I had intended to write a piece about balancing work and family life, since the only thing more nerve-racking than having to go out of town to a conference with Jenny in week 36 was finding out she was pregnant when I was away at my last conference, but then something overshadowed it.
Saturday when I returned from the conference, I pulled up to the community pool to see Jenny. Although I intended to see her for only a moment before I went back to the house to change and join her poolside, she said that she wanted to come with me. We were walking back to the car and I heard her make a funny noise then, “Uh, Sherrill.” When I turned around I saw a growing pool of water at her feet and a steady stream running down the inside of both of her legs. Oh, crap. My heart raced at the mixed look of alarm and jubilation on her face. Then it occurred to me that I would never forget that moment. As the puddle grew, I knew we had to call the doctor, pack the bags, and go through that checklist we learned about in childbirth class. Intellectually, I knew we had plenty of time, emotionally, I was already falling apart.
I got Jenny into the car for the two minute ride to the house, got her inside, and up the stairs. Doctor Dorn said we should come in to the hospital, but not to rush, especially since she was yet to have any serious contractions. Since this was happening a few weeks ahead of schedule we had yet to have the car vacuumed. I was sent to a detail place nearby where we had clipped a coupon in anticipation of having to do this. When I got back Jenny had taken a shower and gotten herself ready. I got the bags together and, although mine was still packed from the conference, I changed a few things out since couldn’t see myself in delivery in a grey suit and my university tie.
We got in the car and so we began the drive from Greensboro to High Point. I’ve always wondered if the Hollywood script of getting out of a speeding ticket when you have a lady in labor would work. Thankfully, I didn’t have to test it out, but it was a possibility. When we got to the hospital we went very quickly through admitting in the emergency room, I rolled Jenny to the elevator and then out to the “childbirth suite”. When we told the escort that took us up the elevator what had happened she suggested a “pool water” theory, although Jenny had been out of the pool and sitting in the sun for half an hour before the incident. This theory was later dismissed by the doctor since if our escort’s theory were true, pools would be much messier places even when pregnant women were not around (my words not his).
The tests for amniotic fluid showed nothing (or at least that the fluid was neither alkaline nor acidic), the contractions were weak and irregular, and since the ultrasound showed that there was fluid (although not as much as there had been two weeks before), there was not much we could do that day. We were instructed to go home, keep checking to see if there was any fluid loss, and if the contractions got worse or there was another gush of fluid to come back.
What happened the next 24 hours was very little. She continued to have some fluid issues, although no more “ant drowners”, and even went to dinner with some friends. I sat home, fretted, worked, and waited…
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