I rarely do the Facebook status update thing, but I did post today. Here is what it said: “Eight years ago today Ronald Reagan died. I know this because I was in the hospital, fuzzy with nearly 24 hours of labor pains, wondering why the muted tv in the corner kept flashing Reagan’s images. Had I been in labor since the 80’s? It felt like it! But finally little Sam arrived… completely worth the wait! Happy Birthday to our little man!”
The story of Sam’s birth is definitely a classic. In my 5th month of pregnancy, I fell and broke my right leg and ankle. It required surgery that included pins and rods that have been with me ever since. It also required several months of swollen pain, a wheelchair, and crutches.
Here I am post surgery, blissfully happy because the local anesthesia had not yet worn off. (Because I was pregnant there was no general anesthesia during surgery, but I did have a spinal and sleepy gas.)
I’m not sure which is bigger: my swollen foot, or that telephone?
A few days after that photo I entered a pretty dark phase, pain clouding the joy of my pregnancy. The pain eventually numbed, but I was still in a wheelchair and needed crutches until the end. I hated how dependent I was on others. I couldn’t help assemble the crib or hang paintings in the nursery. I went back to work, but couldn’t drive myself back and forth. Friends were stopping by with meals or even to spend an hour vacuuming for us. It was so humbling. And humiliating.
Finally, my 9th month arrived. On my last day of work before summer vacation people kept asking my giant self, “Now when is your baby due?” and I kept snapping, “Do you mean when was he due? He should have been here yesterday!!”
I guess Sam heard the desperate tone in my voice. A few hours after turning in my keys for the summer, my water broke. Actually, it gushed out. Just like in the movies. Every pregnancy book I read claimed this was a rare occurrence, but let me assure you, it happens. Luckily I was at home, so I sat down and tried to breathe. I wasn’t feeling contractions, but obviously something was happening down there.
Clark was on the phone to OB triage within minutes. They told us it wasn’t an emergency, but that we did need to get there soon. The nurse said to go ahead and eat something, pack a bag, and come over to the hospital. She also instructed us to bring my “panties” so they could verify that I was indeed leaking amniotic fluid. Were they insinuating I had mistaken this for peeing my pants? Trust me, I knew. But I’m a rule follower, so I threw my underwear into a Fred Meyer bag. The last thing I needed to do was tick off the nurses who would help me deliver my child.
A few hours later (long story) we were on our way. When we arrived at Providence Medical Center, Clark dropped me off at the door and then went to park the truck. Honestly, he did this out of consideration, so I have since forgiven him. I was in labor and needed crutches to walk, so he wanted to get me as close as possible. It makes sense and I love him dearly for it.
In hindsight, however, this was a very poor decision. I was an absolute spectacle: nine months pregnant, alone, on crutches, and walking through the lobby in gray sweats with a big wet spot on my crotch. A plastic grocery sack dangled from my right crutch, tightly tied with my panties inside. Yes, people stared. And even in that moment, I still had enough shame left to feel a little embarrassed. This was not how it happened in the movies!!
“I think my water broke,” I said to the nurse at the front desk in the maternity center.
Her big brown eyes swung up and down my body, head to toe, and without fanfare she said, “Yup, you’ve ruptured. Let’s get you on back here.” They never even asked for my panties.
And that was that. The start to my 22 hour journey to Sam.
It was painful, magical, and emotional. It was an event that cemented Clark and I together in a way like no other. We lived on adrenaline for days, joy for weeks, and exhaustion for months.
And then we blinked.
Happy Birthday, little man. I barely remember my life before you, and can’t imagine it without you. As we say most nights before bed… I love you a million trillion billion gazillion. Times 8.