Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Five years ago today...

Five years ago today, I was living in a cute little subdivision where I didn't know any of the neighbors. We were new to this base, and I hadn't made any friends yet. My husband was flying and I was eight months pregnant.

And my water broke. I've never felt so alone in my life.

Of course the first thing I did was call my mother. Since she was a couple of thousand miles away, there wasn't much she could do but confirm that yes, all of that rushing liquid is your water breaking and you should call the hospital.

After confirming that I wasn't having contractions, the nurse at the hospital told me not to wait for my husband to land, or to call an ambulance. She advised that I drive myself to the hospital.

My next call was to the Command Center. "I have no idea what to do or who to call," I told the young lieutenant who answered the phone. "But my water just broke and I'm on my way to the hospital."

Bless that young, nameless lieutenant. He basically told me not to worry about anything, and that he would contact the aircraft as soon as possible. He told me to drive carefully to the hospital and take care of myself and my baby.

"Okay," I told him, my voice finally breaking and my stress and nerves finally starting to show. "But this is early and he won't even believe that it's me."

"Yes, Ma'am. It's okay Ma'am. Do you need me to call an ambulance?"

"No, no." I was tough. I could do anything. Besides, this wasn't really happening. As long as I took one step at a time, everything would be fine.

Luckily, at least from my point of view, my husband's aircraft had an emergency engine failure and was already on its way back to base when my water broke. That lieutenant had basically mobilized the base leadership and some unknown Colonel was waiting on the flight line to drive my husband to the hospital. Ever the self-sufficient folks that we are, my husband refused the ride, wanting to have his own car at the hospital. (I think he was under the mistaken impression that this may take a day or two.)

Meanwhile, I walk into the emergency room, clutching a purse and my stomach, and a nurse stopped long enough to ask me if I was in labor.

"Well, I guess so," was my reply. "I mean, my water broke so I guess this is the real thing, right?"

As the nurses in the maternity ward were getting me checked in, they told me that they were getting phone calls from "every Colonel on that base, asking after you and yelling at us for not sending an ambulance. It's not like you were having contractions, after all. Jeese. Men!"

Then, I impressed them even more because American Airlines called the hospital, trying to track me down. My mother had coerced some ticket agent into helping her track me down (she had no idea what hospital I was at) and help her book an emergency fare on the next flight.

So, at this point, they do a little test to see if you've actually broken your water, or if you've just wet yourself. And they told me, "Nope. This is just urine."

Now, I may have been a first-time mother, but I know the difference between wetting myself and having all of the ambiotic fluid in my womb rush out of my body and flood the toilet over. "Try again," I insisted.

Can you imagine? All that drama and it wasn't even the real thing? But it was. Whew. I would have been a little embarrassed over that one.

An hour after I arrived in the ER, my husband joined me. It was the middle of the night and he fell asleep almost immediately. Except for a trip home to feed the dogs, (priorities!!!) he slept until I started pushing. Lot of good he did me.

Because my contractions had to be induced, they were extremely painful. I have no idea how I got through the eight hours of labor, until I got my epidural.

That anesthesiologist was my hero. After that I was joking with the doctor and really enjoying the whole experience. My husband didn't enjoy the joking so much. He told me just the other day that he was terrified that day. The most terrified he'd ever been.

And you know, I wasn't at the time, but looking back, I should have been terrified too. We were looking at having a premature baby, and all the health problems that could entail.

But at 12:29 p.m., Tuesday, July 13, 1999, my little girl slipped into the world. Within moments they had her breathing and she was just fine. Except for a scary bought of jaundice, she was perfectly healthy.

Technically, five years ago today I became a mother. But I sort of feel like I was always my kids' mother, even before they were ever with us.

My daughter's rushed entry into the world is quite indicative of her personality. She is the most intense, yet sweetest child ever born.

She's only now learning to read, and let's hope she never finds her mother's little spot on the WWW. But...

Happy birthday, sweet girl. I love you.

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