I loved having babies, but for my first, I was really a baby myself. Or more accurately a spoiled princess, accustomed to having life’s wrinkled path smoothed out in front of me by parents or new young husband. I was 20, recently graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. I had tried my hand at lowly jobs available to graduates with a BA in English Lit. Sorting, filing, getting coffee. So when I felt a strange hunger in my belly and a gnawing sensation below my breastbone, I knew I was pregnant and was glad. Sherm was struggling with med school, studying all the time because he was used to the softer requirements in the humanities and now he had to memorize bones, muscles, ligaments, arteries. It was hard for him. So who paid our rent in our brand new apartment on Osage—4th floor, sunny, large living room? How did we survive? With help from our parents, especially his, I guess, because I didn’t handle the money.
There I was, pregnant, and growing larger by the day. In my 7th month, I quit that boring job and realized that carrying groceries up four flights to our apartment was getting harder and harder. I pictured carrying a baby AND groceries and thus began a campaign to get out of our year lease. The manager was adamant. We fought. He won. Until our parents got involved, and then suddenly we could move. I didn’t ask, but looking back, I bet they bailed their little darlings out. How embarrassing!
We moved from Osage to a first floor flat on the corner of Florence and 49th St.
My Gynecologist wanted me to try hypnosis and I readily agreed as he assured me that there would be a backup plan if it didn’t seem to help, but he was sure it would. I had my doubts as I seemed to be only going through the motions as he droned over and over, you’re completely relaxed, every muscle in your body is at ease, you are comfortable and at ease and on and on. When he called me back, I opened my eyes. “How was that?” “Fine,” I said more readily than I felt.
A few days before my due date, I started having contractions 20 minutes apart. We raced to the hospital and I sat in the bed waiting. But the contractions dissipated and I was sent home. Not accustomed to such a big disappointment, I was depressed for many days. Then suddenly, two weeks later, my water broke in bed at 2 AM. Again we rushed to the hospital, but this time with me in the back seat screaming in pain as the contractions gripped me in rapid succession. “If this is going to last hours and hours as they say for first babies, I am going to DIE!” I thought. Sherm went through red lights. We arrived and I got out of the car, staggered to the WHAT? REVOLVING DOORS? Then a pain gripped me and I wound up lying in an outside partition with Sherm on the inside, banging on the window and yelling at me to get up. Finally I did and the door revolved. They lifted me onto a gurney. Now I was certain I would not live through this. Then someone said “She’s crowning! Get her to the delivery room!”
We flew down the hall where a baby-faced resident promptly delivered a 5 lb 8oz baby boy and I was still alive!
Two wonderful baby-filled years later, a different doctor assured me that he would make it to the delivery and hypnosis would help make it near painless. I had my doubts, of course, but dutifully went along with the plan.
Charles too was born in the wee morning hours after a hard but short labor. The doctor never made it.
Two years later I delivered Paul in New Orleans, but the tragedy of his death wiped out all memory of the actual birth. The princess part of me began to recede that year, as I faced the fact that no one could smooth the way for some of the terrible wrinkles in life.
Three years later, I moved in with Auntydele and Uncle Leonard to be within a five-minute drive the hospital in Buffalo. 3 am again, but this time the doctor made it and gave me a spinal. No pain at all.
I’m sure hypnosis works for some . . .