September 19, 1998
I walk, well waddle, into Dr. Boone’s office thinking that it is going to be the same routine as always. I’ve spent one day every week for the past 10 weeks walking into this office. Every time is the same.
But today, I’m wrong. Today is not the same routine.. I know as soon as the heart monitoring device goes on that there is something abnormal.
The minute Dr. Humphrey rushes in, my worries are doubly confirmed.
“Fetal age?” Dr. Humphrey asks.
“32 weeks, 1 day.”
“She’s closest to the cervix and in vertex position.”
“It would have to be today.”
“Agreed. I won’t know until after we deliver her, but I’m hoping that we can hold off on surgery for a month.”
Dr. Boone looks at me. Dr. Humphrey continues to stare at the monitor.
“Her heart rate was a little low last week, but not enough for me to want to concern you,” he says gently. My eyes widen. How could he not tell me? “But today it’s even worse and I don’t want to wait another week to see if it rebounds. I want to induce you today.”
My blood runs cold. “Induce me? Today?”
“I’d like to get you officially checked in and registered and the drip started in a half hour.”
I feel like I’m being pranked. “Thirty minutes?” I squeak. This can’t be happening. I am not ready. I am so far from ready it isn’t funny. I don’t have cribs or car seats or…
“This can’t be happening,” I shake my head. “Brian and Nick are in Argentina for crying out loud. There’s no way that I can have these babies without them being here…”
“Inducing can take a long time especially because you’re under 37 weeks. I’d say you’ve got a twelve-hour window. The main thing is that your body is no longer supporting your daughter as much as she needs. It’s going to be better to get here out here and apply direct treatment.”
The words hit me hard. I really thought at this point I would make the remaining eight weeks. I try to keep the tears at bay.
“Can I make the call?”
“Of course you can. Let me just unhook you and you can go ahead and use your cellphone.”
I can barely lay still while they unhook me. The moment the door closes, I’m on my phone, my heart hovering in my throat. Brian has called me only once since the tour started. Nick, on the other hand, calls me every single night. I screw up the international calling no fewer than five times, my hands shaking.
I’m going to give birth. My whole life is about to change.
I glance at the clock. It’s 2:00. In Argentina, it’s 3:00. They have just one more show before coming home…
Nick’s voice jars me back. “Nick?”
My voice sounds scared even to my own ears. I hear something crash in the background on Nick’s end on the call.
“Court? Everything okay?”
“Not...exactly. Baby girl’s heart rate is slowing. They’re inducing me.”
“About a half hour.”
“A half hour?!”
“They said I’ll probably be in labor a long time.”
“Fuck that. My luck sucks. I’m leaving now.”
“You have the show.”
“Fuck the show. You’re more important. Ben’s more important. Winnie’s more important.”
I laugh. “Nick, her name isn’t Winnie.”
“She’s always going to be Winnie to me,” Nick laughs. “I love you, okay? I love you. We’ll be there soon.”
My heart melts. “I love you too,” I say softly. “And Nick?”
He sounds breathless. “Yeah?”
There’s a long pause. “Yes?”
My whole chest feels like it’s going to combust. If I wasn’t sure they hadn’t induced me yet, I’d be convinced I was on the verge of contractions, so great was my nervousness.
“If you still have your great-grandma’s ring,” I pause. “The answer is yes.”
The pause is even longer this time. “Yes as in...you’ll marry me?”
I smile. I’m two seconds away from bursting into loud, ridiculously hormonal sobs. “Yes. I love you. I miss you. I love you. I love that you call me every night with some ridiculous story just to make me laugh.”
“They’re all true.”
“I have no doubt,” I sniffle. “I want to be with you even though you’re sometimes too bossy and sometimes irrational.”
“Always,” I laugh. I wipe the tears streaming from my face.
“Listen, Court, I’m going to hang up but we’re going to be there before you know it. Just be strong and calm, okay? I’ll bring the ring. I’ll bring flowers. I’ll bring you whatever you need.”
I close my eyes and smile.
“Just bring you. You’re all I need.”
Contractions. Contractions are no longer the little accent that allows you to combine two words into one. No, contractions are hell. They start as a tight lapband at my navel and then slowly shoot along either side, leaving me hunched over and breathing between clenched teeth. Just when I think there might be reprieve, the pain lands in my back like a freight truck is shooting forward and then creeping back in reverse. All of my nerve endings are on fire.
Then there’s the nurses. The nurses telling me to just take deep breaths and chew ice. I have gone through more ice than anybody even should. My bladder should have exploded by now…
Except instead of my bladder it is my water that breaks. No one ever tells the truth about what happens when your water breaks. I’ve always been lead to believe that it’s a slow trickle that doesn’t last very long, a minor inconvenience in the whole birth plan.
My water breaking is a multi-hour event. Every half hour another gush bursts loose, soaking me, soaking the bed, soaking the floor...my body contains enough water to replenish the world’s oceans.
And the sweat...don’t get me started on the sweat. Sweat between my boobs, sweat down my back, sweat on the back of my legs…
All of this wouldn’t be so bad if there was much progress. Dr. Boone hadn’t been lying when he said that the whole thing would take awhile even after the induction began. The hands on the clock seem to be going backwards.
Dr. Humphrey comes in around 11:00 p.m. She checks my progress (not much) and checks the babies vitals (girl, still low; boy, still strong). She gives me a sympathetic smile.
“Try to get some sleep,” she says. “The nurse will give you a pill that should at least dull the contractions slightly.”
“Thank you,” I say gratefully. Those are magic words. I imagine that Dr. Humphrey has an ethereal light around her as she walks out of the room. It’s only after I get the pill and the pain only gets worse that I start cursing like a sailor.
I’m still cursing at 3:00 a.m. when the door to my room flies open and Nick and Brian practically fall in. Dr. Humphrey is right in the middle of checking my hoo-ha.
“What did we miss?” Brian gasps. I clutch my sheets, my jaw aching.
“Absa-fuckin-lutely-nuttin,” I groan, my back arching clear up off the bed.
“Actually, they’re just in time,” the doctor says. She looks at me and she has the audacity to smile.
“You’re going to start pushing soon.”