It is not unusual for me to begin a special day thinking about the past. Particularly birthdays and anniversaries bring to mind the memories associated with the event. Today is no exception.
Thirty-two years ago I remember the entire pregnancy was a wreck. It had started off with an episode of flu that settled in my intestinal tract. Unable to keep anything down, including even water or other fluids, I had spent hours at the doctors clinic receiving IV drips two to three times a week to keep me hydrated.
That went on for weeks and the pregnancy did not get better after that. I had already decided this would be my final child but had I not, this pregnancy would have sealed the deal for me. It was tortuous from one end to the other.
The final, tenth month (that's right, I said tenth) had been particularly difficult. With what felt like dozens of trips to the hospital at the end of my ninth and into the tenth month having contractions two or less minutes apart, I had been sent home repeatedly. Dismissed as some hysterical woman who didn't know or understand her own body, I had been told to be patient. My time would come.
My previous three births told me otherwise. I knew well the difference between real contractions and the Braxton Hicks variety and I worried for my baby. The professionals were so convinced they knew better than I, the only thing that seemed to matter was the amount of dilation. The long term stress on the child within enduring those contractions without break for an entire month seemed lost on everyone but me.
My doctor, usually an attentive, caring man known for being a good listener, was stuck on birth weight. Leary of intervention for a baby under seven pounds despite the length of gestation probably motivated by fear from too many litigations for things beyond his control, he wasn't hearing me either. Whatever the reasons I endured late stage labor with its brutal contractions, never backing off in length or frequency, for a full four weeks until the doctor was convinced the baby was big enough. Then an appointment was finally set to figure out what was delaying the arrival of my child.
Eight o'clock Monday morning, July 29, 1980 I was finally admitted to the hospital. I was physically and emotionally exhausted from the relentless pounding my body was taking. My baby had been quiet during this onslaught but vital signs had been within reason for the professionals.
The fact this bundle of joy within me had rarely been quiet concerned only me. My expressions of concern fell on deaf ears only adding to my stress. To say I was grumpy would be a gross understatement.
Oddly enough it was the first nurse who saw me on this day who actually listened to my story and my concerns. As I explained to this woman, exactly as I had the dozens before her, a puzzled look crossed her face and I could see the wheels turning. Within seconds she asked me to alert her when the next contraction began.
She didn't even make it out the door when my belly tightened and the pain grabbed me again. Struggling to breathe I called the OB nurse to me. Quickly she began her examination wanting to feel with her hands. Poking and prodding both internally and externally, suddenly her eyes light up and she began to laugh.
Even today I remember the jab that utterance felt like to me. There was nothing funny to me about the pain I had experienced for the last month. Still on some level I knew that laugh must mean there was some simple, but more importantly safe, explanation behind my plight. I looked at her questioningly for whatever she had found.
"That little monkey" she giggled, "is ducking the pressure. Curling up in a ball, the head is pushing on your pelvic bone instead of your cervix during each contraction. No wonder you're not dilating."
With that utterance she called out for someone to locate the doctor immediately. Then she turned back to me saying, "Relax, if you can. I can fix this easily but I need to be sure the doctor is here. This baby is going to fall out when I do."p
Despite the pain of the contractions, knowing my baby had not been bearing the brunt of them for all this time was a huge relief. While the contractions were still awful there was less tension in my body which made them more bearable.
I wasn't sure what to think about waiting for the doctor but I had little time to consider it. My nurse explained the situation to some responding voice outside my room. Within seconds that voice could be heard in my room saying my doctor was in the stairway making his way up to the obstetrics ward.
With the news my nurse savior stepped into action. She'd been watching me closely so she could see another contraction was starting. She asked me to roll partially to my side, putting one of her hands off the right side of the high point of my belly and using her fingers on the other hand she pushed those down in between my baby's head and the inside of my left pelvic bone.
She explained as she implemented her plan that she was repositioning the baby using my contraction to assist. She warned me it would be more painful at first but it would be better than a C section. She expected it wouldn't take much to get the baby in the correct position.
At this point I placed my explicit trust in this nurse. She was the only one in an entire month who had really heard me. My faith was quickly rewarded as I felt an almost wooshing shift internally.
Instantly the room exploded with activity. My doctor came through the door greeted by a nurse holding up gloves and the words "she's crowning!" rung out. My legs were grabbed and placed and my doc lunged across the room to catch my darling daughter, Lindsay Jane, as she made her dramatic entrance into the world.
My poor doctor only got one glove on before he caught Lindsay. The other was secured in place as she rested on my abdomen. There was no resistance once the baby was repositioned. It took two contractions with very little pain considering what the rest of my labor had been.
It has been thirty-two years since that day but as you can tell by this post, the whole experience is still very fresh in my mind. Life with Lindsay has always been full of surprises from those first unbelivable moments on through to her brilliant smile this morning.
Last year on her birthday I had just gotten out of the hospital and I was in pretty rough shape. There was not much celebrating. I know she didn't mind but I sure did so this year I have a special treat for her. Because she reads my blog sometimes, I will be posting that story tomorrow, I sure don't want to spoil her surprise.
Happy Birthday, Sweet Pea!
A Birthday Surprise for Lindsay