As I stare at the rain following outside, I am reminded of this day 16 years ago. It was raining on that day as well.....freezing rain with an inch or two of ice. I was a patient at Sparks Regional Medical Center in Fort Smith, Arkansas suffering from pre-eclampysia (not really "suffering" when you consider at the time of my admission I was the ONLY patient on the maternity wing; for 3 days I was Princess Tamara of the Labor and Delivery Province) .
I had been admitted to the hospital due to high blood pressure among other signs that were evident during my first 'every 2 weeks' appointment. My OB, Dr. McClannahan, informed me that he would leave instructions for me to be discharged on Wednesday. He had won a duck hunting trip to Northeast Louisiana and would be leaving the next morning. (God Thing 1) I begged him not to go but you know hunters.....they never listen to reason. Dr. McClannahan had ordered steroid shots be given to me that would boost the growth of Moriah's lungs. (God Thing 2) He assured me that while more than likely she was going to be born early, it would not be this week. So, I do have a history of using performance enhancing drugs if the question ever arises. I expect you all to hold me accountable. My only concern was in the event she did not come early, would she be born all buffed up?
Bed rest is the name they gave for the treatment I was receiving (God Thing 3), you know the type of rest where you are awakened every 3 hours and prodded and probed with invasive questions like "Are your kidneys functioning?", "Have you pooped yet?", and "Are you experiencing any sort of discharge?" Discharge??? Do you mean as in 'my OB said that I would be discharged on Wednesday' right before he left to go duck hunting in Louisiana? Nope, sorry! No discharge here of any form, just a princess wanting to go home. Check all of those EMPTY rooms down the hallway.
On the Wednesday evening (when I was supposed to go home) before, the associate of my OB doctor strolled in doing his buddy's rounds. He said, "I know Dr. McClannahan promised you that you could go home today but the weather is supposed to get rough and I'm afraid that if I send you home, being as you live 45 minutes from the hospital, and something happens you might have a little trouble getting back to the hospital." I was not surprised. In fact, I told Dr. Bell that I was sure that McDaddy knew that I would not be going home and he saddled him with giving me the impending bad news. He agreed that was a more than likely scenario of what had transpired. We had both gotten the shaft by a man gone to shoot ducks on a frozen pond. So, another night in the hospital....yea!!!! (God Thing 4)
We woke up that next morning and John received word that a workshop that he was supposed to attend had been cancelled due to road conditions (God Thing 5). I had finished breakfast and it was pretty good....as good as you can get for hospital food. The tastiness of this meal may have been due to the no salt bland food that I had been eating since Monday...well, maybe not eating since I had dropped 5 pounds since I had been in the hospital. Nonetheless, I ate it all. Every single morsel and maybe even the plastic that it was wrapped in disappeared without a trace. Once I completed my meal, John decided to go get something to eat. I requested that he wait until I go to the restroom. Did I need his help? No. For some reason, I just wanted him to wait until I got out (God Thing 6).
I scooted off the bed and started my shuffle to the bathroom. These were my thoughts as I began my trek: Step 1-"That felt odd!", Step 2-"That may be some of that discharge they've been harping about." I reached the bathroom and proceeded to take care of business. I couldn't help but notice that bright red glow that covered the floor in front of me. It was so bright, in fact, that I did not notice the cord that hung right beside me to call the nurse if I needed help.
I cracked the door open a touch and asked John if he would get a nurse. "Do you need some help?" he asks. Why yes! I believe I do! He catches sight of the Red River and begins to scream "NURSE!! WE NEED A NURSE!!!" He throws open the door and is yelling down the hallway. I remember thinking that it was highly unnecessary for this reaction as my room was right across the hallway from the nurse's station due to the princess factor. Albeit the entire wing was full now because the weather had changed and everybody knows that weather changes and a full moon cause people to freak out and go into labor and stuff.
This sweet nurse walks in and calmly asks "Do you need some help? Oh my. Yes you do." She told me to have a seat. Really? Have a seat? On the toilet? Ok. Didn't seem like a good idea to me but I thought if this baby is about to fall out it would probably be better to fall into the toilet than onto the floor. I'm not sure the amount of counseling it would take for a child to overcome a toilet birth but oh well, we'll see. She leaves the room. I thought she was unusually calm but so was I under the circumstances (God Thing 7). But where did she go?
A moment later, about Nurses 2, 3, 4, and 5 ran into the room. These were not as calm as Nurse 1. It suddenly seemed like this was serious. "What's going on?" one says to us. Well,...there's this blood stuff... gushing from me... like a fire hydrant being flushed out. Panic ensues. If Luke would have been there, this one have been the moment that he said "Ok. Things are about to get real!" A gurney was being sought. Nurse 1 shows back up with a wheel chair. They loaded me in the wheel chair to take me back down the hallway to Labor and Delivery (the whole baby thing didn't transpire all in the same room at that time).
I remember being particularly concerned about the satin gown that John had purchased for me because I was a princess. It was not red and should never be defiled in such a manner. I'm sure that I was sufficiently annoying these not-so calm nurses that acted like this was serious or something. They humored me; to the point that they let me fix my gown where I wouldn't be sitting in a pool of blood. No blood got on the gown by the way. (God Thing 8) I remember feeling fairly calm although I had no idea what in the world was transpiring. It was a blissful ignorance that blinded me from the chaotic reality that was profound (God Thing 9).
We entered through the doors of the Labor and Delivery. "I'm back!" I shouted to the nurses there that had began the week of my princess spa vaca. They looked at me with a face that loudly shouted, "My Lord! She is delirious!!" Still enjoying the ride down the hallway with my entourage.
They were hooking me up to all kinds of machines and monitors. "We can't find Dr. McClannahan! He's not answering his pager (because there were no cell phones then)." I wonder if he had his pager.....in the duck blind....on the frozen pond.....in Northeast Louisiana. We managed to portray the message that he was out of town and they needed to contact Dr. Bell. Well, what do you know, Dr. Bell answered his pager. Bless it!
Dr. Bell arrives and begins to assess the situation. Wait a minute. Where is my doctor with the small slender hands? He is the one I want right now. Not Dr. Hulk Hands. Oh my gosh. Oh yeah, he's in a duck blind on a frozen pond in Northeast Louisiana. DOG! No time for you now. King Bell of the Labor and Delivery Province is here and handling the mess you left.
Still hemorrhaging. I'm glad I didn't have the view everyone else had. Nurse 2, a nurse that seemed to be more mature in age, comes in the room. She seemed to be all up into this organized chaos that was going on as was evident as she walked by John and without skipping a beat pushed him into a chair while saying "You're fixing to pass out and we don't have time to pick you up." (God Thing 10)
Nurse 3 yells out. I cannot get a heartbeat on the baby. Did you seriously need to yell that out? You are so not aiding in my ability to stay calm. As a matter of fact, if I hadn't lost so much blood, I might have the energy to be upset with you right now. At this point, it was serious to me. "Come on Baby Girl! Don't this to me now." The nurses assured me that Moriah was fine because she was kicking and moving around. Apparently, you can't do that if you don't have a heartbeat.
I think we were a little taken back when asked who our pediatrician was. What do you mean? We don't have any kids. Oh wait. That means we need one right now. The pediatrician that we intended on using was on a sabbatical. We were told we had to choose one immediately (and they are not allowed to help). Seriously? Not even in an emergency situation which apparently this has grown to be. I knew 2 pediatricians in Fort Smith from the old days of my unfortunate incarceration with DCFS. (God Thing 11) The first name out of my mouth was Dr. Cheshier. Dr. Bell informs the nurses that Dr. Cheshier was in the same seminar that he had been in just down the hallway. (God Thing 12) No need for pagers! Just get John to run out in the hallway and yell "PEDIATRICIAN! WE NEED A PEDIATRICIAN!"
My mom's birthday was the next day. I, in my infinite oblivion, wondered if we could shut this process down until midnight. Wouldn't it be so cool for your first grandchild to be born on your birthday? These ideas were thwarted before they were ever verbalized (God Thing 13) when John arises from his state of 'What the Heck?' and asks "What kind of time frame are we looking at, Dr. Bell?" The answer being "within the hour" made me think perhaps an early birthday present for Mom.
John had managed to get in touch with everybody which was not an easy task. Remember: cell phones were rare back in the day. Otherwise, I would have been on the phone during the c-section. Yes, I would've been that lady. However, we were strapped to the confines of land lines. My dad was hearing impaired or chose to not hear the phone when it rang. My mom was at the beauty shop that happened to be right across the street from the band room. John called the band room, it was during high school band hour. (God Thing 14) Mr. Nichols sent one of the students across the street to tell my mom that they needed to come to the hospital.
An anesthesiologist had been summoned. I don't remember his name but I'll just call him Best Friend EVER. He gave me a cocktail of phenergan (remember the HUGE breakfast I ate? This was to keep me from losing it when they cut me open and I have the inability to just rollover and puke), morphine, and a small dose of Heaven. I don't know the scientific name but the combination of these drugs caused me to not even feel the 25 gauge 3.5 inch needle that Best Friend Ever inserted in my back. (God Thing 15) Best Friend Ever was left in disbelief when I requested he let me know when he was getting ready to stick me so that I wouldn't flinch. I watched as they strapped my arms down while putting IV ports, monitors, and blood pressure cuffs on me and thinking I was being crucified. "Within the Hour" had commenced. Still on the happy bus to Oblivion.
At 10:01AM, Thursday, January 9, 1997, weighing in at 3 pounds 2 ounces and measuring 15 3/4 inches, scoring an APGAR of 8, Moriah Brook Fultz came into this world via a hole in Mommy's tummy. She was little but beautiful. Beautiful in an ET sort of way because, to be honest, she was a little grayish at first. She was breathing 98% oxygen on her own within minutes of being born (unheard of for a preemie). The heart monitor that she was placed on for precautionary measures went off once or twice when her little go go gadget legs would wiggle around and kick the leads off (also, unheard of for a preemie). (God Thing 16)
My 3 days of Princesshood had ended for a new chick was in town. Princess Moriah reigned supreme and has been every day since.
In hindsight, what seemed like organized chaos at the time was not chaotic at all. Sometimes God blesses us with a "hopefully" temporary ignorance of the seriousness of our situation so later we can see the work that He performed. Everyone and everything was right where they needed to be, when they needed to be, to carry out God's Perfect Plan. One God Thing right after another. Praise Him for 16 wonderful years of a precious baby girl. It doesn't get any "SWEETER" than that!