I was expecting my second child when my mother decided she didn’t want to stay alone in her apartment. I told her to come and stay with me. She came directly from her job without stopping at home. She was charge nurse on a female geriatrics ward at the state hospital. We had dinner and played with my two-year old son until his bedtime. Right about my bedtime the contractions began.
I kept quiet as long as I could and somehow my mom heard me groaning. She asked if I was all right and I said, “Yes, I think I’m in labor but I’m not ready to go to the hospital.” She went back to bed and around 5:00 a.m. she came back and said “Let’s get dressed.” We got my son up and left the house but I insisted I didn’t want to go to the hospital.
We went to a diner for breakfast since we were up. My mother took my son inside; it took me a little longer to walk due to the contractions … at one point I stopped and began to lower myself to a squatting position. I noticed a man coming out of the diner right then … he stopped and watched me in shock. I looked up and he said in a scared voice, “Don’t you do nothing.” I laughed so hard, I thought I would have the baby right there. What are the chances, I thought to myself. This poor man was afraid he would see something or get involved in something he was not prepared. I walked into the diner and sat down across from my mother, still laughing; I told her what had just happened.
My mother called to let her supervisor know she would not be coming to work. She convinced me at about 9:00 a.m. to go to the hospital. After the exam, the doctor said my contractions were eight minutes apart. He gave me pain medication and told me to come back when the pains were every four minutes. I was very uncomfortable at that point but we left and I decided I would go back when the pains were every two minutes. At about 1:00 p.m. I told my mother to take me back to the hospital. This time the pains were every two minutes and I was admitted.
Now anyone would think that pains every two minutes would mean the baby will be born within the next hour but that didn’t happen. After a few hours in a room full of women swearing and cursing their husbands (who weren’t there, by the way), I was examined again and the doctor decided to break my water. That was supposed to speed things up … NOT SO! The water seemed to trickle and the nurses came frequently to keep my bed dry. I looked at the clock and it was 8:00 p.m. and I was still no closer to delivering this baby.
Anyone seeing my profile in my eighth month would assume I was having twins. At 8:00 p.m. and still in labor, I was thinking if there are twins, only one better come out!
I began to talk to myself … I thought I was talking to my mother but when a nurse asked me what I said I realized what was happening … my mother wasn’t even there. Most of the other six women had gone and delivered their babies and were replaced by others. Each bed had a night table next to it and on each night table was a pad. The nurse would come and write down the time each time contraction came and rub each woman’s back. It seemed like a dance of some kind with nurses rotating from bed to bed writing on the pad and giving the back rub. Finally I was facing the door, having had my bed moved to what the nurses called the “traveling lane,” and I was singing, out of my mind with pain. A nurse came to my bedside to check my progress. She moved the sheet back to see my progress and screamed for another nurse.
Before I knew it, I was in the delivery room. I had been in labor for near forty hours by this time. As soon as the spinal was given, I began to go to sleep. Nurses were waking me, telling me I needed to push. I had a feeling that a nurse was leaning across my body pushing on my abdomen, helping me push. Finally, the baby emerged amidst nurses screaming how beautiful she was. I, however, tried to sleep but the screaming prevented me. They showed me the baby and I could not believe how small she was. That profile that made me look like I was carrying twins, forty hours of labor, needing to have my water broken and for all of that I ended up with a little girl weighing a mere five pounds, twelve ounces.
I was so exhausted but was only able to get little snatches of sleep. Nurses came in and out all day, it seemed. I was being examined, blood was being taken, and also I had a visit from the lactation office. Finally, they brought me my baby. As tired as I was, I could see her clearly; she was beautiful. All she did was stare at me. I stared at her too; she was so tiny and so perfect. She didn’t nurse or take a bottle the entire day. My pediatrician came to examine her and said she had lost seven ounces, which was normal. The baby would have to weigh five pounds, eight ounces to go home. Somehow, the day seemed like a dream. I thought that none of this was real.
Finally, visiting hours were over and I was able to sleep. About five in the morning I woke to a screaming baby. It was still dark and a nurse came to my room with a flashlight and my baby. ”Your baby is hungry; she needs to be nursed right now” the nurse said. She was right; the baby clamped down and nursed like there was no tomorrow. I was pleased with how well she nursed and she nursed regularly that entire day.
The day I was to go home, she weighed five pounds, six ounces. The pediatrician said I could take her home since I was nursing her. I was determined that she would be the last child coming from me. Labor for that baby lasted longer and the pains were more intense than they had been for my first child. Yes, I was sure that was my last baby. I view this experience as labor intensive.