“The End of Me”

August 14, 2013: 1:00 p.m.

Dr. M finally arrives and, as I expected, she wants to do a “quick” cervical check.

I get into position: legs against the bed, knees bent out, feet together. It’s a standard exam—a quick in, check around, and out, but it’s still uncomfortable enough that I push my feet together to get through it.

“Still three centimeters,” she reports as she tosses a slightly bloody glove into the garbage. “The tests results came back normal, and that’s good. You’re having regular contractions, and that’s good. But I just…” she shifts from one foot to the other. She positions her hands like there’s an invisible box in them and she’s turning it around so we can see every side. Her gaze lands on this box. “I would be so much more comfortable if we could keep our eye on you here. It’s just… if your placenta does detach then… just, terrible, terrible things could happen. I don’t even want to tell you what.”

“Okay…” I look at her and she makes eye contact. I find myself looking at the invisible box that she has created in her hands. “So the test results are normal, but you want me to stay?”

“Yes.”

“All right, but my concern is that I can’t stay in this hospital throughout my whole early labor without real food. I mean, I could be here until tomorrow, right? So how can I have a natural labor without food?”

She blinks a few times. Did this really not occur to her, I wonder.

She says to my nurse, “Okay, so let’s get her meals for today and get her a room.”

I guess I have given consent to be admitted.

Then, she continues. “I’ll allow you to labor naturally until tomorrow morning at 6:00. But if you haven’t made enough progress, we’ll need to talk about augmentation. It’s not an induction because you’re already in labor.”

“Well, what does that mean? What would you do?”

“We’ll either give you Pitocin or break your water. But let’s just see how it goes today.”

After she leaves, I ask Pam [my doula] which is the better option.

“Have them break your water. It’s the more natural of the two choices.”

When Pam leaves to make a phone call, Doug takes my hand into his and just holds it.

I stare down at my belly beneath the green gown. Whose belly is this? This isn’t what it looks like. Where’s my cute shirt? I’m not in hospital mode yet. I start to cry.

“Hey… What’s going on?” Doug asks.

I look at the triage curtains around my bed, all the beige, the pastels, the grays beneath fluorescent lights. Where can I relax around here? Where can I get some food? What can I eat? Are the pillows going to be comfortable enough? What do I need? I feel like I’ve just been placed on the conveyor belt of delivery, chugging away toward my stamped delivery date: tomorrow, 6:00 a.m.

“I thought we’d be able to go home. I don’t want to stay here the whole time. I want to go home.”

“We’re going to get you comfortable here and we’ll get this going,” he says. “You’re going to be okay. And if something happens, we’re here and we’re close to help, okay?”

I nod, but something else still bothers me.

This is the beginning of the end of me—at least the me that I know right now. I haven’t wanted to fully accept that my life is going to change. All this time, I’ve been trying to make plans for how I would work a baby into all the contours of my current life, but I know now that plan will never work. These aren’t modifications coming down the line. This is real change. Real, life-shifting change.

This is it. And I’m not ready.