Mother Knows Best
by Julie Meier
Julie was born and raised in Calgary, and now lives on a farm where she can enjoy a view of the Calgary skyline and Rocky Mountains as she writes at her kitchen table. Her work has been published in several online journals and she has been shortlisted for a number of flash fiction story contests. When she is not writing, you might find Julie outside cuddling sheep, or devising new ways to embarrass her teenagers.You can follow Julie at Twitter @Julie_M_Meier
As I waddled out of the exam room, I happened to look over at the white board above the nurses’ station. There, written in black marker, was the following: “Room 4 - Labour?”.
That was me.
Was I in labour? Yes.
No question mark needed.
This was my third child and, though every birth is different, I came in with a certain amount of knowledge and expectation. That night, by the time my husband Dan had finished watching a play-off hockey game and I had spent a few hours sleeping fitfully, I knew I was in labour.
We called our friend, Kelly, to come and spend the night with our other two children who were already tucked in bed, and off we went.
As we arrived at the hospital, with the digital green glow of our truck’s dash announcing the ungodly hour of 2 a.m., we were directed to labour and delivery for an assessment.
“I think you’ve got a while to go,” the nurse stated from her position between my legs. “Why don’t you just go home and get some rest until things have progressed further?”
There are times in your life when you need to dismiss expectations - your own and others - and listen to your gut. And mine was telling me that, although I may not have measured above 4 cm dilated at that point, my baby’s arrival was imminent.
“No, I think we are here to stay,” I said, knowing full well that we would get home to the farm with barely enough time to turn around and return to this exact spot. And so, we settled into room four, and prepared to wait it out.
Time wavered for a while, as it has a tendency to do when you are caught in that strange land between pain and excitement. Possibly an hour and a half passed - just long enough to have driven to our farm and then raced back into the city again.
By then, the contractions were becoming more insistent, and I suggested it was high time for my husband to go and find a nurse for a reassessment. That set into motion a series of events which included: a shocked assessment nurse, a hastily procured wheelchair, and a quick glimpse at that blasted question mark.
It was still there, leering at me, as they wheeled me out of room 4, through the reception area and down the hall to the birthing rooms. We passed mothers-to-be who were just arriving, clearly in the early stage of labour, still look cool as cucumbers. I, however, was feeling slightly less than cool at that point as I gripped the arms of the wheelchair tightly and another contraction took hold.
My husband was sent to properly admit me (they really didn’t believe I was in labour, did they?) and in doing so nearly missed the birth. A nurse suggested I step into the warm shower to relax my muscles and help progress labour, and progress it did. The nurse stepped away for a few minutes and, when she returned, I was met with another look of surprise.
“Why are you pushing?'' she asked.
Clearly, April 28 was the day for questions.
But Katelyn was not interested in waiting for questions to be answered, and neither was I. Just after 4 a.m., she made her debut in the world - bloody and beautiful, messy and perfect - my little redheaded girl. And suddenly, the questions didn’t matter anymore because my wait was over, and all the answers I needed lay cradled in my arms.
Fourteen years have passed since that day, and any memory of the pain has faded until it is nothing but a faint shadow. But the joy has remained just as palpable as the day I first met her. And that question mark on the whiteboard? I still think about it occasionally.
I have learned many lessons as a mother, but one of the most important is knowing the power of instinct. It is easy to get caught up in worry and doubt, and to give in to the thoughts and opinions of others, but motherly instinct trumps all. As a shy and reserved person, I have often struggled to speak up, but have learned to advocate for myself and my children when needed and to let my instincts guide my decisions.
We, as mothers, are inherently strong and intuitive. And, we really do know best.