Avoiding Eye Contact Is A Sign of Awkwardness: Toby’s Birth Story
Toby was due to be born on October 22, but the day came and went with no event out of the ordinary. I had a few mild contractions, went to a few more doctor’s appointments, and the doctor sent me to the hospital to make sure his liquid levels were okay. We did that by giving him a test, and I helped by eating a meal right before each test so he would wiggle around inside me. We put heart monitors on him and listened to his heartbeats and his movements for awhile; he barely passed his first test because his heart rate dipped in two places, but after two doctors consulted with each other, we went home.
I was six days overdue when I went in for his third test. I brought my meal with me into the hospital that time; my bus was right on time, and I didn’t get the chance to eat it before I caught the bus. Instead, I ate it while we were hooked up to your heart monitor: a turkey and avocado scone sandwich with broccoli cheese soup from a local restaurant called Sconecutter. As I ate, I watched his heart rate show up as a red line on a screen and his movement as a blue line at the bottom of the same screen. I finished my meal and dosed off on that bed, lulled by the rustling sounds of his movement against that microphone; I woke to a loud beeping alarm that sounded from within that little room. The line stopped and then started again, and in the next few minutes, there were a few small skips and a large gap all in quick succession.
Uh-oh. That wasn’t good. I waited for nurses to come rushing in with an explanation, throwing the curtain wide open and puttering around importantly like nurses do. His heart rate slowly continued; in addition to the gaps, it had dipped down on the chart, so it slowly climbed back up. I said, “Uh… help? That’s not normal. Anyone there?” No answer.
Eventually, a nurse did come. She arrived with a wheelchair. There was no discussion between doctors, no consultary phone call from the hospital to the obstetricians’ clinic; I was wheeled down the hall and the elevator to labor and delivery to be induced. One day early.
You see, I had a doctor’s appointment earlier that week (it got moved from Wednesday to Monday). I wanted to try my best to let him come on his own, but I also wanted to be delivered by my doctor at the hospital she was assigned to. Call it stiff-mindedness, but I’d toured the hospital and told them I was delivering there. I’d already given them my insurance information, and I was all checked into this particular place. And my doctor was moving with her entire clinic to a new hospital, miles down the road. So I scheduled an induction date. You know, to make sure my doctor and my hospital were all set, something concrete when many of the birthing details were unknown.
As I sat in front of the nurse’s desk while a woman updated records and inputed information, I made a quick call to Just’In to tell him that this was it, and then sat, observing my feelings. I was strangely unexcited. Not nervous, not anticipatory. I could barely see the nurse’s face as I sat, low in the wheelchair, in front of a yellow wood partition that hid the clutter that a communal workdesk can have.
Later, I sat in a hospital bed with Pitocin running into my arm. I’d requested that I be free to stand and walk around and go to the bathroom. I’d also made sure that no one but my husband, nurses and doctors be allowed in the door. I’d heard a nightmare story from a friend who delivered in the same hospital: a family friend walked into the delivery room before the placenta had come out, claiming to be grandma because the real grandma lived out of state and was worried. It was just a little awkward.
I was waiting for the small contractions I’d been having for the last two weeks to get bigger. I started to feel a little excited and very ready to take it all on; Just’In had called the family we love and told them that this was the time. The contractions were getting noticeably painful when I heard a knock on the door. I was relieved—I needed a nurse to answer a question. Into the room walks my father-in-law.
I groaned inside, and then groaned even more when he told us that Just’In’s stepmom told him to meet her there. I could see it now: a party in the hospital while I was in the middle of labor. And sure enough, she showed up half an hour later and was bright and sunny with questions, pictures, a phone call, and small talk.
After no eye contact with them on my part and grunting and psst-ing to Just’In to ask them to go away, his stepmom asked me if anything was wrong. I thought,“Yes, something’s wrong; I’m in labor and you’re here.”
I looked straight at her and said, “Yep. I’m kicking you out now, okay?”
She looked mildly surprised, and I was afraid she wouldn’t leave. But after many goodbyes and promises to call, they did.