It’s late May 1970. I’m sitting on the edge of the bathtub, giving Son a bath before he goes to bed. The house is full of my family members, including my parents. They drove up from Savannah to attend Diane’s commencement.
We just finished an early supper. Mom and Sister #2 are cleaning up the table and kitchen. Tonight is Diane’s baccalaureate service, and D is leaving early to be part of the faculty processional.
He comes into the bathroom to tell Son and me goodbye. He’s all dressed up, carrying his robe. I feel a little left out of the fun. He gives us goodbye kisses.
I hear D going out the front door. Suddenly I feel something. Surely it was just another false contraction. They’re the pits! Besides, I’m in no position to go into labor right now.
My water breaks. No doubt about it. I’m still sitting on the edge of the bathtub. I holler for someone to stop D! Sister #2 races out the front door and catches D just as he’s backing out of the driveway.
It doesn’t take long to figure out I need to get to the hospital pronto. D and Sister #2 help me get to the car. I stuff a towel under my seat and D drives straight to the hospital. The time between contractions is frightfully short.
Things have changed since our son was born. In South Carolina, husbands are now allowed in labor rooms. There’s one small requirement. The husband and his pregnant beloved must have a certificate showing they successfully completed a Lamaze course for couples. We have the certificate! We’re ready!
We were expecting something like this. . . .
When we get to the Baptist Hospital, they take me via wheelchair, with D this time, to a labor room. It’s small and private. Just a table for me to lie on, a chair for D, and a button to push if we need help. The nurse assigned to monitor me has an abrupt, take-charge, no-nonsense manner and a voice to match. My heart sinks. I’m glad D is with me.
Nurse immediately checks to see how far along I am, while telling me to stop complaining so much! When I hear how far along I am, I ask for a pain-reliever. The same kind I had when our son was born. It’s important not to wait too long, or it won’t be very effective.
Nurse is reluctant to give me anything. This is nothing! I’m not nearly ready to give birth! I insist. Firmly. Where I found the strength to talk back to her is beyond me. I’m sure I said things I might regret if I remembered them. But I don’t.
I do remember, however, that she told me to stop being such a sissy. Then she begrudgingly gave me the pain reliever. Her better idea was to put me out completely right before I gave birth. No way! I wanted to be awake for this event, and relatively pain-free. Is that too much to ask for?
Unfortunately, after giving me the painkiller, there was no time for D to help me breathe, much less relax between contractions. Only 5 or 10 minutes max after getting to the labor room another nurse came to check and immediately took me to the delivery room. No overhead mirror this time so I could watch what was happening. It didn’t take long for our beautiful daughter to arrive, only 1 ½ hours after my water broke.
D felt disappointed and deprived of his role as my coach. So did I. He also loves to remind me of all that time he spent in those training classes, learning to time my contractions, help me breathe and get comfortable, etc., etc., and all for Nothing!
Still, nothing takes the place of how happy we are that we now have a daughter and a son! Here we are, soon after delivery, looking at our new daughter through the nursery window.
We don’t have a clue how much life just changed.
To be continued….
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 12 August 2015
Photo credits: DAFraser (top photo), Getty Images from bbc.co.uk (prenatal class in England 1968), Unknown (bottom photo)