Thirteen days later, my water broke in the kitchen. I never thought I could go into labor on my own, but there it was! We experienced the stereotypical crazy drive to the hospital after some dear friends arrived to watch our other children. We pulled up to the wrong door, at first, for dramatic effect. When we found the right place, a nurse with a loud drawl yelled, “Which baby?” I thought this was an odd question since I was obviously there to deliver the one(s) in my belly. After we cleared up that minor confusion, I was rushed to a room to get my vitals. I was at five centimeters. I blinked and was at 7.5. My friends started pouring in. I was screaming and convulsing, telling them that I couldn’t do this. Both of them are nurses and assured me that I could. “But I don’t want to!” I shrieked. I begged over and over for my epidural, but the deadpan-faced nurse told me they couldn’t administer it until they had my vitals. I was terrified that I would reach that legendary point-of-no-return, the “too late to get an epidural” measure. Apparently, it’s bogus, because I finally got it around 10 centimeters.
The atmosphere settled a little once I was no longer screaming. My doctor, who was NOT on call that night, seriously rescued my universe when he walked through the door. I put on some make-up and freshened up my newly colored and styled hair. We got some photos, other people arrived, including my twin seven-year-old daughters. I can’t remember how long I pushed with Baby M, but I do remember being so relieved and full of joy when he came out screaming like a banshee and weighing in at 6 pounds. The NICU unit hurried in to look at him, born at 36 weeks. They were, as one put it, noticeably underwhelmed and left fairly quickly. The atmosphere changed again the room as I prepared to deliver my lost baby. I cried, my friends prayed for me, my husband held my hand tightly. And Bracken arrived, his little muscles slack and his body slightly purple, but beautiful. It’s all a surreal blur. I held him that night, but my husband spent the most time with him. I’d held him for 36 weeks inside me, so it was someone else’s turn. I bathed in a warm wash of joy for the rest of the evening. I simply felt happy and decided to indulge in it. I knew the following days would not be so clear and simple.
Psalm 139, Sons of Korah. Our theme song for this journey.