Because yesterday was Mother's day, and because I never told you, and because I want to record it somewhere...
I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions for a month. I couldn't sleep. I felt huge. You may remember my complaining about it. And since I'm a planner who can't do anything without knowing exactly what I'm doing, I had harassed my OB into giving me a date for the C-section two months in advance. We were scheduled for Tuesday Feb 27--my mother's birthday.
I had my substitute lined up and I was meeting with her on the 20th to go over some last-minute stuff about my classes. She decided to sit in on one of them, meet the students, see how I do things.
I met her in the next town (30 miles away over a mountain), where I teach some of my classes. Talking to her, I started feeling those annoying BH contractions again. No biggie. I had these before, I would just ignore it. I had my meeting, taught my class, and then taught the next class. But the contractions weren't going away, like they usually did. In fact, this felt kind of different.
The thing is having never labored with Owen, I didn't know what labor feels like. And no amount of reading could tell me.
So, here I was, with some pain (manageable but noticeable) driving back over the mountain toward my office in order to finish up my paperwork before going out on maternity leave. I decided to time the pains. The problem with that was that the pain seemed continuous, and I didn't know where to mark the beginning or the end.
When I returned to the office--the one where I share five desks, five computers and one phone with about ten other people-- several of my colleagues were there working (including my friend Melissa). I decided to go to Dad's office (being full-time, he has his own) and use his phone to privately call my OB practice. Only the phone in Dad's office was dead. I went back into my shared office. I sat at the desk with the phone and I thought about what I should do.
I hate having a lot of attention on myself. It makes me very uncomfortable being the center of attention. Maybe that's a reason I like to blog--I can be the center of attention while not having everyone's eyes on me and while not having people fuss or hover over me. I also don't like being a burden on anyone or putting anyone out. Again, it makes me uncomfortable to have people doing things for me.
I had a dilemma. By this time, I really felt as if something was going on and it wasn't Braxton Hicks. But I figured it was a false alarm and I didn't want to get everyone all riled up on my behalf only for it to be nothing. I also knew that if I just picked up the phone and called my OB that my colleagues would most certainly hear everything I said. Not wanting to surprise them, then, I casually mentioned that I was having some pain, that I wasn't sure if it was labor, and I wondered aloud what I should do. My friends, both of whom are divorced without children, tried to casually respond, while at the same time freaking out. "Call!" they insisted.
I called. The triage nurse on the other end matched my casual, it's-probably-nothing tone, but said I should go to the hospital and have Labor & Delivery monitor me. They would then be able to tell me if I was indeed in labor. Dang. The hospital.
I called Paul, who was about to go into class. Unable to discern any urgency from my tone, he asked what he should do. I told him to go to class.
I know, I know.
He said he would go to class, get his guys started on something and then go back to his office to await my call. Okay.
By this time, Melissa was in full freak out mode. "You're in labor! Should we call an ambulance? Should I drive you?" Also, Dad was in the room by that point, looking dazed and confused. My manner did not match Melissa's at all, and I was the one having a baby.
"No, I'll just go. I'll call you guys. Dad, please pick up Owen and take her home and I'll call you if this is anything, which it probably isn't. They will most likely just send me home and I'll be there in time for dinner, so just hang tight. Don't call Mom, yet, because really this is porbably nothing and they will most likely just turn around and send me home." This was 4pm.
Melissa insisted that someone should be with me since I had waved off Paul. I reluctantly agreed to allow her to follow me to the hospital.
On the way out the door, one of my co-workers passed us in the hall and asked how I was doing. I said, "Oh, I'm good, thanks." Melissa said, "She's in labor! We're going to the hospital!" Well, there was that.
I don't remember the drive, frankly, but when we arrived, Melissa insisted on walking me in. "Do I need to start shouting 'she's having a baby?'" Melissa asked. "Do you need a wheelchair?" No, and no.
The labor nurses were expecting me. The triage nurse at my OB had called and sent over my chart. They had paged the midwife. The nurse just put me in a room fully clothed, wrapped the monitor around my belly, then left.
Melissa started telling me Sven and Olie jokes (she's from Nor'Dakota) and then started relating the very funny story of her mom's attendance at her sister's labor. She brought a home improvement magazine from her car and we looked through it, talking about tile colors and such. Melissa was antsy. I was sure this would still be nothing and was beginning to feel very embarrassed.
Every once in a while Melissa would look at the readout for the monitor. One line was obviously the baby's heartbeat, but the other...we didn't know but figured it was measuring the contractions somehow. "I think something's happening here. Look at this," Melissa said with the confidence of a skilled nurse. Melissa is a math teacher. A childless, divorced math teacher. A good friend and great person, but, well, she don't know nothing 'bout birthin' no babies, Miss Scarlett.
The L&D nurse came in, looked at the strip and said, "I'm not impressed with this labor, but we'll see." Okay I was really embarrassed now. Let's just pack up and go home, this was all a boondoggle.
Then Maggie came in. Maggie is my midwife. Maggie is an old hippie who raises goats and chickens on a farm, who wears her beautiful gray hair long in a single brain down her back, who will take thirty minutes in an examination room talking to me about how I should take my three-year-old the the build-it workshops at Lowe's because she's been doing it regularly with her grandson (Rain, is his name) and they love the special time together and it's really worth it to bond and give the kids confidence plus it's fun. Maggie of the gentle hands, passionate beliefs, and calm nature.
"I hear you might be in labor," she said.
I start babbling. "I think so, I mean I don't know, I mean I never had labor with my first and my C-section isn't until next week but this just felt different and so I called and they said come in and get it check out and well it's probably nothing but here I am he he."
"Well. Let's just see," says Maggie. And she examines me. She gives a small frown, strips off her glove and says, "Looks like you're 90% effaced. I'll contact the surgeon and ask him what he thinks and we'll get the OR ready."
I am stunned into silence. She walks out, Melissa walks back in and I ask her to hand me my cell phone. "I think I'm having the baby tonight. I need to call Paul."
Melissa is jumping up and down and I am trying to leave a message on Paul's office phone to tell him to get down here, now, when three nurses come barging in, one of them barking, "Get off the phone and get undressed."
I am giving instructions to Melissa as they're working on me, trying to get my IV in, monitors in place, blood drawn. The nurse who barked at me blows a vein in my hand and leaves me bleeding down my fingers while she tries the other side, freaking Melissa out more while I'm talking to her.
"Call my house and tell Dad to come to the hospital and bring Owen. Tell him to call my Mom and tell her to come. I have a bag in my bedroom, he can bring that if he wants, No that's too much for him to think about, just tell him to call Mom and to bring Owen."
I am anxious that I haven't talked to Paul. The surgeon comes in, talks to me for about two seconds. He's the only one in the practice that I had not yet met. He is a man of few words, although he, too, is very calm. They come to bring me down to OR.
My cell phone rings, Melissa practically lobs it to me. It's Paul. "What about your bag? What about the camera? Should I go by the house?"
The camera. I can't believe I forgot that. But fearing that Paul wouldn't make it, seeing as how they were ready to wheel me down to OR prep, I told him to forget it. "Just get here, NOW," I said.
I told Melissa to wait in the hall for him to tell him where to go. I asked her to try Dad back and ask him to bring the camera. We started rolling.
It seemed we were in OR prep for only minutes, but very long minutes. I answered the million questions three or four times about what I had eaten or drunk or done in the hours before. Nurses were milling about. My OB surgeon was scrubbed in. It seemed I had the entire OR to myself--end of the shift--and they were anxious to get this case over with.
Finally, one of the nurses said, "Look who I found wandering the halls," and she presented to me my husband, looking disoriented and disheveled and very professorial. Immediately they sent him off to scrub up.
Next thing I know I'm in the surgical suite chatting with Maggie and the nurses as they're poking a large needle in my spine. What were we talking about? Something random and completely unrelated to babies. OH that's it, dogs. Stray dogs. My stray hounds and the nurse's new puppies and Maggie's goats. I was trying to be casual and cool, to impress my nurses and surgical techs with my smoothness. I was probably babbling hysterically.
Paul came back all scrubbed in, they raised the curtain at my head, and began.
This time (unlike with Owen) they allowed Paul to look over the curtain to see her head come out. He narrated what he saw to me. He told me when she was there but I couldn't hear her cry. Everyone exclaimed "How beautiful!" "Look at her hair!" but all I could think was "Why isn't she crying?"
Finally I heard a squeak and Paul said "Hello, Barrett Catherine," and I knew all was right with the world.
My Mom and her camera arrived just as Paul and Barrett made it to the nursery.
I really wish I had seen firsthand this expression on Owen's face.
As they wheeled me down the hall to my room, everyone was at the nursery looking at the baby. Excepy my Dad, who was waiting in the hallway, for me.