March 31, 2006
It's taken me a while to figure it out, but I finally realise that these mild cramps I'm feeling must be contractions.
"It's started!" I announce happily to husband and mother. "Actually, it started about 5 hours ago."
"5 hours?!" The husband springs into action "Let's go then! I'll get the suitcase. Can you get to the car? Should I call the doc? Where are my pants? Where's the blue notebook? Where's my stopwatch?"
I am feeling strangely calm, but the husband does not quite appreciate my being so zen. He hops around timing my contractions as I have a light breakfast and take a shower.
"Come on! Let's go, let's go, let's GO!"
"Everything's looking good," says the doc cheerily, giving me a friendly pat on the hip. "But it will take a while - you're only 3 cms dilated. So make yourself comfortable, I'll check on you later."
Now that we're actually in the hospital room, the husband and mother have relaxed somewhat; and we settle in to what looks like will be a long wait.
Every once in a while, the assistant doc comes in to check the fetal monitor. The contractions are getting stronger, but not by much.
Time appears to have slowed.
This is b-o-r-i-n-g.
The assistant doc and a couple of nurses burst into the room.
"Lie down, please. We need to give you some oxygen."
"What? Why?" I am bewildered.
"Nurse, start an IV," the doctor barks. To me, she says, "The baby appears to be in some distress. We'll see if things get better with oxygen."
"But how, I'm not feeling anything! What is causing the distress? What's different? What do I need to do?"
I feel like I've forgotten how to breathe. My mom looks like she's going to faint. The husband grabs my hand and squeezes it.
"Just stay calm. It may be nothing. We'll just keep monitoring for a little while."
The baby's heartbeat is way above normal. It appears my contractions, puny though they are, are still too much for the baby.
My main doc arrives. They rupture the amniotic sac and find that the fluid is meconium stained. Apparently the baby is so stressed out at having to be born that it's pooped itself.
We listen in disbelief as our doctor explains that in these circumstances we have no option but an immediate C-section. The danger to the baby is real and immediate.
Assorted forms are thrust in my face, and I sign them shakily. I am crying hard. I had played different birth scenarios in my head several times, but none of them had involved any possibility of the baby's life being at stake. My own, yes. But not the baby's.
Never the baby's.
"It's a girl!" the doc announces over the baby's thin, reedy cry.
"She's ok, right? She's ok?" I yell, or at least try to. I've been given a spinal anasthetic, so I'm fully conscious, but it appears to have triggered a major shivering fit. My upper body is trembling uncontrollably, and my teeth chatter as I try to talk.
The husband, who has been sweetly crushing the bones of my left hand all through the surgery, unceremoniously drops it as he reaches out to hold his daughter for the very first time.
"She's fine," says the doctor "We got her out in time."
She proceeds to explain something about delivering the placenta, and how I'll feel something or the other, but I can no longer hear what she's saying. All I can see is the little pink blob that my husband is proudly holding near my face.
It's squishy, and pink, and loud, and look - I can see tiny fingers curled over the edge of the swaddling blanket.
"Hello, Moppet!" are my eloquent first words to my daughter before the tears and laughter come together and render further speech impossible.
Welcome to the world, baby girl!