***THIS IS THE THIRD OF A SERIES OF POSTS WRITTEN EARLIER IN THE WEEK***
Friday I am antsy. I wake up feeling compelled to do things. I am determined to finish addressing Christmas cards. I move and fold laundry and carry small stacks of it up the steps to put away.
And it's not just me, apparently. Our new mattress is delivered unexpectedly and we get a visit from the furniture store to repair some minor dings from the delivery of our head board and night stand.
I change positions slowly and frequently, nervous to stay in one place and anger the uterine gods but also nervous to move too quickly or in the wrong direction. It occurs to me that my uterus is calling the shots now. I take lots of breaks and drink lots of water. I find myself sitting on my feet next to the coffee table hunched over piles of white envelopes and my laptop. I take a short trip into the world to the nearest branch of our bank with a drive-through to collect cash needed for delivery of our mattress. During the ride, I realize I am shifted sideways and reclined in a white-lady gangster lean, squirming with every crack or irregularity the pavement, making for a ridiculous sight in the seat ahead of two car seats and a shifting and sliding pile of picture books and snack traps.
When I get home, I start to wonder how long I can live like this. I am so pleased to still be pregnant, but the debility leftover from just two days in the hospital and the discomfort from no longer medically managing my unruly uterus is leaving me a mere shadow of myself. I feel like this bloated, winded, contracting animal just sort of wading through life at speeds and an efficacy generally reserved for the shifting of continental plates.
I am not nice to the dogs because I am crabby and they are there...and because they always forgive me, God love them.
By the time my husband returns home in the late afternoon, I have given up on my to-do list and am testing out the new mattress.
I am also contracting at regular intervals.
I had been feeling them creep on as I folded the last load of laundry and by the time my hubs returns from dropping our old mattress at his parents house, they are starting to jump up and down and beg for attention. I spend just about an hour on our new mattress before I decide I can no longer avoid their persistence. The contractions are coming every 2-4 minutes and lingering for around a minute each (according to my app...how DID we function pre-smart phone??)
We arrive at the hospital with a better idea of where to park this time. We also quickly discover that L&D has had a busy day. The receptionist tells us they've had twelve babies in as many hours and the place is hopping.
Maybe that's not what you want to hear between contractions, but I am learning to accept my life as one long series of calamities. I stand with my elbows propped on the receptionist's desk and endure the waves of pain for what can't be more than 7 minutes but feels more like a century or so. In between, I try to act cool and no one buys my act. The receptionist apologizes a lot and finally just walks us back to the triage unit where we find an amped up tech changing linens and looking ready for shift change.
It takes another 15 minutes or so for the nurse to arrive. I pee twice in that time and pace around the room trying stupidly to walk off my labor.
The monitor finally connects with my baby and even the unseasoned ear can tell you there's something wrong. The high cadence gallop of his usual heart rate has slowed to lazy, whimpering walk.
In less than a minute, the room fills with busy bright blue scrubs and crisp white coats with reassuring words (directed at me) and less reassuring words (directed at each other). Someone slips an oxygen mask over my nose and mouth ('for baby'). Two women start fishing around my left arm for a vein to stick asking me to flex and supinate and extend and grip while tugging my limb in all directions and being openly unimpressed with the quality of my veins.
One of the lab coats identifies herself. She is a short, pleasant-faced, gray-haired women who looks like someone's grandmother. It's the same doctor who checked my cervix at 3 am two days earlier. She recognizes me, which makes sense because basically nothing about me has changed since early Wednesday morning: I am still in labor and my cervix has gone from being dilated to one to being dilated to two. She tells me this and then explains gently that there will be a c-section because, 'baby is ready to come now.' I am not dumb enough to believe means that things are all Bon-bons and Cumbaya inside my uterus. This statement doesn't mean that she just had a cup of tea and a lovely conversation with my baby and he would just be thrilled to have his birthday today. Still, it takes until the third or forth 'it'll be okay' for the tears to come.
The contractions are coinciding with the dips in baby's heart rate. I am hearing numbers like 60 and 80 and I know this is trouble. Things are moving even faster now. More people arrive and more chaos ensues. The IV ladies are still struggling to find a cooperative vein and I am busy trying to listen to 18 different instructions and also remember to breathe (that being about every other instruction).
My eyes scan the crowd to find my husband. Somehow in the middle of this tiny three-ringed circus, he has magically donned a pair of scrubs, scrub top, and an expression that makes me instantly feel better and also certain that he is the absolute best choice I could have ever made for a husband. I want his hand, but it is too far away.
The IV ladies finally find success on my opposite arm and now we are moving. The instructions continue to come from all directions and it seems someone has located my doctor (whom I have decided is either secretly cloned into a small army of men or actually resides in the above ground lot between his office and the hospital). I am aware that they may need to administer a general anesthetic, but not sure where that decision has landed. Fewer people are taking the time to talk to me now.
When we arrive in the OR the light is brighter and I am instructed to 'scoot' over to the operating table from my gurney. I am grateful to have been given a task. I am given a mask and a pretty dark-haired lady introduces herself as the anesthesiologist from behind the mask. My husband isn't there. Someone allows me to squeeze their hand. I am reminded, absurdly, of gripping my dad's hand as a child with long, unruly hair while my mother brushed the tangles out. I am just about to ask about the general anesthetic when the room and everyone in it vanishes. I swear it's just like the movies when the protagonist loses consciousness and screen goes black. Those movie guys really nailed that.
Just over 30 minutes since first applying the monitor to my belly, I became a mom for the third time in so many years.
Seconds later, I am awake again and things are still bright, but they aren't quite as busy. I am only momentarily disoriented. People are telling me my son is here and he's doing well. I am nodding a lot.
I am wheeled into a patient room for my recovery period. My husband is beaming and showing me photos on his phone of a baby I have never met with a little mess of chestnut hair and a breathing tube. Other than the tube and the leads attached to his torso, I marvel at how substantial he looks. He lacks the wrinkled skin and wiry limbs his older brothers had in their first photos. I hear real pride in my voice as I say, he looks like a real baby!
Before long, I am wheeled (bed and all) into the NICU to meet my newest baby. They are already removing the breathing tube for less substantial respiratory support when we arrive. Only a few hours old, my youngest son is already amazing me. After a few more minutes, I am peering at him and reaching through the portholes on his isolette to touch the velvety skin along his tiny right arm.
I know that every moment of every day, in all corners of the planet, mothers are bringing babies into this world under all sorts of circumstances. And this is not a new phenomenon in any sense. It's not even really new for me, even though, (cliche alert) every baby is different!
Still, I am humbled by the enormous gravity of the event. There is this whole new person here in the world. He will grow and develop and make an impact on people and places. He has already taken up residence in my heart, where I didn't realize there had been a spot waiting for him all along. Anyone can see by the pride on his father's face that this baby is completely adored.
Welcome to our family, little man. It's chaotic and noisy and there are lots of messes and diapers and barking dogs and sometimes there is time out. You will get more screen time and processed foods than your mother wished for her family and you will hear her curse more than once. She won't be with you as much as she wants to be because she has lots of student loans to repay, but she will never stop thinking about you on some level or loving you completely.
34 weeks, 2 days
The last hospital bed I hope to see for a good, long while.