"And your second daughter was stillborn when?"
"Heaven must have needed another angel."
My lips tighten into a strong, polite purse, and I force a nod. Do they tell all L&D nurses to say this shit to grieving women? Still, she is kind with a warm smile. Patient with my impatience.
"I'm sorry to bother you, but does my husband have to come now? Is this dire? Or fairly routine to be in the hospital for hours?"
"This is a no-apology zone, Angie. No more sorries. We are here to care for you and your little boy. Please complain if you want to complain. This is not dire. Do you have anyone to watch your little girl?"
"We could scramble if we need to. Do we need to?"
"Not just yet. You are fine. Your boy is moving a ton, and I can tell nothing is wrong with him by his wiggles. Zing us if you want anything, especially if you feel these contractions. They are coming every two minutes."
"I am not much of a complainer and I have a high tolerance for pain. I don't feel anything."
I am at their mercy now. I know they are overreacting to some elevated blood pressure, which wouldn't be high for other women, but is high for me of low blood pressure. I know we are fine, and yet, I would never contradict care and monitoring for this baby. I explain to them that I ran three blocks before getting my blood pressure taken. I explain that the cuff does not fit properly. I explain to them that I have been to three appointments today. I explain that I haven't had enough water, or food. I think of Occum's Razor and let them put an IV in my arm, refuse me meals, monitor Thor for seven hours. Impervious to the obvious, we search for the worst case scenario and try to fix it.
"Your cervix is closed."
"So, now that my blood pressure is down, the contractions are slowing, all my blood work has come back clear, and my cervix is closed. Will I go home?"
"We are going to wait for another few hours to make sure your cervix is really closed."
"Okay. Do what you must."
Are you doing this for me? For you? For Thor? For malpractice? Or for all of the above? Circle one. Am I in danger? Can you be honest? Can you not underestimate my ability to deal with giving birth at 27 weeks? I have been expecting this to happen since there was a small pink little "pregnant" in a small little window. I overhear them with a woman who is at 35 weeks. She is there because she feels funny. Her baby isn't moving as much.
"Okay, we think it is time to get this baby out. Your baby isn't moving like we want him to be moving. We are going to do an emergency C-section. You need to get your husband here."
"But now? Can't we wait another hour? I don't want to have a C-section."
"We should be seeing more movement after 20 minutes. His heart rate decelerated a few times. We think the time is now."
Tell her her baby is going to die if you don't do a C-section. Tell her. Tell her to sign a paper knowing her baby will die if you don't get him out. Stop with the euphemisms. She doesn't understand. A C-section seems like the worst thing to her right now. Tell her that she will recover from the C-section, but that she won't ever recover from the death of her child, especially if she refuses to get him out.Tell her that her child can die even right now while he is on a monitor. Even while she is watching.
After they convince her it is now, they roll her away. I watch Pretty Woman and wait. I feel Thor kick and turn. He is breach, I found out yesterday, but he is good. I am good, except for a slightly elevated blood pressure, which will now be monitored often. Thor is measuring three weeks ahead of schedule, which sort of bodes well for getting him out at 37 weeks. I stare at the little 3-D image of my son in my belly that I received earlier in the day as the rhythm of his heartbeat echos in the curtained room. I have never had one of these pictures of any of my children. His nose is crooked and turned up, like Beatrice's nose, and his lips are like all my babies. They are like my lips.
"This is all for you, Thor. I would endure months of sitting in this bed, uncomfortable, knowing that I do not have to be here, if it means I get to kiss that nose every day of my life. Well, every day until you leave and make your way in the world. And when you call home, I will say to you, 'I wish I could kiss your nose, Mijo.' And you, exasperated and happy, will sigh, 'Mooooom.'"