It was a Wednesday. My back had been killing me ever since the games convention on the previous weekend. Wizard’s Challenge (North); we’d just pulled off the con – I’d been part of the planning team – and all reports were good. I spent much of the night stretching and cursing under my breath for having been stupid enough to play in all the LARPs and some of the tabletop games. In my condition, no less.
Eight months pregnant, and thinking there’s no way in hell I want to go all the way until November 15th with this parasite inside me if it’s going to make my back hurt like this. The stretching helped though and I went out for a post-con wrap up with some of the folks on the organising team. We would start planning immediately for WC00 the following fall, and come he’ll or high water, I’d be running a Wraith LARP.
10pm got home, had a bath (didn’t care about all the warnings about raised body temperatures because once the baby arrived I thought I wouldn’t be hot bathing for a while. I enjoyed every second of every bath I had). Did some email. There had been Drama that summer and there was still fallout. A message from my potential employer. Could I start that week?
I could. I absolutely could, I said. I’d work for two weeks and once baby came they said I could take the little gaffer to work with me so that would be perfect. What the fuck was I going to do with a baby? Jesus.
– Not baby Jesus. That would have been a VERY different story, although apropos, given the Cthulhu Live LARP NPC I’d played on Sunday night.
12am. Ugh. So tired. Read for a while, fall asleep.
2am. Awake. Have to pee. Again.
4am. Pee. Wait. That’s weird. What the hell is that?
5am. “Hi, hospital? I’m 34 weeks pregnant and just went pee and something weird happened.”
“Did your water break?”
“I…I don’t know. Something goopy came out of me, but it wasn’t like water or anything. More like Jello.”
“Are you having contractions?”
“If you don’t know if you’re having them you’re not having them. Probably come in within the hour to get checked out. Or if your contractions start. Then come in right away.”
6am. FINE. I’ll go to the hospital, but it’s too early for baby so they’ll probably just send me home anyway. Drive self to hospital.
6:30am. Intern looks at my nethers, says “I see hair”. I say, “of course you do; look where you’re looking.” Intern blushes and stammers. “No,” he says. “I mean you’re dilated.”
What. The fuck. “Oh. Um. Does that mean I’m in labour?”
Guess I’d better call The Dream Team. Call TUO. Randy answers. They’re still asleep. “Hey,” I say. “I’m in hospital; do you think you could wake TUO up and tell her we’re on?”
“On for what?”
“I’m having a baby,” I say.
“Yeah, but…oh wait. You’re having a baby NOW?”
“That’s what they tell me.”
“Yeah! Hey, can I come?”
“Sure! Just tell TUO, okay? She’ll probably say something about boiling water.”
I call Road Rage. Ask her to call my mum. I call my Dad. He’s awake, of course. Says he’ll be here in an hour. No rush, I say. No rush.
By the time TUO and RR and Randy arrive, I have had contractions. I do not like contractions. I have decided natural childbirth is stupid for stupid people. I want drugs. All the drugs.
I remember the prenatal classes saying moving around is good. I try walking. Walking sucks. I ask the nurse if I can have a bath. Dad arrives as they’re preparing a tub for me. Contractions are EXTRA stupid but it’s too late for drugs. How the fuck did that happen? I just got in here.
Apparently I’m an extremely efficient labourer.
RR tells me how she had to argue with my mum; how she had to tell Mum to get her arse on a bus and get the hell down here because there’s a baby coming and she won’t want to miss it. I love RR. I love TUO and Randy. I love my Dad. I fucking hate contractions. They hurt my back.
8:30am I’m in the bath. The bath is glorious. Contractions don’t hurt so much. Or they do but I don’t care because the bath is very relaxing. Even with Randy and my dad talking about canola. Oh my God why are they talking about canola. SO MUCH GOODAMNED CANOLA. LITERALLY NOBODY CARES THIS MUCH ABOUT CANOLA. “So can you guys talk farming outside the bathroom please?”
I assume they kept talking about canola.
There’s something wrong with TUO’s face. It’s like…it’s like she’s freaking out about something. “Are you okay?” She asks. “You just turned a colour.”
“Maybe the nurses should check me out,” I say.
She goes to find a nurse.
9:00am. The bath water is cold but I am not getting out. “I really think I need a nurse,” I say. TUO goes once again to find a nurse. The boys are still talking farming but it’s okay because they’re in the MOTHERFUCKING HALL OF WHAT THE SHIT IS WRONG WITH MY SPINE.
9:30am. “I really really need a nurse,” I say. RR gets Determined Face and marches out of the room. She returns with a nurse who does not appear to be happy that I need her. They all somehow get me out of the tub and somehow manoeuvre me to the birth room. “It hurts,” I say.
“Hop up on the table and we’ll check you out,” the nurse says.
“I can barely walk; there will be no hopping today. Also sorry if I swear like a trucker.”
“Listen, sweetheart,” the nurse says, but she doesn’t sound like she means ‘sweetheart’ in a nice way. “We all go through this and yes it hurts but just get up here so we can check you out.”
I see RR’s face turn red. “I’ll try,” I say, “but it really fucking hurts.”
I get up on the table. Somehow. The nurse touches my belly and I nearly scream. She says “you just need to empty your bladder. You have to pee before you have a baby or else we’ll have to put in a catheter.”
10am. The last thing I want in my cooch is a catheter. I get down and hobble to the bathroom to pee. I squat. Something is happening. Something is happening.
“Help,” I say.
I see TUO’s shoes.
“Nurse help,” I say.
TUO somehow becomes a wall while shouting for the nurse and the nurse is there and yelling at me and I say, “I’m crowning.”
Nurse says “no you’re not”
I look up. “My baby’s head is in my hand,” I say.
10:20am There’s a wheelchair and the nurse is trying to make me sit in it but there’s a baby’s head between my legs so I stand in it. I’m being wheeled backward into the delivery room and I scream “she’s coming out! My baby’s coming out!”
Then there’s something in my hands and someone else takes it and someone says “there’s a cord” and somehow the whole room is covered in blood and they’re telling me to be very still and I’m very, very still.
They’ve taken my baby. Dad snaps a picture. They ask me if I think I can get on the bed. “Sure!” I say. “No problem!”
This time I do hop up on the table and lay back as I deliver the placenta. There are a lot of people over by the end of the bed. Dad is snapping pictures. People are talking.
Someone hands me what looks like a grub. It has black, black eyes and its forehead is purple. “Kiss your baby,” they say, “before we take him to NICU.”
I hold my baby for about a minute. They make me give him back. They take him away. But I held him. Ugly little nearly broken thing that he was. Little nearly born in the terlet thing. Little baby. So very, very little.
Somehow it still feels like I’ve only got to hold him for a minute.