Labor Day

When Peter, my second husband, and I first met, we were in our thirties. We both wanted to have children, so that seemed like the right thing to do. At that time, I was into natural approaches to everything, so I decided to have my first baby at a local birthing center. We had faithfully attended Lamaze classes, which taught us how to do the fast, panting and exhaling exercises. These were supposed to help

me endure labor. During my pregnancy, I had morning sickness every day. Once I threw up each morning, I could get on with the business at hand. At that time, my dad and I were running the stained glass shop. He always fixed himself a pot of coffee, as soon as we stepped in the door. Simply smelling his coffee, gave me such a nauseas feeling, it usually helped to expedite my sickness. Our first son, Michael, was appropriately born on Labor Day. When I started going into labor at home, I was having a difficult time getting into a comfortable position. Peter jury-rigged a contraption on the bed, which seemed to support my back. It was an upside-down wooden chair, with a piece of plywood attached to it, at an angle. After eighteen hours of being in labor at home, with no real progress in dilating, the midwife, who was on call, suggested that I come to the center. My parents and sister, who were so excited about this baby, met us there. With the onset of each contraction, I had such excruciating back pain, that my support group took turns rubbing my back as hard as they could. That was the only thing which helped to alleviate the pain. Several hours of this agonizing ordeal went by. I was still not dilating, even though the piercing contractions kept coming. At that point, I was completely drained. Our midwife, who we were very fond of, continued leafing through her

enormous childbirth manual, for suggestions on speeding up the dilation process. When she suggested that we try nipple massaging, I felt like it was time for me to go a different route. After being in labor for so many hours, I needed immediate results. Nipple massaging may have done the trick, but I was too worn out, to wait around and see. We summoned an ambulance, and in a matter of minutes, I was being admitted to a hospital. They immediately gave me some kind of shot, to help start the dilation. Our midwife came along, and that was a real comfort for me. She waited with us, for what seemed like an eternity, in a pre-delivery holding room. Once there was an opening and a doctor available, I was wheeled into a delivery room. As soon as we got in there, a young woman asked me if I wanted to use the stirrups, along the edge of the delivery table. I told her I did, then found them to be too uncomfortable. She was so put out, when I told her I had changed my mind. ³Now look what you¶re making me do,´ she complained, as she took the stirrups off. I definitely wasn¶t in the mood to listen to anyone¶s frivolous complaining. By that time, I had been in labor over twenty-four hours. After wanting a child for so many years, it was quite ironic that I was too exhausted to enjoy the moment of his birth. The doctor who delivered him, whom I had never met before, jokingly said that we needed ribbons for the baby¶s long, dark hair. After the

delivery, when the nurse said, ³Here is your baby boy,´ I was so completely drained, I couldn¶t even look at him. Of course, after a few hours of rest, I got to hold my bundle of joy. I was as proud and happy as any mother could be. The next day, Pete and I took our baby and moved in with my parents, who had offered their assistance. The time immediately after giving birth, was nearly as difficult as the birth itself. One of the doctors, at the hospital, had warned me that there were four physical complications and mental problems, which commonly occur after childbirth. I ended up getting all of them. After a few days, at least my postpartum blues went away, and we were able to go to our own home. Michael had a wicked case of colic, which started about a week after he was born. Each evening, Peter and I literally dreaded seeing the nighttime approach. Michael¶s uncontrollable crying started when it got dark, and went on for hours. The only way we could survive, was for each of us to take shifts. I remember looking over and seeing Peter rock Michael back and forth on his lap. Eventually, we discovered that if we placed him in a crank-up baby swing, it would put him to sleep. After much searching, we finally found one, which swung for a long time. That swing was our godsend. The Town Center mall, in downtown Charleston, opened shortly after Michael was born. At that time, they had a few vacant storefronts. The mall

management invited local craftspeople to fill in those spaces, rent free. It was a win-win situation for everyone. We got a rent-free store, and they had their empty storefronts filled. About eight of us opened The Creative Collection. We took turns manning the shop. One of the craftsmen, Ed, displayed handsome, hand-built furniture, from his woodworking shop. Whenever I manned our store, I put Michael to bed in the wooden baby crib, from Ed¶s shop. One year, when I was still a glass exhibitor at Cedar Lakes Arts and Crafts Fair, Peter and I kept Michael in his playpen, in the booth with us. We would have gotten rich, if we had a dollar for every time one of the thousands of fairgoers asked us, ³How much is the baby?´ Being able to have Michael with me, wherever I worked, was something I never took for granted. At a design class at Cedar Lakes, he came with me. Our instructor absolutely loved him, and he was the hit of the class. A highly-recommended babysitter, in Ripley, kept him during the day. In the evening, he ran around the classroom, in his little walker on wheels. Michael¶s first words were, ³Nan Mom,´ which was what he called me for some time. That was the likely combination he came up with, from hearing me called both Nancy and Mom. Whenever we held him up to a mirror, and asked him, ³Who is that?´ he replied, ³Mike Mike.´ That became his nickname for many years. Peter and I took Michael camping with us, when he was a baby, on a trip to

visit friends and relatives in New England. Outside of our tent, at a campground in New Hampshire, Michael spoke his first sentence. ³I love you, chocolate milk,´ came out as clearly as could be. He had directed that to me, and we thought it was a pretty clever way of bribing me into giving him his favorite drink. Fifteen months after Michael was born, our youngest son, Ian, came along. By that time, I was 35, and my age put me in the ³Danger Zone,´ for having children. This round, my pregnancy was monitored very closely. I chose to go with the more convention childbirth route, and qualified to be a patient at the WVU medical teaching center. I was seen by a terrific group of young doctors, doing their residency. During one visit, right before my due date, Dr. Bush couldn¶t get a response from the baby, when he held a loud radio up to my stomach. He sent me immediately to their lab, for an amniocentesis. Seeing that 19-inch needle coming towards me was frightening, to say the least. To my surprise and relief, the procedure was virtually painless. That afternoon, I received a message, saying that the doctor wanted to induce labor the next morning. My second experience with childbirth, was as different as night and day from the first. Our friend, Pam, agreed to watch Michael, while all of my family headed to the hospital with me. She couldn¶t believe that he could read, at such a young age. Actually, at only fifteen months, he couldn¶t read at all. He had simply

memorized all of his books, appearing as if he could read. At the hospital, I was to have my labor induced at six in the morning. The fluid they gave me, started working, in what seemed like no time at all. This delivery happened so quickly, it was done and over with in a flash. My parents had run downstairs to the snack bar, to pick up something for lunch. By the time they came back upstairs, the delivery was over. In the delivery room, my squawking baby firmly grasped the scissors in the doctor¶s hand, before he could cut the umbilical cord. To my amazement, as soon as he was cleaned off, and placed on my stomach, he immediately crawled right up and started nursing. Seeing this newborn infant, who knew precisely what to do, seemed nothing short of a miracle.

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