So I’d love to write another version of “The Blood Room” to tell y’all everything that happened with my sister’s second homebirth, but frankly, even after being back for a week, I’m too exhausted, so I’ll just hit the high notes.
(Speaking of which, MAN I wish I’d been high…)
The labor and delivery, as I mentioned in my last post, lasted an inconTHIEVable 33 hours — and here’s where I mention I don’t do well without sleep. My nightly psych meds knock me the fuck out for at least four hours, so choosing when to gulp ’em down is a serious internal debate: take the meds and go comatose, or skip the meds and go batshit?
Sometimes the choice is easy: my last all-nighter was a shoot at the Long Beach docks, where you have to be awake because… well, because it’s your fucking job, Ms. TV Hotshot. Besides, batshit is pretty much de rigueur on the set, so no big. But this was ten billion times more important than any job, because my sister needed my help, and batshit was Not An Option. So I took my meds at 6 p.m. (when she was in Early Labor) and slept ’til 10 p.m. (when she was still in Early Labor) — a short respite before staying awake all night.
If you can, picture Ben Stein saying, “Yay.”
Not that I, y’know, necessarily helped my sister all that much; there’s only so much you can do when it’s not your vagina the Alien Baby is crawling out of. However (here, preset your mouth in a big round “O” so you don’t strain something when you read the rest of this sentence) I am an extremely good emotional helper when called upon. No, I mean it. I am.
Having lived in Hollywood for so long, I may not have any emotions left myself, but I’ve learned how to fake it really well.
For example, at 3 a.m., when Gigantosister was sitting naked on the floor of her shower, using up the last dregs of warm water remaining in the water heater and chanting, “Thissucksthissucksthissucksthissucks” every four minutes – I was actually able to make her laugh by recalling some of our fond childhood memories.
I don’t remember what those memories were exactly, but to tell the truth, I don’t remember much about our childhood, except my hair turning green every summer from the YMCA pool, and making my sister smoke a cigarette when she was 9.
That’s what passes for “fond” in our family.
Anyway, whatever I said made Gigantosister laugh, which distracted her for approximately 12 seconds out of 33 hours, so I figured: job well done.
And before I go on, please allow me to explain to some of you – especially to those women who’ve already had children, or who are currently carrying Alien Babies in their uteri, or who’ve just managed to expel an Alien Baby and are feeling sensitive about their weight – the innocuous etymology of “Gigantosister”:
When not pregnant, my sister doesn’t weigh 100 lbs.
I don’t mean she weighs more than 100 lbs. — I mean she would probably have to carry Peter Dinklage on her back to nudge that scale over 100.
She is one skinny-ass bitch.
Like, rail-thin, supermodel-thin, designers-would-fight-over-her-to-use-her-on-the-runway-thin. To be precise, my sister and I weigh the exact same amount – but only when she’s 9 months pregnant. The anorexic whore.
(Kidding. She’s not anorexic.)
(Though sometimes I wish she was anorexic so we could force her to gain weight under the guise of “being healthy.” My real motivation would be… less altruistic.)
So when I call her “Gigantosister,” it’s for a few reasons.
The first reason is, of course, bitter, bitter jealousy.
The second is irony – considering her “gigantic” is a normal person’s normal.
And the third reason is because when she’s pregnant, she only gains weight in her belly. Not in her thighs, not in her hips, or her ass or arms or face – she just looks like a goddamn walking stick insect with an enormous water balloon tied to its middle.
It’s a little otherworldly, and deserving of an appellation to describe its weirdness – hence, “Gigantosister.” So I don’t want a bunch of hate comments from women declaring that they love their bodies when they’re pregnant, how dare I make a weight joke about my pregnant sister, if I’d ever had kids I’d understand what a delicate topic this is…
‘Cause I get it. I do. Nobody likes being called fat. But Gigantosister doesn’t get fat. It’s just that when she’s pregnant, in terms of Odd Extraterrestrial-Looking Creatures, she ranks right up there around Mothra. You can’t look away.
In the meantime, she was getting through her extended labor like a BOSS…
…all while dealing with her 3 year-old son who was clearly not enthralled with the idea of having to share Momma. At all. With anyone. Even Momma herself.
I don’t know if you’ve heard a 3 year-old shriek – I mean, full-throated, open-lunged shrieking – but that shit will burst aneurysms and make you bleed inside your brain. It’s amazing I came back to LA with any neurological function at all. Sure, okay, my left leg’s been dragging a little lately, but I’m almost positive that’s from crouching down over the birth tub for hours at a time.
In fact, the first time I stood up from the tub to take a break, I almost fell right back down – into the water. An improvement over barfing into the water — which I nearly did at the first birth — but nonetheless, pitching headfirst onto a Gigantosister having contractions? Lesson number one: don’t ever, ever do that if you’re at all fond of your internal organs.
Skipping over a long, long, long night and early morning and late morning and moving from Early Labor into Active Labor into Transition into Pushing, after Gigantosister had finally ejected the Alien Baby into the world (by the way, there was a shitload of snappishness and profanity during this last bit – which resulted in my absolute favorite part of the whole experience: my sister screaming, “GET THIS VAGINA OUT OF ME!”) (I’m sorry, I had to pause after typing that. It still makes me laugh.) the midwife had my relieved and happy sister step out of the pool and get onto the plastic-covered bed.
But here’s the thing: my sister left a trail of blood.
I’m not talking about blood like from your period, which, while sometimes annoyingly copious, for the most part is like, “Eh. Tampon. Plugged. BAM!”
I’m talking steady, running-down-her-legs-like-rain-runoff blood.
She’d already delivered the placenta, so it’s not like there was anything left in her uterus except… well, blood. It’s just that the blood suddenly seemed to crave fresh air. It was making a run for the border, a dash for the exit, and to my eyes, my sister was starting to look ashen. Paler than even our fishbelly skin could account for. Her freckles started to look like chicken pox. All at once the circles under her eyes got deeper and purpler as if Floyd Mayweather had come along and popped her in the face. Twice.
And she was still bleeding.
The midwife told her assistant to get a shot of Perblglespl (that’s what it sounded like to me at the time – though admittedly, I couldn’t hear much over the heart pounding in my ears), and then injected it into my sister’s thigh, but still… no change. It was the Running of the Blood at Pamplona.
So there I am at the head of the bed, standing quietly next to my sister, thinking, “You guys better fucking fix this, you just better, ’cause I swear to god, I swear you better fucking fix this RIGHT NOW,” and planning how, if necessary, I’d throw my sister over my shoulder in a fireman’s carry (upside-down, of course, so she couldn’t lose any more blood) and then I’d steal one of the family SUVs and drive it to the nearest hospital despite having no idea where the hell it was located assuming I would just sense its hospitalness—
–when the midwife gave my sister another shot of Perblglespl and the bleeding just stopped.
And that’s where I almost barfed during the second birth.
It’s hard to go from planning a desperate medical rescue to BAM! in the space of a few seconds. I imagine it’s like those people who hork up their lunches in fighter jets. The change in pressure is jarring, physical, overwhelming. You feel like the Invisible Man just sneaked up from behind and Heimlich’ed you with no warning.
Lesson number two? Also don’t barf on your sister’s head while she’s holding the new baby.
Luckily I was close enough to the bathroom to step in and splash some water on my face. Which was a good thing, ‘cause by now I was looking like refried garbage. Seriously, it was NOT a banner day for the ol’ self-esteem, ‘cause not only did the former Gigantosister now weigh less than me (19 pounds gone like that – NINETEEN FUCKING POUNDS!), but her endorphins were all starting to kick in, making her skin shine pink and glowy, while my greasy sleep-deprived mug looked like the Before photo on a Proactiv pamphlet.
Admittedly, Alien Baby was cute — and so much quieter than the 3 year-old, thank you Great Fetal Jesus — but more than anything I thought my sister was the gorgeous one. She’d just run the equivalent of an internal marathon for 33 hours, and now she was smiling and laughing and making jokes (better jokes than mine; GOD I wish she was fat), and I couldn’t help thinking, “Thank you.”
Not to any god or saint or anyone or anything in particular, just to… y’know… Out There…
“Thank you thank you thank you.”
She said the same thing to me later, but I’m almost positive I thought it harder.