Mary Panza

A long standing tradition in my family is the birth story. Everybody has one. On Monday, my girl turns seven. Here is her story as told by me, her mother:

I was so ready to have her. Her room was done. Diapers, wipes, breast pump, receiving blankets, crib and the rest of it. All ready to go. As luck would have it, no one was really sure of my due date. The doctor said one thing and the ultrasound tech said another. I was rooting for the tech because she had me going ten days sooner. The tech lost. Asshole. I was huge. My stomach was bigger than my thighs (which was a first). I just wanted it to be over. I wanted my baby.

A week before I delivered I got strep. I was miserable. I would cough and every muscle in my body twitch. All the old aunts had advice for me. Castor oil. Olive oil. Enemas Red pepper flakes. None of which I did. Finally, my friend Noah (he worked in a fertility clinic at the time) told me this: “Only two things will bring this baby out: Fucking or wasabi.” The words were still lingering in the air as I got into my car and the Dad and I were at the much missed Saso’s. We ate our weight in sushi that I painted in wasabi. When we got home the Dad asked me if we should have sex. I told him that is the most disgusting question he had ever asked me and NO. We fell into our respective food comas and hoped for the best.

All pregnant women, especially towards the end, have to urinate almost constantly. There I was up at midnight on the 29th of April, 2006 when before I could reach my destination I see blood. Holy God in Heaven, she is on her way. I wake up the Dad and tell him. We call the Dr and he tells us to back to bed. When the contractions start, time them, and then call him back but not before 6am. Bastard. My ob/gyn, I am pretty sure, was a Vulcan.  He had very little emotion and was not a huggy feeler. His voice was always in an almost whiney monotone. Fine by me, I hate being touched anyway. I hate reassuring tones of voice and most of all I hate being treated like a mental case. And YES, I am aware of the irony in these statements. So there I was, in labor. At least I thought I was in labor.

I fell asleep around 1am. Every once in a while I would get what was like a menstrual cramp and then it would go away. This ain’t shit the South Troy in me said. I get up around 7am, cancel my nail appointment, and eat some peanut butter toast. I turn on the Food Network and Paula Dean is frying something. I don’t know if it was the peanut butter, the toast or Paula Dean’s annoying voice but then, at that moment I got hit with the worst pain of my life. Primal scream, punch a wall, curse the gods kind of pain. I believe I said to the Dad that I didn’t care if that cold blooded Vulcan son of bitch showed up or not. I NEED THE EPIDURAL AND I NEED IT NOW.

The ride to the hospital was bumpy. I am pretty the Dad did it to annoy me as our relationship was in the shitter anyway. My sister ran the child birth center and I was sure

I was going to get the red carpet treatment. For those of you who know my sister, you already know that after I called her, she called the child birth center and told them under no circumstances were they to take any of my shit. My shit being as I walked up to the desk in absolute agony I told the nurse I needed my epidural now because I believe I am in more pain than most of the women that come in here. She gave me a bored look and told me to walk myself to the end of the hall, turn left and wait for her. Really?! Where was I going? I lay on the bed and said this exact prayer, “Dear Father God. Please make this pain stop as I am sure you are punishing me for something. I will be a good girl from now on and a good mother. Please make it stop.” Then I threw up. Then my family began to arrive. My mother (God rest her soul), my sister, brother, three nieces, two nephews, boyfriends and girlfriends. My big fat Italian birth was complete with fighting over the remote, which one of them got the comfortable chair and the arguments that always ensue. The only one smart enough to stay away was my brother in law. I told them all to get the fuck out and off they went. It was 8:30am on Saturday, April 29th. We were in it for the long haul.

When I tell you that the longest chunk of time in my entire life was from 7am to noon on that day, I am not exaggerating. At noon I got my epidural. Best legal high of my life. I could tolerate almost anything except noise. That’s right. I had a Scientology birth. The only one allowed to speak the entire day was me. I let the family back into my room. I spent the day with the sound on the TV off and my family being so supportive to me until around 5:30pm. My brother, who was in a vacant room watching golf and ordering my nieces around, stuck his head in my room (during the commercial) and yelled, “COME ON ALREADY.” He was told to go shove it where the sun doesn’t shine.

Hours went by. I spiked a fever. The baby had a fever as well. I got IV antibiotics, and all the drugs they tell you will screw up your baby. I’m here to tell you they didn’t. I started pushing at 9pm. Each time I pushed, I would cough. I could hear my mother’s rosary beads hitting her chair. I wanted to choke her. I had been pushing for two hours and I was done. She got stuck and the Vulcan asked me if he could vacuum her out. I looked up, got the OK from my sister. I looked up again and on the TV was the walk off scene from Zoolander. Yes, my baby was born to blue steel at 11:16pm. They put her on me and I asked them to clean her off. She smelled bad. Don’t judge me, she came out of my vagina and they all smell odd at best. The nurses took her, do what nurses do, and then 13 phone cameras, complete with flashes began to click. The Dad, who had been smart enough to not say a word all day, began to cry. I was never afraid of anything more than I was of what I felt for her. I couldn’t believe that God had been such a fool to put me in charge of this beautiful girl. I still wonder what God was thinking but I am grateful.

Motherhood is not a badge I wear well. Sometimes I am good at it. I do what seems right at the time and hope for the best. There is no hand book. Let’s face it, I probably wouldn’t read it anyway.

Happy 7th Birthday my girl. I love you more than everything…