After three miscarriages, I had pretty well given up hope of having children. Jerry, my husband, and I had stopped talking about it. We avoided sex during that time of the month when I was most likely to conceive. We bought two dogs, which we pampered outrageously.
I was asked to write a book about women in history - a new topic then. As I began my research, I found I could not tell the crackpots from the innovative scholars. I decided to take a few courses in history on the graduate level. My work impressed my professor, who encouraged me to apply to graduate school. My application was accepted, and, once again, my life had taken a completely new track. I would begin working toward my doctorate next fall.
Then, my period was late.
My doctor gave me medication to try to avert another miscarriage, and ordered me to stay off my feet entirely for the next three months. All summer I lay flat, forbidden even a pillow.
For the first time in my life, I watched soap operas. Amazing! Pregnancies seemed to take a year or so. Children were seen as babies, and then kept off-camera for a couple of years, until they reappeared as angst-ridden teens in love. Soaps and game shows are a poor substitute for a good book, but they gave me laughter when I needed it.
The anti-miscarriage drug had a side effect - nausea. I vomited hourly. By the time school started in the fall, I was allowed to walk, but still on the medication. My classmates made sure I always had the seat closest to the door. Eventually the nausea stopped. I was successful at school and had a part-time job editing the college course book. And I was going to have a baby!
In the seventh month, my blood pressure rose alarmingly. I had Pre-eclampsia, and once again was ordered to bed. I could take a taxi to school, but had to stay in bed otherwise. More soaps. More game shows. And school work. And whenever fear raised its ugly head, baby would kick or roll, and happiness overwhelmed fear.
On one of the first days of spring break, I woke Jerry. We had a cup of coffee and set off through falling snow. At the hospital, labor stopped, but because my water had broken, I was given a labor-inducer. I fell asleep.
Sharp pain woke me. I asked the nurse, “Is it going to get worse than this?”
“Oh, yes. It’s going to get worse.”
I used the breathing exercises I’d learned in Lamaze class for the first stage of labor, but they didn’t help much. If this was going to get worse, how would I endure it?
But, after five strong contractions, I needed to push. When the nurse examined me, sure enough, baby had crowned. My doctor was on the golf course, since delivery was not expected until later.
The nurses took me into the delivery room, and there I waited. Now the Lamaze breathing really paid off as I tried not to push. Nearly an hour later, I told the nurse, “You better get down there and catch the baby, because I’m going to push on the next contraction.”
Just then, my doctor rushed in. He grabbed what looked like a hedge clipper for the episiotomy. I didn’t care, and I didn’t feel a thing. Within minutes, my little girl was on my chest, red and wiggling, crying and healthy. The most beautiful baby the world has known!