Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: FAMILY (01/21/16)
- TITLE: Forever Changed
By Cindy Duncan
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I waddled to the window again, just in time to see my husband arrive home from work in our recently damaged Jeep. Although it was drivable, the top and both doors were destroyed in the accident, leaving us with a “convertible” in the middle of winter.
“I think it’s time,” I said, meeting him at the door.
I had been having contractions all day, but we had just moved into our new place, and we didn’t have a phone yet. I realize it’s difficult to remember a time when there wasn’t a cell phone attached to every person, but it was 1979, and such things were completely unheard of.
“We’ll have to take the Jeep, but you need to bundle up. I can’t have my baby freezing to death.”
“Do you mean me, or this baby?” I asked, rubbing my hands over my belly.
“Both,” he laughed, as he handed me several sweaters, coats, and blankets, along with a hat and gloves. I could hardly move by the time he finally decided I had on sufficient clothing to begin our journey.
We were getting close to our destination when, even while hiding my face from the bitter wind, I caught a glimpse of the flashing blue lights. Although this new development certainly heightened the excitement of any future storytelling of the event, the fact was, we couldn’t afford a speeding ticket. As my husband pulled the Jeep over to the side of the freeway, he groaned with frustration, and I groaned with pain.
“Do you know why I pulled you over?”
“Yes sir, I think so. I’m pretty sure I was speeding, but you see, Officer, my wife is in labor. We’re on our way to the hospital.”
He shone the flashlight at me suspiciously, but luckily I was in the middle of a very convincing contraction. His cold induced rosy cheeks suddenly drained of their color, and his voice was raised by at least an octave. I assume he had visions of delivering a baby on the side of a major highway in the dark, because all he could squeak out was “Would you like a police escort?”
As tempting as that thought was to my “racecar driver wanna be” husband, he declined the offer. “It really won’t be necessary, sir, we’re almost there.” The officer nodded and motioned for us to proceed on, so we pulled back onto the highway.
We arrived at the hospital minutes later, greeted by curious looks as I walked in so bundled up in clothing that my late pregnancy condition was only slightly noticeable. I was just starting to feel my hands and feet beginning to thaw when they wheeled me to “Labor and Delivery” and had me peel off my multiple layers of clothing in exchange for a thin, open-backed gown.
Finally nestled in a semi-warm hospital bed, I simultaneously labored and napped throughout the night with the help of a precious gift called an epidural. My body was numb from the waist down, but I could still feel and see my abdomen tighten with each contraction. “Whoa, that was a big one,” I joked, as I glanced at the monitor screen after awakening to an unusually strong contraction.
It was morning when the nurses came by to wheel me to the delivery room. They looked at my husband when he didn’t follow, and said, “Let’s go, Dad, you’re coming with us, right? He hadn’t planned on it, but they talked him into it. He wasn’t in there long, however, because as soon as our baby was born, he ran out the door. The doctor thought he left because watching the delivery had made him sick. Apparently that happened often back then. But the real reason for his sudden departure was his eagerness to tell everyone that we had a son.
Immediately after his birth, they laid my son across my abdomen. His throaty newborn cry abruptly ended as he turned his head and looked directly at me with wide-open, blue-gray eyes. He was a miracle. As he continued to stare at me, the full force of responsibility hit me. I was someone’s mother. His needs would always trump mine, and I would always love him. We were family, and I was forever changed.
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