Something in the Water
It’s funny how, so often, babies seem to arrive in batches. We had a running joke at our church that year that something was in the water! Of our church friends, there were about six couples expecting. It seemed like being pregnant was the new team uniform.
Our friends Toni and Graham had also experienced some drama with their new arrival. Originally, their baby had been due to arrive only two weeks before us. But during their last holiday pre-children, Toni’s waters had broken. Normally, a holiday at 32 weeks is fine, but not this time! Nicole was born eight weeks prematurely, and unexpectedly, Toni had to have an emergency caesarean section. Thankfully, there was no huge rush and she didn’t need a general anaesthetic. Instead she had an epidural – the upshot was she had been awake and ‘present’ for the birth in the operating theatre.
Within hours after arriving at hospital that day, there was talk of an emergency caesarean for us too. Things were grim. Our baby was not doing well at all, and with each contraction the heart rate dipped too low, and took too long to recover. Even so, we had the presence of mind to ask for an epidural, just like Toni. Before long the anaesthetist came, and I made the agonising roll onto my side so he could insert the needles into my spine.
Since arriving at the hospital and throughout the entire ordeal, Stephen was my necessary companion, team member and cheer squad. I have no idea how I would have managed if he hadn’t been there to encourage, support, hold my hand, miraculously appear with ice to suck on, hold my attention while they were again checking how dilated I was. And now he helped me to roll on my side and stay super still – even while a contraction hit – so the anaesthetist could do his painstaking work. Stephen and I were a great team.
It took much longer than I expected for the epidural to take effect. When at last it worked, I felt the contractions still, as I felt my muscles tightening, but I had no pain. I could talk again. I could breathe much more easily. But still, I couldn’t process what was going on around me. It was all happening and I was not even close to realising how dangerous things were for our baby, or how much risk we faced. No one really knew why this was happening!
An emergency procedure still takes time to set up. The Operating Theatre needed prepping, and the necessary staff had to be called in. We waited some more. Then finally, I was on the next part of the journey – from one side of the hospital to the other.
Rolling out of the Labour Room and down the corridor, Stephen at my side holding my hand all the way. We prayed together as we walked. The Theatre doors approached. And suddenly he let go. The midwife said he couldn’t come any further! We had no idea that was going to happen. He’d been so much part of the whole process. We held hands until the last moment, when he smiled and watched me all the way through the doors.
Stephen was gone. My team was gone!