How Henry Happened - part III

We pulled in to the roundabout at the main entrance to the hospital, and I was barely keeping it together. Things were happening much too fast - a possibility I hadn't prepared myself for, mentally. Wyatt's labor was long, the progress slow. I began having contractions in the morning, and we didn't go to the hospital until after 9PM. I labored for 12 more hours before ultimately having a C-Section. With Daphne - my water 'broke' and I didn't go into labor on my own at all. And even when the good doctor broke my water for real and threw me into labor, I still had several hours to go. So the fact that this time my contractions were this intense and right on top of each other and we weren't IN the hospital yet made me anxious, to say the least.

Bill ran inside to fetch a wheelchair. Part of me felt a bit foolish at this - I mean, the pioneers didn't have wheelchairs while they labored across the planes. But as I punched my way through another contraction, I gave up on any notion of walking anywhere. I noticed a few people notice me sitting there in the car, coping with the pain. Again, a voice inside me suggested I feel foolish - but I brushed it off. Let them stare. As any woman who's had a baby knows, you leave your sense of personal dignity at those hospital doors. You had more important things to concentrate on.

Bill loaded me onto the wheelchair and wheeled me in to the entryway of the hospital. We couldn't leave the car where we were parked at the front doors. He suggested handing me off to a nurse to take me upstairs while he re-parked - but I refused to move an inch inside those doors without him. He was my Coach - and this was a team effort. But mostly - I'm much braver when he is by my side, and at this point I was a tad freaked out.

He left me in the entry way (not outside, but not technically inside the Hospital, yet) and ran to park the car. As I sat there and tried to cope with the contractions as quietly and non scene-causingly as I could, I saw a bunch of scrubs walk by. I looked up - nurses in blue chatted jovially as they passed me and made their way into the night.

Shift change.

Must be six o'clock, I thought. Then I was impressed with myself for remembering that the shifts changed at the six o'clock hour at this hospital. Then I was pleased, because that meant that we'd likely have the same nurse for the whole delivery - provided we didn't go past six o'clock the next morning.

Bill ran across the parking lot, grabbed me, and we headed toward those fateful elevators. The gal at the check-in desk stared at me skeptically as we passed, and I did my best to ignore her.

Once Bill pushed the button that would take us up and those elevator doors closed, I took full advantage of it being just the two of us. I'm a private person, and so usually like to cope with things like my own pain and panic in a more private, subdued way. But this time? And this pain? Letting go and letting it take over seemed much more effective. So I oscillated between clutching at Bill's hand and clothes and batting at him with my fist, while my voice oscillated between a piteous whimpering "ow ow ow" to a deep and fearsome war cry.

"Oops," said Bill.

"What?" I panted.

"Not second floor! THIRD FLOOR!"

We both looked at that hateful glow illuminating the #2 button, and Bill hastily punched the #3 to life. His fingers hovered over the button panel, unsure of how to fix the situation. The second floor was Mother/Baby, where I'd go to recover IF I survived this thing. Third floor was Labor/Delivery. We both laughed, then another contraction hit.

The tell-tale bing, the doors slid open to reveal a young lady (maybe 13) waiting on one of the lobby couches. She looked up startled to see the doors slide open to reveal a strained looking man and a woman in a wheelchair, hollering and Lamaze breathing simultaneously, looking back at her apologetically. Then the doors slide shut on the scene that probably scarred the poor girl for life, and we were on our way again.

Bill picked up the phone next to the Double Doors of Security. I was rather expecting him to portray some of the urgency I was feeling when he demanded entry - but instead, he calmly and politely said, "Hello, my wife is in Labor. May we come in?"

I stared up at him. No 'prep the bed! We're coming through!' No 'Make way! She's gonna blow!'

They said that yes, we may come in, and the doors magically opened. As Bill wheeled me to the desk, I glimpsed the dreaded Triage room.

Not for the first time since we left the house on this little adventure, I hissed under my breath, "Bill, I can't go to Triage for an hour!" He nodded. He had assured me several times that I was obviously in labor, so they wouldn't put me in Triage. Surely they wouldn't!

I remembered when I was in labor with Wyatt sitting in that room hooked up to the instruments so the nurses could determine if I was truly in labor and should be admitted. They were busy then - just like they were tonight - and couldn't afford to have any 'false labors' take up any beds. Understandable - but they had left us there for over an hour.

I couldn't do an hour in Triage. For all I knew - my panicked mind told me - I would have this baby in an hour! And the idea of having a baby in the Triage room just drove me crazy. For reasons I cannot guess but that run deep, I hated that room.

"This way," the nurse said, and Bill wheeled me around to follow her.

Into the Triage room.

"Go ahead and dress in your gown, and I'll be back." Was it just me, or was the nurse annoyed?

During the brief moments of respite between contractions (and me muttering about my regard for Triage), Bill and I managed to get me undressed and mostly dressed again - though the nurse came back when Bill was trying to tie the infernal gown up in back while I clung to the wall in agony.

"No, no, you don't tie that," said the nurse a bit sharply. Definitely annoyed.

I arranged myself on the bed amid contractions, and the nurse - who was reminding me more and more of a school marm - barked questions at me that I answered when I could and Bill answered when I couldn't. She was cool and methodical, and it made me nervous. I suppose I was hoping for sympathy - or at least a bit more urgency - but I began to wish that we hadn't arrived just at the shift change. This was to be the nurse who would help me bring my baby into the world?

But as the questions and my pain dragged on, the nurse seemed to soften until she was saying things like, "Boy! Those are just right on top of each other, aren't they?" and "Don't worry, we'll do this as quickly as possible and get you some relief."

By the time we left Triage (a blessed 20 minutes), my nurse was completely on my team - and how! She was a completely different person - the epitome of warmth and caring. She and Bill held me steady during the most difficult part of the whole ordeal - having to hold stone still during extremely intense contractions while the anesthesiologist put an epidural in place.

I remember at one point, one of the nurses came in and said, "honey, you've got to breathe or you're going to hyperventilate." That's when I realized that for the duration of my third pregnancy, I did a lot of mental prep for the postpartum period - but I didn't spend any time thinking about the actual labor. I had no coping mechanism. No focus point. No legitimate usage of the Lamaze!

The next contraction hit, and Bill - stalwart at his post - surrendered his hand to mine for holding or for abuse, locked those baby blues intently on me, and said, "Remember to breathe!"

That's when I told my sweet husband to "SHUT UP!"

Then the Epidural.

Epidurals are wonderful - I highly recommend them - but for something that offers such intense relief, they sure are a bugger to get into place! Apparently my back is a bit more tricky to read, too. The poor anesthesiologist has a time of it, trying to find that sweet spot. The first time I had one, the poor guy even asked me if I had scoliosis.

Nah! I just play the violin.

I was sitting cross-legged on the edge of the bed, hunched over with my shoulders dropped down in an attempt to 'relax'. This is a very tricky position when you are in full-on labor. But to remain thus 'relaxed' when your contraction peaks and your whole body is screaming at you to move with it - or at the very least squirm! - now that is hard work.

I had Bill on my left and my school-marm-now-new-best-friend nurse on my right, holding my arms, their heads bent in to mine, murmuring words of much needed encouragement. And when the pain began to creep past my defenses and fill my mind with panic, they both breathed with me. Hee-hee-hee-hoo! Talk about a team effort!

And when the epidural was in place and I was finally allowed to move again, I brushed my hair from my face and realized that I was covered in sweat.

I - of course - was mortified. I was just sharing personal space with my husband and my nurse, and I had been sweating all over them!

I tried to apologize, and my nurse laughed lightly. "You poor thing!" she said (as if I were the one being sweated upon!). "It's clear you are working very hard."

This not only made me feel tough and validated where I had been feeling weak and vulnerable, it also made the sweating feel like no big deal. Which to her, I'm sure it was. I tell you what, the things nurses deal with! Give 'em a medal!

Another nurse walked in - a cute little thing with short dark hair - and said to my nurse, "Thanks for staying!" And my nurse assured us all that it was her pleasure, and excused herself to go home for the evening.

She hadn't begun her shift with me. She had already worked her full 12 hours, and probably took me to Triage as a favor to a very busy unit! No wonder she was less than enthusiastic at first - and I was so grateful that she stayed to make sure I got an epidural okay. I plan to send her a fruit basket.

The drugs kicked in, I relaxed, and began again to apologize to Bill for all the abuse his poor hand took from me, and for telling him to Shut Up.

Suddenly, it was time to push. I geared up and went to work - and was apparently a bit too effective because about fifteen minutes into it, my nurse said, "Okay - why don't you stop for a minute while I go grab the doctor!"

So I sat there with crossed legs for another 5 minutes, laughing with Bill about how surreal this whole thing had been! We had arrived at the hospital at six o'clock. It was now ten to nine. We hadn't even been at the hospital for 3 hours, yet, and we were about to have a baby. 8 days early. I wondered when my mind would accept the reality of what we were about to do?

The good doctor arrived, I pushed a few more times, and suddenly I was being handed this tiny, wrinkly person covered in dark fuzz.

I was mildly aware of numbers and facts being thrown around the room.

Seven pounds, seven ounces. Big baby!
Our smallest yet, said Bill.
Nineteen and a half inches...
Our shortest, too.
He peed on the nurses while they were cleaning him - the piping works.

But I was lost - completely lost! - in those dark eyes, that perfectly shaped mouth, the sound of his cry, the beautiful shape of his beautiful head with all that beautiful, beautiful dark hair. Like his dad. Those tiny feet with all those toes. Those fingers with the perfectly shaped nails. The little tuft of hair on the rim of his ear - oh, how I adored that feature in all of my newborns! My eyes simply devoured this little creature that was now mine, oh glory, mine!

I fell hard.

And I have been falling hard ever since.

No amount of mental prepping could have prepared me for this moment. I had done this twice before, but it was like it was my first time. I think every time is probably like the first time. There is no redundancy in new life. And there is no way to prepare for that moment when you meet your baby - your new world - and you recognize each other for the significant person you are to each other.

It is just one tiny step away from Heaven.

Holding hands with Divinity.

And my mind still reels that from the very first contraction to holding Henry in my arms, only six and a half hours had passed.


Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

Yay. Welcome to the world, little man.

Jeff and Ari said...

Your story was beautiful ... and made me get all misty eyed. I really can't wait to meet this little man!! He sounds positively divine! You describe those first few moments with a new baby perfectly ... love it!

Hel said...

Love this story, Stepper... not sure how you suffer so silently though... I'm all about letting everyone else in this world know if I'm in pain. You are my Hero.

Ro Ro Riot said...

This is an awesome story. When people get pregnant for the first time they should read this story as a prep course. Also because it's beautifully told.

Nae said...

I'm crying, in a good way. :) Reading this has me reliving Lily's entrance to the world, and I love it! I can hardly wait to meet Squish!