I know I haven't been here in awhile, but would appreciate any comments...
It was time.
It was finally time.
Her husband grabbed the suitcase, the prescriptions, his overnight bag, and the keys while she wobbled her way to the car. The route was planned. They got there in eight minutes, 30 seconds. He dropped her off at the lobby while he parked the car. That was what they had agreed upon long ago; what she had insisted. He would park while she continued on to the OB Department: fourth floor, south wing.
There were no nurses or doctors running out the door to greet her with a wheelchair. No ambulance sirens as background noise. It was quiet, the dead of night. She calmly but quickly got herself to the registration desk and gave them her name, insurance information, and reason for being there (as if they needed to ask, they should know her well enough by now), and she had a seat.
He arrived just at the moment a young RN came out to get her. They didn’t recognize her, she must be new.
“Are you doing ok, honey?” he asked.
“Yes. I think so. So far…”
The RN smiled. She had her fill out a few forms, and asked them a few questions. It was all typical. After various rotations in other parts of the hospital, she had settled here. She loved seeing the women come in, most of them so full of life. She loved seeing women who were about to be mothers for the first time. Loved seeing them surrounded by family. Loved hearing the murmured conversations about sex and names and health and brown eyes or blue and curly hair or straight. Although most days were filled with standard sonograms and routine procedures, the deliveries (which mostly came during the night shifts) were always considered a miracle. Watching a new life come into the world. Watching the parents’ faces lay their gaze upon their offspring for the first time. And although there were tragedies from time to time, the positive far outweighed the negative.
“Name?” “Deborah Sparling.”
“And this is full-term, yes? Your third trimester?”
She didn’t know how to explain…
“This is our 11th trimester.”
“We conceived just under three years ago.”
“Don’t worry,” he interrupted, “Doctor Spears is familiar with our case.”
With that, the RN slowly backed out of the room, expecting to call not only Dr. Spears, but also the psychiatrist on-call. But when she informed the chief obstetrician, he said that he was, in fact, familiar with the case, and there was no need to call anyone else. He would take care of it.
It was not, for the most part, an unusual pregnancy. They conceived in March, at which point she quit drinking. In May, she started craving cottage cheese and bananas. The weight gain was noticeable, but not out of the normal range. The baby was healthy, and she went for normal check-ups. There was nothing to be concerned about. She showed off her belly to friends and co-workers. They all jumped the first time they felt the baby kick. Sonograms were passed around. A baby shower was given.
Just before Thanksgiving she took maternity leave from work. It was the perfect time, really. Family would be around. She would appreciate the time off work for the holidays. Everyone was supportive and excited. She had no siblings, so this would be the first grandchild. But as the house grew more crowded, and the hushed whispers started to become excited greetings, the feeling slowly crept in that this was not the right time. She wasn’t ready.
And neither, apparently, was the baby. First a week late, then two, then nearly three. Christmas passed, then New Years. They went to the doctor and seriously considered a Caesarian. But he assured them both mother and child were healthy, that the baby would come when ready, and that a natural birth would certainly be the best thing for all involved. His concern grew when a month had passed, and experts were called in. Some recommended the surgery, others were intrigued enough to simply recommend a further watchful eye. Besides, Deborah’s birthday was coming up, the chief obstetric surgeon was away at a convention, and it was just not the most convenient time for surgery. So they waited. They waited until after her birthday. Then another month until after their Anniversary.
After the twelfth month, they made national news. The press started to invade their lives. A million questions were asked of each of them and their doctors about how this could be. Was the baby healthy? Was she? Was it artificially conceived? Some of the fringe theories included cross-breeding with animals that had longer gestation periods. They cried. The only answer any of them could give was that it simply was not yet time. The baby and mother both continued to be healthy, thriving entities. There was no medical reason to terminate the pregnancy in any form, and so they would just let it continue until the pregnancy resolved itself naturally.
Eventually the media went away. As it turns out, you can’t remain famous for not doing something.
In the long two years that followed, the range of moods and feelings completed the spectrum. There was screaming and pain; there was sobbing and depression. They became frustrated. They became, at times, hopeless. But through everything the knowledge that some kind of life was continuing to be created helped them get through day-by-day. Eventually, she became accustomed to carrying around the extra weight inside her.
Of course there were problems, ranging from embarrassing to infinitely depressing. Her coworkers were certainly surprised to see her return from maternity leave still pregnant. The warranty on the crib expired before the baby was born. But then again, the extra two months it took the contractors to finish the nursery turned out not to be that big of a deal.
The first round of false labor pains nearly destroyed them completely. It had been fifteen months. Her feet started to swell, so she was confined to bed rest, and was one week in. In the middle of the night, she was awoken by the most intense pain she had ever felt. She screamed as her husband bolted upright in bed. They were at the hospital within ten minutes. Twelve hours of these pains kept them awake through the night and most of the next morning. At which point she had still not dilated, and the doctor informed them that it was, in fact, Braxton Hicks contractions. They re-hydrated her, and through the tears in both their eyes, sent them home. The next time it happened, they only spent two hours in the hospital. The third time, they didn’t even bother to go.
But now it was time. She wasn’t even sure what had changed, but the confidence had returned and the doubt, the doubt that crept in nearly two years ago, was gone. The doctor came in and talked to them in between the labor pains and confirmed their hopes. The baby was coming, and was coming tonight. But birth was only crossing the starting line to becoming a parent. An unusual pregnancy means nothing in predicting the normalcy of the child. That is up to the parents, their genetics, their environment. It is how a child is treated and nurtured between birth and adulthood that decides success. Having a baby doesn’t make you a mother, raising the child does.
“Are you ready?” said Dr. Spears.
“Yes.” She said. “It’s time.”
And so she pushed. And it was time.
“Congratulations, you have a beautiful baby…”