the bed. Arduous steps confuse my mind as walking used to be involuntary.
 
There is a sleeping woman in my room. The old windows, similar to the delivery room, are wide open and it’s so welcome fresh after being inside for the past 30 hours. The nurse, in a dramatic gesture, turns on the light and clucks her tongue as she shuts the windows. My dinner is waiting for me. I realize that sitting is not easy, so I eat standing up. Dinner is the most amazing German Brotzeit: breads, meats, and a cheese mixture called Obatzda. Again, I feel like an animal the way that I am eating. I am aware of how noisy I chew, groaning a bit with pleasure, but I don’t care. Each bite awakes parts of me, wildly and I want more. Somehow, I save some for Andreas, find pajamas and crawl into bed. As soon as I close my eyes, he returns with the Nurse and our baby.
 
“His temperature is running low, so you need to hold him,” he says as she hands him back to me. Lying on my chest, I take him in: size, white hands, smell. They put an additional blanket around us. The Nurse leaves. Andreas finishes the food and tells me that the baby pooped and it was black tar, and I cannot help feeling proud, everything mostly works for him too. It is now 5am. Clearly he has to go home and sleep, but it feels so strange to say goodbye with our baby on my chest. But somehow he leaves. Somehow, I close my eyes. Alone with the baby in the dark, we are one again. I can still feel the birth, hear my screams. Some minutes later my legs spasm and my entire body flinches, like a breath of air after being underwater, I feel for the baby and drift off.
 
Muddles of Motherhood
 
Pressure swells
Eyes fight
For a breath of air
Exiting the slumber
of 2 hours
of 39 weeks
Now there are two of us
Instructed to warm him
We fell asleep as one
 
Six hours sore
Six hours new
The sun has risen, inside, bedside window and
I’m call button clueless
Pressure swells
Gingerly lean left, and
My tiny him moves from one cloud to the next,
Beside me
Reach up around hand bar and find my feet
 
My slippers are bloody
My terry cloth pink robe fits me
We are two again
I can lift him
A wobbly head on a feather
Alights in his baby box on wheels
Body and mind argue with each slow-motion step
Down empty hallway
Assailing into motherhood as I search for the bathroom

~Natalie Giacone

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