[To catch up on our story, read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.]
Medical tests run during our middle-of-the-night trip to the Emergency Room revealed that I had kidney stones. Thankfully I was only hospitalized briefly and, after receiving pain medication, was as good as new. [In the opinion of someone who’s given birth three times, kidney stones are definitely more painful than labor!]
As the pregnancy progressed, I continued working at the hospital, my only discomforts the normal ones associated with a growing belly. Our baby was due near the end of January, so we had to begin making a few plans, such as choosing a grave site. This process sparked one of my few bouts of discouragement as I realized that most of our friends were choosing nursery themes and registering for baby gifts while we were visiting cemeteries.
We still didn’t know the gender of our baby, but we had to begin thinking of names. Before we received our baby’s diagnosis, we had discussed Kaylee for a girl and Alex for a boy. We occasionally revisited the subject, but it was difficult to settle on anything.
At one of my prenatal visits, my doctor discussed what might happen at our baby’s birth. I was told that often a mother who was carrying an anencephalic baby did not start labor on her own. Because the baby’s brain was not fully developed, it didn’t release the hormones needed to begin the birth process, so the mother had to be induced when she went past full term.
He also said our baby could be stillborn or could live from a few hours to a few days, but chances were rare that it would be longer than that. He tried his best to prepare us for what was truly the unknown.
December 8, 1997, was a Monday. I woke up and got ready for work but realized that I just didn’t feel normal. I wasn’t in pain and can’t explain exactly how I felt except that something wasn’t right. I called the doctor’s office and made an appointment for that morning, then called a co-worker to let her know I’d be coming in late. I picked up my husband at work and drove to the doctor’s office.
We discovered that, at thirty-three weeks along, I was in the early stages of labor. This possibility wasn’t one I had considered. The doctor wanted to admit me to the hospital so that he could monitor my progress. I wasn’t ready in any sense of the word.
I dropped my husband off at the school so he could gather some things and meet me back at home. Meanwhile, I went to a nearby T.J.Maxx to buy decent sleepwear! By now, contractions had started and they were pretty strong as I waited in line to check out.
At home I packed a bag, then we dropped our dog off at the kennel before heading to the hospital. I also called my parents in Virginia and they prepared to come as quickly as they could. It was hard to believe the time had come to meet our baby. Again, God’s goodness was evident. In His plan, He knew how much of the pregnancy I could handle and was allowing it to end earlier than we had expected.
At this point, another one of those amazing people entered our life. Sandy was my labor and delivery nurse. She was caring and compassionate and did everything she could to make sure I was comfortable and to meet every need..
I was progressing fairly slowly, so that evening I was given medication to speed the process along a bit – and an epidural for the pain. My parents arrived late that night and I was actually comfortable enough to sit and talk with them for awhile. As the early morning hours arrived, however, that all changed.
To be continued next Monday….
How hard that must have been to visit cemeteries, finding a place for your unborn baby. But God does know what we need, as you saw when He put you into labor early and gave you such a wonderful nurse.
I want you to know that my mother is reading your story, too, and she appreciates your writing it.
Thanks for letting me know that, Nikki! I appreciate her reading along.
The small rays of light you share – God knowing how much you could handle, the nurse – shine so brightly through the heavy, dark reality of these circumstances!