Sunday, January 31, 2010

Blessed to be the one in the middle...

On an icy morning like this one, my mind drifts back a little more than ten years ago to one of those completely surreal moments that life will sometimes knock you off your feet with.  I was preganant with our daughter and things were not going well.  I had Pre-eclampsia and had been on bedrest for a couple of weeks.  My blood pressure was off the chart and the illness was targeting my liver.  Because it was January and I wasn't due until March, every day I could "stay pregnant" was best for my baby girl.  She needed more time and I was trying to follow doctor's orders to give it to her.  But, my body decided not to cooperate any further one beautiful, clear, freezing cold, full moon lit night.

Dear Hubby and I set out for the hospital about 11:30 p.m.  My BP had been high all day and would not come down.  The on-call doctor said not to wait any longer.  We were both terrified, tired, worried, and I felt like I was failing at motherhood before she was even born.  I'm kind of hard on myself sometimes and the guilt of endangering her with this illness (which I know I had no control over) did not make me pleasant company.  It was a somber car ride.  I remember seeing the huge full moon over the city on our way down the I-24 ridge cut.  It was so beautiful over the lights of the city I almost gasped.  I asked D.H. if he thought there was any truth to the full moon stories you hear about.  He said he'd heard them his whole life (his mother had been a nurse), but he doubted they were true.  Little did we know...

When we got to the hopital, it looked like a scene out of a movie.  There were injured and sick people in every nook and cranny.  The smell was overwhelming to an already sensitive pregnancy nose.  And the noise...pain never sounds good.  I must have looked as bad as I felt, because they helped me pretty quickly.  Because there were no rooms, they put me in triage between two other pregnant women with only a curtain on each side separating us and hooked me up to the very familiar blood pressure machine.  It was so loud in that room!  People were moaning, crying, screaming,...the orderlies' shoes were squeaking on the floor like basketball players because they were running around everywhere.  It was certainly unsettling and did little to help my inflated blood pressure.  Then the nurse told me to relax so my blood pressure would come down and they took D.H. to fill out the paperwork.  Relax...sure.  Piece of cake.  I positioned myself on my left side (like they told me), began the breathing exercises I'd been doing for a couple of weeks, and stared at the blood pressure machine.  That's when I started picking up on the happenings with the two pregnant women on each side of me.
On my right was a woman who was barely seven months pregnant.  She had been airlifted to the hospital after falling on her icy sidewalk and going into labor.  Her husband was there and had his camo jacket over his crossed arms.  I don't know why that stands out to me.  Maybe because I could see him and not her.  She was just going to get the mail, and now she was in premature labor.  The doctor and nurses were trying to stop her labor, but it wasn't looking good.  Her pain was obvious in her low wailing.  She was crying in words, "I'm so sorry...I'm so sorry."  Her husband didn't comfort her.  Maybe he didn't know how.  Maybe he was angry at her for falling.  He never uncrossed his arms.  She was losing the baby and he was holding his jacket.  The doctor told her they would do everything they could, but the baby's chances were low.

On my left, was a thirteen year old pregnant girl who was almost full-term.  I could see her a little through the curtain division.  She looked so little except for this bulging belly.  She was handcuffed to the bed and a police officer was beside her along with her forlorn looking mother.  Her wrist was so small, I thought she could easily pull it out of the handcuff.  The girl had thrown herself down a flight of stairs trying to kill her baby.  She kept screaming that she wasn't going to have this baby at her young mother.  That she didn't want to have the baby, that she refused to deliver it.  The mother just cried and swayed back and forth.  While I was watching, a doctor came and told her that she was delivering this baby whether she wanted to or not, but that she would never see it.  The baby would be a ward of the state and the girl would be charged for trying to kill it.  I never saw the girl's face, but her mother's young face was a portrait of pain, anger, and guilt.

So there I was in the middle: between a woman losing her baby who wanted desperately to keep it and a child terrified enough to try to rid herself of her baby.   D.H. had returned to my bedside by this point and I remember turning to him and saying, "I am not having my baby here tonight!"  I closed my eyes and prayed, begging God to get me out of there.  I kept seeing that full moon over the city in my mind.  Breathe...pray...breathe...pray...  The relieved doctor sent me home.  He had enough to deal with.  My BP was down.
That was January 19, 2000.  I delivered our daughter by emergency c-section on January 25th.  It was traumatic and "touch and go" and I was really sick.  But, she was perfect--all 4 lbs 15 oz of her.  I didn't get to hold her for a couple of days because of the treatment I had to go through to repair my liver.  I had a long recovery ahead of me and the meds I had to be on because of the liver issue made me loopy and semi-conscious.  The stress was intense and premature infants are challenging.  Poor D.H. had to do everything...everything for our daughter and me AND go to work each day.  My parents and church family helped out a lot.  I have difficulty remembering the first few weeks of our daughter's life.  Being new parents is difficult enough, but this was a true challenge.  Sometimes I think we're still recovering, even ten years later.  

So, when it's icy out I can't help but think of the woman on my right that night.  I don't know if she lost her baby, but I'll never forget the sound of her mourning for it.  I wonder if she has children, if her marriage survived,... And when I remember her, I of course, think of the girl on my left.  Did she go to jail?  Did she have more children?  Did someone adopt her baby?  Did she ever find real love? 

I'm so glad I didn't deliver my daughter that night.  Although her birth is not the way I would have chosen, I'm so blessed to have been the woman in the middle.  And ten years later, I still remember the night she wasn't born and I'm still thankful.


  1. And I thought my delivery made for a good story :) Can't believe she's 10!

  2. Wow! Maybe you're to keep them in your prayers? I'm glad you didn't go into labor with all that around you. I was totally skert hearing a lady scream like she was trying out for a horror flick.
    But what a little cutie you got.

  3. Mrs. Hood, I finally decided to come and check out your blog and this was the month I clicked on. What an eye opening experience! I'm a Criminal Justice major now and I'm constantly realizing how different life is outside of what I had at Boyd. Since high school I've found that the most trying situations are the ones that always remind me to be humble and know that someone out there may have harder times ahead. No baby experiences for me to talk about, but definitely something I was able to connect with.