While some people spend St. Patrick’s Day clad in green, doused in Guinness, and channeling Riverdance, twenty years ago today I was dilating 10cm pushing the reluctant youngest of my three daughters into this crazy world.
From that moment on, she became an Irish girl. It hardly mattered that we came from hearty Norwegian and English stock, because when her head crowned at the onset of the beloved Saint Paddy’s parade, we were immediately hurled into a foreign land of green food coloring, shamrocks, leprechauns, and drunks hell-bent on hurling corn beef chunks.
Just two short decades ago, there I was in a Seattle delivery room. Far different from my previous birthing experience in Norway, I lay there in relative comfort trying to breath through each painful contraction as a nurse uttered the words I’d longed to hear…“the anesthesiologist is on his way.”
Now if you’ve never imagined cramming a watermelon through a garden hose I can understand how those words might elicit a strong fight or flight response, especially if you catch a glimpse of that spear they plan to lodge into your spinal column. But at that point you don’t care if it’s an Olympic javelin as long as it offers relief.
For the record, I was one of those women who took the task of “eating for two” VERY seriously. With every pregnancy I gained fifty pounds, which seemed a little excessive but I wanted to make sure the kids were exposed to all of the nutritional groups in the food pyramid. The fact that my meal portions could have fed the entire work force constructing the ancient Egyptian monoliths prompted my doctor’s order to, “Stop hopping the gravy train and lose the caboose.”
The next thing I knew the anesthesiologist arrived, dressed in green scrubs and a facemask. He picked up my chart and flipped through a page or two.
“Turn her on her side, please.” The doctor ordered.
It took two nurses five minutes to rock my whale butt and blubber thighs to the specified position. And all the time I kept thinking of Edward Lorenz and his theory that if a butterfly flaps his wings in South America it can affect the weather patterns in Central Park. I was scared that what had just transpired on that gurney might have caused some major shifts in the San Andreas Fault… and I wanted to be on my feet and speed waddling if the earth rumbled.
It was at this point that my legs took off in an uncontrollable exorcist-like Irish jig. No doubt I should have been embarrassed…with an open hospital gown exposing my fluttering fanny to the doctor and other passersby, but I was WAY beyond that.
Even in my hazy state I recognized his voice. It was like going back to my childhood. Oh shit, that’s exactly what it was…and suddenly it came to me. His nickname from grade school shot out of my mouth before I had a chance to pull back.
The room went silent. It became instantly obvious that it was not a moniker that triggered fond memories for him as he glared, and shot back…
“Yes, Annie. It’s me, “Tubba-Fuh,” the one now holding this 5-inch syringe.”
With that I careened into a state of half conscious shock, and twenty years ago today…a beautiful little lass came to be. We both love all things Irish…potatoes, Bailey’s crème, Notre Dame, the Blarney Stone…and as proof that in utero trauma has lasting effects, she shares my acute fear of needles.