Want to start at the beginning? Read the Prologue first and then read Part One.
I know she is struggling.
How I wish I could sit beside her in that dark room and tell her not to worry. The future is beautiful.
I would show her a photo from his first birthday - the cute one with all the yellow balloons. I would tell her that he is smart and funny and perfect in every way. I would tell her that he won’t remember his time in the hospital, that he wouldn’t notice that his changing table was actually just a hastily cleared off portion of the desk, and that he never knew that she didn’t get a chance to pick out a special homecoming outfit for him.
I would tell her that there would be scary moments, but that they would pale in comparison to the moments of complete and utter joy.
I would tell her that soon she would be proud of her own physical strength.
I would tell her that yes, just as she had always suspected, her husband was indeed an incredible father.
I would tell her that her heart would be broken, just a little. Don’t worry, I would say. The fire will not consume you– it will only refine.
And then I would tell her to rest, because the sun would be up soon.
When we arrived at the hospital, the midwife on duty gestured to the crowded OB triage waiting room and dryly asked me if we all came in on the same bus. She was a bit intimidating, which only increased my anxiety.
They hooked me to a machine and checked for our baby’s heartbeat. I heard the tiny thud-thud-thuds, steady like raindrops, and smiled my relief.
More tests, and then, waiting. We spoke in low tones and phoned family members to let them know what was going on. Naively, we talked about how inconvenient this was, and how they would probably just send me home on bed rest. Our wrecked apartment loomed large in my mind. It was such a disaster. How would I get anything done now?
The midwife returned. Your water broke, she said, confirming what we already knew. It’s a risky situation for the baby, so we need to watch you carefully.
My brain was still ten steps behind, and I mentally kicked myself for skipping the chapter on premature babies in the pregnancy book. I remember glancing up and seeing the uncertainty on Aaron’s face. How long would we be here? When could we go home?
She smiled a wry smile. We have to do more tests, she said matter-of-factly, but you won’t be going home anytime soon. I’m sure you’ll be here until the baby arrives.
My room was at the end of the hall. Occasionally the distant moans and cries of a laboring woman punctuated the silence, her pain so raw that the sound tingled my spine.
To my left, my husband slept fitfully, wedged uncomfortably into a broken, over sized armchair.
To my right, a machine played the low, soft, sweet heartbeat of the child inside of me.
I lay in the center, finally alone with my thoughts, torturing myself with the unknown.
Had I done something to cause this? It was my fault.
Would our baby really be okay? Six weeks early seemed like a long time.
Would my hoped-for natural birth still be possible? Things were more complicated now.
Were we ready take a baby home? We didn’t even have the basic necessities.
My emotions crashed together like waves.
Guilt. Fear. Selfishness. Anger. Disappointment. Confusion.
I tossed and turned throughout the night, searching for resolution. My contractions were coming, but they were weak and sporadic.
The sun was coming up.
I learned something in the late stages of labor, when the pain was excruciating and I thought I couldn’t bear it any longer.
The moment you want to panic, the thing to do - the thing you MUST do - is relax. It’s not easy, of course. You feel as though you are about to be swallowed whole. But if you cling to and claw at the pain, if you try to control it - it will control you.
When you are holding on, let go.
Click here to read the next installment: Isaac's Birth Story: Part Three