My oldest daughter, Kate, went into labor on January 22nd, the night of the full moon. She had been “great with child” since Christmas and miserable for the past three weeks. Her doctor was concerned that the baby might be too large for a natural birth (too large meaning weighing seven pounds) so had she not gone into labor naturally the doctor had planned to induce labor that very day. She was sick with a miserable cold.
So when Kate went to the hospital that night, my youngest daughter, Charlotte and nephew, Kevin and I were in the waiting room as she was checked in. The waiting room had wide, uncovered windows on one side of the room and I watched the moon shining over the city as I prayed, paced and watched my nephew’s pratfalls.
When my daughter was settled in her labor room we went in to see her. She was hooked up to a monitor and on an IV and her husband, Mike was standing beside her, holding her hand.
“Mom, I’m really in labor. They didn’t have to induce me.” Kate said. Later on in the evening the nurse told Kate that when she was dilated to four they would start the epidural.
After the nurses told us the labor would probably take ten or so hours we went home to get some rest. I slept for about four hours and awakened with a start. Charlotte hadn’t slept at all that night. She had gone over to Kate and Mike’s house to straighten up the house because Mike’s Mom, Frances was driving in the next day from Loyal, Oklahoma.
Loyal, Oklahoma, I’ve learned, was settled by German immigrants in the late 1880’s. It was originally named Kiel, after the city in Germany from which they came, but after the outbreak of World War l, the residents renamed it Loyal to show their loyalty to America.
We made it back to the hospital before eight A.M. Kate was awake and in pain. When I was young and having my babies I was pretty fearless at the approach of labor and delivery, even though, during two of them, there had been complications. All my children had grown up healthy, wise and strong but when I found myself standing by my daughter’s bed, seeing her in such agonizing pain I felt the urge to go all Shirley MacLaine at the nurses station.
And yet, there stood Mike by Kate’s side, holding her hand and calmly comforting her. If every man in our country had the character of Mike we wouldn’t have any unhappy wives or children.
I stood in front of the monitor, watching the progression of the labor and praying silently. Charlotte offered to take Kate’s hand for a while so Mike could have a cup of coffee. Soon, Joni and Drew, my son and daughter-in-law arrived.
Kate’s eyes were closed and she had such a look of pain on her face that I had to leave the room several times.
It seemed to take forever but the epidural was finally started. But it didn’t work. Kate was still in pain. When she was little I could always comfort her with bandaids and by holding her on my lap but I could do nothing in this instance.
My husband and parents arrived and we were urged by the nurses to go to the waiting room. We had taken up a corner of it by this time. Kevin had skipped school to be with us and Frances, Mike’s Mom had arrived. We were all sitting in the waiting room, rearranging the chairs so we could converse. I have a hard time sitting still so I would walk over to the nursery to see the babies but they don’t display them in the window anymore for the sake of the babies’ safety.
I love Catholic hospitals. They display Christian art and icons and that gave me a sense of comfort and calm as I took a walk around the hospital.
The ten hour prediction the nurse had given us the night before didn’t prove to be true. At ten o’clock in the morning Kate had been in labor for twelve hours. Charlotte and I took walks down the hall outside Kate’s room to see if any progress had been made. Kate had wanted only Mike to be in the delivery room so we were without any information. Once, a nurse who was taking a break outside Kate’s room told us that she was “pushing.”
That’s all we learned. Noon passed. Our son, Drew had to go back to work. The rest of us stayed. My husband always feels he has to keep my emotions in check so he asked me to stay out of the hallway outside Kate’s room. I did for a while, but my Dad wanted to take a walk so I went with him. There was still no information to be learned outside the room so Daddy and I just took a tour of the artwork in the hospital.
Finally, at 3:06 in the afternoon all of our cellphones went off. When I checked my phone, there was a text message from Mike: “Noah is here.” Frances, my husband, Charlotte, and Joni all received the same message.
There was a small stampede to Kate’s room. The nurse said the doctor was still working on Kate so we had to wait a little while more. When we finally were able to enter her room she was there with Mike and had a smile on her face. But the baby wasn’t there.
We figured that he was getting his APGAR and didn’t think anything of it. Mike and Kate were overjoyed and it was thrilling for me to see them in such spirits.
We went back and forth from Kate’s room to the nursery hoping to see Noah. After an hour and a half I began to get worried. I wondered where the baby was. Why couldn’t we see him? Kate had described him as beautiful and said she had heard him cough and cry so we knew that he had to be somewhere in the hospital.
Finally, Mike went to speak to the nurses and they directed him to the newborn ICU. He came out later with an explanation. Noah had been born with the umbilical cord around his neck. His blood pressure was low so he had been quickly taken to the NIC unit. They had him on an IV and were running some tests on him. They were also worried that he might have ingested meconium in the womb during the birth. I was sick with worry but Frances, being the wise mother of a very wise son, said, “He’ll be fine.”
Later that evening Frances and I were allowed in the NIC to see Noah. We had to wash our hands and put on gowns. He was beautiful. I was relieved just to see the fine little man. He weighed 7 pounds and 4 ounces and was 21 and 1/2 inches long. He had an IV and other tubes connected to him.
I won’t go into all the details because all turned out well. Noah and Mom and Dad were able to go home this past Sunday. He hadn’t ingested meconium after all and all his blood tests were normal.
Why would I be spending time blogging when I can hold Noah? Life always begins with a struggle and some of us forget from time to time that our very existence in this physical world is really a miracle. But everything that goes right is also the result of a lot of effort and work by dedicated people.
I loved the nurses in my Noah’s ICU. They were so skillful. They carried the babies around like quarterbacks scoring touchdowns. They were gentle, professional and so helpful with the young parents. They showed my daughter how to change Noah’s diaper with all of his little monitors on him. They helped her begin to successfully breast feed.
When Kate was able to be discharged from the hospital the hospital kept her in her room as a guest for two days and nights so she could stay near Noah.
Today, Noah is ten days old and Kate is recovering well. I can put some of the strain of the day of his birth behind me, especially when I am lucky enough to hold him in my arms.
I am now the happy grandmother of two boys.