Sixteen years ago today I began experiencing contractions. Since I wasn't due for another two weeks, I just assumed they were part of pregnancy. With only one car in our possession, I drove my then husband to work at 6 AM. Unusual to all of my other doctor's appointments, that day was an afternoon visit. Having one car definitely created a crimp in our flexibility, but you do what you have to when financial constraints dictate your lifestyle. While waiting for the gate at my (ex) husband's employer, my breath was taken from me. Never had I experienced such a thing before. Oh, I had hiccup like contractions, but not one that lasted any significant period of time. Nor had my breathing been interrupted as a result.
Throughout the day I'd experienced a few more contractions. Nothing consistent. So, I didn't fret since I'd be seeing my ob/gyn later in the day. It's likely I called upon my sister Maureen for advice. Memories are kind of foggy. Each time a contraction came along I timed it and tried to use the Lamaze breathing we'd learned in our Saturday crash course.
Once I arrived at the doctor's office, they asked me the same old questions. Informing them of the contractions I'd been having all day, no one seemed alarmed. What did send up red flags was my elevated blood pressure. All through my pregnancy I'd had normal pre-pregnancy blood pressure readings. They'd asked if I had been experiencing any dizzy spells. In response, "Yes, quite often. I thought that was just part of being pregnant."
The nurse insisted I try to relax and take a bit of a nap. Since most of my visits had been in the morning, they thought maybe the traffic and day's events had caused me some distress. About thirty minutes after dozing off (it's so easy when a woman is 38 weeks pregnant), the nurse returned and took my vitals again. No change.
A few minutes later the doctor came in to talk to me. He'd eventually get around to examining me. It was then that he said my baby was more than ready to be welcomed into the world. I stared blankly at him. He assisted me in sitting upright on the table. A dizzy spell. I didn't know what he was talking about. The combination of that and my blood pressure gave my head a spin.
"Marissa, you're going to have your baby tomorrow."
"Honey, did you hear me? We need you to come to the hospital around 6 AM and we'll induce your labor. You can't eat anything after midnight. Make sure you eat a good dinner and snacks."
"Marissa, it will be OK. Pitocin usually works nicely, but it is possible we won't be successful on the first round, but it seems your baby is ready to make his or her appearance."
Finally, I reply, "OK." and exit to the waiting area.
Nurse: "Marissa, we just need to you to sign the form and you can go."
I signed the necessary paperwork for insurance and sat back down in the waiting area.
"Sweetie, you're done. You can go home," the nurse sweetly stated with a smile.
"No. I can't. I'm not ready."
"Are you feeling faint or sick?"
"No. I'm not ready to have the baby. I need to wait a little longer, OK?"
It was then that my doctor poked his head out of the doorway and invited me to come back in to the patient area. With his arms extended, I fell into him and sobbed.
"I like my baby inside here," patting my belly. "I know that I can take care of it inside me. I'm just not ready for the baby to come out yet. He or she is safe here," pointing to my belly again.
By that point most of the staff had gathered around me to offer support and encouragement. About thirty minutes later I finally climbed into our tiny Ford Fiesta and took to the highway and home. By then, my (ex) husband was home -- he'd gotten a ride from someone -- and I broke down and cried. He called his employer to arrange the day off. I called Maureen to let her know I'd be needing her bedside care sooner than expected. I knew we'd forget everything we learned in Lamaze class and, with my ex being a gagger, back up would be required during labor and delivery. Besides, Maureen had been with me every step of my life. I needed her to share in the most important experience of my life with me: The birth of my first and only child.
Thank God she was willing to be along with me for the ride.
More tomorrow ... a celebration of my miracle of love.