My mom came to stay with us about a week before my due date. Derek had to leave on July 7th for a long recruiting stint. My due date was July 12th. At the time I didn’t know how it was going to play out as far as who was going to get me to the hospital or who would watch the kids. If I went into labor while Derek was still in town then my mom could watch the girls and Derek could take me to the hospital. The nice thing about living in a small town is that nothing is more than five minutes away. We lived three minutes from Derek’s office and eight minutes from the hospital (the town didn’t have an Applebee’s but it did have a hospital). Derek would have plenty of time to get me there with time to spare. I wasn’t too worried about the details. I knew it would all work out like life usually does but maybe I should have had some sort of plan. And as life would have it, things didn’t work out like I had planned in my head. I went into labor about seven hours after Derek left town at 3:00 in the morning. I felt the pain in the middle of the night so I got up and started pacing around the house just to be sure it was the “real” thing. I kept looking out my windows to see if any of the neighbor’s lights were on – to see if there was any life at 3:00 am because I was going to need someone to watch my kids while my mom took me to the hospital. Worst case scenario is that we would take the kids to the hospital with us and figure it out from there.
Low and behold I see the next door neighbor’s light come on. Talk about divine intervention. I picked up the phone to call her and she was at our house before I could say “goodbye”. There was not much for her to do because the kids were sleeping but who knows how long we would be at the hospital. She was afraid the kids would get a little spooked when they woke up and found a strange woman in their house since they didn’t really know her that well. That’s what it comes down to when you are married to a coach – strange women watching your children as you give birth. My mom drove me to the hospital and the neighbor was looking after the kids. I knew things would somehow work out.
I had not called Derek yet because I wanted to make sure that these were not false contractions and I wanted to see how far my labor had progressed. In the past, when I arrived at the hospital I was 2-3 centimeters and had plenty of time to spare. Derek was four hours away in Indianapolis which was feasible that he could make it back for the birth. By the time I arrived at the hospital, finished the paper work, and put on my lovely hospital gown it was 5:00 am. When the nurse finally checked me I was 7 centimeters! Then I called my husband and told him I was in labor. I could hear the excitement/anxiety in his voice. I knew he wanted to be there for the birth but I also knew at 7 centimeters and this being my fourth child that there was no way he would make it in time. I told him just to stay there because he wouldn’t make it in time and what good would he be when he got here. He would drive four hours, see the baby and then have to head right back out again to recruit. If it seems that I am relatively nonchalant as I am writing this it is because I was. With the first child you want everything perfect – my husband had the beeper, I wanted him there for the birth, I had to have the right “going home” outfit, I had to order the newborn pictures. But, by the fourth, I was just excited to be alone in a hospital room with no children. I brought books, magazines and movies. I was going to let the nurses do all the work after I pushed this baby out. I was going to have two days to relax and I planned on taking full advantage of it because I knew that once I left that hospital I would never get any sleep for the next year.
As the nurse checked my vital signs and hooked me up to the baby monitor my contractions started to get stronger but I remained calm because I knew relief was on the way. Making it to the hospital was half the battle, now I just needed my epidural and I will be ready to pop this baby out. With my other pregnancies, the hospitals were always active. There were doctors, nurses, paramedics, anesthesiologists, medical assistants, medical students, janitors and X-ray techs roaming the halls at all hours. Keep in mind that my previous three deliveries were at major hospitals in big cities. I just assumed that all hospitals no matter how big or small would have a skeleton crew of medical personnel around the clock in case of an emergency. I assumed wrong. If you are in a hospital in the middle of nowhere in the wee hours of the morning there are no anesthesiologists roaming the hallways. The one anesthesiologist was in bed sleeping. If you wanted him you must page him. The nurse told me she wasn’t even going to page him because my labor was moving along rapidly and by the time he got out of bed and to the hospital I would be too far along to receive an epidural. Therefore, at 7:00 am I delivered my baby boy, Shane, with not even a dose of Tylenol. Natural child birth – I never thought I would go there. I was a nurse. I saw the benefits of medical technology and drugs and I was not afraid or ashamed to use them. The actual labor and birth was quite painful especially because I did not know what to expect or how long to expect it. Usually I was numb from the waist down and didn’t care how long it took. But, I have to say after the birth it was nice to be able to feel my legs and walk; it was nice not to have the pain of an IV or the pain in my back from the epidural. Natural child birth – that was my big time introduction to small town living.
When the dust had settled and Shane and I were resting comfortably I called my husband with all the details of the birth. Then I went off on him, asking him what kind of town did he move me to that doesn’t have anesthesiologists on call and what did he sign me up for the next five years. Then I told him if he ever wanted to touch me again he would have to get a vasectomy since it was his fault that I had to give birth in a town where no one would give me drugs when I needed them.
After the birth, my mom went home to check on the kids and to relieve the neighbor. She arrived home around 7:30 am and the kids weren’t even awake yet. They had no idea that they had a baby brother. All in a day’s work – pop out a baby while the kids are sleeping as not to disrupt their schedule. That is what I call super-efficient! Later in the day my mom brought the girls up to see their new baby brother. They were so excited to see him. But then the whining started, “I want to hold him, no, I want to hold him. Mommm! Sam got to hold him longer than me.” It made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up because I knew that is what I would be going home to the next day. I have to say I wasn’t too sad to see them leave that afternoon.
I knew I had to make the most of my last evening away from the children. I had one more night of peace and quiet before I had to go back into the trenches. Just as Shane fell asleep and I opened my book for my last quiet evening the tornado sirens started to go off. It was the middle of July which is unusual for tornadoes. But sure enough the nurse came to my room and told me there was a tornado warning. I had to wheel Shane in his little bassinet to the 2×2 restroom next to the nurse’s station. There was barely room to sit down. I forgot to bring my book and I obviously couldn’t watch TV so my last night of freedom was spent counting the tiles in the bathroom. Finally, we were given the ok to return to our room. I had just been introduced to small town living with the MIA anesthesiologist and now I was being reintroduced to Midwest weather with the threat of a tornado.