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Epic Archie—Birth Story, Part 2

The morning of January 5th was bright and cold as I headed to my weekly ultrasound and NST appointment. The kids were still on Christmas break, and my husband was working from home. I told them I’d come home soon.

My appointment the previous week had gone well. The amnionic fluid level was holding steady at 9 and the baby looked great during the NST. There was no reason to believe anything had changed. I felt the nearly the same and couldn’t discern any difference in my body, other than the baby felt more apparent. There is no other word to describe it—my belly felt like it was packed with dull arrows. He seemed to be composed of sticks and angles. Every move he made hurt. I blamed his growth and my uterus, which I picture Kleenex-thin and about as strong.

In the parking lot, I ran into Ryley’s teacher from last year. We changed schools this year, so she didn’t know about the new baby and expressed surprise. I told her he was coming at any time, but we weren’t quite ready! Are you ever? No.

The OB’s office was in a state of chaos. The computers were down and there was a lot of confusion. The good thing about weekly appointments for the past few months is that you get to know everyone. Me = Norm, OB’s office = Cheers. It wasn’t long before I was taken to one of the ultrasound rooms.

One of the techs I’d seen several times began the scan. When fluid is checked, the tech divides the belly into quadrants. She moves to each quadrant looking for dark pockets of fluid. Then a measurement is taken by the computer when the tech draws a line from the top of the pocket to the bottom at the longest vertical point. The measurement is in centimeters. All the measurements are added together to give the magical number.

She started with the first quadrant, searching and searching. She moved to the other side and looked. On the third quadrant, she found a small pocket and measured it. The fourth quadrant? Nothing.

My number was 3. We didn’t chit chat about babies and kids like we usually did. She simply said she’d get her report to the doctor, go have a seat in the waiting room.

I tried to read the latest issue of Cookie magazine, but was too distracted. The tech brought my chart to the front desk for the medical assistant, who would take me back for the NST. That was what happened every other appointment. Instead, a nurse took my chart and disappeared for about 20 minutes. Then she reappeared and called me back. We walked past the NST room, so I asked about why I wasn’t having one done, knowing my fluid number. She said the doctor wanted to visit with me right away. I was led to a regular exam room. The door shut.

I thought about calling home to give my husband a heads-up. I knew what was going on, since it happened twice before. I was still in denial, not expecting the dismal fluid number. I was supposed to be grocery shopping that day! None of the baby’s things were washed and ready to go! Who was going to watch the kids?

The doctor came in the room. “The baby needs to be born today,” she said, adding that the hospital was already expecting me and the nurse was copying my chart to take along.

Golly. It’s one thing to think it, it’s another for a person wearing a white coat to say it.

I waited until I was back in the car to call my husband. He would have to arrange everything at home and childcare for the kids before he could join me at the hospital. It was actually a blessing that they were still on Christmas break because we wouldn’t have to worry about school drop-off and pick-up. Nobody we know has the car capacity to handle the demand.

Thank God for the two Eggo waffles with cinnamon, sugar, and butter I had eaten right before the appointment. They bought six hours of waiting time since I couldn’t have surgery with food in my stomach. We needed every minute we could find.

Archie was 36 weeks 4 days and would be born officially premature. I was scared for him and worried about the c-section I’d have in a few hours. A VBAC was completely out of the question at that point—even though I decided months ago I was going to have a scheduled c-section. My hunch that it was the right choice was confirmed. I was glad I hadn’t become too attached to the idea of a VBAC.

For the third time in my baby-birthin’ history, I drove myself to the hospital.

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