Posted in Birth Stories, Hippy-Dippy Stuff

How low can you go?

FOREWARD

When my son talks about Ultimate Frisbee Tournaments, my brain hears:  “So this player ran down the field and dove and caught it and then he threw it and then another player ran down the field and dove and caught it and then we scored and then the same player ran down the field again and then yada yada…”

When my husband regales me with horse stuff, I TRY to listen, but I hear this:  “A horse ran to the field and I ran after it and made it run circles until it got tired and then I went to the barn to get the other horses and they ran to the field, so I ran after them and made them run circles until they got tired…lather, rinse, repeat.”

So when I share a birth story, I’m very aware that to some of you it sounds like:  “She had a contraction, so we walked and then she had more contractions and dilated to 4 and then she had more contractions, so we walked some more and then she dilated to 5, ad infinitum.”

But I’ve got a birth story to share, and I promise it won’t sound anything like that.

INTRODUCTION
Birth Mama was only worried about two things:

  • Transporting the 40 miles to the hospital in the dead of winter, and
  • Staying calm, relaxed and peaceful. (She had been very stressed and anxious the last time, and did NOT want a repeat.)

CHAPTER ONE
The Call came just after midnight. Contractions 10-12 minutes apart, she is ready for me. I threw on clothes and hit the road, stopping only to fill my empty gas tank. Six blocks from their house, her husband calls (NEVER a good sign), “Steph, we are at 4 minutes apart, we need you now.”

Seconds later, I let myself in the side door. Hubby starts loading things into my van. I find her laboring in bed, eyes closed, internally focused. I remind myself: she wants calm, relaxed, peaceful. I rub her gently across the back, listen to her moan, and discern that contractions are MUCH closer together and we are not going to have a long, slow labor at home.

Holding her hair back and doing my best Julie Andrews’ impersonation (who once said about herself, “Sometimes I’m so sweet, even I can’t stand it.”) I whisper, “You’re doing so great we need to go on and transfer.” Inside my head, Gilbert Gottfried is shrieking, OH MY GOODNESS, THIS IS TOO FREAKIN’ FAST!!!”

The next contraction finds us squatting in the driveway. Her mom asks, “Are we going to make it to the hospital??” Calmly I smile and hear Julie Andrews say, “Most certainly we are going to make it!” (Internally, Gilbert panics, “probably not until AFTER the baby comes out, but we’ll definitely make it!”)

Now the 40-minute drive…and though I could drive crazy fast and get us there in 30, there is a laboring woman on her knees in the place of my center console, so safety has to take precedence.

Through all of this, I am pretending to be cool as a cucumber. Driving 80 mph, talking over my shoulder in my best Mary Poppins voice, “You are doing such a great job! Practically perfect in every way. Take a deep breath through your nose and blow it slowly out your mouth. Goooooood.”

With every mile, contractions are growing more intense, and suddenly she responds to one of them with a screeching dolphin-call. I speak in a soft, low tone, and quite possibly with a British accent, “Remember what we talked about. Keep your throat relaxed. Bring your voice down low. Moan it out. Remember: LOW.

From the floor behind me I sense the beginning of the next contraction…her throat tightening, her shoulders rising, her voice starting to squeak with the pain…and the next moment I will forever remember as one of my Favorite Things (“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and labor contractions…”) She brings her dolphin screech down to a deep Darth Vader growl, and for the next 45 seconds I hear, “low low low low low low low low low low low low…” as she literally chants the word “low” through the entire contraction!

Now I become a living GPS, with a slow, lilting voice.

julie andrews (2)“Only 10 more minutes and we’ll be there.”

“Three more contractions and we’ll be at the door.”

“Just a spoonful of sugar and the baby will be out.”

Maneuvering the parking lot like Speed Racer, swerving around parked cars and cigarette-smoking nurses, I zip to the front door, jump out and grab a wheelchair. After some chair-not-working-and-what-do-we-do-about-the-bags confusion, the four of us glide through the deserted hospital corridor, up the elevator and into Labor and Delivery.

It is 2:02 a.m.

“We’re here to birth a baby,” my Julie Andrews voice tells the desk nurse.  And even though we are pre-registered, the nurse asks for insurance cards and social security numbers and due date and Groupon Coupons, and a request for laboring mama to get on the scales.

Clearly, they are not understanding, so Gilbert makes an appearance outside of my brain, “Ladies! THIRD baby here! Doesn’t matter what she weighs as she will weigh 14 pounds less in a very few minutes! We need a room STAT!”  (I try to speak their language, you know). 

Finally sensing the urgency, one of them calls, “Room 4!” and in we go. Birthing mama stands up out of the wheelchair and grabs the bed as I instinctively take my place behind her. A splash hits my shins and runs into my shoes. “My water broke! My water just broke!” Why, yes, yes it did.

She lays down as we get her lower half undressed, feet still dangling off the bed. Dr. M. commands, “Let’s get you all the way up in the bed.” Before hubby and I can even get the head of the bed raised, one nurse is trying to get her shirt off, because apparently it’s critical that she wear pale blue cotton to push out a human. Another nurse is trying to velcro straps around her belly.  Seriously?

I politely ask them to “get real”, just as she is hit with one MASSIVE contraction – her feet and head on the bed, the rest of her body imitating the St. Louis arch. gilbertShe looks wide-eyed at me and declares,“I’m on my back! I’m on my back! I don’t want to be on my back!”  I understand completely, and assure her as SOON as this contraction is over, we’ll get into a better position. Before I finish my sentence, Dr. M. announces, “We’re crowning and…yes……..THERE she is!”

And Gilbert Gottfried screams, “WHAT THE…???”

Posted in Down on the Farm, Just Funny

why aren’t they called horsegirls?

11bootAs I sit in the National Equestrian Center this weekend, trying hard to be a supportive spouse, but about as interested in this “Saddle Boy” Competition as a toddler in church, I looked around and realized I was the only person in this arena who brought alternate forms of entertainment. I also learned THIS…

Fifteen Reasons I Can Never Be a Cowgirl:

  1. The only ranch I want to visit is on the salad bar.
  2. I don’t own any belt buckles that can also double as serving platters
  3. I was completely bummed to find out that a burro is not a deep-fried, chocolate burrito.
  4. 11beltbuckleNone of the real cowgirls keep Doritos in their holster, but darn it, I hear you get hungry out there on the trail.
  5. Hay?  Straw?  Same thing, right?
  6. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat would totally obscure your view of these great highlights in my hair.
  7. Pretty sure there’s no wifi in Montana.
  8. I’ve never breathed deeply and proclaimed, “I love the smell of horse manure in the morning!”
  9. I don’t smoke.  That’s not to say, however, that I’m not smokin’.
  10. It’s considered bad form to pull a 24’ stock trailer with a Honda Odyssey.
  11. To me, the term green-broke means I’m out of cash.
  12. 11seabiscuitPlaytex cannot possibly make a bra with enough support for me to comfortably take the girls horseback riding.
  13. I once went to a movie I assumed was a British comedy, only to find myself watching Tobey Maguire on a horse.  TeaBiscuit.  That’s what I get for not wearing my glasses.
  14. To my knowledge, they don’t make open-toed cowboy boots.
  15. The only cow I care to ever rope better be served medium rare with a side of potatoes.

I also learned that cowgirls become mean girls when you call them “horsegirls”.

Posted in Down on the Farm, Just Funny

award-winning cockroaches and beached manatees

This is my bedroom.e2626-mybedroom
I like my bedroom.
It’s dark and cool.
It’s comfortable.
The mattress is firm.
The pillows are fluffly.
Getting into bed is a wonderful end
to most days –
not generally an olympic event.

 
However, while we were in Fort Worth for the cowboy’s “Sadde Boy” competition, we bunked in the horse trailer. (No, not WITH the horse…the back 9/10 is the horse part, the front 1/10 is “living quarters”) I use the term “living quarters” very VERY loosely. It was akin to sleeping in an aluminum shoebox on wheels. The floor section, shaped like the state of Nevada, only had enough room for Kevin’s military-style cot, the step stool, and one standing human. As you can see from the picture, the interior has been gutted, so the walls were bare except for the lovely remnants of brown wood glue. Everytime we turned on the light it threw a breaker. Our “camping spot” was on the gravel parking lot wedged between dozens of $200K motor homes.  We looked like the redneck MIssissippi cousins.
4933242152_44ebfc5025One aspect of the weekend I found particularly enjoyable was the 2-block hike to the bathroom located upstairs and inside the dormitory of the Fairground Swine Building of the Will Rogers Equestrian Center across the street from the National Cowgirl Museum.  Yee. Haw.  When I first stepped into the dark, abandoned concrete shower, which was creepy enough to be the setting where my horror movie doppleganger will die gruesomely,  I was startled by an enormous hog left behind from last weekend’s judging – no wait, that’s just a prize-winning cockroach. He and I did NOT get along. It was a quick shower.

The most entertaining part of the weekend, for those lucky enough to witness it (my 14-year-old son), was me, trying to get into the sleeping bunk of the trailer. Even with the step stool, I was only chest-high to the metal platform. After numerous and wildly unsuccessful attempts to fling my leg up onto the platform, I finally had Kevin stand on his cot, and lift the air mattress up to the ceiling. This allowed me to bend to a 90-degree angle, then roll my entire body onto the platform under the air mattress, much like an injured manatee rolling herself onto the beach. I then spun the opposite direction until I was against the wall, allowing Kevin to drop the mattress. At this point I got onto my hands and knees and crawled onto the mattress. Lying down, there was a good 7 inches between my face and the ceiling. Now to get undressed. Uh oh.  I couldn’t lift my legs – no room. Tried lying in a fetal position and wiggling. No luck with that either. No matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to manage the removal of my clothing. Why didn’t I get into my pj’s BEFORE I clamored up there? I DON’T KNOW. But I sure as heck wasn’t getting back down and then up again! So I called down to Kevin,
“Kevin, help me pull my pants off.”
“Yeah, right, mom.”
“Please, Kevin, I can’t do it.”
“Like that’s gonna happen. I don’t think so.”
“But Kev, I need help!”
“Suck it up and sleep in your clothes, mom!”
“Kevin, please please.” (Imagine a whiny, cartoony voice at this point.)
Kevin begins to giggle hysterically at the thought of my not having enough room to perform this function for myself, and at the audacity that I would even dare ask his help with undressing. Then, of course, there was the mental image of him actually helping me with this, which, I have to confess, was really really funny.
“Keeeeevvvvviiiinnnn, pleeeeeaaaaassssseeee!!!!!”
More giggling. This time from both of us.
This went on for about 20 minutes until we were in tears.

After we fell into a good sleep, probably from the exhaust fumes of all the other motor homes, we were awakened by an 8.3 earthquake – a crash, a jolt and the sound of breaking glass.  Oh wait, that was just the cowboy backing his truck INTO our trailer. Luckily, the only thing he broke was his passenger side mirror.

Extreme Mustang Makeover – reservations for next year have already been secured at the Hyatt Regency downtown Fort Worth.