It’s like a migraine, but rippling through the entirety of me, and I just have to lie there and take it. The bulk of my produce was organic, my drinking water purified through a reverse-osmosis system. My birth plan is on the floor, wrinkled, footprints stamped onto the white paper.
I’ve just done a few stretches and heaved myself back into bed when another nurse enters the room. The nurse ticks off a list of everything that’s about to happen: The baby will be tested for drugs. I used clove oil on a persistent toothache instead of visiting the dentist, because I didn’t want any anesthetic to pass through my body and into the placenta. I want to run away, but I’m belted down to a labor bed and attached to a bunch of machinery, caught somewhere between a sob and a scream.
“And of course, you cannot breastfeed the baby,” the nurse finishes. He shows his phone to every nurse who steps foot in the room.
All three days, the nurses are reluctant to hand over the baby, saying my actions are irresponsible. “This woman tested positive for methamphetamine,” they say.
“She has been briefed on the risks associated with breastfeeding, and she refused our advice.
My everyday routine as a pregnant lady involves peeing on demand. When I imagined labor, I expected to pass the time by stretching on an exercise ball or pacing the hospital’s long white hallways.
But my doctor is concerned about the baby’s heartbeat – it drops dramatically every time I have a contraction – and so I am confined to a labor bed, an IV of fluids in my arm, an oxygen mask on my face, and belts stretched across my belly to monitor the baby. My doula rubs lavender essential oil on my temples, and my husband plays “Push It,” the Spotify playlist I created for labor and delivery.
Mine, however, has been sent to an outside lab for additional testing.
I should receive the results in two to three weeks.
“Just so you know, you’ve tested positive…” The nurse pauses there, and shifts her eyes to the floor. I expect she’s going to say something about the whirring machines that have been measuring the baby’s heartbeat, my contractions, my blood pressure, any of those things. “Well, I’ve always been a positive person,” I say, because cracking awful jokes is what I do to pave over uncomfortable situations. At this point I’m 42 weeks, so I’ve peed into dozens, maybe scores, of sample cups.
“For methamphetamine.” Relief floods me, and I explode with laughter. That’s probably why I wasn’t even aware the hospital administered a drug test when I checked in to give birth.
It’s one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen, this tiny baby part wrapped in plastic, this uncomfortable, squawking child.