Nine years ago, March 5th happened to fall on Ash Wednesday. When I woke up that morning, all I had planned was attending Mass and going to a doctor’s appointment. I was pregnant with my third child and the doctor’s appointment was supposed to be only an ordinary pre-natal visit.
Mass was fine, quiet and uneventful. I received my ashes. I’m sure I prayed for my unborn baby who was due in a few weeks. Like so many things in life, and especially parenting, nothing else that day went according to my plan.
Off I went to my appointment, as Tim stayed home with our 4 year old daughter and 1½ year old son. My pregnancy had been relatively normal up to then. I had had not one, but two bouts with the stomach flu, probably due to the germs my oldest daughter picked up at pre-school and brought home to share with us all, but I had recovered from both illnesses pretty quickly. The second one had been just a few weeks before and at the check-up following it, my doctor had noticed my belly measuring a little less than before. Of course, babies (and bellies) are supposed to grow during pregnancy so she was a little concerned but I was not too worried. They had done an ultrasound and found the fluid levels low and the baby a little on the small side but still active and healthy. It had been a few weeks since then and baby had continued to be active. I was not overly concerned about it as I entered the doctor's office that March 5th, nine years ago. My doctor decided to do another ultrasound after measuring me again and finding the results not to her liking for a second time though. There was some mention of intrauterine growth retardation and dangerously low fluid levels but what I remember most was the doctor coming in after that ultrasound and announcing, “That baby needs to come out now, he or she will be safer on the outside than on the inside.”
I drove home instead of straight to the hospital despite my doctor’s initial instructions. I had to get my older children settled with a sitter, and get my bag for the hospital stay, and prepare myself emotionally to welcome my baby three weeks early and under unexpected, worrisome circumstances.
My mom was supposed to be in town for baby’s arrival but her flight was not for two and half more weeks. My neighbor who had agreed to be our back-up childcare was out of town and though she would be home that day, I wasn’t sure what time exactly. Tears ran down my face as I drove along full of anxiety and fear. Thankfully, the neighbor was in her driveway unpacking the car from her trip when I pulled up. Tim and the kids were there too, talking and playing with the neighbor’s children. “Better just stay there,” I told the kids, “mommy and daddy have to get to the hospital within the hour and go have a baby tonight.”
So we went. Once I was dressed in my hospital gown, settled in a cozy room, and hooked up to all the tubes and wires- Pitocin, I.V. fluids, baby’s heart monitor, another monitor for the contractions- I finally stopped crying. After that, it was actually a beautiful day. Labor progressed nicely, I got my epidural before the pain was too bad, and delivery was a breeze. We welcomed a beautiful baby girl with big brown eyes and a full head of black hair at 11:18 p.m. She was 6 lbs. 9 oz. and was perfectly healthy and so, so sweet. She spent the first month of her life sleeping almost constantly. She was such an easy newborn, I decided all my babies should come three weeks early.
March 5th, 2012 finds that tiny, sweet baby a big sister two times over (neither of her younger siblings cooperated with my plans either and I have never again had a baby come three weeks early). She is now taller than all her friends and quite feisty when she wants to be but she is still a sweetie and still such a blessing in our lives. Happy Birthday Pumpkin!