April 21
I was a little leery about calling the doctor to see if I should make a trip to the hospital; I had gone in the day before thinking my water had broken. In reality I had awaken sweaty from too many blankets. Sheesh! The humiliation was nothing a couple of chocolate chip pancakes from the Original Pancake House couldn’t fix. That’s where we went after the doctor tipped his head forward, looked above his glasses and said “You’re only a centimeter dilated.” He then ‘shooed’ us home. So here we were the day after, Don and I staring at each other from across the room. “Maybe we should start timing the contractions.” he said.

I attended the Lamaze classes and viewed the video of women in labor. I had it drilled into my head by the instructor that you shouldn’t become concerned until the contractions are at least 45 seconds long and less than 5 minutes apart. With the possibility of another hospital humiliation looming above my head I just wasn’t sure what to do. My contractions were about 25 second long and 3 minutes apart. Since it was Sunday, I would have to talk to the doctor on call... the same guy who examined me the previous day. “Well, you should come in and have it checked out,” he said, “but they’re probably false contractions and you’ll be sent home.” As I hung up the phone I had another contraction. In our normally noisy life there was silence. Don and I found ourselves staring at each other again. More silence...

“I think we should go.” I said.

We arrived at the hospital around 1:30 p.m. I wondered, as we passed the reception desk, how many waddling women, clutching their abdomen had to pause for a contraction in front of the receptionist? Probably hundreds.

In the maternity ward, the nurse readied me for examination. She recognized me from the day before and was very kind. The doctor, originally a bit skeptical, announced, with some surprise that I was 4 centimeters dilated! “Your body’s been working hard.” the nurse said, “You’re staying!”

It’s at this moment when you think to yourself, “How exciting! This is it!” Then you panic, “Oh my! This is it!” That was at 2:30 p.m. The birthing room was nice. I was able to watch the Detroit Red Wings play Winnipeg in a first round playoff game. Don, nervous about what the nurses would think said, “Make sure they know I’m not making you watch this.” A good hockey game is great to keep your mind off contractions, but I couldn’t tell you who won.

At 5:00 p.m. the doctor broke my water and gave me a shot of numorphin. I could feel the drug move from the injection site across my body like a warm wave. When it got to my head I experienced vertical room spins. I may not have gotten the drug if anyone knew how quickly things would progress. In fact the staff was so confident it would be a while that Don and I were the only ones in the room. I had gone from just under 6 centimeters at 5:00 p.m. to 10 centimeters at 5:30 p.m. I liken the experience to ripping the Band-Aid off instead of pulling it off slowly.

And then it hit me... this all encompassing, uncontrollable feeling. I said, “Don, I really feel like pushing. I really, really need to push.” He got this ‘deer in the headlights’ look and fumbled for the nurse buzzer. When the nurse came in to check me she said “Oh! You can push!” All I remember is people frantically speeding around me pulling the bed apart for birthing and putting on scrubs. It was a flurry of activity and I was still a bit disoriented so all of the movement looked like colorful blurs to me. It only took about 5 hard pushes. Don, who swore he wouldn’t be able to stomach the gore was coaxed by the doctors to take a look when the baby’s head came out. While they were suctioning out the mouth “POW!” a fist and arm thrust out giving everyone a surprise. “Oh, it’s an arm!” I heard a nurse say with surprise. “Did you see that?” she asked.

I was glad Don got to witness that... the wonderful resilience of life. His daughter was eager to make her appearance. She did just that at 6:02 p.m. For the second time that day there was silence. I didn’t hear the nurses. I didn’t listen to the rustle of scrubs being taken off or the carts being wheeled away. It was just me and my baby... Abby’s warm breath brushing my cheek as she cried. It was Abby’s birth day.


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