Hunter is our fifth child, born seven years and two months after our first.
The pregnancy went normally until about the fourth month, when I began spotting blood. I spotted daily for months. The doctors ran tests but couldn’t find any problems. A sonogram tech said “It sometimes happens for no reason.” I relied heavily on her assessment for the next few months as I struggled daily, anxious for his welfare.
My spotting stopped for the last month or two of pregnancy. All other pregnancy markers were positive. Mom and baby were doing well, the end was near, and the whole world knew it.
Speaking of which, let me just pop in a friendly Public Safety Announcement here:
WARNING: You are taking your life in your hands if you say the following things to a pregnant woman in her last four weeks of pregnancy:
- “You look like you’re about to POP!”
- “Whoa! Are you still pregnant?”
- “Aww, are you having twins?”
- Any variation of the above, no matter how witty
If you learn you are speaking with a pregnant woman who is not in her last four weeks, you are in grave danger. These women are not yet completely exhausted and still retain some agility. Backpedal with extreme caution.
Hunter’s due date came and went. At a week overdue, with no dilation or effacing evident, my doctor decided it was time to try inducing labor. When I checked into the hospital with those stats, the nurse candidly let me know there was a chance I’d leave the hospital still pregnant.
I started the night before with some kind of vaginal suppository that was supposed to deliver medicine to soften my cervix. It looked like a mini tampon, complete with a little string that stuck out between my legs. Of course, being at full term plus a week, I had to get up to pee in shortly after falling asleep. I stumbled back to bed. The sleeping pill they had given me was great! I sleep deeply through the rest of night for the first time in months.
The next morning, the nurse couldn’t find the little vaginal suppository. No little string sticking out anymore. I couldn’t see over my stomach, so I was no use. She looked around on the bed, then the floor. Further internal investigation by the nurse yielded nothing.
This was becoming a little disconcerting. Things shouldn’t really be able to get lost up there. But what if I had a few odd twists and turns in my anatomy? I’ve been told human intestines are really like a gajillion miles long, but they’re all just folded up neatly, so you’d never guess. Could that happen to other body parts? I mean, what if a lost items collection was forming in unknown regions of my lady parts? My old car key, that missing sock, maybe. . . Well, I certainly wouldn’t have thought to look there.
On the other hand, I certainly would have noticed if the nurse the night before had inserted it into the wrong hole, right?
The nurse solved the mystery by having me recount the prior night’s events. She went into my private bathroom and there was the little suppository, resting heavily in the bottom of the toilet bowl. She deduced I must have caught the string and pulled the whole thing out when I wiped after relieving myself in the night.
I was thrilled! I didn’t have a black hole for a vagina after all! I tossed that theory in a heartbeat! What a relief. But I had known all along the little suppository had never been in my. . . other hole. I mean, I would have noticed. For sure. Totally. Yep.
But for the nurse, the mini tampon suppository having served virtually no purpose seemed to be quite a blow. I heard her quietly groan, “That cost $600.” I don’t think she was even addressing me. Then I heard the toilet flush. When she emerged from the bathroom, I could tell it was best to move on from my incredibly wasteful abuse of quality medical care.
I was soon hooked up to IVs, which began delivering the drug Pitocin to force contractions. After hours of labor and a few increases in my Pitocin dose, I was making progress in the dilation department (8cm), but baby Hunter was still not engaged. I think he was swimming laps. I guess he wasn’t getting very far because the pros realized he was also malpositioned for delivery. Although his head hadn’t descended to help apply pressure to my cervix, it was facing the wrong way.
Late in the afternoon the attending doctor entered the room, visibly agitated by the lack of progress. She explained that I had 25 minutes to begin my active delivery phase or she’d take me for a C-section.
Maybe she knew something I didn’t, but I suspect she thought I would follow the textbook speedy delivery that mothers of “many” children were supposed to have. My speediest delivery was over 7 hours long, and this wasn’t it. I had mentioned my slow deliveries when she met with me in the morning, but that was hours ago.
At the mention of C-section and the tight timetable, I telephoned far-off family members, and asked for prayers. As those of us in the hospital room prayed, I felt the baby shift. In answer to prayer, I beat the clock and soon delivered my 8lb, 11oz baby boy without surgery.
He arrived facing the wrong way, with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck and weighing 10 ounces more than any of my other babies. It had been a rough ride but he turned out just fine.
Finally, he was in my arms. He had made it. My little miracle baby.
That was a day worth celebrating forever.