Meredith’s Musings: Today was Hers
Article by Meredith McKinnie
I was only 35 weeks and 3 days. It was 3:45 in the morning, and I was sliding out of bed to head to the bathroom for the 22nd time that evening when I noticed a trail across the sheets. Could I not hold it? How embarrassing. After a bath to clean myself, I noticed it was still trailing down my legs. Husband and I both stared, squinting our eyes in the lamplight, trying to make sense of the unexplained wetness. It didn’t even occur to us that my water had broken. The doctor had just told me the day before that she was high, that it would be at least another month. On the way to the hospital, I called my mother. It took her a good half-minute to recognize who I was in her slumber. And besides, it wasn’t time for “the call” yet.
Monroe was eerily quiet in that calming way at 4 am. Interstate 20 was wide open, as if expecting us to come barreling through. Husband kept wiping the sleep out of his eyes and looking over at me. I was calm. I thought the trip was just a precaution, that I would be sent home shortly. After navigating the maze of hallways and elevators to get to Labor & Delivery, they put me in a freshly clean room and handed me a gown. I thought it was a lot for someone who wasn’t staying. A nurse came in and checked me, surprisingly one of the more painful experiences of the next few days, and said, “Yep, you’re having a baby. I can feel her head.” My stomach dropped. I wasn’t ready. Her room wasn’t ready. I had only sorted her clothes through the 3 months stack. I hadn’t even begun the artwork for her quote wall. It was to be the focal point of the room, even if she wouldn’t be able to focus on it for some time. We hadn’t packed a hospital bag. I had only brought a discolored hand towel between my legs to keep myself from flooding on the way over. I still had twenty or so thank you notes from my shower to write. I had a pre-birth pedicure planned. I never went to that breastfeeding class my mom kept mentioning. I hadn’t completed my paperwork for leave from work. Had I even read enough about what was supposed to happen to me? I kept shuffling in my head all the reasons it couldn’t be time. But as I would begin to learn, we were starting a journey where I wasn’t in control anymore. Today, she was.
When my parents arrived, my mom stormed into the room with a look of frustration on her face and my baby wreath in her hands. I knew the maze would aggravate her. It made me laugh, that and the fact that she had left my dad behind in the parking garage, because he couldn’t keep up. My parents being “my parents” made the moment feel real. My dad finally strolled in, as he always does regardless of circumstance, ten minutes later, chuckling to himself. The security guard had laughed with my dad about the woman who couldn’t find the button to open the secure doors before him. Dad informed him that was his wife and laughed even harder at the guard’s embarrassment. Dad remarked how cold it was in the room. Mom began peppering the nurse with questions, and thus began our wait for the doctor.
When he arrived after six am, his hair was slightly disheveled. He almost looked like a little boy, but with gray hair and the knowledge to deliver my baby. He was wearing those same green scrubs. I had only seen him once in street clothes. It was at the gas station. I was getting a peach Icee. I remember hiding behind the aisle, because my sugar test was in two days, and sugar felt wrong in his presence. But today, face-to-face, I waited to hear my fate. He was concerned about her lung development, suggested steroids and magnesium and a 48-hour wait. But if my blood pressure continued to rise, a C-section may be necessary. My brain froze. I wanted time to freeze, a few minutes to ponder this information and beg for more. It’s a coping method of mine. I ask tons of questions to give myself time to think. But I didn’t have time. He wanted an answer, so I said we would wait the 48 hours, give her the best shot at a healthy delivery and avoid the NICU. After my parents left, it was just my husband and I, and the reality of waiting 48 hours in the hospital began to set in. But it was short-lived. One more high blood pressure screening and a C-section was scheduled for noon. I had two hours, and I would never again not be a parent. It may not have been time by my clock, but it was by hers.