I told her. “Put me at the top of your list, girl. I wanna be the first one you call if you go into labor and need a ride to the hospital.” I love babies, and I love her (my sweet friend).
Sure enough. I got “the” phone call at 2:30ish a.m. a few nights later. Her water broke. ?? I hopped out of bed, pulled myself together (kind of) and picked her up. She, herself, had only that very night packed her own hospital stay bag–just in case she went early. And she did–two weeks early even.
So, I’ve given birth to four sweet babies prior and pursued and waited for our daughter from Haiti over a ten month period of time; and, I’m not unnerved by this situation. Interestingly, she doesn’t seem to be either (too much, at least). I have my own reasons why I believe she is taking this in stride. My friend’s childhood into adulthood process, barring any strange or unexpected happenings during delivery, really was probably more difficult to handle than what she is about to face now. And that’s a whole separate story; in fact, that’s her story to tell. I”ll just tell mine.
We arrive at the emergency room close to 3:30 a.m. I feel fatigue throughout my body. She is focused and excited. I’m wondering how she is feeling/if she is feeling pain due to contractions, as she shows no signs of such.
I think back to my first pregnancy. The contractions woke me up. My husband and I played cards until I was uncomfortable enough to know this was the real deal. 24 hoursish later–with a terribly painful and dreadful labor and two hours of pushing–our first boy was born via c-section. Yes. These thoughts go through my mind for this sweet young new mom friend of mine. But, I keep them to myself. 🙂 She and her man have their own journey, and it is unfolding now for them.
We move from the emergency room to a kind of “testing?” room; the nurses there check her over–make sure that her water has truly broken (duh :)) and that she shows sign of labor. As I sit alongside her–very Not pregnant, I recognize my role. I am standing alongside her while her body and her baby do their thing. This is my first time to stand alongside a pregnant woman about to deliver.
I think back to my birth parents. How in the world did that all go down?? How in the world did she go into labor? Where did she live? Did she live with him? Did she live with a friend or by herself? Did her water break? Or did she have contractions first like me? Is the story of him being with her when I was born true? Was he by her side as I am by my friend’s side right now? I don’t know. I don’t really have time to think about it much, and if I do think about it too much I will no longer be of much use to my dear friend who needs me. Hmmm . . . . What thoughts/feelings did my birthdad have to shut down and refuse to think about in order to be supportive to my birth mom and her baby as they did their thing? Was he supportive? How?
We move to the “Family Suite” where her baby will be born. The place? The same portion of the hospital where I visited (only a few years ago) my dear friends and their newly adopted little baby boy M. My eyes and heart are flooded with images.
I wasn’t expecting to be ushered into that same place now. I wasn’t expecting a phone call tonight. I’m Not Expecting. But we are now walking through hallways I once walked through with my dear friends (adoptive parents), a birth grandma, a sweet new baby in intensive care, extended family members and visitors, and a tucked away and hidden birth mom somewhere . . . I wasn’t expecting to go there that night physically or emotionally.
I think back, in fact I can’t help from thinking back because the memories are flashing through my eyes, of my friend (little baby boy M’s adoptive mom) with red patches of stress on her neck. Of her restrained (?) excitement over this precious new boy to add to their family as their first. Of her feelings that she must dance (in front of others who are watching!) so carefully between loving on her boy and being thankful/respectful of his birth mom. Of never having done this before–how to do it? How to do it well? Is there a manual for any of them?
Whoosh. Focus. I am here to help my pregnant and soon-to-deliver friend.
We get settled in the “Family Suite.” She is in a much more comfortable bed according to her, and I am lying on the couch–hoping to catch a few zzzz’s before her man arrives and I exit the scene. Interestingly, as the not Expecting one in the room, I can see signs of what is to come all around her bed–things she need not see. All manner of contraptions exist under that comfy bed to assist in labor and delivery–things I did not know existed until just NOW even after delivering four babies. That’s OK. She is happy, her giggly self yet subdued, mostly unaware of her contractions, hungry, and tired. I do not know what the next hours hold for her. And again, I keep my mouth shut. No need to share any stories of mine or anyone else’s labor and delivery experiences at this point; she is about to have her own.
Tests done. Gown on. Strap around the belly strapped. Monitor on baby and on mama’s finger. We are tired. We both agree we would like to close our eyes and rest. I try to and so does she.
I close my eyes, and now I have flashes of my birth dad (especially) and my birth mom in this very similar layout. My birth dad alongside my birth mom–perhaps tired, trying not to be selfish and talk about feeling tired, anticipating the birth of the baby, and nervous about how it will all happen. I can’t really sleep yet. My mind is whirring around what it must have been like to go through each step, knowing, at the end, . . .
😦 the baby must stay. The baby must stay. The baby must stay here . . . . We must move on . . . The baby must . . .
“M . . . ” I mutter to my friend my lingering thoughts–about my birth parents, my parents, my friends who have three precious children through adoption . . . and my unexpected feelings surrounding this experience. She understands. 🙂 She suggests I go if it is too much for me–making me too sad. Sweet of her. I’m fine.
I am not Expecting in the expecting room for the first time. I watch the Expecting through different eyes. Ghosts of my unknown labor and delivery and unknown feelings and voices of my birth parents keep me from resting; sharing my thoughts with my friend out loud, however, chases my ghosts away, and we both rest for a while. 🙂
Happy news–easy delivery, sweet baby, challenges ahead (as with any earth-bound soul), . . .