Wednesday, May 15, 2013
waiting for movement.
it was right around this time, on a sunday night eight years ago, that i tried not to panic. i voiced my concerns only to ben--because i didn't want to worry anyone else.
my parents joined us in the downstairs of their home, where we were living, to watch the movie 'hotel rwanda' and i knew that the intensity of the movie would help take my mind off of the worry. while we watched, i slowly sipped on a 2 liter bottle of sprite. by the end of the movie, i had forced myself to drink almost the entire bottle. the amount of sugar and carbonation made me nauseous, but i continued drinking.
we said goodnight to my parents, and i did everything the book told me to. lay on the correct side, look at the clock, counting down another hour.
still no movement.
as the hour ended, i closed my eyes tightly, trying to think back throughout my day. going through my memory as thoroughly as i could, hoping to find what i was looking for. a shift? a bump? a hiccup?
i couldn't remember movement.
my eyes opened and locked with ben's.
"i'm not sure. i'm trying to remember, but i'm not one hundred percent sure," i said.
"one more hour?" he asked. "we wait one more hour, and then we go in." i nodded in agreement. "let's say a prayer first." we knelt together and asked God for guidance.
ben got in the shower to get ready, just in case. i lay back down and scoured through the book once more, searching now for someone to just tell me what to do.
i had been through this once already, last week. i lay there, waiting and watching for two hours as the tiny little lines on the screen stayed low, not jumping and spiking the way i knew they were supposed to.
"he must just be taking a nap," she said, but her eyebrows were furrowed. "let me have you shift over here." so i did as i was told, and another 45 minutes went by.
finally, a movement. small, but enough to cause the thin line on the screen to move upward.
"see?" her eyebrows relaxed. "just asleep, like i said. remember, they get so squished in there, movement slows. but if you're ever worried about this again, go to the hospital."
and here i was, worried about it again. being new at this, i didn't have a lot of certainty in my instincts. it was almost 1 o'clock in the morning, and this was going to be a big hassle for possibly no reason.
the shower water stopped and a few minutes later ben joined me. the tick-tick-tick'ing of the clock was the only sound that was made.
1:00. the hour ended. no movement. and this time, i just knew.
"something is wrong," i whispered. "it's just been too long."
"let's get ready to go," ben replied, determination in his voice showing his worry. i swung my legs over the side of the bed and slowly sat up.
suddenly, there was something. not movement, but
"i think i'm having a contraction," i said with surprise. it rolled through me, starting in my lower abdomen, stretching its way around my lower back. tightening the muscle and skin so quickly that it made my face heat up and the air feel thinner, like there had somehow been a change in altitude. i felt my round stomach and it was so hard that if i hadn't known better, i would have guessed i had just swallowed a basketball. "that was weird. and intense," i said as my muscles and the pain finally began to ease.
i walked around, getting ready. then, the muscle tightening began again. my back was aching and i moved to find relief. i realized without intentionally doing so, i was slowly exhaling the deep breath i had inhaled as it had begun.
"woooah. wait, what time does the clock say?" i called to ben in the other room.
"1:05. why? did you just have another one?" he called back.
"yes. and it was even more intense than the first one. but i don't know, maybe these are those braxton hicks ones the book always talks about? the doctor said i wasn't even ready--the baby hasn't dropped, i'm not effaced at all. should we start timing them?"
so we did. and they kept coming, one right after another. i read that book--what had been as close to my bible for the past 10 months--and did everything i was supposed to in order to prove that this was, in fact, real labor. but those contractions wouldn't stop, and the pain was so acute that i was leaning over during them, my hands in tight fists shoved into my lower back, and laying down after them to try and find some relief until the next one. i showered, and ben sat outside with his watch, timing the in-between and length. they began to time closer together.
2:00 in the morning.
"okay, i think this is legit. now we REALLY need to go in." i had been diagnosed with stroke-level high blood pressure two weeks before, and had been put on bedrest, informed that i should not go into labor on my own because it could elevate it even more. the induction had been scheduled for tuesday, with an instruction to have an immediate epidural before the inducing actually began so my body stayed calm and my blood pressure remained as low as possible.
we got in the car, waking my parents as we called to let them know where we were going. their sleepy voices on the other end of the phone told us good luck and to keep them posted.
at the hospital, i slipped on the white gown with light blue geometric shapes. the cold, clear jelly squirted across my stomach and i looked over at the monitor. this time, it was full of peaks and spikes.
a mere three hours later, i threw up the entire 2 liter of Sprite i had consumed while watching the movie. my body trembled and shook, my face turned a shade between peach and grey.
five hours after that, i was told to wait for the doctor who had been called repeatedly when the labor began progressing so quickly it was like someone had grabbed the remote control and pushed the fast-forward button. there was a fetal probe sticking on my soon-to-be son's head because his heart rate would drop to a fearfully low rate during contractions. i was moved to this side and that, trying to find a position that would take my baby out of distress, but he continued to struggle.
my epidural had run out of battery 45 minutes earlier, and the nurse who had left to find a new battery pack had yet to return. i was starting to feel. everywhere.
"ummmm," my voice was shaky. "i think he's going to come out. i can feel it. i really really think he's coming out now," i spoke to the nurse who was up by my head, staring into her computer screen.
"mm-hmm," she absentmindedly answered. "well, hon, don't worry. all first-time moms think that. but we'll just be patient and wait for your doctor, i'm sure she'll be here any minute. just hold on, he's not going anywhere." she didn't look at me as she spoke.
i gave a look to ben who was sitting in a chair a few feet away from the bed, wondering if i was crazy or if she was? his leg was crossed with an arm propped on it, his chin resting in his hand. he raised his eyebrows and one side of his mouth in an i don't know what's going on sort of way.
another contraction began, i braced myself for the pain that accompanied the new un-numbness of my lower abdomen and back.
"OHMYGOSHITHINKHE'SCOMINGOUTNOW!" i yelled.
i felt his slippery little body slide out without my guiding him at all. and then i felt the small shift of weight on the bed as he fell onto the mattress, in between my feet. i could not see him.
the air was still.
the world swirled around me like everything was in slow motion. i watched ben rise to his feet and rush to the bed with his mouth partially open, his eyes wide. i looked at the nurse, as she let out an audible gasp, jump and join ben at the end of the bed furthest fro me. then i watched her turn and run to the hallway.
"WE NEED THE RESIDENT DOCTOR IN HERE, STAT!" i heard her yell.
then she went to the small rolling table and began to put gloves on and prepare tools i could not see. i heard the wheels of the table squeak. i heard metal clink together. i heard paper rustle.
but in that time, i could not hear the one thing my spirit and heart were searching for.
other than those noises, there was only silence.
and i held my breath, waiting.
but at the time i ached for it most, there was no movement.
for the rest of this story, go here.
writing this story now, my heart still pounds with the fear that consumed it 8 years ago. but it calms quickly, to know that the movement of my beautiful son is now very much a part of my life. running, jumping, kicking, leaping, dancing. his excitement and competitiveness, his laughter and insecurities.
caleb made me a mother, one who had to learn how to trust her instincts and listen to the sounds of the spirit and heart. i'm still learning how to do those things, but my confidence continues to build as i practice, breathing through the ebbs and flows of motherhood. it's a constant process and one i'm grateful i've been given the ability to work my way through with the overwhelming love that accompanies it.
happy birthday my sweet, amazing caleb.
we sure love you.