Birth Trauma Survivor and Maternal Health Advocate

"The belly rules the mind."-Spanish Proverb

April 18, 2010

It was a mild April afternoon, the sky was overcast and the temperature was in the mid-fifties. Every now and then, the sun peeked from behind the clouds. As we drove to the hospital we passed several new condo developments and shopping centers. I devoured the chicken sandwiches we made, ate some fruit and stared out the window. We passed a McDonald’s. I have told you before how much I love those fries. Once I saw that McDonald’s, all I could think about was getting some French fries. I had heard a nasty little rumor about not being able to eat after you check-in to the hospital for labor and delivery.

On a similar note, I have secret to tell you… Once a month I sneak into my local McDonald’s. Sometimes, I actually leave my town to try to avoid running into someone I know. You won’t recognize me. I am a make-up artist, a master of disguise. I wear dark clothing, no make-up and HUGE sunglasses. I sit in the back with the senior citizens. I order a quarter pounder with cheese, fries and yes, a coke–otherwise known as value meal number three. However, I get the medium size meal. I choose not to supersize, if that will help you think more highly of me. If you are a modern mom, like myself, who finds yourself living in a no gluten, no nitrates, no dairy, no high fructose corn syrup world, you want to avoid detection at all costs. I have eaten the best burgers and fries in New York. Five Napkin Burger, Shake Shack, Five Guys, The Burger Joint, J.G Melon. It doesn’t matter. I don’t know what it is about those little, luscious, thin, crispy McDonalds’s fries that suck me in. For the most part, I lead a healthy lifestyle. I go to the farmers market one or twice a week. I rarely add salt to my food. I eat local, but I dare any of you who have ever tasted one of those hot, luscious, crispy, salty fries to not crave them at least once a month. As soon as I saw those golden arches, I really wanted to stop and get some French fries, but we didn’t. We were in a rush!

We had all the time in the world, but didn’t know it.

The ride to the hospital felt surreal. I felt less like myself and more like an actress playing the role of woman about to give birth. I looked down at my stomach and thought about the reality of a little person in there who was about to come out. And soon! The pain and the fluids running between my legs made it all too real. We had practiced this drive many times–Bobby could do this drive in his sleep. The hospital we had chosen is along the waterfront in New Jersey along the Hudson River, with a direct view into New York City.

Soon after arriving at the hospital I filled out some paperwork and was escorted into an examination room. Dr. B had left for the day. How dare he! I was stuck with a doctor I didn’t know. She wasn’t a part of his practice either. This was just the beginning of several times a stranger would invade my personal space (and body) over the course of the next week. The doctor confirmed that my water had broken and I was checked in immediately. I was only one centimeter dilated. Dr. B called to tell me he would be back the next day. A nurse tells me that this was going to be a long labor. No shit Sherlock. I needed to know how long. Five hours? Ten? Dare I say….twenty?

Nurses are bossy. They want you to think they are making suggestions, but really they are giving you orders. My mother is a nurse practitioner. She is bossy too.

When you check into the hospital and receive conformation that you are in labor (yeah, I got that from the fluid between my legs), you are given very strict orders. You are told when to walk and for how long you can walk. You are told what position to lie in the bed. You are told to press a button for assistance when you have to pee. Your blood is drawn and you are hooked up to machines and given IV fluids. Nothing is in your control.

Oh, and about that nasty rumor…it is true. You cannot eat again until after the delivery. You can’t drink much during labor either. Damn, I wanted a drink. But, I was lucky. My nurses let me have ginger ale and water. They gave me ice chips too. I remember thinking how cliché. The ice chips were a tease.

I still wanted the french fries. Damn you, McDonald’s!

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