06 February 2010

...it starts with an earthquake...

On February 5, 1994, I rolled over in bed, and my water broke, and I thought, well there goes the Rush concert I'd planned to go to that night, and I murmured to the still-sleeping spouse, "It seems to be time."

In a perfect world, I would have had a nice normal labor and a small sweet baby would have popped out at the end, and everyone would have been happy. Of course, my life (and more to the point, my body) has its own internal logic, and after 36 hours, my generally non-existent blood pressure reaching stroke levels, the doctor said, we need to do a c-section, and I said, "No."

I said no because the baby was fine. That was all I was hearing: "the baby is fine." It seemed such a waste to do a cesarean just because I was far from fine.

Eventually, I acquiesced, not because I was afraid of dying, but because I was getting bored, and everyone was getting more insistent and the spouse looked very distressed. The hospital staff swung into motion, and as the fluorescent lights zipped by overhead while they hurried me, strapped to a gurney, to the OR, I laughed inside and thought, "I have to remember this. It's like a movie."

I was strapped, Christ-like, to the operating table, and I thought, "Trite!" and there was murmuring and fussing and tugging. Then an outraged scream. And several faces staring, frightened, down into my guts.

Suddenly, I was very, very tired, and nothing much seemed to matter.

"What is it?" I asked, knowing full well he was a boy, but it seemed right to ask.

The anesthesiologist, a lovely woman, stroked my hair and whispered that everything would be alright.

I heard a surgeon, I'm not sure which one, call a time of birth. It occurred to me that there was suddenly a new person in the room.

The spouse disappeared and then the squalling stopped. A bit later, the nurse waved a squinting bundle over me.

"Kiss him!" she cried gaily. He stared at me and I stared at him. Then I closed my eyes. By the time I'd been closed up, cleaned up, and sent to recovery, it was February 7.

His birth was heralded by the Northridge earthquake, and there were two aftershocks to the quake--one greater than M5, one greater than M4--while I labored in the hospital. It rained the day he was born, and the day after dawned clear and blue, giving me a stunning view of the mountains from my hospital room.

The son is 16 today. Mud is raining down from those same mountains this morning, and it continues to amaze me that such a calm, loving and thoughtful young man should be constantly attended by the Furies.

Go listen to some good music: "It's the End of the World As We Know It (and I Feel Fine)" from the album Document by REM. It's not just the son, of course. In the weeks preceding the daughter's birth, La Canada suffered an epic windstorm that knocked out our power for 4 days. Our friends suggested that perhaps we shouldn't have any more children. The spouse contends that this Nature's way of balancing itself since our kids are so good. And truthfully, I never took that labor seriously, though I was failing.

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