So, was the moment for which we've been waiting for years, and then months, and now weeks finally here? Were we about to become parents? We were on our way to the hospital with the expectant mom with whom we are matched, all thinking she'd deliver via c-section very, very soon.
When we met up with V. and D. at Fancy Hospital, she was out of breath. She explained that in the parking lot, she'd spied a car that suggested someone else was in the maternity ward, someone she didn't want to see. She was trying not to freak!
Heading upstairs, we approached each turn in the twisting hallways cautiously, peaking around to make sure V. wouldn't run into a situation she was really hoping to avoid. The elevator doors opened on the maternity floor and we could see and hear a big group of people stuffed in a little waiting room. We walked by them quickly and through the big double doors. V. squeaked, "They're there." But they apparently didn't see her. I tried to reassure her that they weren't expecting to see her here, and they were involved in their own drama.
At the end of the hall, there were four other very large, pregnant women in labor as well as assorted groupies lining the walls. Nurses were bustling around and it took a little while for V. to check in and get a seat; they rolled an office chair out. She was feeling uncomfortable, not just about avoiding people, but physically too. And she was getting nervous about what the next few hours would have in store. We tried to calm her down by chatting (probably inanely). For the first hour, I was interested in all that was going on around us...
But time wore on. I strolled the floor nervously and overheard a nurse on her mobile phone complaining about how incredibly crowded it was and how there were no beds left. (I did NOT share this info with V.) While we waited, two more women in labor (and their own entourages) came in. A nurse joked that they must have all been at the county fair and eaten something. Meanwhile, V. hid behind D. every time someone new turned the corner.
V. hadn't even been assessed yet.
Eventually, a nurse came and told most of us that we had to go to the waiting area. V. froze. We assured her we'd keep her apart from the people she didn't want to deal with. We went to the elevator bay and hung out there for awhile, seating V. in a wheelchair. After about 20 minutes, the nurse came back and rather gruffly told us that we couldn't hang out there, we needed to go to the maternity waiting area. We encouraged V. to explain to her why that wouldn't work. With some cajoling, she did eventually explain the situation to the nurse, who immediately became very apologetic. She told us we could go down to the waiting room at the entrance to the building, gave V. her cell number, and told her to call in 20 minutes to see if a bed had opened up.
Twenty-minutes passed. And twenty more. And twenty more. V. was getting more and more agitated....and M., D. and I were getting hungrier and hungrier (but we certainly weren't about to complain, since V. thought she shouldn't eat). During that time, in addition to calling the nurse and being told there was still not a bed, V. called her doctor, hoping he might be able to get her some attention, only to receive his answering service.
Finally, more than three hours after we arrived at Fancy Hospital, V. reached her doctor, and though he was there, he explained that they were over-crowded and encouraged her to go over to Mediocre Hospital. We debated whether it made sense to trek over there, since it was increasingly obvious as time marched on that she wasn't actually in active labor. At last, I think hoping to just get it all over with, she determined to head over there and see what they could do.
The emergency room's waiting area of Mediocre Hospital was packed, crowded with sick looking people, some even wearing face masks. V. must've said the magic word ("labor"), because the four of us were whisked into the emergency area. It's the first time I've actually been to a place that resembled the show ER! (Fortunately, no one came in while we were there with a GSW.)
V. talked with someone, filled out a few forms, and then had an aide wheel her across the huge maze of buildings. She talked with someone else and filled out some more forms, and then got wheeled to the maternity area where BINGO! she was given a room. A nice nurse asked her to disrobe, lie down, and strap up to the monitors. She did so reluctantly, expressing reservations that all of this would actually lead to delivery this evening. The nurse reassured V. she'd be back in 20 minutes to let her know what the monitors were indicating.
So, we settled in. Would you believe that "Sons of Anarchy," which D. described as a biker soap opera and his favorite show, was on TV? We'd never seen it, so it was interesting. But I was more fascinated by the monitors. One line was intended to show contractions, and sure enough, every now and again, there were little peaks and valleys. But more incredible to me, it showed and sounded a fast little heartbeat, and even better, crazy whooshing sounds every time the baby moved around. It was really cool! As V. had suggested, he is an active kid!!
Twenty minutes came and, you guessed it, went. Twenty more, and the nurse checked in, telling us that she had a call into the doctor, but it looked to her like the labor was not active and that the baby was in very good shape. Twenty more minutes. V. was getting really frustrated (and so were we). She asked about whether we should just leave. No one would make the decision for her. She was just about to give up when the nurse returned and told her the doctor had called and said she could continue to wait and be monitored further, or go home. She was done! She opted to go home.
Well, not really home. We were all starving! We headed back to the all night diner. She was annoyed and frustrated and disappointed and I think a little embarrassed. We reassured her that though we were disappointed there wasn't a baby to welcome tonight, we knew there would be soon, and that were were grateful for the extra time we got to spend with her.
M. and I briefly debated heading for home to save money and time. But it was so late and we were emotionally wrought. After hugging V. tight and encouraging her to rest, we headed back to the hotel and checked in again. We were a little numb from everything, and reviewed for ourselves all that had happened. There was a lot of strangeness, a lot of drama. But we still felt really good about V. and our match.
After M. did a bit of work remotely in the morning, and sending a deflated update email to key family and friends (and our house and cat sitter), we got back on the road, onto a highway we've come to know very well. Once we were back home sweet home, I blew off the urge to go into work in the afternoon and instead took a long nap.
Going back the next day was odd. The people who knew the details of our situation were surprised to see me. And I didn't feel like interacting much and explaining to those who didn't know what was up. I was able to make more progress on wrapping things up and on Friday afternoon, left my office with a clean desk and fairly clear conscience.
On Friday we sent V. an email, just letting her know that we'd made it home safely and reiterating that though we were sorry she'd been through so much in the last several days, we were excited about all the future has to hold and that we are so grateful to be matched with her. The next day we got a message back that brought tears to my eyes. V. said that she too appreciated the time we'd spent together, that she knows we will be wonderful parents, and that for the first time, she is feeling part of strong family.
So...we've been thinking that we'd be trekking back to her hometown for the c-section the doctor had previously suggested would be on Tuesday...assuming she didn't go into labor sooner. And she made it all the way to today, Monday, which means tomorrow is Tuesday. But what time is the surgery scheduled for? Should we head out this afternoon in time to have dinner with her this evening? We didn't hear from her in the morning.
I had kind of thought I'd leave work at noon, but without further word, I hung out and went to lunch with friends. Tick-tock, time wore on with no word. By the end of the afternoon, we were imagining all kinds of scenarios about why we hadn't heard whether there would be a birth - and whether we'd be at it - tomorrow.
When I got home, M. and I squeezed each other. Our nerves were fraying, and we were unsure how to handle it.
Finally, our need to know outweighing our desire not to harass her, we gave V. a call. D. answered, and sounded friendly and casual. Then he passed the phone to V. She said that they were just about to call us. She is so OVER the drama, and she again apologized for sucking us into the situation. She explained that she'd talked with the doctor's office today and they scheduled her for an appointment tomorrow about 10:30 a.m. At that point, the doctor will schedule a c-section; it could be for later in the day, or later in the week, or who knows?!
Things seem to be complicated by MediCal, and by his schedule and the desire to deliver at Fancy Hospital, rather than Crummy (not even Mediocre) Hospital. We still get the sense that he is really trying to help her out, and is trying to work the system within the system. Of course, it's not soon or easy enough for us and V.
Bottom line: there is no baby yet...but there may be tomorrow. So please stay tuned!