Nine years ago today, the world changed forever. It is the anniversary of the Bush/Gore election debacle, after all. It is also the day my son was born.
Considering how political I became after his birth, it is incredible to me that these two events intertwined in such a profound way. Even then, I was a politics buff, having been hypnotized by Bill Clinton on a street corner in Philadelphia. (Not that kind of street corner!) Actually, if I really think about it, I was somehow interested in politics from a very young age. My mother always loved to tell the story about taking me along with her to vote and how I yelled out that she should vote for Jimmy Carter. But I digress ...
November 7 was always the day planned for my son's birth. I was late, and my doctor did not induce until 7 days past due date. For whatever reason, I had obsessively fretted throughout my pregnancy about being induced. Everyone I knew who had been induced ended up having a C-section, and I did not want a C-section. Why I felt this way is beyond me. I just seem to make things up and fixate on them for no apparent reason. I did this leading up to my wedding also, deciding that I absolutely had to have clear skin on my wedding day (the pouty internal tantrum I threw about the honeymoon locale had not gone very far; while Aruba might have seemed so unoriginal to me, Bora Bora was simply not happening ~ but does remain on my bucket list). So, I started seeing a dermatologist and taking Accutane ... and proceeded to have a unicorn zit, as I named it, for my big day (yes, because it protruded like a pointy horn from my forehead).
It took a lot of effort on my part to come to terms with being induced. This was really all for the best, I ultimately convinced myself. My doctor would be able to deliver, not the tall, foreign-sounding woman he had brought in to the practice who I disliked intensely. I would be able to vote and then leisurely proceed to the hospital. It would be a wonderful day.
And it was ... just not the way I had planned. My water broke in the middle of the night, early hours of Nov. 6. I labored all day and all night to no avail. I was not dilating, I believe. So I was given Pitocin, intervention #1 (I read Naomi Wolf's "Misconceptions" while on maternity leave and became belatedly empowered with all sorts of information that went to no good use during my second pregnancy when I was determined to have a VBAC, wanted a midwife and ended up hospitalized with placenta previa and warned that I might lose my uterus, part of my bladder and massive amounts of blood when the baby was delivered since I actually had accreta (www.marchofdimes.com/pnhec/188_1128.asp) but that is, of course, all another story).
In the early hours of Nov. 7, what had been a dream pregnancy ended in an emergency C-section. There were decelerations, the baby was not getting enough oxygen, they ripped me out of the labor/delivery room into surgery (performed, of course, by the tall, foreign-sounding woman I disliked intensely) and my 9-pound son was placed in NICU.
I was in a deeply drugged state and remember very little about the first couple of days of my son's life. I do remember urging my husband to vote. He was going home to shower and change and pack some things to stay at the hospital with me, and I kept telling him he had to vote. "We live in New York, Michelle," he reminded me, "Gore will win." I remember later emerging from sleep or pain med-induced fog and asking who the president was and being told we did not know and that I was missing the story of my life. I remember being so sad to learn my first child had been born into a Republican administration (and telling him so).
November 7, 2000. It is my birthday, too (www.mothersmovement.org/opinion/06/levine_0611.html). I have always wondered why the child's birthday is not celebrated as the parent's birthday as well. Aren't we both born that day? I think parents should also receive gifts and have parties on their children's birthdays. Next year, for double digits, I think I'll register at the liquor store. For those who like to plan ahead, I prefer my scotch to be single malt, Glenfiddich is a fave. Please do not buy vodka unless it is Grey Goose (Stoli or Absolut would do in a pinch), and no rum except for Malibu. Maybe I'll be able to drink myself into a deep enough coma that I can miss the 2012 match-up between Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton.