June 4, 2017 5:06 p.m.
I looked up and saw a hospital worker in blue scrubs come from the long hallway near the elevators and walk out into the lobby, alongside the Reception counter. Another visitor passed the worker on their way up to a hospital room, probably to visit another new mother. At first, I thought the visitor was going to ask the worker a question. I thought: "They never tell you anything." HIPPA laws. Privacy.
My immediate next thought was: "The receptionist at Twin Cities Hospital had told me everything I needed to know and dreaded to hear after I gave her my son's name and she replied, 'Oh, I am so sorry. He is in ICU, third floor ...'" I knew, in that moment, my son was gone forever.
Here I was in another hospital, waiting on my oldest daughter to birth her first and maybe only little baby. I had called the hospital early in the morning after I saw some text messages from both of my daughters telling me she had gone to the hospital with labor pains. I called the hospital number first, thinking if my daughter was in labor, she might not be answering her phone. I gave my daughter's name, but the nurse who answered didn't seem to be able to confirm that she was there. She said I would have to call my daughter on her cell phone. Oh, privacy stuff.
Now it was just after 5 p.m. and we had been here since 8 o'clock this morning. A full week overdue, little Riley was finally almost ready to make her appearance into this world. My husband and I had been up in my daughter's room for most of the morning, talking with her and her fiance as the labor progressed along. My daughter had been administered an epidural to block the labor pains, so she didn't feel any of it once the epidural had taken effect. We could see the monitor recording spike after spike, and about the only discomfort my daughter was feeling was itchy skin and trying to find a comfortable position in the hospital bed. The blood pressure cuff was irritating her, as well, as it check her pressures every 30 minutes or so. We left the delivery room around 1 p.m., when the nurses decided it was time for my daughter to start pushing, a process they said could take several hours until the baby's arrival.
My daughter's fiance kept us informed on the progress by text messages. It was nice to get the updates every 10 or 15 minutes. Her water broke around 2 p.m. Another text: "Taking a break for an hour to see if the baby moves down more on her own", then, "trying to nap now".
The next text at 3:49 p.m. was, "Pushing and at 10cm at +2". Okay, all systems are go now. Baby should be here very soon. I was, in turn, texting Great- and Great-great Grandma's, Great-Aunties and my younger daughter with progress updates. The doctor was still not here. Waiting until the very last minutes...sheesh! Then one more text: "(Dr.) Spaulding is putting on the scrubs." Okay, here we go.
Another hour went by with no communication. Riley must have come and they were busy. Be patient. They will let us know soon. "Very soon now," I texted to all my contacts.I couldn't help myself...I started to get antsy. I walked down the long hallway and looked at all of the photography displayed along the wall. Finally, a text came through. "Grandma can come up and meet the newest grandchild." Yay! Just grandma, though. Mommy was not fully dressed, as it was baby-bonding time for the first couple of hours, skin-to-skin. Grandpa would have to be patient.
I went up and got my first peek at a fragile, tiny, skinny and wrinkled little chicken with pink cheeks, perfect bow lips and fuzzy, reddish-blonde hair. She was mewing like a kitten as she struggled to find her mommy's nipple and latch on. They hadn't weighed or measured her yet, as the bonding was the emphasis for now.
My daughter looked so exhausted. Then she told me about the scare that they had in the last minutes before delivery. Riley's heart rate dropped way low, then bounced back up, then dropped again. Suddenly, the delivery room population swelled from four people to eight as several other workers in scrubs appeared in the room. Nobody said anything, but my daughter was scared as she recognized their exchange of concerned looks and how they were all poised for action. She pushed again, as hard as she possible could, then another time...finally, the baby popped out! 5:11 p.m.
I knew it. I had felt it, that fear of losing your child. I felt it in those moments just before Riley was born. Kinetically attached to my daughter and granddaughter and Andrew. Thank God Riley was born healthy and we could see and touch her and love her forever.