It was a dark and stormy night…
Well, it was dark (near midnight), and according to the weathermen the snow was supposed to start falling at any moment. We were expecting more than a foot of snow. We had just finished our midnight snack and were about to head to bed. Then I had the strangest sensation. I turned to my husband and said, “Oh, crap.” I don’t know how he knew, but he said, “Your water?”
Yes, my water had broken, something I hadn’t anticipated because it only happens in about 10% of pregnancies. The baby wasn’t due for another two weeks. I wasn’t even having contractions. But we weren’t surprised, because we had been telling everyone that we thought the baby would be born the day of the storm. Our reasoning was simple: we are difficult people, therefore we expect our daughter to be difficult, and how could she cause more inconvenience than by arriving well before her due date and in the middle of a huge storm?
We called the doctor’s office and they said there was no reason for us to rush to the hospital, so we didn’t. We even tried to sleep for a little while, but the knowledge that snow was piling up outside made relaxation nearly impossible. We soon got up, packed up the car, dropped off Marshall at my sister-in-law’s house, then headed to the hospital. The snow was thick on the ground by then. Our progress was excruciatingly slow. There was some sliding and some almost-getting-stuck, but three-and-a-half hours after we left our house, we finally arrived at the hospital.
They admitted me quickly and wheeled me into the delivery room. My contractions took a while to get going, but once they did, OUCH! I could have had an epidural, but the idea of something stuck into my spine bothered me more than the idea of pain. The pain was worse than I remembered from Marshall’s birth, though, and as embarrassing as it is to say, I cried like a baby. I even told my husband that I wanted to go home.
After laboring for a seeming eternity, they finally told me I could push. So I pushed and I pushed, then suddenly someone yelled, “Cord!” Everyone in the delivery room sprang into action. They pulled me up and told me to push as hard as I could and not to stop. I couldn’t see what was happening, but my husband told me later that the doctor actually reached inside me to pull the baby out.
The moment Livia was born, all of my pain went away. It was as if someone had flipped a switch in my body. It was such a beautiful feeling, but I didn’t have a chance to enjoy it, because the wet, squirming baby that they dropped on my belly was purple.
I asked the nurses over and over again, “What happened? Is she OK? Why is she purple? Is something wrong?” They said that nothing had happened and nothing was wrong, but I didn’t believe them. Were they trying to cover something up? Were they trying to spare me some awful truth until I had a chance to recuperate?
They took the baby away so they could clean her up and run their tests, and when they gave her back she was still purple. To me, it seemed as though the worst might have happened. The nurses’ insistence that everything was OK made me worry even more. What if the baby were brain damaged?
It wasn’t until the next day when our pediatrician visited that we finally got an explanation. She said that sometimes the cord comes out with the baby. If the cord gets pinched, the baby may not get enough oxygen, and that can cause brain damage if it goes on for very long. During the delivery, if the doctors and nurses spot the cord, they’re supposed to expedite the delivery, which they did. But whenever there is a “rapid descent,” the baby is subjected to more pressure. Bruising can occur. That’s why our Livia was purple. She was one big bruise!
The pediatrician said that she had reviewed Livia’s chart, that her Apgar scores had been excellent, and there was no reason to be concerned. Still, it took me days to shake the worry. I wish the delivery-room nurses had just told us what had happened, but I suppose in their minds there was nothing to tell. They had done what they were supposed to do. Disaster had been averted. All was well.
A month later, Livia still has some bruising in her eyes. Otherwise her color is normal. She eats, she poops, she cries, just as a baby should. When she’s awake, she takes an interest in her surroundings. She looks at me. Sometimes she even smiles. I smile back.
All is well.