Monthly Archives: November 2009
Have you ever felt “undead”? This is not the opposite of alive – it’s the “no-man’s-land” where you don’t fit in anywhere. No? Okay, how about discombobulated? Where you get that feeling that you have absolutely no idea of what to do so you start doing things that don’t make any sense but you feel better because at least you’re doing something? Yeah, I got you there.
Being the mentally stable and organized individual that I am, I have only had this feeling a few times in my life. When my good friend Lisa Schmagenbuch called to tell me her contractions had started and she needed my assistance in the delivery room, well, that was one of them. This was not sudden or unexpected – it had been the plan for at least six months. Lisa and her husband Dave were relying on me to be the experienced rock of knowledge in their time of uncertainty.
Nothing surprised me more when, after Lisa called to let me know her labor was starting, I turned to my common sense and found it had slipped out the back door. This is not a good thing because standing in its place, grinning like a fool, was what I call, my inner idiot.
Stupid is as stupid does
I have not had good experiences with my “idiot”. She has substance abuse issues, continually has her foot in her mouth, does stupid things just for fun and has an IQ bordering on mentally challenged. Her insults are harsh and usually hit below the belt, and this is just before she kicks you. I have seen her do things that have made me laugh, but mostly made me cry, and I cringe when I see her coming. The worst part – she is extremely strong-willed and fights with her are ugly and never end up in a good place.
Ironically though, I often count on her and I can’t remember a time when she hasn’t been around. I have turned to her on many of occasions; my inner idiot has never said no to me and is at my beck and call. I have heard her described as belligerent – and it’s true, she won’t take no for an answer. She’s obnoxious, rude, and bossy, but she’s been a friend since childhood and there’s a certain comfort in that. Sounds crazy, I know, but (note to my “friend” Bonnie) I am ridiculously loyal to those close to me – whatever their issues – and I am unable (or unwilling) to give my inner idiot up.
Lisa loses her sense of humor
So, there I was, listening to Lisa tell me she and Dave were on the way to the hospital and I should meet them there. But, before I could get a word in, my idiot interrupted and spoke up, “What should I wear?”
I could hear Lisa’s labored breathing in the silence that followed. I sensed that she wasn’t in the mood for jokes, but this was no joking matter. What does one wear to a birthing? This was a legitimate question – I had never attended one.
I waited patiently until she finally caught her breath. “You can’t go wrong with black,” she managed to get out.
“Short or long-sleeves? Practical or casual chic?” I mentally went through my closet.
I could hear Dave in the background urging her to hurry and Lisa, ever the diplomat, suggested that I ask Craig what he thought, as they were in somewhat of a rush.
Craig! I scoffed to myself. He was useless when it came to couture and was color-blind to boot. He would be, let’s see . . . zero amount of help. I called my friend Kelly to ask her what she wore to my third birthing.
But, she didn’t remember and actually had the nerve to say that it wasn’t important. Lisa was counting on my emotional support and I could show up in a sack – I just needed to be there.
It’s hard always being right
I hate it when people don’t do what I want. As a result, a teeny tiny attitude crept in and for the next forty-five minutes I fought it off as I tried on a few different options, finally settling on a cute black number that I had only worn once.
By this time, I was actually feeling (and looking BTW!) great and, with brownies in hand, drove off into the night. I swung by Starbucks for a latte and arrived at the hospital with plenty of time to spare. After all, this was her first and it would be a long night.
In the dark, the hospital looked way different. I had been there recently, twice in the past two years for my own births, but they had moved the parking garage or torn it down or covered it up and I couldn’t find it. Northwest Community is a big hospital and the streets that circle it are all either one way or dead ends and I became increasing frustrated as I passed the emergency room for the third time.
“My God,” I shouted out to a doctor that I cut off as he tried to cross the street. “What? You trying to keep the riffraff out?”
“I’m sorry?” He looked at me like I had two heads.
“Where have you put the parking lot?” I yelled.
“It’s always been right there.” He pointed to a structure in front of me. “Are you alright?” he said, faking concern.
“Like you care!” I retorted. I gunned it and flew across a speed bump, my minivan bottoming out as I turned into the parking garage.
I will admit it was at this time that I started getting anxious. It had been almost two hours since I had last spoken to Lisa and I was beginning to feel light-headed. The caffeine was making my heart race and as I drove up and up the parking ramp looking for a space, I wondered why I had ever agreed to deliver this baby. I found a spot on the top outside level and, in the December chill, made my way back down to the first floor and found myself outside the emergency room once again.
The woman at the front desk stopped me with a brusque, “What can I do for you?”
“I’m looking for the maternity ward.”
“Other side of the hospital. Go out the emergency doors and follow the signs. Can’t go in this way.” She pointed her long boney finger out at the cold dark night.
I stuck my tongue out at her and headed back where I had came from. I was now, definitely, discombobulated.
To be continued (one last time-I promise) . . .
I don’t usually like to brag, but there are some things I do, and I do well. The first that comes to mind is yodeling naked in the shower, a close second is starting a land war in Asia, and the third is birthing babies. I don’t kid myself that I can compete with Octomom, or Kate, but four times is nothing to shake a stick at. I’ve done it alone, in front of an audience, twice with no drugs, and once as I was arguing with my mother . . . on the phone.
As a matter of fact, my reputation was such that my presence was requested by my good-friend (let’s call her Lisa Schmagenbuch), at the birth of her first child. She knew that I had expertly handled all of my own birthing events and was impressed with how effortlessly I had sailed through my personal sea of pain. Of course, I agreed. And frankly, being a role model comes as second nature to me.
But, it’s no secret that the bigger they are the harder they fall. This is the story of my tumble from grace and the valuable lessons learned as I plummeted from heights of greatness to the humbleness of defeat. It’s not easy to show weakness and vulnerability, but know this – I share this story with you for one reason only, and that is – it is a required step in a particular “class” I am associated with.
Looking for Lisa
Lisa Schmagenbuck was clinging tightly to the hope that a certain aging rock star would marry her. But, besides a few brief stalking episodes, they had never met and we all thought Lisa would become an old-maid waiting for him. Then she was introduced to “Dave” and we were all thrilled when he asked her out. He was not a rock star, but he was successful, handsome, intelligent, and it didn’t bother him in the least that Lisa practiced witchcraft as a hobby. I’m sorry, not witchcraft – astrology (I always get the two mixed up).
Within the year, Lisa broke up with the rock star she had never met and accepted Dave’s request for her hand in marriage. They had a fairy-tale engagement, marriage, yada yada, and a year later Dave and Lisa found themselves staring at a cross on a urine soaked stick.
Lisa has always looked up to me and since becoming a wife and now an expectant mother, she relied on me more than ever. I couldn’t go five minutes without her calling, wondering whether she should have a bagel or toast for breakfast. Now, we all know that a bagel in the first trimester is a given, but these are the kinds of things that Lisa was clueless about. Please don’t blame her. It wasn’t her fault – she was the youngest of four and had been waited on and babied her whole life. Once again, I think this is another example where we can point the finger at the parents.
It was apparent she was headed for trouble when, during one training session I held, she put my infant son’s diaper on backward and inside out. Then there was the time she made a tuna-noodle casserole and forgot the peas! Her washcloths were always folded incorrectly and don’t get me started on her silverware drawer. Dave appeared unscathed by these “issues”, but I knew the hard, cold slap of reality would be a painful one for my dear friend, and I vowed to be there to witness it when it happened. I just didn’t know that I would learn something in the process.
You don’t know what you don’t know
When Lisa asked me to be in the delivery room with her and Dave, I knew at once that it was a duty that I would have to perform. Besides my own experience, I had actually never see a live birth, but judging from my successes, I felt confident I could assist. We talked at length of the things she would need in the delivery room: lipstick for pictures, refreshments for the hospital staff, “Footloose” on DVD, flattering birthing wear and of course, a CD mix of her favorite tunes.
For a brief time, Lisa seemed preoccupied with the Lamaze Method. It took a few weeks, but I explained to my inexperienced friend, over and over, that breathing came naturally – she didn’t need to pay someone to help her do it, and besides, I wasn’t sure how legit the whole methodology was. Sometimes these “necessary” classes are scams. I can say this with confidence as I had taken the class three times and I didn’t remember it doing much more than relaxing me when the pain became the greatest.
We discussed our birthing plan in great detail. The brownies were in the freezer – ready to be pulled out at a moment’s notice and Lisa had chosen a couple flattering shades of lip stick. We went with basic black for the birthing wear but were still up in the air on whether or not to include her former flame’s songs on her CD mix. Other than that, the stage was set.
I sometimes say “Hindsight is 50/50 – could have gone either way”. Looking back, this was definitely the case. We could have sailed through Lisa and Dave’s birthing debut, but it didn’t happen that way. Like most disasters, you either blame someone else or wonder “what if?” “What if” I hadn’t lost my temper? “What if” the brownies had gone over better? “What if” the whole epidural debacle was just a dream? Could I have done something differently? You betcha! But what?
To be continued . . .