Originally published in the Miami News-Record on June 19, 2016.
A little less than 15 years ago I was pregnant and started having what I thought were Braxton-Hicks contractions. After a week of the pesky contractions other things happened that made me think that perhaps these contractions weren't merely for training purposes only. And sure enough, a visit to my doctor, then a trip to the hospital revealed that I was indeed in active labor and dilated four centimeters. Normally people get excited at this news, but I was only 25 weeks pregnant. They shot me full of steroids to speed up the development of her lungs and sent me home on strict bed rest. The doctor said delivery was imminent and the outlook was grim. Happy ending: we managed to keep the little stinker in place ten more weeks and, other than being a bit of a diva, she's a normal kid.
Fast forward to this past Tuesday when my oldest, the one currently incubating my first grandchild, sent me a text that asked, “What does a contraction feel like? Because I'm pretty sure I just had one.” Well, that got my attention. I quickly text a nurse friend who said for her to drink a big glass of water and take a warm bath. They didn't stop. She called her OB’s office and they sent her to the hospital. As we walked in, Abby said, “This is going to be SO embarrassing when they say I'm silly and send me home.” She and her husband went into a room, my mom and I stayed in the waiting room. Finally after ten minutes I couldn't stand it. I knocked on the door and peeked in. My teeny tiny little girl was swallowed up in that big ol’ hospital and grew even smaller as she said, “I'm dilated.” A tear slid down her cheek. We spent the next few hours in a room while she was scanned, prodded, hydrated, medicated, and pondered over. It got kind of tense so Mom and I decided to lighten the mood by telling a story.
It was December 19, 2001. I was in labor the second (and proper) time with Kady. My mom and mother-in-law had come up to visit us. Now, my mother-in-law is a funny lady. She's sweet, but very quiet and matter-of-fact. She did not attend the birth of the other two and I offered once more to let her attend to which she quickly replied, “Oh nononono! I don't need to see…..that.” I laughed and told her the offer was there if she changed her mind. She stood there awkwardly and I patted the bed and said, “Martha, come sit here. There’s no need to stand!” Paul even offered her his chair. She waved us both away and said, “Oh, hush. I'll just sit on this stool here.”
What happened next still causes Mom and I to have to stop the story-telling because we’re already laughing. Martha backed up to the stool – which was on wheels – and started to sit. But the stool had another idea. It started to roll away from her. She started baby-stepping backward trying to catch the stool with her bum, rolling all the way to the wall across the room. Paul, Mom, Abby, Sam, and I watched in horror as the stool stopped rolling when it hit the wall and Martha fell squarely on her rear end. The room was silent then all of us busted into laughter so loud the nurses had to think we were crazy. Mom and Paul ran to her aid while I continued laughing until I was certain I was going to laugh Kady right on out. The telling of the story still makes her laugh as well. It's my favorite Martha story, second only to the one where she killed a goat. But I'll save that one for another time.
Of course, by this point in the story, Abby and Dakota we laughing and the scary preterm labor monster was temporarily forgotten. Y'all know that my answer for everything in life is laughter and I was only doing my job. We’re still facing down some unsure times ahead over the next few months, but one thing is for sure, we’ll face it all together and we’ll do it with as much laughter as we can muster.