As March drew near, our heads came out of the sand. Our due date was upon us, and baby seemed perfectly content, not the least bit eager to leave the accommodations my body was providing. We were barely out of high school, still newly wedded, jobless, and soon-to-be insurance-less. Yes, I know, in a word, we were clueless. Adrenaline took over, fight or flight? Option anxiety always chooses “both!”
On the twenty-sixth of February, audacious as it seemed, I called my doctor, “My husband lost his job, and as of March first, we won’t have health insurance. I need to have this baby now.” Silence followed by exasperated sigh, then, “Be at the hospital by eight a.m. tomorrow. We’ll start a Pitocin drip to induce labor.” “Thank you. I don’t know what else to do.” “Yeah. See you in the morning… click” I felt ashamed. But, I also felt excited, “We’re having a baby tomorrow!” Lyle and I exchanged apprehensive smiles, and we grew up, just a little bit more.
The I.V. was successfully inserted after several painful attempts. The nurses explained to me that I have “twisty veins that roll.” Thanks for dumbing it down. I’m pretty sure that’s not a real medical term. It sounds like a roller coaster for blood. I pictured the blood cells just like the cartoon ones they showed us in biology class, all of the red ones with their hands in the air screaming with glee, and the white blood cells clinging to each other, completely terrified. I was SO grown up and ready to be a mommy.
Ready, set, wait. And then we waited. And then we watched “Days of Our Lives.” The picture of that sand, slowly sifting through that hour-glass, took on a whole new meaning. We watched the high school basketball tournament. A year earlier, I had been in school with some of those kids playing. Somehow, this didn’t strike us as the least bit crazy. The contractions started. I was in labor. Zipidydoodah! Lamaz what? “Hee…hoo,” and then, “Hee hee hee…hooo,” and the “Hee hee hee hee…Screw this!” Take the edge off with some Demerol? I don’t understand anything you’re saying to me, but, sure. Yeah, I don’t really care what muscle you’re going to put it in. I’ll just roll over between contractions, and you can surprise me. Things were about to get really REAL.
The boy I had married just six months prior sat beside me, taking his cues from the nurses, he soothed and encouraged me, “Wow, you really pegged the monitor on that contraction!” I was still liking him at this point, so that was cute…. And then I turned. I can’t recall the words that came out of my mouth, but the terrified look on my husband’s face will never leave my memory. He floundered, eyes glued to the monitor, and bravely said, what were meant to be, more encouraging words, “You’re just about to the peak of this one.” My head spun all the way around, “Don’t tell me when I’m ALMOST to the peak! I don’t want to know that the pain is getting worse! You’re supposed to tell me when I’m AT the peak!” The nurses took pity on him, “Why don’t you take a break. Go down to the smoking room for a little while.”
Then I turned on them. Strings of profanity flew from my mouth. I called them names I can’t repeat. Lyle came back into the room, “I called her mom. Maybe she can settle her down.” Then came the psychotic break, “I know my rights! I want a C-section! I know my doctor is down in some sleeping room waiting! Wake her up! (Insert more profanity) I want her in here, NOW!”
There was no C-section. My mother came, but waited in the hallway. The rest is pretty foggy. I remember seeing, what looked like, a toilet plunger. AND then she was there. She was perfect. We had picked out the name, Ashley. But then, I blurted out, “Her name is Maggie Ann.” My husband was dumb-founded. I don’t know if it was out of pity for me or fear, but he didn’t argue. He looked down at her with wonder, “Well hello there, Maggie Ann.”