This post is Part 4 of a five-part series on the birth and loss of my baby girls, Summer and Malia.
Come back on April 28, 2016, for the conclusion to this five-part series.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like pain – physical or emotional. I suppose we’re all naturally averse to it (save the masochists in the room). I am at my most vulnerable when I am in pain. For someone who wants to be able to control the situation or, at the very least, to be in control in any given situation, that feeling of vulnerability (when you sense you are helpless and powerless) in unfavourable and unpredictable circumstances is as bad as it gets. Who likes to feel weak? So the idea that strength can somehow emerge in the midst of pain, like rays of light shooting into a dense forest, seems almost mythic and nothing more than fantasy.
You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.
It was just before 9:00 p.m. on March 6, 2016, and my husband had the TV on and elk stew in the slow cooker. (He put the stew together that morning, before we went to the hospital.) My parents had just dropped us off about two hours earlier. I was on the living room couch trying to relax from the day’s events.
“Do you want any stew, hon?” my husband asked. Since I hadn’t been able to keep any food down that day I thought I should probably try and eat a little something. I told my husband, “Sure.”
Two spoonful later and I felt the need to lie down. The stew was delicious, but something felt off. I felt a sudden jolt of pain below. It was mild, but definitely there and felt similar to a menstrual cramp. I moved the couch pillows by my head and lay down.
A couple of minutes later, another jolt, also mild. And then another. Because they kept coming, I decided to time them. I can’t be having contractions. I just got home from the hospital. … But these contractions feel different.
As I watched the clock I kept hoping that the pain would stop. It was coming every two minutes. I immediately told my husband what I thought was happening.
“What do you want me to do, hon? We just got back from the hospital.”
There was a hint of frustration in his voice, which I totally understood. With my hospitalization the week before and earlier that afternoon, we were both getting sick of living in fear for our babies. All we wanted was for everything to be okay and to move forward to preparing for their birth in the summer.
I gave an exasperated sigh. I didn’t want to go back to the hospital and almost told my husband to forget about it, but I had no choice because another jolt hit me and this time it was a lot stronger. I yelped in pain. My husband got his answer – my cries told him to call the FBU.
As my husband spoke with a nurse on the phone, I felt the pain levels increase and I started screaming, grasping the lower part of my belly. It was then that I knew something was definitely wrong.
When my husband got off the phone, he said that the nurse told us to come in. As we scrambled to get our things together again, the pain below would not abate. In fact, it seemed to get stronger in both intensity and length. What is going on? Why is this happening now? The panic and fear was palpable in the room.
Seeing me in agony, my husband frantically debated with himself about how we would get to the hospital. My parents lived about 20 minutes away. It would take too long for them to come back and take us to the hospital. The only other option was to impose on one of our neighbours and ask for help.
It breaks my heart to think about the terrible position that my husband was in that night. While most husbands could very easily drive their wives to the hospital in the same situation, mine couldn’t. Although it’s been two years now since his license was revoked because of Cone Dystrophy and he’s had that time to get used to relying on other people to get around, I know that there are certain moments that remind him how trapped he feels because he no longer has the privilege of driving wherever he pleases, not even to the hospital for his wife.
Around 9:30 p.m., my husband ran next door to our neighbours Merna and Ray. Their place was dark and quiet. No answer. Next, my husband ran to Atish and Vicky’s unit across the lane. Again, darkness and no answer. It was a risky alternative, but my husband decided he would just drive me to the hospital. He ran back towards our house and opened the passenger door to our F-150.
When he came back, I could tell my husband was scared. He tried to reassure me everything was going to be okay and calm me down.
“Aaaahhh!” I yelled, leaning against the door frame to the bathroom across from the front door.
“Okay, hon, it’s going to be okay,” my husband said as calmly as he could, leading me out of the house and into the passenger side of the truck. I could tell from his voice that he was terrified.
After I settled into the passenger seat, Atish’s mother showed up at my side. She told my husband that she saw him from her peep hole after he came running back towards our unit. She didn’t open the door when he rang the bell because she couldn’t see who it was in the dark. My husband told her what was happening and that we needed Atish’s help to drive us to the hospital immediately.
“You’ll be alright. Everything will be fine,” she tried to reassure me, rubbing my forehead. I felt another jolt below and gave out a scream. A couple of minutes later, Atish showed up in the driver’s seat and my husband hopped in the seat behind me. I had never been so grateful to have such wonderful neighbours.
“It’s okay, honey, it’s going to be okay,” I heard my husband say.
All the way to the hospital I screamed like I had never screamed before. I couldn’t believe what was happening.
No sooner had Atish pulled in front of the hospital’s north entrance than my husband leapt out of the truck and grabbed the closest wheelchair he could find. Quickly, but gently, he carried me out of the passenger seat and into the wheelchair. Even in the madness of that night, my husband took a moment tell Atish ‘thank you‘ before he hurriedly pushed me in the direction of the FBU. The whole sprint there, I could hear the panic in my husband’s breathing.
I will never forget that Sunday night because it was the longest night of my life. When the doors to the triage unit opened after we arrived at the FBU and I saw the nurses standing there expecting me, it was like I had walked into someone else’s nightmare, only it was mine. And when Dr. Blaszinsky told me that my cervix was open and that I was dilated 1 cm while I writhed in agony, I had no other choice but to be strong when all I felt was beaten and weak.
To be continued …
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