When I was little, I often crept into my mom’s room and slept with my butt against her butt. I ran amok, threw tantrums, wailed, but at the end of the day I wanted my butt pressed up against her butt. Mom and I still argue, but she is always there for me. And I know I will always be there for Dakota.
It’s Thursday, October 13th. I get these pounding headaches and it’s freaking me out. I know it’s one of the symptoms of gestational hypertension, along with blurry vision, protein in the urine and swelling. It’s time.
Dr. Luikenaar doesn’t want to wait. “Where’s your husband?”
“I don’t know… He stayed overnight in Moab.”
Well she’s sending me down soon and starting the process. That’s only a four hour drive. He should get here.
“So you’re not waiting until tonight?”
“It’s time to get this road- this show on the road.”
I pack a bag with toiletries, DVDs, a few snacks, a change of clothes and a book. I drink some coffee, take a shower, and put on black pajama pants and a black t-shirt.
I google “My husband doesn’t give a shit” and come up with “An open letter to shitty husbands” written by a guy who attests he was a shitty husband five years ago before his wife divorced him. He writes:
“I met a shitty husband last night. … And I don’t think he’s a bad guy. Not at all. But I do think he’s a shitty husband. … He reminds me of me five years ago. … Sometimes, you don’t really figure out what unconditional love looks and feels like until you hold your child…Stop making it about you…
“I’ve seen this fucking movie.
“I starred in it.
“I played the male lead.
“I didn’t tell my ex how perfect she looked. Not enough. I didn’t make sure she knew—without a doubt—how much she was loved and wanted. I was too busy telling jokes and talking football with my friends when we’d all get together.”
This is my fucking movie.
Here I am, missing Charley. Where is he? I also wonder where we’ll be a year from now. He calls at noon. He’s going to buy John’s breakfast and then head up. That’s a 4-hour drive. “I just want one night with you without the baby.”
“Well I don’t know if that’s going to happen. You should have gotten here last night.”
“Wait. Are you having the baby today?”
“I don’t know but they’re sending me down to Labor&Delivery and getting this process started. What are you doing?”
“I’m just going to chill with John for a minute.”
“Didn’t you do that all night? … I need you to get here.” I’m furious.
My nurse today is Danielle. She drew a sun and beach umbrella on the white board and wrote, “Zen at 2pm”. That’s when I head down and get cytotec. Last time to listen to music with Dakota in my belly with no external interruptions. First Elliott Smith. I’m feeling very emotional. I almost cry.
Walking doesn’t feel good but fresh air does. An old man in flannel hobbles by. In the dark hospital glass I look like a fat ballet dancer. I sniffle. This is going to be a fucking mess. I go back to my bathroom, turn on the faucet and start crying. I don’t know what I’m crying about.
It’s 5pm. My hands are sweating. I’m in a room in Labor&Delivery, hooked up to an NST machine and IV. Nikki checks my cervix and sticks a cytotec pill up my vagina-both uncomfortable experiences. I can’t go to the bathroom for two hours. Watching “When Harry Met Sally” and wondering where the hell Charley is and how the hell I’m going to do this. Dread and denial.
This is my fucking movie.
It’s 6:45. Nikki comes in and asks me to change positions. My NST says “baby doesn’t like contractions”, meaning her oxygen drops when I have one. If she’s already showing disturbing signs with small contractions then what will happen when they increase in size and frequency?
I’m stressed because the change in positions doesn’t help much, Charley’s not here yet, and I guess if it stays this way I have to have a c-section. So maybe it’s the stress but my blood pressure takes off again.
At first I’m having a million contractions and they just mess everything up. My blood pressures are 180’s over 120’s. The contractions are constant and painful. We decide on a C-section.
My water breaks and there’s fluid and blood all over the bed. My pressures are rising. My bed is wheeled into the surgical room. Giant bright lights like something from Star Trek. Dr. Luikenaar holds my knees. I’m sitting up for my epidural and the contractions are killing me. I groan and hold my breath. I feel like a big baby. The pain is too much.
“Breathe.” She’s so relaxed. I breathe in through my nose, out through my mouth.
Dr. Dunn, the anesthesiologist, asks me what I want to listen to, and I pick Led Zeppelin radio on Pandora. Dr. Dunn is attractive and young. I feel like I could be back in college, in a lecture hall discussing Plato. I’m numb. A slice through my belly feels like a thumb pressing gently on my skin.
While Jimi Hendrix plays “All Along the Watchtower”, Dakota is pulled out.
There must be some kind of way outta here said the joker to the thief, there’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief-
I’m staring at a blue cover in front of my face. All I feel is my belly moving around while two doctors- Luikenaar and Hua- push organs back into place and sew me up. Dr. Dunn and I talk about the celebrities who died when they were 27, including Hendrix, Joplin, Ledger and Morrison.
Dakota Raine Turner is born at 8:23pm on October 13th. 19 inches long, 6 pounds and ten ounces. She’s beautiful- chubby and pink. Chubby, rosy cheeks. A cry like angel hymns. SHE IS PERFECT!
I have the post-surgery shakes and magnesium and can’t write a lot.
But I’m happy.
This is my fucking daughter.
This is my fucking life.
*In April 2017, I made my story into a book. To read “Notes On a Hospitalized Pregnant Woman”: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1521096910/ref=cm_sw_r_pi_awdb_x_Dcg-yb990NBWB