My mother later said to me “I was worried about your delivery for some reason. Mine were never easy.”
She spoke those words weeks after I gave birth to Noah in 1999. Turns out she had good reason.
She was supposed to be there for the delivery, but Noah decided to make his appearance three weeks early.
My pregnancy had been easy peasy and uneventful – well except for gaining 42 pounds 🙂 I wasn’t worried when I went into labor early that Saturday morning. Mark had actually JUST returned from a business trip the night before and his mom happened to still be in town. Yes, it was three weeks early but 37 weeks is still considered full term.
We took our time, getting to the hospital around 8 in the morning. We got settled in to the plush room with the hardwood floors and the 37″ television in the armoire across the room. Amy, our sweet labor and delivery nurse was there whenever we need anything and answered any questions we had.
After several hours of stalled progress, my highly-educated and well-paid doctor decided to break my water. Yeah, that kind of hurt. But there was meds for that. Eventually I got my epidural with my own personal “clicker” that let me adjust the meds as my contractions got stronger. HEAVEN!
I don’t remember doing much of anything except for resting. I didn’t read any of the books I brought or listen to any of the CDs. I think the TV was on but I couldn’t tell you what was on the screen. I was just soaking in the experience.
Some time in the mid afternoon, Amy rushed in and asked “What did you just do?”
“Um, I don’t know. Why?”
“Did you just switch positions or something?”
I had in fact, just rolled over onto my side.
“Well, the baby apparently didn’t like that. Let’s have you lay on your back.”
I did so, and she watched as the baby’s heart rate monitor slowed down to a normal level. Then she left.
Awhile later I shifted positions to the other side. She flew back in the room. (Turns out I was setting off alarms out in the nurses station.) I quickly went back to laying on my back and while Noah’s racing heart rate slowed down again, they felt it necessary to put me on oxygen.
After consulting with the doctor via phone Amy came back into the room. In the sweetest calmest voice she said, “Well, the baby has probably gotten the cord wrapped round his arm or his leg or something (in my head I added “OR HIS NECK”) and so as you shift positions it’s making the heart race a bit. So we’re just going to have you stay laying on your back and keep you on the oxygen.”
As delivery time was imminent my doctor basically told me that since Noah was already in distress, they didn’t want the final delivery to take too long. They felt like anything longer than about 30 minutes of pushing was going to be too much and at that point they would “look at other options” (i.e. c-section). They were also going to use the vacuum extractor to help things along. (Apparently there had been some 60 Minutes special on the use of these things in L&D a few weeks earlier. Luckily I hadn’t seen it.)
I spent the next 20 minutes giving it my all and pushed that little boy out. (Sidenote: When you have an epidural and can’t feel anything below your waist, you won’t realize HOW hard you’re pushing until 3 weeks later when you realize you bruised your pelvis.)
He cried a little and grunted a lot. They had a NICU specialist in there to check him out and while he was doing pretty good they were a tad concerned about his breathing. Translation – they let me hold him for about 10 minutes and then he was whisked off to the nursery, followed by dad. I didn’t get to see him again for a couple of hours.
With Mark and the nurses hovered over Noah, my doctor said, “Well, I guess we know what was wrong. Look – a perfect knot.” She held up the umbilical cord and sure enough, a perfect (and taut) knot.
Everything turned out fine and within a few hours Noah was declared healthy and fine and allowed to come and stay with me in my room.
Then, almost 12 years ago, I completely took for granted my access to technologically advanced healthcare and my slew of healthcare workers. I remember being relieved that insurance would cover the bulk of the expenses and I my child would not suffer for lack of medicine.
Unfortunately this is not the scene that plays out in millions of cities around the world where there is no access to basic healthcare.
Did you know that in Uganda, if you’re lucky enough to be able to deliver your baby in the hospital, you have to bring your own supplies?
One of the items that the Living Goods Home Health Promoters can sell to the some in their community is a birth kit that includes bedsheets, rubber gloves, antiseptic and a razor blade for cutting the umbilical cord. Without that, these women are forced to deliver their babies at home in unsterile situations.
We are so blessed with our access to healthcare in America!
Will you consider making a donation to my fundraising campaign for Living Goods & The Adventure Project in honor of your modern medicine story? A donation of any amount is great, but each $25 donation will enter you in the drawing to win an iPad. As of now you’ve got a 1 in 17 chance of winning it 🙂 (For more details on the giveaway, go here.)