Saturday, September 18, 2010
In my mind’s eye, and my most vivid imagination, I replay the scene that could’ve been. It’s a warm, humid Sunday morning on July 13th, 2008 and I’m lying in bed. I’m wearing my sleeveless pajama top and matching shorts, the one with red and pink roses on them. I’m hugely pregnant, lying on my left side, on the left side of the bed. The cheap white fan is slowly whirring cool air toward me. The house is quiet. Tim and the children have left for church about 10 minutes ago. I had been lying in bed all morning long and was relieved to finally have the house to myself. The peace and quiet enveloped my thoughts just as my soft, goose-down pillow cradled my head.
Only an hour earlier, at around 8:30 am, Dr. ------ had called. “Hi Laura, it’s ---- ------. What happened?! They said you left the hospital shortly after arriving. I thought you were going to have your baby today.”
“I wasn’t in labor, Dr. ------, and I didn’t want to be in the hospital. I had to convince my husband that all the contractions had stopped and that it was a false alarm. I was just really tired and wanted to be at home. Even now, I’m only having sporadic, weak contractions.”
“So you‘re not cramping anymore?”
“No. That kind of tapered off.”
“Okay. Well, if things start up again, or you start bleeding, call me. Okay?”
“All right. Thanks for calling. And I’ll let you know if I start contracting again regularly or something changes.”
“Good. Well, have a nice day.”
“You, too. Keep Cool.”
With that, I help Tim get the kids ready for church and then head back to bed to doze off. After the house is totally quiet, and I’ve gone pee for the 10th time that morning, I fall into a deeper sleep. I have strange, wake- up- prematurely- and- then- go- back- to- sleep- again dreams. In this dream I’m riding a bicycle down an empty country road. There are storm clouds up ahead and I keep thinking, “I better get home before the rain starts. I don’t have a rain jacket. I keep cycling, all the while thinking, “Laura, get home! It’s going to rain soon! Get home!” And yet, I keep riding. For some reason, I felt compelled to stay on that road and reach my destination, although I had no clear idea where that was. I just kept riding absent-mindedly, all the while thinking, “Laura, you don’t have a rain jacket! It’s going to rain soon! Get out of the rain!” The dream ends and then what seems like moments later I wake up feeling so refreshed. I lay in bed for about 10 minutes enjoying the sweet feelings of restful sleep. I feel Julia moving inside me and I talk to her. “Hey baby! We almost ejected you last night. But you just weren’t ready yet.” As I was feeling my belly and smiling at the thought of having a little extra time to enjoy this last baby of mine inside me, I had a tightening around my abdomen. Humh…I thought…Maybe today will be the day after all. But, really, I didn’t think so.
With that, I rolled out of bed and got dressed, admiring my huge, very pregnant belly in the mirror. I hopped in the Corolla and went to McDonald’s for an extra large diet Coke. I arrived back home and delved into the yummy, scrumptious lemon meringue tarts from Costco that were left over from my trip to Newport Beach on Friday. I perused the Sunday paper, ate tasty bite after bite of lemon meringue tart, and washed it down with big gulps of diet Coke. Yum! Totally heavenly! (Perhaps not the most nutritious meal for my baby, but it’s a hard habit to break. And all my girls have been very healthy, besides.) And I enjoyed the quiet of my home. So quiet, so peaceful….
And then Tim came home with the girls. I made them sandwiches and then told the girls that after a nap I would take them swimming at Bumpa’s. They were willing to rest quietly. Tim headed for a nap immediately after eating. The sleepless night and busyness at church totally wiped him out, like I knew it would. After settling Daisy down for a nap, and putting on a movie for the other girls, I lay down again with Tim and drifted off.
About an hour or so later, while listening to the murmuring of the girls in the other room chatting, arguing, and whining while watching their movie, I decide to get up. I’m feeling tired and groggy, but know that getting out and spending time with Dad and Karen will be good for me. I can tell them what happened last night and get their take on it, as well as their reassurance and comfort.
So, after rounding up all the girls' swim things and towels, we head out the door. I arrive at Dad and Karen’s and the girls mill around for a little bit while I talk to Dad and Karen. I explain the false alarm, Tim’s unbearable anxiety, my 1:30 am call to Dr. ------, my trip to the hospital, and then my decision to go back home. They listen attentively, smile, nod their heads, and offer their care and support. Someone says something, and then we all laugh. I head out the door to sit and watch the girls swim. Karen joins me about 15 minutes later and we chat about false labor, “frequent fliers” in the hospital during her nursing days, and lots of labor and delivery stuff. I always love those conversations. And then it was time to go. I collect the girls and all their stuff, we give hugs and kisses to Bumpa and Grandma Karen, and then head to In-N-Out for some burgers and fries, and another diet Coke for me, and then head home.
Tim is home, awake, and reading. I plop the food on the kitchen table and then begin to serve the girls, Tim, and myself. I eat quickly and then tell Tim that I’d like to lay down and rest. I had felt more sporadic contractions throughout the day and was feeling very uncomfortable at this point. So I lay down and watched some TV. While watching TV over the next 2 hours, and letting Tim get the girls ready for bed, I feel more contractions. They’re painless, but increasing in that tightening feeling. I begin to time them – every 10-17 minutes is their range. I think, “Should I get up and walk around?” Yes, so I get up, use the bathroom, and talk to the girls as they’re getting ready for bed.
I go to sleep that night and drift in and out of the awareness that I keep having contractions. They next day ensues with sporadic and increasing contractions. Finally, on Tuesday early morning they feel more intense and I think that this is the day. At round 4:30 am I call Dr. ------. I tell him things are getting more intense and he recommends I come in right away. We call Ann, who comes over and then 1 hour later, we leave for the hospital. My labor progresses well, I walk around, have my H20 broken, and then things get really intense until the epidural is administered. Relief! At 10:00 am I have Ann bring the girls in. Around 10:20 I feel the pressure intensify and I tell the nurse. She calls Dr. ------. About 10 minutes later he shows up, says hello to the girls, and then I begin to push about 5 minutes later. As the baby is crowning, I ask if Tim can catch the baby. Dr. ------ says, “Sure!” and Tim puts his hands over Dr. ------’s and they both guide Julia out together. The girls are on the side of me watching with big eyes and even bigger smiles. Julia is brought out, I let out a yelp of relief, she’s placed on my belly, and her cord is then clamped shortly after. Tim cuts the cord, the girls gather around, oohing and ahhing, and I smile and whimper in delight. My sweet little Julia! She looks so much like Leanne! Those big, round lips and that sweet little cry! Oh! What joy!
It is an intensely beautiful and sweet family moment. Such beauty and healing and redemption. Dr. ------ delivers the placenta, mentioning that everything looks fine. He then leaves the room. About 10 minutes later he returns and they prepare to take me to surgery. Prior to that, I try to put Julia on the breast and she is only a little interested in nursing. She suckles a little, and then kind of slips off the breast. I gaze down at her so in awe of her arrival and the beautiful birth that had occurred.My precious last baby - this baby that I had so wanted.
This is what I imagined it could have been like. In my heart, I hold onto this picture. Somehow it helps. The 13 page grievance I filed against the doctor and the hospital tells a very different story, however. I’ll just hold on to this one, though.