This week's story is told by Karen from Karen's Healthy Lifestyle. Enjoy!
With contractions only one minute apart, Dr. Eddy was as frustrated as I was that he was sending me home yet again. For days I had technically been in labor, but nothing was happening. After six maddening weeks of bed rest for premature labor, it was finally time to let nature take its course. Mother Nature, however, seemed to be a little confused. My body was experiencing contractions, but I just wasn’t dilating the way I was supposed to.
Because the baby was still a full two weeks early, Dr. Eddy decided to check to make sure the lungs were fully developed before allowing this circus act to continue. On a daily basis I was stopping in at the hospital to be checked for the progression of labor, and now the man of medicine wanted to be sure my second child would be prepared for life in the outside world should today be the day.
I was sent home with instructions to wait by the phone for further information. Dr. Eddy realized that my question was a valid one: “HOW was I supposed to know when to come back to the hospital? How much closer could the contractions get without producing results?” A few hours later the plan was made. I would be checking into the hospital at 10:30 that night so I could be put on Pitocin and move this labor along. If, by chance, my water were to break before that time, I should come to the hospital as quickly as possible.
I jokingly blame this whole crazy labor on my mom. She was the one who helped my husband take care of me throughout my experience on bed rest. For the last several days, however, my mom had been half the country away at a wedding. When she left, she said, “Don’t have that baby while I’m gone. You have to wait until I get back.” My mom and dad’s plane was scheduled to land at 9:30 the very same night I would be checking into the hospital. They came home straight from the airport so they could watch our older daughter while my husband accompanied me to our “appointment.”
We checked in at the agreed upon time, and I was taken immediately into a room, hooked up to the Pitocin, and set up for continued labor. Everyone thought we would be delivering a baby within a few hours due to the fact that I was experiencing so many contractions. Nope, not that night! In fact, I was completely asleep by 11:00 and slept through the night. It was the best rest I had gotten in weeks.
In the morning, when I woke, the nurse explained that the doctor was on his way to break my water. The staff was becoming concerned because there was absolutely no progress in dilation. I was stuck at the same 2 cm I had been for days. Dr. Eddy came in and broke my water. While he was there he checked how dilated I was and said he was going to try to stretch my cervix and help me along. The next several seconds were excruciating. He stretched my cervix all right! I went from being 2 cm to being 8 cm dilated in that short time.
Dr. Eddy left, thinking this labor would be a few more hours, basing his thoughts on the slow progress already. Boy, was he wrong! About an hour after my water broke, I told my husband to please call a nurse. This baby was coming NOW! The nurse wandered in casually, thinking I was just another paranoid mother. After she checked my progress, she called into the hallway for another nurse to come and for that nurse to call Dr. Eddy.
My doctor was walking by, and he said he couldn’t come into the room right now. He was on his way to another delivery. The nurse agreed that I would wait until he could check on his other patient. In the meantime I started pushing. Dr. Eddy arrived, feeling confident that his other patient would still be awhile. As my OB gloved and gowned I realized this was show time!
Fully dilated and ready to go, my body just didn’t want to cooperate with the plan of action. The baby would poke its head out, then the progress would just stop. On the next push, the nurse explained, she was going to help me. She sat on the side of the bed and had one arm around my belly. With the next contraction I pushed and she pushed down on my belly. For whatever reason, the doctor and nurses wanted this baby to come in the next push, no matter what it took. Finally, the baby was born.
I looked up, expecting to have my baby being handed to me. What I saw made me want to cry. Dr. Eddy, a man who I trusted with my life, now had the life of my child in his hands- literally. He was rubbing her vigorously, trying to get a response out of her.
“Dr. Eddy?” I asked, “Is my baby okay?” I still didn’t yet know whether I had given birth to a boy or a girl.
“She will be just fine,” he answered. No excited shouts of “It’s a girl!” there in that room. No “Congratulations.” Honestly, the room was strangely quiet given the fact that a new life had just entered the world. Doctor Eddy called for all the necessary equipment needed for an emergency, and he called for additional nurses. My room was swarming with people and busy with movement.
Dr. Eddy asked my husband if he would like to quickly cut the umbilical cord, and the baby was taken to an incubator. She was still not breathing as she was laid in the tiny bed. My feet still in the delivery stir-ups, a blanket thrown over me for some semblance of privacy, I was unable to do anything to help my tiny child.
The picture shouldn’t exist, but for some reason I must have taken it. Amber was lying in the incubator, the nurses ready to whisk her out of the room for emergency intervention, and she still wasn’t breathing. The clock above the bed read 2:18. Even though it seemed like hours, it was only 60 seconds after Amber was born.
In the picture my husband has his hand on Amber’s little chest. He must have thought he was saying goodbye. I remember him whispering, in such a sad voice, “Breathe, Baby, Breathe.” In the next second everyone in the room was startled when we heard the shrill cry of a newborn infant. I don’t think I have ever been so relieved to hear a screaming child. Amber was here, and she was making her presence known!
No one knows what happened in that delivery room that day. There was no indication that the baby was in danger, and there was no explanation for what made her start breathing at the moment she did. Maybe it was the shaking the doctor did to push the fluid out of her lungs. It is possible that the oxygen being pushed into the incubator bed was just enough to get her lungs moving. Perhaps, as I choose to believe, a father’s love CAN be strong enough to change the entire course of a life.
No matter what the case, I will never forget what we went through to bring our little girl into the world. She is now a healthy and happy 8-year-old girl. At times she can be loud and annoying. At those moments I remember how much I begged for that first squeal and say a little prayer of thanks to the angels who watched over us on that special day- November 5, 2002.