Lying in bed I feel another contraction. The familiar tightening and release. The same contractions I’ve had for the last four months.
The contractions that have me on modified bed rest, not allowed to drive, and brought me to the hospital two times in just the last few weeks.
I’m hoping this is just another false alarm.
I have my bag packed, my Norah Jones CD ready, and my favorite doctor all scheduled to do my C-section Monday morning.
It’s Sunday, 2:00 a.m. I’m to be at the hospital in 28 hours.
I really don’t want to call the doctor in the middle of the night. That will ruin the “nice patient” status my favorite doctor gave me.
I can’t quite explain the crush I have on Dr. B. except to say that it is perfectly innocent and my husband is well aware of it.
In fact he said that you can always tell whenever Dr. B. is in the office because all the women’s voices rise two octaves and get very sweet whenever he walks into the examining rooms.
Dr. B. gained permanent crush status when he called me the day I left the hospital with my daughter three years earlier.
He had to fly to the Bahamas after Lizzy’s delivery and called me from there. He even remembered my new baby’s name. I was looking forward to my last baby being delivered by him.
Joe played on my crush when months earlier I was shocked to discover that I was pregnant with baby number three. I was excited for sure, but I was also scared out of my mind.
This baby, though very wanted, was not in the plan. After four miscarriages and two babies born with the help of fertility specialists, it seemed impossible that we could get and stay pregnant the good old fashioned way.
What if I miscarried again? Lizzy had been such a difficult pregnancy and overseen by a high-risk practice. Would I survive a third baby?
I was a wreck that August evening standing with Joe looking down at the positive test result.
“Kathy, just think, you’ll get to see Dr. B. again.”
I can always depend on that man to make me laugh.
The clock says 2:05 a.m.
Then I felt a gush of water.
Oh no, this is not a test, this is the real deal.
I attempt the Herculean task of lumbering my extremely pregnant body down the stairs to the play room, where Joe and Tom are camping out, complete with a tent and sleeping bags.
“Joe,” I whisper, trying to sound calm in case a six-year-old Tom should wake up.
“Yeah,” my husband croaks out.
“My water just broke.’
“Oh… did you call the doctor?”
“Well, you call the doctor and then wake me up.”
I consider life as a single parent.
I decide that yelling at my husband is not going to get me to the hospital any faster, and I better start enacting a plan unless I really want a home birth.
I call the special emergency number for the high-risk patients and let them know what is going on. They connect me to the very tired head of the practice. He tells me to come to the hospital and assures me he lives only five minutes from the hospital. If I’m in fact in labor, they will call him, and he will do the C-section then and there.
Of course he’s the doctor on call. Though an excellent doctor and the hospital’s chief of obstetrics, he doesn’t have Dr. B.’s personal touch.
So much for best-laid plans.
No Dr. B, no Norah Jones in the background. This baby had a sense of humor.
I deal with another contraction and then call my parents because someone will have to watch Lizzy and Tom. Thankfully the kids haven’t woke up.
It was hard to believe that only hours before, we had had our special dinner out with the kids. Over hamburgers Joe and I went over the game plan for “baby week” with Tom and Lizzy.
We let them know that Sunday we would have chocolate chip pancakes at their favorite diner. Then we would bring them to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, where they will stay while mommy is in the hospital with their new baby brother.
I had the “It’s a Boy” pencils ready to go for Tom’s kindergarten and Lizzy’s preschool class. Their “I’m a Big Brother, and “I’m a Big Sister” shirts were all set for them to wear to the hospital and for school. I was prepared.
I saw my reflection in a store window and tried to burn it into my memory. There I was, hugely pregnant, holding hands with my gorgeous boy and girl knowing this was going to be my last pregnancy and one of our last times out as a family of four.
Another contraction comes, and I know I better get moving since they were only getting stronger and we still had a 40 minute drive to the hospital.
I look at the cradle in the corner of my bedroom, no sheet or bumper ready. I thought I still had a whole day to get it prepared. How different from when I was expecting Tom and the cradle was all set up weeks before his arrival.
Dressed, and ready to go, I head down the stairs once again and wake Joe.
He seems surprised to hear me say I’m ready and we have to leave for the hospital. But, he gets up and gets dressed.
I answer the door in the black of the night and see my parents smiling at me.
The contractions are coming pretty regularly now and I’m not in a very smiley mood, but I try.
My parents are very big natural birth proponents, having me and my sisters that way. No drugs. Lamaze breathing. My dad was even in the delivery room when my youngest sister was born in 1970, a time when it was still a very new thing to do.
They both start coaching me in my breathing.
I start to wonder what I did in a previous life to deserve this special kind of hell.
Joe is getting a cup of coffee and once again I contemplate single parenthood.
Finally, we are off to the hospital.
We see the same familiar faces in the admitting department that I have seen on my two previous visits.
“I’m not leaving this time without a baby,” I announce.
We all laugh.
It’s Sunday, 4:30 a.m.
Now settled in the labor room, it is pronounced that I am, yes, in fact in active labor and will be having this baby now. My doctor is called and they get me ready for my third C-Section.
I’ll spare you some of my more colorful language that I used before they could give me my epidural. Suffice it to say that I apologized to all of them between contractions and let them know that the doctors considered me one of their nicest patients.
Sunday, 6:00 a.m. My beautiful baby boy is born.
I look at the sweet, six-pound baby that I was sure was 18 pounds and I’m instantly in love.
Back in the recovery room, Joe and I are smiling our heads off and all thoughts of single parenthood are gone.
We start making the calls: Baby Peter is here, a day early, but perfect.
Our family is complete. Three children, just like we had always wanted. I feel like we just won the lottery.
I can’t believe that it was seven years ago that the boy who makes me laugh and smile when I least feel like it, was born. He brings humor and joy into our family, and I couldn’t imagine life without him.
Happy birthday Peter.