Do you know Osama Bin Laden’s birthday? Adolph Hitler’s Birthday? The birthday of Pol Pot? Neither did I. Until one morning when I was sitting with one of my Obstetrician’s nurses, Adrienne, a friendly young lady with big brown eyes. We were sitting at her desk at Dr. Bob’s office in Ridge Hill, a new development in the Sixth Borough, where Dr. Bob and many other West Med conglomerates of physicians and their staffs and patients had relocated to after the past few months. It was mid-January, my husband and I had text the Stork 9 months earlier, and the Stork was delivering.
What was originally a due date set by the Stork of February third, 2012 was slowly creeping into January. Several sonograms and meetings with my obstetrician, Dr. Bob, had indicated that the Stork was sending us a delivery, however, the baby was not in ‘proper exit position’ and it looked like said baby was going to have to be delivered surgically.
We sat with Adrienne, as she looked at Dr. Bob’s calendar online. Rob was adamant the baby not be delivered on January 24th, his Dad’s birthday. Meanwhile I was having a spaced-out moment thinking that if I was a young Victorian Bride giving birth 100 years ago, I would be destined to die in Childbirth with this out-of-position-for-delivery baby (none of that sentiment was true, however it didn’t stop me from thinking about it). Thank goodness for the 20th Century, I thought. Regardless of my own self-preservation strategy, Rob reminded Adrienne that his son and his father could not share a birthday of the 24th of January, despite that his wife was only seven to ten decades away from losing her life in this whole process. (Not Necessarily).
I removed myself from my bad-medicine day dream and looked at Dr. Bob’s calendar on Adrienne’s computer screen. “Dr. Bob likes to schedule Cesarean Sections for Thursdays”, Adrienne said as a matter of fact. Well that’s nice I thought. Let’s see if I’m free, I thought to myself (OK I was). But the Hospital had no openings on the Thursday of the 4th week of January. So we were S-O-L. “How about Wednesday” Adrienne said? Let me see, was I available?? (Ok I was). But you know how the Nursery Rhyme goes…’Monday’s child is fair of face, Tuesday’s child is full of Grace, Wednesday’s child is full of woe, Thursday’s child has far to go...
As if it was just part of her job, (because it was), Adrienne scheduled our Cesarean Section for Wednesday, January 25th 2012 at 8 AM. “Don’t worry”, she said, “That’s the first surgery of the day, and you will be first in line for takeoff”.
We left WestMed’s shiny, new facilities with my husband loving the idea of a scheduled birth (which was not his father’s birthday of January 24th) and me torn between the easiness of a scheduled birth and the fearfulness of a scheduled surgery. Please understand, not only was this my first go at Motherhood, it was also my first go at surgery, and the latter was freaking me out a little more than the former.
Let me say this: I am a bit of a romantic when it comes to birthdates. I have this feeling we should all come into this Earth at the exact moment it is intended for us to come into this Earth. The idea of ‘picking birthdays’ doesn’t sit well with me. I was torn. A scheduled birth is super convenient when it comes to planning for a baby, but part of me felt we were cheating God, and to a lesser extent, the Stork, that our little delivery should choose his own birthdates, and arrival. But it was out of my hands, medically and romantically, so along with Wednesday, January 25th I went.
But as a soon-to-be-mother, I had to do some my due diligence and see who else also shared this January 25th birthday. I didn’t want my child to grow up with the same birthdates as Osama Bin Laden (March 10th 1957), or Adolph Hitler (April 20th, 1889), or some other horrendous individual who has walked this Earth. After all, I share my birthdates with some very harmless individuals (Prince William 6/21/82, Meredith Baxter and Michael Gross, both of Family Ties, 6/21/47, and Jean Paul Sartre, 6/21/05). Rob also shared a birthdate with decent people, his day, 14th July, Bastille Day, shared 7/14 birthdays with Gustav Klimt (1862), Gerald Ford (1913) Tommy Mattola (1949) and Jane Lynch (1960) – all fully respectable individuals. So I Googled the birthdates of some of the 20th Centaury’s more low-quality contributors: Mao Zedong (12/16/1893), Joseph Stalin (12/18/1878), Vladimir Lenin (4/20/1870), Theodore Kaczynski (5/22/42), Timothy McVeigh – the Oklahoma City Bomber (4/22/68), Jeffery Dahlmer (5/21/60), and the individual who I feel was the worst President of the United States of America, George W. Bush (7/6/46). None of these people were born on January 25th. It was a safe date. In fact, one-twentyfive (two perfect square roots) was the birthdates of Alicia Keys (1/25/80), Etta James (1/25/38), Corazon Aquino (1/25/33) and Virginia Woolf (1/25/1882) – all fully respectable individuals. Looked like my baby’s birthday was a good day, even if it were slated to be 'Full of Woe'.
Let the countdown begin
Wednesday, January 18th was my last day in the office. My boss’ boss, Ken, a super proactive guy who really should just run the company, said this would be my last day in the office (I think he was afraid I would go into labor during a staff meeting). I made my goodbyes. Thursday, January 19th, I worked from home, but to be honest, I didn’t do anything but watch Law and Order for about 10 hours. At the time, little did I know, but this would be my last day of ‘doing nothing’, as it were, and vegging out, in my life. Man, I love Law and Order. Man, I loved responsibility-free vegging-out. Friday, January 20th, was my last official day at work. So I actually worked hard at tying up loose ends as best I could. The weekend of Jan 21st and 22nd I know somewhere involved going to Costco and stocking up on food, and of course being too worn out to even push the shopping cark around the Costco warehouse. (Why is Costco so big?). Monday, January 23rd, I had an appointment with Dr. Bob, again confirming the baby was not in ‘delivery-ready-position’. I knew I was carrying a boy, and let me tell you, Men never ask, NEVER ASK, for directions, Jesus, Lord have Mercy. I also went to the hospital for bloodwork. Yes, I have blood. Tuesday, January 24th, what would have been my late Father-In-Law’s 68th Birthday, My aunt Choochoo took me out for lunch, and we drove to Dobbs Ferry, not too far from my house and still part of the Seventh Borough. We went to a Mexican restaurant on the main drag and even though we had just a nice lunch and chit chat, Dobbs Ferry is where she lived at a point with her young family. I had a feeling there was a sentiment of imparting well wishes upon a young family underlying that super-yummy rice and beans. Aunt Choochoo drove me home, and Rob and I had our pre-baby dinner at the Old Stone Mill in Tuckahoe (part of the Seventh Borough).
Let me tell you something right now, a true life lesson to be learned. DO NOT BE A DUMMY like me and go to a nice restaurant the day before you have a baby and be persuaded to order the scallops. I always end up ordering scallops, and though they are nice, when you are about to have a baby order a dinner of SUBSTANCE, ie steak and potatoes. Now is not the time for lady-like scallops. ORDER STEAK. Get protein. Store Carbs. Prepare your body for famine, even if it’s only 48 hours of ‘famine’. Be a true AMERICAN. Ask, “Where’s the Beef?” Have no shame. Order the Cheeseburger deluxe. Find your inner Irish immigrant and overindulge on potatoes. It’s ok. Trust me. The day before your baby comes; you will need to store protein for energy and crabs for sustenance. Yes, the hospital feeds you, but not like a good steakhouse can feed you in your hours of need. My scallops in garlic sauce were no match for a C-Section.
Wednesday, January 25th 2012. This was it. D-Day (Delivery Day).
We were to be at Lawrence Hospital in Bronxville at 6 AM for an 8 AM surgery. We set the alarm for 4:30 but my mind was racing well before then. The car was already packed, just a few last minute things like packing one’s toothbrush. After brushing my teeth I came downstairs with an urgent need to call my medical insurer. What if we weren’t pre-approved? What if our hospital wasn’t ‘in-network’? I used my last few pre-baby moments to check in with Blue Cross. I dialed their 1-800 numbers from my home phone. “Please call during office hours…” What the….no one is there to reassure me at 5 AM in my neurotic pre-maternal state???? I had to give up and get in the car. Bronxville was only six minutes from our house via the Bronx River Parkway, but we took White Plains Road instead, dragging out our journey to 20 minutes - out of Scarsdale, through Eastchester, Tuckahoe, into Bronxville, Car parked, we checked into the hospital like it was any old hotel on our honeymoon. Labor and Delivery: 4th Floor.
As the sun also rises, the nurses took good care of me and Rob suited up into surgical daddy-gear. The nurses paid no mind to my fast or measly scallop dinner. Aunt Choochoo, an OR nurse manager in one of her past lives, negotiated her way into pre-op, and sanely reminded me that like IVs, caths also work best when working WITH gravity. I obliged and walked myself into the OR, catheter below bladder level.
Please understand, not only was this my first go at Motherhood, it was also my first go at surgery, and the latter was freaking me out a little more than the former.
I sat on the operating table, fully aware of my surrounding. There were many cabinets filled with supplies, Dr. Bob taking some last minute notes, Dr. John, the second Dr. and Dr. Kim, the Anesthesiologist, a slew of nurses, a bad 90’s ‘boom box’ (if you will) or a boom box with a CD player, hence its 1990s reference. There were also many posters around the OR stating things like “count your instruments” and “make sure you have the right patient”. Holy Hell, I thought, yes, let’s make sure this is the right procedure here. Immediately before walking to the OR the nurses asked me if I would sign an Organ donor card. I said “NO, not today, please take out only the baby this go round”. You can have my liver/kidneys/heart/lungs 50 years from now. Plus I never got the OK from Blue Cross this morning, so let’s not overstep our boundaries, OK?
Dr. Kim gave me the anesthesia and I was quickly out of it from the ribcage downward. Rob came in fully suited in sterile scrubs-blue. The lead OR nurse went around the room asking for a status of preparedness. All good to go. There was as silence for a few moments. “I’m ready” I said, even though no one asked me, and everyone seemed a little stunned that I made myself part of the OR checklist. Hey, Me, Blue Cross and my employer were the true financers of this operation, to be literal, so count us in. I’m tired of being pregnant and now I’m numb, so let’s get moving.
A few minutes later, 9:08AM to be exact, the baby came out screaming. Wow, I thought, he’s good at breathing! And screaming! Dr. Bob and the nurses confirmed the baby was in good health and I was happy to be sewn back together. For a moment I realized the full capacity of my lungs for the first time in a long time and I was grateful. The baby went off to nursery after a few photos with Dad and I was off to recovery. One of the nurses let me kiss the baby, and his skin felt like super soft silk. How beautiful!
In the recovery room, I was covered with warm blankets while one nurse taught computer data entry to the other nurse. Meanwhile, Preggos in the next bed were getting ready for delivery. For a relatively small hospital, they were truly a bit of a maternity shop. I felt I was truly first in line for takeoff that day. My limbs were slowly coming to while Rob got phone calls and text messages from friends and family stating that the baby looked just like his dad. Like Bobby? I barely got to see the baby, yet this kid, born one day and sixty-eight years after his paternal grandfather looks just like his Grandpa Bobby??? Ironically so.
Meanwhile, while one nurse taught the computer system to the other, we all had a chat about on-line dating. Me and my quasi-numbness told the nurses not to give up. Rob and I had met online, and it’s worth a shot. But please, keep the warm blankets coming, #1 it’s January, #2 Blue Cross doesn’t charge extra for that.
My good Nurses from L&D took me to Maternity on the 6th floor and finally after a few hours I got to see my super soft baby again. My mom was there, relishing in her first grandchild. Rob’s family was also there. Aunt Choochoo was still playing nurse. But finally I got to hold my baby with my arms, no longer induced with anesthesia. I took a good, hard, look at this kid, and unwrapped his swaddles. Almond-shaped blue-grey eyes, ginormous cheeks, a cleft chin, 10 articulated, long fingers and 10 beautiful toes. I smelled his baby head for a little bit and gave him a kiss. He was perfect. “Happy Birthday, little one”, I said, “This is the best day!”