Amber Chadwick-Ellis, Direct Support Professional
It’s a cold and snowy night. I’m curled up in my blankets and dreaming about peeing into a bucket hanging off of a bridge. I wake up suddenly, soaked. I slowly ease my 8 months pregnant body up off of my bed and make my way to the bathroom. After a moment, it dawns on me that my water broke. A month early.
I’m living with my elderly in laws at the time, and I didn’t want to wake them. After all, what if I was wrong? I’m a first time mom, I could certainly be mistaken. I call my best friend and praise be to the gods, she answers. 10 minutes later her teal station wagon pulls up in front of the house. I pull on my heavy coat and winter boots and go out to meet her.
I spend the drive calling the county jail. My then husband had been put away the week before, and I was begging the jailers to notify him that I was in labor. They would neither confirm or deny that they would tell him. My best friends husband continued to call every 10 minutes.
We get to the hospital at 1 am. I enter through the big ER double doors and tell the nurse I’m pregnant and I’m labor, that my water had just broke. She has me change into a hospital gown and to sit on a blue paper. I ask why and she looks down her nose and says ‘We have to make sure you didn’t just urinate on yourself!’
I open my mouth to argue but I’m seized with my first strong contraction. She confirms my water did in fact break and the OB nurses take me to a birthing room. It’s big and bright, with couches and a nice TV. I’m surprised by how welcoming it is. My enjoyment of the room is interrupted by another contraction.
At 2 the doctor is notified. He decides he doesn’t need to be there quite yet and leaves me to my own devices. I suck on ice chips and watch family guy as my best friend makes calls to my family members in the hallway. No one answers.
At 3 the contractions are a bit stronger and I’m getting restless. Upon walking the halls I discover a room with a tub. A nurse lets me take a warm bath. I actually fall asleep for awhile until a big contraction squeezes the breath out of me. I cry out to my best friend, and she helps me back to my bed.
At 4 the anesthesiologist arrives, as does my mother. I am dialated enough that I’m given an epidural. I could cry, I’m so relieved. The lights in my room are dimmed and I fall asleep. My mom watches the monitor hooked to my stomach and my best friend falls asleep on one of the couches.
At 7:40 I’m yanked awake by the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life. Like my bottom is just being ripped open by hot pliers. I scream for the nurse, who pages the doctor. The doctor insists that I’m just feeling pressure. I promptly throw up on his shoes. The doctor looks for the anesthesiologist but he cannot be found. I am informed that my epidural failed and I would be giving birth naturally. I curse my infinite bad luck.
At 8 the doctor finally finds an anesthesiologist and he gives me a spinal. Blissful relief is soon followed by issues with low oxygen for me and my baby. I’m put on oxygen and asked to push. I try and try but I cannot get the baby out. The doctor grabs a suction thing and my baby finally slips out at 8:52 am.
My baby is weighed and measured. 4 lbs, 8oz. 20 inches long, 10 perfect fingers and 10 perfect toes. The nurse lays her on my chest. I study this tiny human, covered in a fine layer of hair. My baby looks up at me with big beautiful eyes, like she can’t comprehend what she’s seeing. To be fair, I can’t comprehend her either. But my love for her is huge and I didn’t put her down the whole time we were at the hospital.