May 8th. If you say it really fast, it sounds like one word. I found that delightful the day I went to the labor and delivery department at Kingman Regional Medical Center and my OB told me I would be giving birth.
Dr Jackson, a very laid back type, was wearing a Harley Davidson t-shirt and jeans. I had seen him a few times in the shared office of my regular OB. I had heard he wasn’t very nice, but for some reason, I found him incredibly calming. He was the on call at the hospital for that night, so I had no choice but to accept him as the doctor who would deliver my first child. It turns out he would have his work cut out for him.
I arrived around 10:00 am feeling “weird.” I didn’t have pains or anything, I just wasn't feeling “right.” The nurse on duty checked me and an hour later during the next exam told me that I was in labor. Dr Jackson decided to go ahead and break my water and kick things into gear. The day went on fairly uneventful as I labored. Things progressed as they should, except for one small detail. Turns out, my unborn son wasn’t facing the right direction (which would prove to be a running theme with the boy). The medical term is posterior. In laymen’s terms, the kid was facing up instead of down. This apparently makes it very difficult to push the baby out. So after pushing for nearly two hours, my biker doctor informs me that we have to do an emergency c-section. That’s when things got unconventional.
Up until the point of pushing I was talking with family, laughing, playing Uno. I hadn't needed any pain killers and thought I was going to be a rock star and just shoot that baby out with no problems! Boy, was I wrong. At first, the pushing was going well. Dr Jackson said I was progressing nicely. Unfortunately there was a point that I had done too good a job. I had managed to get the kid stuck.
So there I am with a baby wedged in a place that you don't want a traffic jam and now in a LOT of pain. Pain I never imagined. Pushing against it made it better, but now I was told to stop. They had called the anesthesiologist and he was on his way to the hospital, so they could do surgery. I lost all composure. I mean, I flipped out! I started crying uncontrollably and thrashing in my bed. I had never felt that kind pain before. There is no way to describe it. It. Is. Horrible! Once the anesthesiologist arrived, I was rushed down the hall to the O.R. It was now around 12:30 May 9th (doesn't roll of the tongue as well as the day before.) Anyway, at that point the incredibly handsome anesthesiologist administered the spinal block and all the pain just went away. It was at that point of relief that I could determine that he was, in fact, incredibly handsome. Up until that point everyone sort of looked like a demonic pig.
So now, I’m chill. My mom is with me in the operating room. They have the screen up, so I cant see what is going on. The “hot dude with the good drugs” as I had begun referring to him as, was playing video poker behind me. At that point I thought this would be a great time for a nap. I woke up to good drug guy telling me to let him know if I felt anything that seemed odd or uncomfortable. A few minutes later I was re-awoken by the inability to breath. I informed my dealer of my discomfort. His response was to glance up from a possible straight and say, “Oh, that's cuz the doctor is on your chest.” Oh is that all? OK then, back to sleep. (Dr Jackson would later tell me that my son’s birth was the most difficult c-section he had ever performed.) Next thing I know there is a nurse walking past me holding this grey, bloody, lumpy thing by its foot. Its mouth was hanging open like it wanted to cry, but nothing came out. This is when I hear my mom choke out the words, “Amy, that's your baby!!” I responded with something like, “ugh…cool” and then I went right back to sleep.
I woke up a couple hours later in a room covered by what appeared to be a pool raft. A nurse walked in and told me I was in recovery and the pool raft was keeping me warm. I didn't question it. The woman had access to needles. The nurse then wheeled me on my gurney down a long hallway and asked if I would like to see my son. I said, “YES!” So she wheels me up to the nursery window and says, “There he is.” I look into the window with excitement and see two little babies all swaddled and sleeping, both wearing pink. So I asked, “Where is my son?” She responds, “Right there.” I look again. Again there are just the two little baby girls. Around that point my mother comes over and says, “Hey lady, why don't you move her from in front of the pole, so she can see her kid?” The nurse, embarrassed by her mistake, moves my gurney over a foot and there in the back of the nursery I see nurses whizzing around an incubator with this little red, naked, SCREAMING baby boy. I was certain that this was a boy because he had the biggest set of gonads I could imagine on a newborn child. My response with see my son was, “WHOA! What’s up with his balls? They’re HUGE!” To which the nurse explained was due to the hormones created during birth. I was relieved to hear that. My worry for a moment, was that the kid would never be able to ride a bike for fear of rupture.
I was then wheeled off to the room that I would be recovering in for the next few days. My nurse informed me that my son was having a little bit of trouble breathing and keeping his body temperature up, so when he was doing better, they would bring him in so I could officially meet him. I took the opportunity to get some more sleep. Approximately five hours later a pediatric nurse comes into my room pushing the little baby aquarium containing the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. My blue eyed baby boy Samuel Forrest Blackwell was finally in my arms. His little cheek was bruised and he had, what we later deemed, ring around the forehead. He had been so unwilling to leave the comfort of my womb that the doctors had to really work to get him out, leaving him looking like he had a bout with Mike Tyson. My mom later told me that when she was watching the doctors in the O.R. work on getting him out, that it looked like they were changing a diesel tire. Needless to say, the kid had a rough start to life on the outside.
I sat there holding this amazing 8lb 12.5oz little person. I couldn't believe I was a mother. I couldn't believe that I had done it. I couldn't believe that I was going to be doing it alone. I couldn't believe just how big his balls were.
Sam was taken back to the nursery, so I could rest some more. In the next few hours he would be poked, prodded, tested and thankfully bathed. An IV was administered, because he wasn't doing as well as he should have. In the next couple days he developed jaundice, a condition in some newborns where their skin turns yellow due to too much bilirubin in the system and the liver isn't able to process it out efficiently. Its a medical thing that basically means, my kid started looking like a pumpkin. This condition, although common, can be life threatening and I was told that I could go home, but my new baby had to stay. I didn’t think that was fair. I worked hard to grow that kid and get him out of me and I didn’t even get to take him when I left.
I am released from the hospital after my two and a half day recovery. My little oompa-loompa looking baby is stuck on medical layaway. It was very hard to go home and not have him, but I was able to go back to the hospital and see him while they got his condition under control. The treatments were to keep him on IV, feed him a lot and put him in a nice baby tanning booth. They even gave him a set of cool baby shades. On day five, he was finally better. Good enough to come home.
It was the best day going to pick him up. He was a lot less yellow and looked more like a baby should. He even had some killer tan lines. I finally had my son. No feeling can describe what it is like to be a new mother. It is a combination of joy, pride and crippling fear.
The happiness is great. Its that crippling fear that gets you. Guess what? It never goes away. The joy might, at times. Like when your baby pees in your face mid diaper change, or when he’s three and he poops under the kitchen table. When they decide at five that they are independent enough to walk down the street and check things out without giving you any indication of their little plans its not so easy to be full of joy. The fear though…that never leaves. You will fear not holding the baby the right way. You will fear that they aren’t eating enough, or eating too much. You will fear that they will choke or stop breathing in their sleep. You will fear that they will grow up to be TV evangelist. The biggest fear is that you will be a failure to your child…and guess what? You will. You will let them down at times, you will crush their spirits. You will break their hearts. But one thing is certain: You will NEVER stop loving them. (No matter how big their testicles were when they were born.)
Sam turns 18 today. I don't know how that happened. I am clearly not old enough to have an adult child, but none the less, it has happened. He is a man. My little amazing, intelligent, GORGEOUS baby is a grown man. I have been through some major ups and downs with him, but one thing never changed, (and never will) I love my son. I love that he is so funny, and so generous. He can be kind and he can be one level lower than a demon, but God, I LOVE him. I know that I have not been the world’s greatest mom. I can’t tell you all the times I have failed my kids. I will tell you, I did what I could to show them they were loved and to give them the tools to be good people in this crazy world. My hope is that one day they will grow into the people I imagine that they can be.
Happy birthday Sam. You are an amazing person and we can all see the potential you carry inside you. One day, I hope you see it too.