The triage center of the OB ER: as familiar, busy and scary as I remember it being just 4 weeks earlier.
I followed regular protocol. Register, sign papers and sit in the waiting room until it’s your turn to be seen and diagnosed. When I was in this same room previously, my legs were bouncing with nerves as I waited for my name to be called. I was alone. I was certain I’d be going home in no time. This time, I was keeled over in pain, breathing sharply, and ready to bust down the doors and help myself to a gurney. This time Jimmy was with me. This time I was certain I’d be leaving this hospital a mom. This time I was certain that labor was imminent.
After waiting for what seemed like hours, I was escorted alone to the emergency triage center. Again I was bombarded with questions about my pregnancy, clarification of my birth plan and medical history.
“When did your contractions begin?” The nurse asked.
“I mean, I’ve been having regular contractions for weeks now. I’m really just here because this is the worst back pain I’ve ever experienced.” I said.
“And this back pain started when?” she asked, as she hooked up the monitors. As was custom, two belts for the babies’ heart rates and one for measuring contractions.
“It started Monday,” I said, as I tried to adjust myself for the one thousandth time. This back pain was unbearable.
“And your paperwork said you think your water broke. Are you sure?”
“I mean, I think so. It didn’t all happen at once, I just feel kind of…leaky?” I laughed softly.
I was told the doctor would be in shortly to see me and check my cervix. In the meantime, a large Q-tip was inserted to test whether or not my water had actually broken.
At this point, Jimmy was finally allowed to come back and be with me, to which I was eternally grateful.
He arrived as the triage doctor glided through our door.
“Welcome back in, I hear this time might be the real thing,” she said with a grin.
“I mean, if this isn’t labor, then I don’t know what is,” I said, as I begrudgingly laid back to get checked.
“At a four,” she said, more to the nurses than me.
“I’m four centimeters dilated? Really?” I clarified.
“That’s right,” she said, as she checked the Q-tip test. “And your water’s definitely broken. Looks like you guys are going to be parents today.”
My head snapped in Jimmy’s direction and a nervous smile broke out on my face.
“You ready for this?” Jimmy’s smile widened.
“We don’t really have a choice,” I laughed.
The doctor left the room and a nurse strolled in.
“Hi there, mama-to-be!” she said cheerfully. “I’m just here to do your COVID test.”
“Oh, okay,” I sighed. I’d never had one done, but hadn’t heard great things about it.
I looked up at the ceiling as a Q-tip entered so far up my nasal cavity I swore it tickled the back of my eye.
As I sat sputtering and sneezing and tears welled up in my eyes, the doctor arrived with more news.
“Great news! Dr. Holt can do your C-Section in 30 minutes. How does that sound?”
“Wait, no. C-Section? There must be a mistake,” I said, frowning.
“Wait, 30 minutes?” Jimmy said, wide-eyed.
“Yes…is there something wrong?” she asked.
“Well, we had discussed a vaginal birth. Or at least giving one a try,” I said. I felt my heart sinking.
“Are you sure?” She seemed very confused. “Holt rarely does vaginal when it comes to multiples. Plus, with the way things are, a C-Section is going to be the safest option for all involved.”
“The way things are?” I asked hesitantly. “What do you mean?”
“I thought someone had spoken to you,” she said, as she made her way to the monitors. She picked up the long stream of paper that was being spit out of the machines.
“If you look here,” she said, pointing to the paper, “Each time you contract, twin A has a dip in their heart rate.”
I studied the paper. Sure enough, for every mount in the line of contractions there was a matching dip in the heart rate of one of my babies.
“Twin A will be in distress if you choose to labor vaginally, if he isn’t in distress already.”
“I see,” I said slowly. I know the worry and hesitation must have been apparent on my face.
“I’ll go ahead and get Dr. Holt in here to talk with you. I think you’ll feel better,” she said. And with that she walked out and closed the door.
I looked at Jimmy. I shared my fears and anxiety about the surgery. I fought back tears. I listened to him as he reassured me that everything will be okay. At the end of this, no matter how they get here, we’ll have two beautiful baby boys. We just have to choose the option that would bring them here safely.
In walked my doctor, cheery and smiling big.
“Are we ready for this?” he asked happily, as he clapped his hands together.
“I guess. You just know I didn’t want the C-Section. I’m actually really scared about this.”
He paused and thought a moment. Then he said, “I know you’re worried. But confidently know that this is my fourth C-Section of the day.” He patted my hand.
I suppose he thought it would be a comfort to know that, to him, this was routine. A task carried out swimmingly in his day-to-day schedules. However, I couldn’t care if it was his 100th C-Section that day. It was my first. My fears were not allayed.
He promised things would go smoothly. He said his wife was driving within a week of her surgery. He described the procedure to me. He said he’d play happy music. Bob Marley to be exact. He smiled, tapped my hand again, and left to prepare.
I felt like things were out of my hands. I had lost control. So far, nothing seemed to be going according to plan.
The next thirty minutes were filled with the hustle and bustle of surgery preparations. The anesthesiologist came in to describe my spinal tap and described, in length, the way my body might react and feel. We were told that only after the spinal tap was administered would Jimmy be allowed to enter the OR. Jimmy was suited up in scrubs and a hair covering. I was given the same. We filled out paper work. We answered questions. We prayed.
And, in a matter of minutes, I was being wheeled down the hall to the operating room with knots in my tummy.
In a few moments time, I’d be a mommy.