I am scared. I am sitting on the toilet in the middle of the night. A knowing is settling in that my water just broke. I don’t really know what to do with this knowing or if that is even what happened. I don’t know what it's like to have your water break. I’ve only heard about it in other people’s birth stories or in shows. A little bit more clear liquid trickles out of me. What does this mean for my baby, I wonder, who is only 17 ½ weeks along? I have my masters degree. I am a classroom teacher, educating children everyday. None of that helps me now. I am a scared mother deer, wide-eyed and alert in a dark forest, and my instincts are activating.
“I think my water broke,” I say to Jason, my husband, who is now sitting on the floor outside the bathroom door. He knows even less about this than I do, I realize when he says, “Oh, is that bad?” He is tired and scared. I hear it in his voice.
We sit in the moment, just being there. I got off the phone with Dr. Anderson a few minutes ago. He told me to come in in the morning, but I am second guessing that advice.
“Should we go in now?” I ask Jason.
“I don’t know. What do you think?”
I pause and sit in the quiet. “I don’t know either. I guess we can just go in the morning like he said.”
We go back to bed.
That was the turning point in the story of Levi’s birth. The one I forgive myself for. It wasn't my fault. I was doing the best I knew how.
A little bit before that:
I leap out of bed like an explosion. I am on my feet before waking. It’s dark and quiet and Jason is deep in sleep. I run to the bathroom. A burst of warm liquid between my legs is propelling me forward. Something is happening. I make it to the toilet and the liquid comes out. Clear. Like water. My underwear is barely wet. I am amazed that my body just sprang into action like that. It’s physically impossible that I made it to the bathroom mostly dry, but I did. I feel another contraction, but I am still calling them cramps. My mind is totally blank. I only feel alert.
“Water” is trickling, still coming, outside of my control. This can’t be good. It may be very bad. I start organizing myself into actions. I hold toilet paper between my legs and walk up the stairs to get clean underwear and a pad. Contained and dry, I go back down and put my sweatpants back on. My body is now frantically looking for the phone.
It’s 2005, the days of wireless phones. The phone could be anywhere: under the clothes strewn about on the couch or hidden around the edges of the laundry that is folded, also on the couch. There are piles of books on the table…is it there? There is just stuff on the coffee table. I don’t even know what all that stuff is.
In a panic, I turn a light on. Our bed is in the corner of the large living room. We like to rearrange sometimes, and since I have been feeling so sick and tired since getting pregnant, needing long naps and languishing time on weekends, we brought the bed down. It is by the sliding glass door that leads to the little porch and gives a nice view of the trees and the sky. It’s fun to have the bed in the living room for some reason.
When I turn the light on though, Jason groans and covers his eyes. “What are you doing?” he mumbles, barely waking. His eyes are very sensitive to light. He prefers dimness much of the time. It is one of our thousand differences, myself preferring lots of light and open windows.
I don’t have a lot of self-awareness or thought going on. I only realize my near hysteria when I don’t care one lick about Jason. I am practically yelling, crying, “Where’s the phone? Where’s the phone? Oh my god I can’t find it anywhere! Where’s the fucking phone?!” I’m at the couch, then at the computer stand made of cinder blocks and boards. My mom had high standards for her house and for us, but somehow that didn’t pass down to me. I mostly learned how to make the best out of very little and to save my presenting energy for the outside world. So the cinder blocks and boards have come with us in each of our moves. I didn’t even think anything of it until Mark said last time he helped us move, “I am not moving these cinder blocks again next time, guys.”
I found it! The phone. I sit on the edge of the bed mattress and dial Dr. Anderson at the on-call OB GYN emergency number. He isn’t my doctor, but I know he is the one on call, because I called before going to bed. Because of the “cramps” coming every ten minutes.
The phone rings and he answers. He says stuff. I say stuff. But the important stuff boils down to this: “Come in in the morning,” and “Okay.” I hang up. Jason is still half asleep, eyes covered.
I quietly make my way to the bathroom again to sit. To trickle. To calm. I am scared. I am sitting on the toilet half-knowing that my water just broke, even though Dr. Anderson didn’t say that is what happened. What does this mean for my baby? I wonder.
“I think my water broke,” I say to Jason, who is sitting outside the bathroom door now. “Should we just go in?”
“I don’t know,” he says. “What do you think?”
“I don’t know either. I guess we can just go in the morning like he said.”
We make our way to bed, climb in and fall asleep together.
Here is what is actually happening: I have a uterine infection and I am going into labor. No one ever knew which came first, the uterine infection or my water breaking, but both of those things happened that night. Maybe I had an infection, and so my body went into labor to “expel” everything in the uterus, both the infection and the baby. Or maybe my water broke for some other reason and then the infection easily got in.
My baby was doomed either way. But I couldn't fully comprehend that yet.
Hi friends and family! This is where I'll share excerpts of my writing and bits about my writing process as I bring it all together into a book . Thank you for sharing in this process with me! Fellow writers, I encourage you to share your words, too. Sharing our writing is an important and generous act. We humans find our way together as we share stories from the heart.