We lived 33 miles from the hospital and rain was threatening. With my history of short labor and fast births, the doctor told us not to wait for the contractions to be close together. We were to start out at the first sign the baby was on the way. I hadn’t eaten any supper which was a good thing. My bag was packed and all we had to do was load it and me into the car and take off with Mother, the boys, and our neighbor waving goodbye. It was a blessing that Mother had made it in when she did. We didn’t have to haul the boys along to wait at the hospital. They could get to bed at a reasonable hour and be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for church the next day. Poor Mother needed her rest and here she had to babysit her grandsons. I’d like to think they pitched in and helped clear things away after supper.
The souped up car we were in roared over the gravel roads and onto the highway leading to Ogallala. There were little hills and valleys but no curves. If there’s a curve in the road in that part of Nebraska, it’s usually because someone messed up building it. Like the road a few miles north of where we lived. It was started from either end but when they were supposed to meet in the middle, it was off by, probably, 100 feet. They had to put two curves in the road to connect it. To this day, it’s known as Correction Road.
DH had me over next to him and told me to hold his leg. I was to squeeze it whenever I felt a contraction coming on. After the first couple of times, I quit. When I’d squeeze he’d floor the accelerator. I told him we needed to get to the hospital in one piece. I didn’t want to have the baby in the car but I sure didn’t want to be splattered all over that part of the country.
We got to the hospital in record time and the nurse had me in a wheelchair before I knew what was happening. She went off somewhere for a few minutes leaving me in the emergency room entrance. The bathroom was practically right next to me so I decided I would avail myself of the facilities. I got out of the chair and went in to take care of Nature’s Call. I didn’t have a chance to finish when the nurse came whirling in yelling my name. “ARE YOU OKAY??” “Yes.” (Why wouldn’t I be?) “YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE GOTTEN OUT OF THE CHAIR!!” (Why not?) “A WOMAN HAD HER BABY IN THE COMMODE LAST WEEK!” (That didn’t happen to me. It must’ve been a very easy delivery.) I assured her everything was still where it was supposed to be for the moment and we were back out in the entry and I was back in the chair.
She took me to a room in the maternity wing and I got settled in. My contractions were getting closer and closer together. I asked where my doctor was and he was nowhere to be found. He was so sure I wouldn’t deliver that night he had taken off to parts unknown and left another doctor to cover for him. The nerve!
The substitute obstetrician came in to examine me and it turned out to be a man who came to our church now and then. He had gone to medical school where my two doctor brothers-in-law had graduated so it felt like old home week. He was a huge man—not at all fat but tall and BIG. His bedside manner was very calm and reassuring and, all of a sudden, I was glad my doctor was out of pocket.
It wasn’t long before I was dilated enough to be taken to the delivery room. I had requested no drugs but to have gas available if I needed it. I wanted to be awake and aware for the whole procedure. My body was draped and prepped (though I was spared the enema and shave) and DH donned a green surgical gown and cloth hat to go over his long locks. I kept wanting to put my hands on my belly but it had been thoroughly swabbed with Betadine and I was supposed to leave it alone. DH was up by my head and was enlisted to hold my hands. We looked at each other and we didn’t have to say anything. This was the most exciting time in either of our lives.
My visits to the doctor had been routine. The extent of technology was a fetal heart monitor that sounded like a distant station on an AM radio. It wasn’t until the doctor had me in a most compromising position on the table in the delivery room that it became apparent the baby was a full breech presentation. I did agree to a local for the episiotomy so the doctor took care of that and started working on extracting the baby. Up until then he’d had me pushing whenever I had a contraction but he said for me to quit—it would do no good. There was nothing to push against.
He peered into the birth canal (by then the baby was ‘way down there) and said, “It’s a girl!” We knew what she was before we knew what she looked like. DH and I were both ecstatic. I had my family. DH, two boys and a girl. Perfect.
First, she had to get out into the big, wide world. The doctor was working away with those big hands. Even though he was huge by most standards, he was very gentle. He got one leg out and then the other. He pulled ever so slightly and she slid down to her armpits. Then he worked her arms out, one at a time. I could see everything in the mirror that was positioned above and behind him. There was the little body with arms and legs but no head. He said, “I’m going to have to cut you some more and I don’t have time to give you another local.” I gasped, “Do what you have to do.” One of the nurses had given me a wet washcloth to keep my lips from drying out and I bit it until my mouth bled. I could feel the scissors as he lengthened the cut to give way for the baby’s head to emerge. The nurse came over with the mask and put it over my mouth and nose but I pushed it away. I didn’t need it. I was so into what was going on, I didn’t want to miss a thing.
By that time, the storm outside was in full swing with thunder and lightning crashing around the hospital. Just as the baby’s head came out, there was an especially loud crash. It was 10:09 pm. There she was—so tiny. There was no holding her up by her feet and smacking her on the bottom. The doctor put her body, belly down, on the palm of his hand and rubbed her back. She began to whimper and then let out a lusty cry. She was no longer in her warm nest and she was letting everyone know what she thought.
The nurse took her, weighed and measured her (5 lubs 15 1/2 ozzies, 18″ long), wrapped her in a green surgical sheet and put her in my arms. DH and I were charmed. I made myself available and she started rooting around like a little kitten while the doctor busied himself with the placenta and patching me up.
As much as he had to cut me, there was a lot of stitching to do. After he was done, he tested the stitches and one popped, ‘way up inside. There was nothing to do but to leave it and hope for the best. He told me I might have problems with that someday but best case would see it heal okay. I’ve had problems.
The nurses were amazed I had gone through a breech birth with nary a whimper. They were proud and bragged to the rest of the staff that I had been a real champion. That beautiful baby girl made everything worthwhile.
One of the nurses on duty on the floor was a member of our church. We’d gotten close and she said she was DD’s Nebraska grandmother. The boys had already adopted her as theirs.
I was moved to a room and we waited for our DD to be cleaned up and made presentable. She was brought to us “wrapped in swaddling clothes” lying in a hospital bassinet. The nurses left us alone so we could get acquainted. We unwrapped her and inspected every inch. There was a strawberry birthmark on the back of her neck up high, right at the base of her skull, and a large brown spot on one hip. She had ten fingers and ten toes and everything was where it was supposed to be.
It wasn’t long until the nurses came to take her to the nursery. I had requested rooming in but since I was having surgery on Monday to insure no more pregnancies, that was denied. They couldn’t have her sleeping in my room and then move her to the nursery during the operation. Don’t ask me why. I don’t know. We were both unhappy with the arrangement but there was nothing I could do but comply.
DH had to go home and get some rest before he came back in the morning. It was a long drive back and it was already late. But, next day, what a tale my mother had to tell!