I did not have the easiest birth with my oldest, Nathaniel. My blood pressure had been high all pregnancy, and so the doctors determined that I should not be allowed to go past my due date.
On Wednesday, I arrived at the hospital for my scheduled induction. They led me back to room, checked me in, and after 30 minutes or so, sent a kind, young med student back to check me. There had been a baby boom, and if I wasn’t dilated, they were going to give my room to someone else and reschedule me.
On Friday, the hospital called and thought maybe they’d just reschedule for Monday, when my doctor would be on call. I suggested that it might be possible that the induction would take longer than a breezy afternoon, and I’d like to be called when they had an opening.
On Saturday afternoon, I was admitted to the hospital and started on Cervadil; Saturday evening, Cervadil was removed and I was thrown into the tub to stop the contractions, which were stressing baby out.
On Sunday, I was started on Pitocin; Saturday evening, Pitocin was discontinued, and I was made to lie in one particular position to stop the contractions, which were stressing baby out.
On Monday, I was started on Pitocin, again, on a slower protocol; Monday evening, Pitocin was discontinued because I’d been on it “too long”, and I was advised not to go home in case contractions started, which could stress baby out.
Tuesday, finally, my baby was born. Tuesday evening, I had to get a blood patch after my epidural headache left me unable to lift my head long enough to go to the bathroom.
Wednesday, we struggled with nursing, and worked and worked and worked with a lactation consultant to get him going with a “nipple shield.”
Thursday, we went home, and then Friday morning a nurse came to check on us, and then Friday afternoon, the mohel (also a doctor) sent us back to the hospital to test for jaundice. I sat in the chair outside the nursery, waiting for them to call us in, sobbing. I was starving, beat up, hormonal, and being told my baby was not perfect. Dr. German, a resident who had visited with us many times over the previous days, happened to walk by. He knelt by the chair, treated us with kindness, and promised to send a nurse by the house the next day.
Saturday, the phone rang. “Hi, it’s Dr. German,” he said. “So, I was talking to Dr. Beard.” Dr. Beard was the attending who’d been through all of this with us. He looked a bit like Dr. Phil, but with nothing but kindness and calm in his demeanor. “Dr. Beard thinks that we should just let you alone for the weekend, so you can just have some uninterrupted time with your baby.”
“Are you sure we’ll be okay?” I asked meekly, no fight in me in either direction.
“You’ll be okay, and we’re just a phone call away if you need us,” he reminded me.
I kind of think that Dr. Beard saved my life, not to be too dramatic. What I needed was exactly what he said: nothing. That is, the supportive, trusting kind of nothing that has a safety net but messages its confidence in you above all.
I’ve been thinking about our struggling students today, who we hover over and fret over and seldom leave alone to do the work. I’ve been thinking about our new teachers, who we surround with support from this department and that department and the principal and the grade level team, and seldom leave alone to do the work.
In this season of testing, and evaluations, and high stakes, I wonder if the best thing I can do for my teachers right now is back off, and do nothing.