September 23rd. I wrote this date in my calendar nine months ago.
After two years of trying, we were finally pregnant. The IUI procedure worked. I should’ve known it would. The first one failed, but this one was different. It was New Years Day. A Sunday morning. We did the first part, went to Bob Evans, did the second part then went to church. We were 45 minutes late, but we were there. And I remember laying my hands on my stomach and praying to God that I would get pregnant this time.
And I did.
I found out on January 16th. It was Martin Luther King day. A Monday morning. I wasn’t supposed to take the test until Tuesday, but I’m off on Mondays and I was home alone with no plans. The night before I felt cramps and I told my husband, “I think I’m about to start my period”. The next morning, I was watching This Is Us on DVR or on Hulu, I can’t remember. But I do remember tearing up. That show will make anyone cry but this wasn’t a crying scene. The doctor told her she was pregnant…with triplets. And I cried. When the show went off I realized I hadn’t started my period yet. So I went to Walmart. I bought tampons and a pregnancy test. Optimism and pessimism in the same shopping cart. My hopes were high but I was realistic. They were sold out of the cheap tests, perhaps I had bought them all the month before. So I bought the two of the expensive ones. I went home, went straight into the guest bathroom, spread two tests on the counter, deposited my fluids in a cup and proceeded to test the first stick. The instructions were somewhat confusing. I put the first test down in frustration after I realized I was inadvertently reading the instructions for the second test. I picked up the second test and did that one correctly. While the second test was in the cup, I glanced at the read out on the first. Pregnant. I couldn’t believe it. I looked at the second test. Pregnant. I left the house in a daze, headed to Meijer down the street to buy a third test, a card for my husband to tell him the news, a Baby Names Book and What to Expect When You’re Expecting book. This shopping cart was ALL optimism. When I got home, I took the third test. Pregnant.
I waited all day to tell my husband. I work in news. I’m a TV reporter and I’ve told some great stories, but this was the greatest news I ever had the pleasure of sharing.
When I finally got in to see the fertility doctor, he confirmed my pregnancy and told me my due date was September 23rd. The day after my mom’s birthday.
I knew I wanted to have my baby at OSU Wexner Medical Center. And it turned out, September 23rd was an Ohio State Football home game. They were playing UNLV. My late father’s alma mater. My Buckeye baby was going to be born at OSU the same day the University was playing his late grandfather’s alma mater. That was the beginning of expectations.
Throughout the pregnancy, I had a thousand more expectations. Lots of imagination. This dream of having a baby was coming true as I was finally pregnant. I hadn’t really considered the pregnancy part in all my praying to have a child. But once I saw “pregnant” on the stick(s), my imagination went berserk. I had it all planned out. I even knew the hairstyle I wanted when I had the baby: box braids.
I mentally planned the entire Summer leading up to September 23rd. I planned to work until the last possible day and I wondered if my water would break at work.
Looking back, the first inkling I had that something was wrong came around 20 weeks. My anatomy scan showed a fibroid blocking where the baby was supposed to come out. The doctor told me a c-section was likely. “We’ll monitor it,” she told me. “We’ll do another scan at 28 weeks.” I could barely keep the tears in until I got to the elevator. When I got home, I cried and cried. I didn’t even know I didn’t want a c-section until that moment. C-section felt too “planned” – even for a planner like me. I don’t want to pick a day/time to have my baby, I thought to myself.
Eight weeks later, back for another scan. Good news. Bad news. Good news: the fibroid was no longer blocking the birth canal. Bad news: I was 1 centimeter dilated. I didn’t know what that meant, but it didn’t sound like a good thing. The doctor sent me to labor and delivery for an overnight stay and a steroid shot. Overkill, I thought. Overkill, my husband agreed.
I’ll never forget the doctor at the hospital saying, “We just want to get you to 32 weeks.” 32 weeks? I’m going to 40. “I’m not due until September 23rd.” I kept telling everyone who would listen.
I didn’t take the modified bed rest thing seriously. I was off for a few days then back to work, back in heels and back to my chaotic life.
Two weeks later, I started having contractions. I didn’t know they were contractions at first. I just knew I was in pain. Then I noticed the pain went away. Then I noticed it came back. Went away. Came back. Went away. Came back.
“We just want to get you to 32 weeks.” I can still SEE the doctor saying that to me. It’s just Braxton Hicks, I told myself and everyone else. I contracted through the morning at work, through a meeting at church, through taping an announcement video ofr my church. Finally, I decided, I need to go home and lay down. Earlier, I told a friend I was having Braxton Hicks and described my pain. Later, she told me she knew it wasn’t Braxton Hicks but didn’t want to alarm me. Instead she told me to count to see how far apart my contractions are and to call my doctor. “I’m off tomorrow,” I told her. “I don’t want to spend the night in the hospital again.”
By the time I got home, I was in excruciating pain. Only for a few minutes, then it would go away and then it would come back. Every five minutes. My family was visiting from Atlanta. I encouraged them to go to church without me. I called the midwives I was working with and told the nurse what was happening. A midwife called me back a few moments later and told me to go to the hospital. I texted my husband and told him. He was on his way back in town from a business trip. He walked through the door. I was pacing around the house. “I need to go to the hospital.” I told him.
“We just want to get you to 32 weeks.”
In my closet, my husband approached me pensively. “Do you want to bring your stuff to the hospital just in case?” I snapped, “No. I’m not having this baby this weekend, so I’m not bringing anything. I will wear this to the hospital, put on their gown, put this back on and go home.” I was crying. He let it go. I went to the hospital with nothing.
The presence of rain doesn’t depend upon whether or not you have an umbrella.
At the hospital, I wished I’d gotten a Brazilian wax. They checked me SO much. Wednesday, I contracted all night. Thursday, I got stronger medicine. My friend whom I’ve been close with since middle school had her baby a floor above me. Welcome to the world Naomi! Thursday night, I got another ultrasound. Baby looked great. Fluid still in place. Still dilated one centimeter. I got more pain meds and a Benadryl to help me sleep. I settled in for the night, happy to hear I could go home tomorrow. At midnight, my water broke.
“I think I peed on myself,” I tell the nurse as water pooled around my feet. “That’s amniotic fluid.” She responded.
At this point, my husband had joined me in the river of Denial. I can be somewhat of a know-it-all so who can blame him? “I googled it.” He said, sounding just like me. “You’ll probably be on bedrest.” He told me. I repeated this to the nurse. “I’ll be on bedrest for a couple of weeks.” She didn’t hesitate. “Honey, we’re taking you to Labor and Delivery. You’re having this baby now.”
That was July 21st.
Drugged up on Benadryl, yet realizing what was happening, I couldn’t even react. My husband called my mom who had went back to my house for the night and told her to come back to the hospital.
A doctor and a nurse came to talk to me. A specialist from the NICU came to talk to me. The midwife I had been seeing throughout my pregnancy came to talk to me. I got an epidural while still having contractions. I had a hot spot which meant more pain meds.
Just before 6am, I had my baby. On July 21st.
I was 30+6. More than two months away from September 23rd.
Sometimes I still can’t believe it.
After they layed the baby on my chest, Joe cut the cord, then the army of doctors and nurses (who I later learned were from the NICU) cleaned him up. I got one more look before they took him away.
After six tumultuous weeks in the NICU, my son finally came home on September 1st.