Wills turned 5 on Sunday. It is hard to believe! Last night after the girls were in bed, Findley, Wills and I looked through some pictures of Wills' first few days of life.
Wills was born 4 weeks early on a Monday afternoon. Needless to say, I was a nervous wreck at the end of my pregnancy. I wasn't worried about what happened to Virginia repeating itself, but once you realize life isn't a fairy tale, your mind begins to rest on every possible problem out there.
I had called my OB on Sunday to say I didn't feel like myself. (I am sure she appreciated my descriptiveness.) She said I was welcome to go to the hospital if I wanted, but she was sure I was fine and she would see me at my Tuesday check-up. Then I called my mother who was on the road to Augusta, Georgia, to watch the Masters.
"Just don't have the baby tomorrow," she said. "I can't take my phone into the Masters, so I won't be able to make it no matter what."
"Don't worry," I said. "It's too early." But I think my body had already decided otherwise. My brain knew that my 36 week baby would be fine if he came now, and that it wanted to see his face. Let's end the worrying, my brain dictated. No surprise, last minute, middle of the night labor. Someone just hand me a healthy baby, please.
I scrubbed out the cabinet under the kitchen trash can Sunday night (for the only time ever) and went to bed early.
On Monday morning I woke up and had gained seven pounds overnight. Hmmmm. I knew this wasn't right, but I had eaten a lot of Mexican food over the weekend, so I let it go.
Virginia and I went on a walk, showered, went to the paint store, and started painting the window box Findley had built that weekend. It was the last thing on the to-do list before baby arrived.
Around lunch, my dad called. I mentioned the seven pounds.
"You did not eat seven pounds worth of food this weekend, honey. It's not possible. You need to go have your blood pressure taken. Now."
I hung up the phone and relayed the message from Dr. Dad to Findley, who was home for lunch.
"Ok," he said, "Let's go to the Rite Aid and see what your pressure is. But can I finish my lunch first?"
As I have surely mentioned in the past, Findley is an easy going guy with one exception. Food. He doesn't eat cold lunches. He says if he does, he's hungry five minutes later. At the moment I got off the phone with Dad, he was in the process of heating a brownie in the oven (not the microwave- that makes it too tough) to be the core of his ice cream sundae dessert. So I waited for him to finish his brownie** and then the three of us went to the Rite Aid to check my pressure.
It was astronomical. I called my OB. She said, "Take Virginia home. Make sure you have someone who can keep her. And then I'll meet you in labor and delivery. Drug store machines are notoriously high, but that is very high. If we can't get it down, you're having a baby today."
My friend Laura came immediately to keep Virginia and Findley and I were on the way to the hospital.
I called Dad back, and he was getting ready to go into surgery.
"Am I going to be ok?" I asked.
"Yes," he said. "But I think you are going to have a baby today. Have you called your mother?"
"Yes," I replied. "Twice. Her phone must be off."
"Well, I'll keep trying. As soon as I get through with my case, I'll hit the road. I love you. Be brave. It's going to be just fine."
Dad and I both need Mom in a crisis situation. But not only was her phone off, it was in her hotel room. Apparently, if you even have a cell phone on your presence at the Masters, they pull your passes. Poor Mom. When she got back to her room that night, she had 57 missed calls. All but 2 were from Dad.
"I knew that I either had a new grandson or someone had died. I was hoping for the former," she laughed later.
When Findley and I got to the hospital, Dr. Brown spent about thirty minutes trying to get my pressure down, but to no avail.
"If this were earlier in your pregnancy, I would admit you, give you some meds, and try to make it to thirty-seven weeks. But at this point, you are four days from thirty-seven weeks and I am afraid if I asked you to spend the night at the hospital while that baby is still inside you, you might have a stroke from the stress. So let's go."
Findley piped up at this point.
"Dr. Brown, Friday is my birthday. It would be really special if my son were born on my birthday. Can it wait four days?"
I don't know who shot him stronger death rays, Dr. Brown or me. But she responded first.
"No. Your wife needs to see the whites of that baby's eyes, and she needs to see them now. Understand?"
To this day Findley maintains that he was kidding, but I'm not so sure and neither is Dr. B. Thank the Lord for Dr. Brown. She understood my obvious mistrust of doctors and hospital staff after what had happened to Virginia. She knew the tremendous pain that was still so fresh and she knew having another baby was tough enough for me without anything unexpected happening.
"Abby, I want you to hear me on this," she said. "Once that baby gets here, you've got ninety seconds to drop your pressure. If it doesn't come down to normal, I'm going to have to start you on mag sulfate, which means it'll be three days longer until you get to go home to Virginia. Understand?"
"Yes, ma'am," I said.
"Get her ready for her c-section," Dr. Brown said.
Wills was born thirty minutes later and he was absolutely perfect. I took one look at him and my pressure returned to normal.
Hospitals, particularly labor and delivery floors, bring back lots of hard memories for me, so Dr. Brown let me go home the next day. Wills followed about four days later.
He has been a tremendous gift to our family. Oh, how we love that precious kid!
(**for the record, Findley's version of the story is not that he finished his brownie, but that I made him put another coat of paint on the window box before we left for the hospital. Who do you believe?)