February 18, 1996
I remember arguing…but not what the argument was about. I remember crying over it, whatever it was. But I was hormonal, being 9 months pregnant and everything. Perhaps that’s why I don’t remember what all the fuss was about. I do remember going to sleep that night, cuddled up next to my husband, both content with one another and not the slightest bit irritated from whatever upset me earlier in the evening.
Around 1:30 am, I felt a weird ache in my stomach. It felt, vaguely, like a little gas bubble. I stayed where I was, fetal and cozy in my bed but I opened my eyes. It was dark in the room and I could hear the sound of my husband’s breath, softly inhaling and exhaling beside me as he slept. There it was again, the slightest little churn in my abdomen. I thought to myself, could this be it? Would today be the day that I meet my little bundle of joy? The son, I knew was growing inside of me. The one I had been dreaming about night after night since I found out he was there? The little guy I had been in love with since the sound of his first heartbeat so many months before.
I got up and sat on the edge of the bed. I rested there for a minute and finally decided to get up and walk to the living room. I sat in an overstuffed chair in the dark. My mom was asleep on the couch on the other side of the room. She had been so worried she would miss the delivery that she jumped on the next train out of town to make it to my house, arriving two days prior. I switched on the TV and kept the volume really low. There it is again!! This HAS to be it. I grabbed a notepad, a pen and a watch with a second hand, time to chart my progress.
My mom woke up around 3:30 am. By then, I had hours and minutes jotted down on the little notepad next to my hand. These were definitely contractions and just like my doctor said it would, they made a steady progression through the hours. “What are you doing up”, my mom said before she could even focus her eyes on me. “This is it”, I said to her. I told her about my contractions. She jumped up, went to the kitchen and started a pot of coffee. She came back and sat down next to me after she grabbed the pen and notepad. “When they start, say start. When they stop, say stop”, she said. It’s weird how having her with me through that early Monday morning was so second nature at the time, and such a amazing gift now, looking back, that she is no longer with me today, fifteen years later.
It was about 6:00 am when the pain in my belly began to make me wince. The natural birthing nurse taught us to move around during the early part of labor to encourage dilation so that’s what I had been doing. Walking back and forth, from the kitchen to the living room and through to the office. Pausing every once and a while when the pain was particularly sharp. I remember the nurse telling us, if you cannot speak through the contraction, it’s time to come to the hospital. She also mentioned that I would probably go to the bathroom a lot. Check and check! I was definitely on my way.
My contractions were 4 minutes apart. They were not very long though…maybe about a minute or two. They were, however, intense and I was getting a little anxious. I didn’t want to show up to the hospital too early for fear that they would send me home but I didn’t want to give birth at my house either. It was my mom that finally made the call. She went in and woke my husband (we left him sleeping so he could be ready for the “good” stuff later on) and she grabbed my bags. “Let’s go”, she said. “I wanna meet my grandson today”! It was 6:30 am when we got to the hospital.
They are going to send me home, I thought as I sat in the ER waiting for the doctor on call. He came in and “checked” me. When I say checked, I mean sticking his fingers in my nether region like the mechanic would plunge a dip stick in to check my car’s oil. Intrusive, to say the least…and the last place you want anyone messing around considering the circumstances! “2 centimeters”, he said. “Yep…they’re sending me home”, this time I said it out loud. A few minutes later, a nurse came around and said to my husband “sign this, we’re going upstairs to labor and delivery…you are going to have a baby today”! And we were off!
I would give birth to my baby in a room that looked like the hospital’s bedroom. It had nice wallpaper, a huge wall unit that held a TV, VCR and stereo. Of course, there was a hospital bed instead of a comfy big bed, like the one in our bedroom but it was kind of nice. They got me all settled, wrapped my big belly up with a monitor that looked like a belt and connected me up to a machine. Once it was turned on, I could hear the sound I had, for months, looked forward to hearing at each doctor visit since learning I was pregnant, the sound of my baby’s sweet heart beat. It was like the most beautiful symphony (to me, anyway)! They stuck me with an I.V. and then we waited.
Ugh…I want to get up and walk around. But NO! They want me on the monitor so they can see everything from the nurse’s station outside. I take the monitor off and go to the bathroom. I’m STILL going to the bathroom, and my contractions are like every two minutes. And they last FOREVER! Thirty seconds is an incredibly long time to feel that kind of pain. AND I’M STILL GOING TO THE BATHROOM. Here comes the nurse with an enema. She administers it and says wait a few seconds before you go to the bathroom again so it will work. I didn’t hear the end of her sentence….I was already walking to the bathroom…..AGAIN!!
My in-laws came in to see me. It’s an open door policy at Martin Luther King, Jr. Medical Center in Anaheim. My mother-in-law instantly started crying when she saw me in pain. “Aye, Pobrecita”, she said in Spanish. A mother of five children, Rosa is no stranger to the birthing process. The expression on her face reflected my pain exactly. She kissed my head and hugged her son and then left. She’d be back when the baby came, till then; she’ll sit in the waiting room. I looked at my husband and told him, kind of sternly, to go get something to eat. I could tell I was getting close, and with lunch time nearing, I didn’t want him running off to eat while I was in the heat of my labor. It was just me and my mom for a while. My dad trailed in from time to time. He sat for a few minutes by my bedside and read the paper. When I would begin to whimper, he’d get noticeably agitated and walk out of the room. He was still trying to figure out how his 4 year old baby girl got into this predicament. I’m not sure he ever really liked my husband….today I’m pretty sure he hated him.
At 11:30 am, I asked for some pain killers. My contractions were still around two minutes apart but I couldn’t catch my breath in between them. Just a little numbing PLEASE. The nurse came in with a half dose of Demerol and reminded me of my natural birthing plan. FUCK THE BIRTHING PLAN….screamed through my thoughts! Ahhh…relief, it was wonderful and instantaneous. The nurse walked away mumbling something about the possibility of the medicine slowing my labor down. Rrrriiiight!!
It’s noon and I’m screaming profanities. HELLO…didn’t I just get some medicine? My contractions are ONE! Just one contraction…constantly contracting. I feel like my uterus is in a vice. I’m in some crazy Quentin Tarantino movie and I’m being tortured into spilling the beans about where someone’s money is!! My husband thinks I’m insane and comments on how the sounds I’m making are not human! I scream the word SHIT over and over again. The look on everyone’s face around me is one of utter shock and horror. I think they’re waiting for me to spit pea soup and for my head to swivel around on my neck. I think I’m waiting for that to happen too!
I feel like there is someone sitting under the bed, with a lit lighter directly below my “hoo-hoo” (yes, I’m referring to it as my hoo-hoo). I tell my husband that it’s burning…the baby is coming out, call somebody now. He presses the button by my bed that calls the nurse and I hear her voice on a loudspeaker somewhere in the room. My husband calmly tells the nurse that his wife ‘thinks’ the baby is coming. I interrupt him with SHIIIIIIIT!! I scream for her to come in. It’s the lunch time coverage nurse who saunters in, takes one look under the sheet covering my lower body and RUNS out saying she’ll be right back. Within seconds, my regular nurse comes in. “Laura, your baby is crowning and the doctor is not here yet”, she says so calmly I have to wonder if she understands what is actually happening. “I’m going to need for you to really breathe through your contractions until the doctor gets here”! I wish I could punch her, but my huge belly is in the way. This is where my mom, the champion comes in. She says my name sharply enough to command my attention. When I look at her, I’m focused and she’s staring right into my eyes. She says “we’re going to count to 30, and every time I say a number, I want you to blow out the candles on your next birthday cake”! Did I mention that my mom was the most awesome woman in the world?! Consider it mentioned here!!
When my doctor finally arrives, I scream “Where the hell have you been”!! He tells me I went too fast and he drove 90 miles an hour to get here. Then he says, the next time you feel pain, push, not with your upper body, your lower body. Don’t stop until I say to. I feel the pain and I push. The nurse counts to ten and they tell me to stop. I wait for the pain again and it starts seconds later….I PUSH and suddenly the doctor says STOP! I feel like I can’t but I try so hard not to. There’s lots of fussing down below with the doctor and nurses. The pain starts again and the doctor says “push Laura”! I close my eyes and push. I’m still pushing when the doctor says “Laura….open your eyes and meet your son”! He hands me my baby! His mouth wide open, in the middle of a silent scream! Both of his hands right next to his head, palms facing me and wide open. He finally takes a breath in and yells at his mommy for the first time. He’s slimy, and full of gunk! He’s gorgeous and his name is Jordan De Niro Escarcega and on this day, he’s made his father and I the luckiest parents in the whole world!
Thank you, my darling….and happy 15th birthday! I love you so much!
February 19, 1996, 12:29 pm – 6 pounds, 15 ounces, 19 ½ inches long….just like it was yesterday!!