Click here for Part 1.
On the way to the hospital, which looks more like a pink castle on a hill, visible from just about every spot on this island, I had a flashback. It was the day my second niece was born. There were at least fifteen of us standing outside the nursery window, taking turns peeking in on the newest member of our crew. To our left, there was a new dad quietly staring through the thick glass at his own newborn. I remember thinking how strange it was that he was alone – no grandparents, aunts, uncles, or cousins in sight. It’s very possible that they had already come and gone. Regardless, I remember thinking how strange it would be NOT to have the whole crew there on baby’s first day.
Nearly five years later, that’s exactly what was happening. We were in the car, just the two (three) of us, doing this on our own. I couldn’t believe it! In some ways it was scary and a bit sad, and in other ways it was empowering. It was time. We were driving to the hospital to have our baby. On our anniversary. (That last part seemed especially surreal.)
While we enjoyed having those first memorable moments to ourselves, we knew we wouldn’t really be “alone” at the hospital for long. You see, Jeremy’s twin brother Justin and our “twin” sister-in-law Courtney (along with our precious niece Claire!) are stationed in Hawaii with us. Not only are we stationed together, we’re neighbors! Talk about a blessing. We know this arrangement probably won’t last forever, but as long as the Navy keeps giving the guys “twin” orders, we are more than happy to accept them.
Knowing we had at least part of our family here made all the difference in the world. I found out later that my three older sisters had already been in contact with Courtney to make sure she would get to the hospital ASAP. They needed to know I had a sister with me (and they knew she’d be their Skype connection!). She scrambled to find a sub for her class, and Justin found someone to cover for him at work. They were coming soon.
Less than 15 minutes after leaving the house, Jeremy and I arrived at Tripler and scored a fabulous parking spot. Let me pause and explain why this is a detail worth noting. While there are rows and rows of “Expectant Mother” parking spots at this military hospital, they are almost always full. No exaggeration. That many women are 34+ weeks pregnant on this island (give or take a few cheaters who shouldn’t really be parking there). Anywhere else, you might feel special, or at least out of place, being pregnant. Not at Tripler. It seems that every other woman at this hospital is not only expecting, but she’s also further along in her pregnancy and has three other kids in tow. You must either wait your turn, or just give up, head straight to the parking garage, and hike up the rather steep sidewalk to the entrance. (Who needs an accurate blood pressure reading anyway?) This parking spot was a coup.
While the day we finally got our stork pass ranked pretty high on our list of “most exciting days at Tripler,” this Monday morning quickly topped it. We walked in to the hospital and it hit me. The next time I walked out of those big sliding doors, Bryson would on the outside, breathing air. I started to cry. I called home one more time before we lost our cell signal for a while. I cried a little more. I made Jeremy take a picture with me so I could send it to them and reassure them that we had this under control. Sort of.
We headed up to triage, checked in, and of course, the nurse asked me:
“You haven’t eaten anything today, right?”
Oh great. Somewhere deep in the heart of Texas, my mom sent me a telepathic “I told you so.” My quickie bowl of Frosted Shredded Wheat had come back to haunt me. If I was going to have a c-section (which was very likely, just had to be officially determined via quick ultrasound), I would now have to wait eight hours for my stomach to be empty. Because I ate, we had to wait. Boo.
We sat in the room, anxiously waiting for someone to tell us something about our plan for the day. While I was slightly disappointed that my voracious morning appetite was postponing our introduction to our living, breathing anniversary gift, I was also kind of glad. This way we had time to relax a bit and soak it all up. I was thankful it wasn’t a frantic emergency situation. While we were waiting, I asked Jeremy to take pictures of my contraction printout. I wanted to be able to prove I was having at least some kind of contractions, even though they weren’t very painful at all.
This may be the only labor I get, I thought. I want evidence!
Also while in triage, they made sure I was leaking actual amniotic fluid. I knew my water had broken. Still, I felt vindicated when the test showed I was right, and not severely incontinent and embarrassingly unaware of my own bodily functions. (Sitting on what was essentially a potty pad used for puppy training was humbling enough.)
Soon after they arrived, we moved into another room, which is where we waited for a couple hours more. There were so many different doctors coming in, it was hard to keep them straight. I just kept thinking how funny it was that weeks before, I’d scheduled at least four different pre-op appointments to meet the various doctors that would be part of my potential c-section. Now, it was all happening in a matter of hours! I liked the efficiency of it all, really. I signed my life away, asked a LOT of questions (thanks to my birth plan!), and kept in constant contact with my family in Texas.
The doctor who would do the c-section ended up being not only extremely friendly, but young and pretty too! She made me feel so comfortable, answering all of my questions patiently and with the perfect amount of detail. If I could’ve picked a dream doctor out of a catalog, she would be the one. That was a huge blessing, since in the military you don’t really have much say in who your doctor will be. On top of that, my rockin’ anesthesiologist, Bart, told me he wasn’t too concerned with the eight-hour rule. He trusted that my stomach was empty enough (I assured him it was…growling at me…), and we could move into an OR just as soon as one opened up. Score!
While we waited, Jeremy and Justin ran a couple of errands, like buying batteries and getting an arm x-ray (long story). When they first left the room, the word on the street was that we still had plenty of time due to the eight-hour rule. Once Bart let us know it would be sooner than expected, we frantically (and unsuccessfully) tried to reach them via cell phone. Again – there’s not much of a signal in there. We were just about ready to send a search party when they popped back in the room just in time for Jerm to don his Superdad scrubs.
|If this isn't a Skype commercial waiting to happen, what is?|
I took off my jewelry (much to my dismay…I really wanted to feel fancy), put my hair in my scrub cap (also not my best look), loaded my music on my lap, and we were off. At a certain point during our trek down the hall, Jeremy had to stop in a special waiting area. They told us they would call him in when it was time, but for now I had to go in alone.
The doors swung open, and I entered the room and the hour in which my life would change forever.
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photo credit: cliff1066™ via photopin cc