My Braxton Hicks Baby

“I think we need to be going now,” I interrupted the men-folk who were chatting about Husker football.

“Why should we go now?  You’re either going to have to wait here or at the hospital.  Might as well wait here where you’re comfortable.”

I didn’t feel comfortable.  Did I look comfortable?  I had been leaning against the wall breathing deeply for an hour trying to calm the contractions that were getting ever more frequent.

“My water broke two hours ago.  I think I was supposed to go in then.  We better go now unless you want to deliver this baby yourself.”

Those were evidently the persuading words he had been waiting for.  He grabbed the bag that had been packed for a week, we said goodbye to our guests and headed out the door.

Upon arrival at the rural hospital nestled near the mountains in Cody, Wyoming, Hippie Doc came in the room.  He was our only option of an OB doc in the area.  He was “down to earth”.  He wore his hair pulled back in a pony tail, rode a bike to work year round, and objected to everything anyone tried to propose at medical staff meeting.  He rebelled against anything organized.

Hippie Doc checked me over.  “You’re just at 2 1/2 cm.  You’ve been at 2 cm for a week.  I now you’re tired of being pregnant.  I’ll give you some morphine to help you be more comfortable and we’ll induce you in the morning.”  WHAT?  “You’re just having some Braxton Hicks contractions.”

The shock had subsided by the time the nurse came in to give me the morphine.  “What does he mean he’s going to ‘induce’ me in the morning?? I’m in labor!  My water broke two hours ago.”

“Oh, Honey, the baby must have kicked your bladder and you wet yourself.  Relax.  It’s OK.  It happens easily.  This will help you feel better.”

Twenty minutes went by.  Nothing was feeling better.  I didn’t want to be a whiner, but these “not” contractions hurt.  Jeff went out to ask what else they could do for me. I was escorted down the hall to the hot-tub room.  Out of sight, out of mind.

My mind drifted off to la-la land – a place flowing of milk and honey with rainbows, waterfalls and ice-cream.  Every one was smiling and laughing in la-la land.  I preferred to stay there.  But occasionally an exceptionally sharp “not” contraction would pull me back to my surroundings and I would groan softly.  Feeling absolutely helpless in the situation, Jeff wandered down the hall to bug the nurses every half hour.  “Nope, can’t have an epidural yet.  The nurse anesthetist is in surgery.”

At approximately 12:30a.m. the much awaited news arrived. The anesthetist was done in surgery and I could have an epidural.  I just had to get back to my room.  It wasn’t that far down the hall.  Shouldn’t be a big deal.  I stood up.  OH MY GOODNESS!  I realized delivery of this baby was imminent.  But there was NO WAY I was going to tell anybody that.  I had come to covet the idea of an epidural.  I was NOT giving that up. In my delirium I instituted the “Don’t look, Don’t tell” policy.  If they weren’t going to look, I wasn’t going to tell.  Waddling carefully down the hall trying to hold my baby in, I made my way back to the room.  It was the first time I’d seen any nursing staff since my trip to the hot tub four hours earlier.  They were a little perturbed at my breathing. Evidently I wasn’t “relaxed” enough.

The anesthetist completed her job and all staff exited the room.  I laid in my cozy hospital bed realizing my shoulders were going numb while my lower body remained entirely functional.  In fact, I could still feel my “not” contractions but had to admit the edge was taken off.  I buzzed the nurse to come back in the room.  “I feel like I have to use the bathroom,” I stated matter-of-factly, knowing full well I had just made the announcement that I was about to have this baby.  Her face turned ashen.  “I’ll be right back,” she stammered.

Hippie Doc returned.  It was the first time he’d graced me with his presence since my arrival.  I was somewhat surprised to see he’d stuck around.  “Oh,” he chuckled.  “What do you know?  You’re at 9 1/2 cm.  You could have this baby now if you want or you could rest a while since you just got your epidural.  What would you like?”

“Well, you know, I worked pretty hard for that epidural.  I think I’m going to enjoy it for a while.”  So a couple of hours and a few pushes later, out came this screaming bundle of slimy joy with ten fingers and toes and thick, black hair standing on end.  “She’s beautiful,” Hippie Doc said.  “Really?” I asked.  Don’t ask me.  I know.  Mothers are supposed to think their babies are the most precious looking thing they’ve ever seen.  I guess I had listened to Bill Cosby’s comedy routine one too many times.  I thought she looked like a lizard with a pointy head from all that time she waited around while I enjoyed the epidural.  “Oh yeah.  She’s beautiful.  Trust me,” he said.  It’s surprising he felt the need to tell me to “trust” him after such a stellar performance that evening on his part.

The beautiful baby cried – for just a minute.  She rested on my abdomen after the umbilical cord was cut and progressively got very quiet and her color didn’t look quite as pink as it had.  “Why is she so quiet? And why is she looking … blue??” I wondered aloud. A nurse swooped down from the sky, or so it seemed.  Thank God for nurses.  She snatched my little slimy lizard away from me and put an oxygen mask over her little face.  “Doctor! Narcan!”  I wasn’t sure if it was a demand or a question, but Hippie Doc nodded his approval and the injection was given.  Turns out the Morphine he’d ordered to lessen the severity of my “Braxton Hicks” contractions also suppressed breathing in newborns.  I bet he should have known that.  But who would have thought a baby was going to be born that night since I was never in labor?

The day progressed very well and by mid afternoon we were ready to be on our way.  “You first-time moms are crazy!” Hippie Doc informed me. “You haven’t even had your free steak dinner yet.  By the time your third baby comes along we’ll have to push you out the door to get you out of here.  OK.  You can go if you really want to.”  Great.  I wanted to.  We were ready.  Our baby was in the room with us and we were ready.  We waited… I don’t know… a while.  Nobody came.  We had everything we needed.  So we left.  We just walked ourselves out to the car and went on our way.

Upon arrival home we were greeted at the door by our guests.  “You weren’t supposed to leave!  They need you at the hospital!  You better go back!  They’ve been calling for you.”  So I made a call.  Sure enough.  We weren’t done.  They had to verify that I indeed took my daughter and not the one other infant in the hospital.  I figured if the one other infant was still there, obviously I’d taken the correct child.  They agreed that if I kept the armbands on I could come back in the morning.  So less than 24 hours after the start of my “not” contractions, I settled back in to my own room where I was “comfortable”, my baby girl sleeping in the bassinet beside me.

Happy birthday, my little slimy lizard.  Hippie Doc was right after all.  You are beautiful!

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