First, check out my post on Be More With Less. Thank you for allowing me to share my simplicity story, Courtney!
Early October, 2006
It was a very calm start to the school year (and the year would prove to be the best that I experienced in that building). Rob and I had been living in our house for nearly two years now, my job seemed more secure—no talks of lay-offs this year—and we were eager to become a family of three.
Resolve wasn’t enough to make it happen though, and it was an emotional roller coaster. In April that year, I had a very probable miscarriage. I was finally beginning to face the fact that I might not be able to have a child.
That day in October, though, I was getting some physical signs that were definitely more than psycho-somatic. I wasn’t sure what was going on—I had my doubts that I was actually pregnant—but I bought the test anyway, after work.
I had an entire ten minutes, home alone, before it was time for me to drive two hours to a class I had that night (I was working on my master’s). I took the test, and saw that one line showed up right away. My heart sank, because I thought it was the line that indicated that the test had worked. But, THAT line appeared after a minute or so, much fainter than the original line, which showed a positive result.
We had no cell phone, so there was no way I could contact Rob, who was at work. Shaking, I drove to class, making sure to pick up a rather large dinner on the way. The first people I told were the other students at my table, in Intro to Cognitive Impairments. I said I wasn’t used to babies at all, and the girl sitting next to me said, “Well you’d better get used to them, missy!”
I took another test when I got home. It was the idiot-proof kind, that says “pregnant” or “not pregnant.” Rob wouldn’t believe me until I actually showed him the test, with the telltale word.
The ultrasound had shown that I had a previa. Instead of being up, near the top, the placenta was down, possibly blocking the baby’s way “out.” I would have to do another ultrasound in 6 weeks, as 90% of these resolve themselves.
My mother-in-law, who was a nurse, told me that as time went on, if this didn’t resolve itself, my activities would be reduced, until I was put on bedrest. This didn’t sink in until the next morning at work, when I was explaining it to a friend, and I realized that I was the breadwinner. Being on bedrest would cost us income, insurance, and possibly my job. I left the room and locked myself in the bathroom.
My friend talked me back out, and we found an empty office, while our aides—who knew what was going on—covered our classes.
“First of all, you won’t starve,” she said. “We have welfare, we have food stamps.”
Then she asked me, “Do you believe in God?”
I nodded, although my faith and spirituality had been quite weak for some time.
“Then you need to believe that He has a plan,” she said. “He will take care of you and your baby.”
I wasn’t ready to believe that—yet.
I was driving home from work, so you can infer that the previa resolved itself. The placenta was still in the wrong place, but it was no longer a problem.
I had one week left until spring break, and I was ready for some time off of work. I drove our red LeBaron convertible through the road construction, under the overpass, until I was next to Burger King, about 10 minutes from home. Suddenly, a red Dodge Shadow crossed the center line, clearly aiming for the Burger King parking lot. Thinking that they would see me and stop, I kept the cruise control on but swerved onto the shoulder.
That move may have saved as many as four lives.
When we hit, doing 55, we bounced off of each other, instead of coming to a dead stop (which would have happened, if I had stayed in my lane.) As my car spun around—I didn’t even notice that my head and shoulder were slammed against the window—I thought “not again!” I had been in two car accidents, one fender bender, and one ditch, since I had started driving. I drove into the BK parking lot, when it hit me.
There were two of us in that car. My doctor had recently lectured me on not riding a moped—or even a bicycle—while I was pregnant, because of the risk of a fall. And now this had happened.
My baby was in danger.
Two bystanders came over to make sure I was all right, as I got out of my car. These included the man I wrote about in this post. He let me use his cell phone, to try and call Rob, who wasn’t there. I kept repeating that I was going to lose my baby.
He told me that I was hurting my baby now, by being so upset, and that I needed to breathe and calm down. Another man approached, saying that he was a paramedic and asked if I needed help. I continued to repeat that I was going to lose my baby, so he let the man I had been talking to, continue with his efforts.
Finally, he asked me if I wanted to hold his hand. “My wife is right there, it’s all right,” he said. I took his hand, and began to pray, “Please let my baby be all right,” over and over. “That’s better,” he said. “There you go.”
May 26-27, 2007
I learned at my next doctor’s appointment, that if I hadn’t have had the low-lying placenta, the seat belt would have likely caused it to detach, resulting in an emergency c-section and a premature birth. But, sometimes there is a method to the madness, sometimes life does throw you a bone, and I carried the baby full term.
I didn’t know what labor would feel like, but I thought I might be experiencing it the day after school got out. So off to the hospital we went. We stopped at a gas station on the way, to get soda, and the girl at the counter asked, “So are you ready to have that baby?”
“I think so,” I replied.
Things started off slowly, and the nurses advised us to get some sleep. I tried, but the contraction picked up. I spent some time bouncing on an exercise ball in the shower, then later, in the room.
My spirits were high, until they checked and found that there had been no progress. They began to talk about Pitocin. The nurse said it was completely my choice, but I hadn’t done my homework. So we went for it.
I bounced on the ball, with the IV in my arm, and not much changed. What pushed me over the edge, was when they checked again, and there was no progress. Sitting in the recliner, the contractions suddenly seemed unbearable—since they were leading nowhere—so (not being the crunchy mommy that I would later become) I ordered the epidural.
Rob nearly fainted from the needle, so my nurse had to hold me up while the anesthesiologist put the line into my spinal cord, but the relief was great. But then I started feeling contractions again. I told the nurse, who got the doctor who was on call.
It was then that I saw the monitor. It turns out that the drugs in the epidural had made my blood pressure drop through the floor, and they had been giving me a crazy amount of fluids, which were doing nothing to improve the situation.
I commented on my BP to the doctor who said, “Well you’ll live a lot longer with that blood pressure, than if it were too high.” And he ordered more pain meds.
The Pitocin, meanwhile, did nothing. Then, the doctor determined that I had two amniotic sacs, with fluid in-between. This is significant, because it provided the baby with extra protection during the car accident. Once that situation was taken care of, things started moving, quickly.
All went well, until delivery time. They had to turn off the epidural, since I was unable to use or feel the necessary muscles. I pushed for 2 ½ hours (I told about the nurse who helped me through that, here), and in most hospitals, this would have resulted in a c-section. Even without the pain meds, I have very low muscle tone, which probably made things more difficult.
The baby’s heart rate dropped, so they gave my oxygen (which did nothing). At one point, they had me lay on my side—I later learned that was because the cord was wrapped around the baby’s head.
Finally the doctor left the room and returned with the vacuum extractor, and asked my permission to use it. I wanted to ask him where that was 2 hours ago!
Within the next two minutes, this very tiny person, with a head full of black hair, was placed on my chest. “It’s a girl!” the doctor proclaimed. “Are you sure?” the nurse asked.
We had been counting on having a boy, because at my last appointment, my doctor (who was on vacation for Memorial weekend) had called the baby “him.” We had a girl’s name picked out, and we thought we would use the last half of this name, as the baby’s nickname.
But that day, on May 27 at 5:31 p.m., I addressed my daughter by the first half of her name, giving her the nickname she has today. Then, through my tears, I exclaimed, “You’re beautiful—I love you!”
Happy sixth birthday, Beanie. You’re still beautiful, and I love you even more than I did that day, if that is possible.