The Day I Hiked a Mountain

14 years ago today I gave birth to my sweet little Lucas.

14 years ago yesterday, I hiked a mountain.

Here is the story surrounding Lucas’ birth…

Dear Lucas,

I was SO done being pregnant.  I was a week overdue and I was completely and totally over being pregnant with you.  I was desperate to meet you.  AND  I had never been pregnant that long before…you stayed cooking for six weeks longer than when I was pregnant with Zach who came five weeks early.  I just assumed, wrongly, that you would come early too which added to my frustration, exponentially.  You seemed content to stay put exactly where you were.  You didn’t seem so inclined to come meet your family.  So you just keep cooking in my internal incubator.  The obstetrician finally had pity on me and decided that November 6th would be the day you were going to be born.

My induction was set for 7 a.m.  The only problem  was I didn’t want to be induced.  I wanted to reclaim my body and meet you but I wanted this on my own terms, not the doctors.   I wanted you, you little bugger, to vacate my incubator but I didn’t want drugs.

On November 5th, Dad, Zach, Charlie (our first golden retriever) and I hiked the mountain behind our house in Bad Kissengen, Germany.  Dad pushed Zach in the jogger stroller we had, as Charlie, you and I blazed the path in front of them.  This had to work…this had to be the catalyst to get you moving out of the cozy comfort of the womb and out into the loving arms of our family.  We finished our hike, prepared dinner, put Zach to bed and settled in ourselves with the alarm clock set so we could get to the hospital on time.

No need to worry about a six a.m. alarm.  The hike worked.  At around 3 a.m. the contractions started.  The phone call was made to our neighbor to come stay with Zach so Dad, you and I could get ourselves to St. Elisabeth’s Krankehaus (known here in the U.S. as a hospital). We loaded ourselves into the car and headed to the hospital at 4 a.m.

It was as we pulled up to the hospital that I  found our how German hospitals are just a little different than American hospitals….

Dad parked the car with me in it…there was no place to pull up in front of a well lit “Emergency” sign.  The hospital was dark.  And I mean dark…dimly lit ~ no lights…it looked closed.  I waddled ahead of Dad, and yes, I said “waddled.”  I was overdue with you…meaning you overstayed your welcome and I was hugely pregnant with you which caused me to waddle like a duck.  Dad and I were looking for a way to get into the Krankenhaus.  As we approached the entrance we saw the button ~ the doorbell to the hospital.  Yep, a doorbell on the front of a hospital.  Dad pushed the button and a voice came over the intercom “Wie kann ich ihnen helfen?” ~ “How can I help you?”  Dad explained, in German, that we were having a baby ~ you.  The door buzzed open and we were in.

As we walked into the lobby there is not one nurse waiting for me.  American hospitals are swarming with nurses waiting to take the pregnant lady to the maternity ward when she walks in the front door.  There was no wheelchair waiting to take me upstairs to the place where babies are delivered.  American hospitals won’t let a pregnant mama walk once she steps foot in the hospital.  There was no elevator beckoning me to its doors and ready to whisk me up.  I had to walk…on my own two feet ~ clutching dad’s arm every two to three minutes.   Again, American hospitals don’t let pregnant mamas walk much.

We finally made our way up to the maternity ward…it was closed.  There were no nurses manning the nurses’ station…there was no one.  Dad went in search of someone to help us and he finally hunted down a nurse in the nursery.  She found our midwife who was sleeping her shift away in the delivery room.

Nurse Helga came into the hallway rubbing the sleep from her eyes but ready to do her job.  She hooked me up to the monitor to make sure my contractions were good and strong.  And then she let me do something no American hospital really lets you do.  She unplugged me from the monitor and let me walk.  I walked and walked and walked, up and down the halls.  It was heaven.  I wasn’t strapped down, watching the monitor read every single contraction.  I was barely aware of contractions as Dad and Beth (my friend who came to support me) and I walked the halls of St. Elisabeth’s.

Around 6 in the morning, nurse Helga decided it was time to get things moving so she ran a bath for me…a bath!!  She lit lavender candles and sprinkled lavender bath salts into the water.  The lights were dim in the bathroom and I kicked back, lounging in the biggest tub I had ever seen.  I was relaxed, happy and more than ready to have a baby.  Let’s get this show on the road…so we did.  You, Lucas Ford Pokrywka, were born at 7:04 weighing in at 7 pounds 2 oz.  Your picture was taken and put on a pass for me so I could “check you out” of the nursery when I wanted to.  You were cleaned up, fully dressed and taken to the nursery so I could rest.

The nurses wheeled me to the recovery room, handed me a lunch menu so I could get some lunch and then they left me to relax.  After lunch was chosen, Dad left to go home, get cleaned up and get Zach.  I tried to do what I needed to do…sleep.  All I could think about as I tried to sleep was that I was famished but there was nothing I could do.  The German hospital didn’t have a phone and cell phones were still not quite the norm so I had no way of contacting Dad.  There was no nurses “call button” for me to use and request lunch earlier or to request a phone call to Dad.  There was  no TV in my recovery room so all I could do was try not to gnaw my arm off in my state of extreme hunger.  Finally, lunch arrives and I find I’m eating sea eel…that’s a great post delivery lunch ~ sea eel and rice…YUM!

Part of what I’m telling you now is a story for when you get a little older, my love, but I had to include it so I didn’t forget it…hopefully, you find humor in it someday…

My stay in the hospital with you was just a tad different than my stay in the American hospital when I had Zach.  I shared a room with a German lady whose breast milk shot out of her like a volcano….it gushed and spurted everywhere.  I was mortified.  I had a private room with Zach so I never saw milk erupting from breasts like lava from Mount Vesuvius.   Like I said above, there were no TVs in any of the maternity rooms, recovery or otherwise.  I actually had to try and make conversation with my room mate, whose breast milk ran down her front in a near constant stream.  I had no phone, still.  So I had no way to contact Dad and ask him to bring me things or just chat with him so I could be distracted from the river of breast milk on the bed next to me.  I was at the mercy of Zach’s nap schedule for any kind of entertainment or diversion from Dad.  (Luckily all of our Army friends flooded the room to visit with me, and bring me treats (like coconut macaroons), so I didn’t completely lose my mind.)  By day two I was more than ready to leave the hospital and head back home…taking you with me.  My room mate thought I was insane.  German women stay in the hospital for seven to 10 days so they could properly recover.  I was not so much into recovery as I was into escaping what I considered to be a painful environment, flooded (literally) with an overflowing milk supply courtesy of my room mate.

Life couldn’t have been sweeter the day I forced you to come into this world by hiking a mountain and yes,  I did force you out in the big wide world but I’m glad I did.  It’s adds just a little bit of fun to the story of your actual birthday.  You are quite a kid and you need an interesting story surrounding the day we celebrated you finally meeting our family…

Happy 14th Birthday, to my favorite “little” blond boy!  

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