It was sometime in February 1992, I cannot recall the exact date nor whether it was warm or cold. What I do remember is that sometime in January my shoes began feeling tighter. "You're pregnant". It was my sister, most likely during a phone call. "No I'm not." How could I be. I had not been doing anything to become pregnant. Our marriage was on hiatus. My place in the house was a made-up couch. It was all so stupid, so ridiculous. And anyway. There were two little boys to look after, feed, change their diapers. There was a house to keep, meals to cook, a job at the library. Besides, Chuck was heading towards his second birthday in four months and Ray was not even six months old. Nonetheless, I made an appointment at the Green Meadows Clinic with my Gyne, foregoing any home pregnancy tests. I didn't want to know.
The physician who was(is) only a few years older than myself (we would have attended high school together), would have most likely smiled at me and had me sit down so the nurse could draw my blood, I would have gone to a bathroom to pee in a cup. And then we would have chatted briefly about this and that before my return to the waiting room. I remember being in that waiting room. Picking up a magazine. Looking, not thinking, skimming the words without knowledge. The nurse, who had been with me during the first two pregnancies, came out and took me back to a private room once the results were in. "You're pregnant." she said. I started crying. "That's why I brought you back here." and then handing me tissues, rubbing my back. "How did this happen?" I asked between hiccuping sobs..."Oh Ruth." she replied, a tsktsk in her voice. "Here, we'll set you up with some appointments." Each prenancy required daily heparin shots and frequent monitoring of coagulation factors.
As much as I remember facts about the other two pregnancies, there are very few things I recall about this prenancy. It went along without incident. It was sometime in June or July that I stopped working at the Library and began staying home full-time with my children. My husband would ask me from time to time if I wanted to put this child up for adoption to which I would answer, "Please tell me you are kidding."
That summer we grew the best garden. As September rolled around a number of my girlfriends gave me gifts. We didn't need anything, having two other babies so close together. Typically we used a diaper service which would deliver fresh diapers to the door and pick up the soiled ones. We felt it was more environmentally friendly using cloth diapers. But because I was now a stay-at-home mom I washed all my own diapers and hung them out to dry on a clothesline. What the girls gave me that late summer were enough disposable diapers to last, I swear, a year. I thanked them all and stacked the packages lovingly in a corner. It looked like a diaper pyramid.
Early September came and so did Ray's first birthday. His dad's parents came up for a very small birthday party. The due date was around the twentieth of September. It was a cool fall I remember and it was wonderful being able to stay home with the other two. We would play on the floor. Friends would come visit. On nice days I would work in the yard while Chuck played in the dirt and Ray would be in his playpen. We took walks around the neighborhood, the boys in the double stroller that the "small group" at church had given us.
The only thing I remember about the night leading up to Dylan's birth was that it was cold and I couldn't sleep (having been allowed back into the bedroom) and so was up and down with back and excruciating labor pains. The boys were sleeping and I ended up taking a blanket and pillow to the couch. Eventually, unable to lay down I paced. Quietly, quietly paced. The floors creaked. My husband yelled at me. "Go outside!" And so, putting on a coat and hat and gloves I went outside. It was freezing, there was frost everywhere, my breath hung white in the air and it felt like something was going to fall out. I gave up and returning to the house said, "I'm going on over to the hospital, do you want to come?".."No!"..And so, with satchel in hand and feather pillow under my arm I got into my little car and drove to the hospital. Was I crying? No. This was par for the course. What time was it? Probably after midnight and so again, I called Bonnie (she of unerring patience and kindness) and told her where I was and what was going on.
The hospital routine was typical. Go to the floor, have them check you out, after which you either stay in the room or you pace. "Go walk around." Is what they told me. And so, from one to three on the morning of September 29, 1992, I walked. Bonnie was there and we talked. At three they checked me out again. Nope, not yet. "Go home Bonnie, its going to be awhile." She looked tired and had her own husand and children and had been so very kind through all of these processes. She had been there to witness Ray's quick birth. And so alone, I walked and sat and walked some more, up and down hospital corridors, and got an orange soda from the vending machine (I don't drink soda much but my favorite is orange Sunkist or grape Fanta) and sat and watched the public t.v. and walked. At five they had me don a gown, put down my orange soda and watch the small adjustable arm t.v. between contractions. It was dark and cold outside.
It was after seven when Bonnie returned having napped, showered and gotten her husband and kids off to work and school, amazingly, she didn't look tired. My mother came in not much later. Throughout the morning I had asked--continually--for an epidural. Finally they said I had progressed enough. The anesthesiologist came in, with a resident or medical student, who knows. They had me sit on the edge of the bed. During each contraction I would breathe and my teeth would rattle as if with cold. "Stay still. Cool stuff to your back." he said while swabbing.."You're very stoic, I like that."..It meant, you stay still, you don't squirm. Very handy for them.
It was the first pregnancy with an epidural. It was wonderful. But the labor had gone on long enough and the baby continued to decelerate so they put a monitor on him in utero to measure his heart rate. Now, in the room were two nurses to monitor me and the baby continually, my mother, and Bonnie. A nursing student came in before my epidural and asked if she could participate. "Sure". I winced, contracting. The doctor came in to check me out. They brought in a cart "just in case", there was a standby bassinet, there was another nurse, "just in case". So, there was a medical student, the physician, the resident who was also a new mother and by this time the contractions had really gone on long enough and my feet were put in stirrups and I was told to push.
During the pushing phase in the room there two doctors, a medical student, a nursing student, my mother, a friend, three nurses, a blue covered cart, and in walked the janitor with mop in hand, a non-thought like 'you have to be kidding me...'pushed its way through the transom of my mind but nothing came out, just an ungh!a grunt, another push. He stood stock still for a moment before beating a hasty retreat. It was a show alright and following the twenty minutes of show our precious boy finally arrived. Healthy and squalling and was placed on a blue sheet on my chest still icky but beautiful. In short order they cut the cord, took him off my chest, cleaned him up, did all his apgar stuff, pronounced him healthy and returned him. My mother had bought me earrings for the occaision. They were wood in a curved leaf pattern and in all the pictures she took, there they are.
After awhile they wheeled me down to a room. It was shared. "You don't have a private room?".."No, the only one left is for a girl who lost her child..".."Oh" I said as they wheeled me in the room filled with another new mother and multiple members of her smoking family. They moved out of the way so that I could get in the bed. When the nurse left, I began quietly crying, so did my mother who had stayed with me the entire time. Bonnie, bless her heart, had gone home. "It's okay mom. I'm going to sleep now." And I did, only waking to hear what I thought sounded like a kitten wailing. It wasn't a kitten, it was our child, across the hall, in the closed off nursery, audible through two walls and a window of glass...(to be continued).