Between deep inhalations and wispy exhalations, my eyes squeeze out the contents of the room. Sweaty trails start at my tousled hairline, creating a roadmap criss-crossing my temples. The pounding in my head lavishes in my winced expression. Strain runs deep within my torso, stretching from chest to hips. The rubber band that has inhabited my lower body is now clinging on by a thin strip of elastic under the pressure from the rapid expansion within my gut. Bone on bone scrapes deep within my soul; the cutting pain forces the wind from my lungs with a gust and a whimper. Gasping, panting, and vaguely sobbing, I quietly declare, “Okay…now it hurts.”
Whoosh…whoosh…whoosh. Sophia’s heart beats defy her expected slow demise. The scurrying legs in the ant farm surrounding me have settled into a semicircle of beady eyes. Dr. Gordon delicately balances each tug, pull, and slide between rough and gentle.
“Just push whenever you are ready!” These words, drifting from the end of the bed, are my sole navigation. I am a free agent, doing whatever feels like should be done.
My implied pleas for the pain medication are ignored. After two days, I have now waited too long. Jason leans closer to my face, squeezing my hand in a sadly insufficient condolence, “You’re doing it, Babe. Just keep it up. It’s almost over.” As he expectedly watches for Sophia to make her appearance, the searing pressure pulsing through every muscle wedges at an inopportune moment. Despite only minutes passing, Dr. Gordon’s grim face emerges through her disheveled hair.
“I’m having some trouble getting a hold of her. I think I need a different angle since she’s so small.” Turning her body 180 degrees on the end of the bed, her pained face conveys the burden she carries for what damage this will do to Sophia.
“Give me one more push, Laura.”
I can’t! I don’t want to injure Sophia! She has suffered enough! The unbearable pressure forces a shallow, whiney moan to escape my throat; the last of my energy targeted toward Dr. Gordon, starting from my head, through my arms, stomach, legs. The insurmountable pain peaks in a flash, and with an exhilarating rush it ends. Resting my head, my breathing moderates. As the pain shackles are released, a smile stipulates an appearance. It is over.
“I got her.” Exasperation alleviates as Dr. Gordon passes Sophia off, like a quarterback to his running back. Head bent up at a necessarily uncomfortable angle, I don’t see anything. Other than the scurrying nurses, squeaking shoes, and clanging metal, Sophia is completely silent.
Is she still alive?
Sitting up in desperation to see her, a disturbingly warm, wet gush escapes toward my thighs.
What was that?
Fingers tapping Jason’s arm with a guilty frenzy, trying get someone’s–anyone’s— attention away from the baby I utter, “I felt something odd.” With the needed attention that the words garner, a nursing force splits off, sending a faction to my side.
Nurse Joleen pushes on my stomach, coaxing more of the warm fluid to escape. The river of blood streams onto the bed. Momentarily, my concern turns away from Sophia.
Am I okay?
“We need to start pitocin in your IV, Laura, to help stop the bleeding.” Frightened by nurse Joleen’s seriousness, coupled with the sickening expulsion of what my body needs to survive, panic washes away my relief. Afraid to move, wanting so badly to preserve my own body and necessary fluids, I lie as still as possible, stretching my legs out and together.
“You will be just fine, Babe. Just hang in there.” In a hushed tone, the worrisome look passing through Jason’s eyes is met with the confident stroking of my arm beneath his fingertips. Releasing the tension built up in my shoulders, a captive breath escapes between my tensed lips.
I have to have faith in what Jason says. I have to have faith the nurses can stop the bleeding.