I stared at at Dr. Mason in disbelief.
“What do you mean, I’m in labor?” Pause. More staring.
My thoughts raced: I know someone who’s cervix shortened then elongated then shorted and she stayed home on bedrest, maybe I can go home and be on bedrest too. I barely even really know what being three centimeters dilated means, does that mean the baby is coming out? So, I was having contractions and not poomergencies all day, are you serious??
Then I continued aloud, “Does this mean I’m having a baby tonight? Can we put it on hold, slow it down? Does this mean I’m having a c-section tonight? Wait, I’m having a baby TONIGHT?” I looked at Andy, “Are you ready to have a baby TONIGHT?”
Andy just looked back at me with the beginnings of what I have now come to know as his I’m-so-enamored-with-my-baby-my-brain-turns-off-and-I-smile-like-a-doofus face. “Yes!” he said emphatically.
“Well, you’re not the one having the baby!” I retorted. I turned back to Dr. Mason, “So…I’m not going home tonight.”
I turned back to Andy rambling in shock, “Wait, seriously. We’re having a baby tonight. Are you ready for this? We are having a baby right now. We are about to become parents today. I’m about to become a mom. And you are about to become a dad. I just thought I was having indigestion and apparently I was having contractions. And there will be a little human, and he will be ours, and we are having a baby right now!” He just smiled at me with the enamored-with-baby face.
I turned back to Dr. Mason, “I’m really having a baby tonight?” She just smiled knowingly – she must have seen this a thousand times – and joked that the baby was ready to come, there was no stopping him now. She explained that my water had not yet broken, she wasn’t sure why I was bleeding, but the baby seemed to be okay. Since he was breech, he would need to be delivered by c-section, but there was no rush since I was still in the earlier stages of labor. I was to be the fourth c-section of the evening as there were several other emergency deliveries ahead of me. I had several hours to wait.
After Dr. Mason left the room and Andy and I had changed into our operating clothes, I rubbed my belly and stared at Andy in complete shock. We are about to have a baby. I was not making choices over my life; life was happening to me – to us – and it was happening so fast I could barely pause to choose how to handle the ride. It is amazing that during experiences in which the world whirls around you in a lightning blur, moments and memories stand out with absolute clarity. As we sat waiting, I texted the friends I left worried at Nordstrom Rack. I called my brother and my father. I texted my boss and several co-workers. I am in labor and I’m about to have a baby.
I was in shock. Not a lighthearted surprise, or an unwilling reluctance, but an internal state of shock in which I literally could not grasp or believe my situation. I repeated over and over, “I can’t believe I’m having a baby tonight” with varying degrees of excitement, disbelief, humor and fear. But, I did not have time to process because the pain steadily began to increase. I held it in, shifting my weight on the hospital bed as I talked and joked with Andy, my mom and Harvey, my step-dad. But, as before, I had to go number two. Poomergency again!?
Andy helped me to the bathroom where I had no success in dissipating the poomergency feeling. Great, I thought, I’m going to poo all over the hospital bed! I hobbled back to the room, lay down, and a few minutes later, felt another overwhelming urge to poo. Andy helped me back to the bathroom where I sat on the toilet trying to figure out how to poop without pushing my baby out into the toilet at the same time. My mom came to check on me. The nurse came to check on me. In the end, I just sat there hoping the pain would subside so that I wouldn’t soil the bed before shuffling back to the room hunched over in pain.
Back on my bed, I thought perhaps I was sitting at the wrong angle because my lower back began to throb with sharp pain. When the nurse came back to check on me, I asked her to help me shift my pillows and then I joked that I was afraid I might poop all over the bed. She looked up at me quickly and asked, “How long has it been since the doctor last came in to see you?”
I glanced at the clock and estimated, “Oh, I think about an hour and a half.” She said it was probably time for another check up and hurried out of the room. Dr. Mason came back a few minutes later and asked about my back pain and poomergency sensations. She examined me again and as before, she looked up in less than a minute and said, “You are now about seven to eight centimeters dilated. You are in full-blown labor! It usually takes women much longer to dilate this far, but your baby is ready to come and you got to experience almost the entire labor process. We need to get you to the operating room right now. We are going to bump you ahead of the other c-sections before the baby drops any lower or we won’t be able to operate.”
She explained how the spinal would work and the anesthesiologist’s process; she explained to Andy his role during the process; then, she hurried out of the room to prep for my operation. Everything began to flash by me, a blur of emotions, words and movements.
But, all I could feel settling in my stomach was the gripping, cold sensation of the most penetrating fear I had ever experienced.