Giving Birth at Seventeen

I screamed at the top of my lungs.  “Do the breathing techniques I showed you,” as the nurse held my hand.  “The more you fight the contractions, the longer you’ll be in labor.  Let your body push the baby out.”  I remember that nurse as clear as day and that was almost thirty years ago.  I was a scared seventeen-year-old just married a few months living with an abusive husband. It was January 3rd, 1989.

My husband and I were on and off with separation since we wed September 1988.  I was attempting to study for my G.E.D before Christmas break. I was supposed to be finishing my senior year of high school, but pregnancy happened.  I promised my family I would earn my degree and graduate no matter what it took.  It was not easy because my husband was abusive.  He would leave me alone with no food and money to pay bills.  I wasn’t working; I spent my time taking classes and studying.  When my husband would be home, he usually was drunk and verbally abusive.

During Christmas break, I spent at my mom’s apartment to get some needed rest.  It was relaxing and probably the best sleep I had in months.  Christmas was quiet, with my mom and me.  My grandmother and the rest of the family were having another quarrel.  I lost track who was angry at who and for whatever reason.  My relationship with my mom was peaceful.  I think she felt sorry about what I was enduring with my husband.  I didn’t have anger towards her even though she pressed me into marrying him.

I started having labor pains about one week before the new year.  I didn’t pay attention to the pain because my son wasn’t due until January seventeenth.  My husband wanted to take me out to dinner the day after the new year, and  I reluctantly agreed.  As we ate dinner, I noticed my pain intensifying.  I barely could finish my meal when I asked him to take me back to my mom’s apartment.

We got back to the apartment.  My husband left while I lay on the couch in excruciating pain.  I knew I was having contractions but thought it was too soon for the baby.  I had a similar scare six weeks prior.  I contracted a flu bug that sent me to the hospital.  The doctors gave me I.V. fluids along with a drug to stop my contractions.

My mom started timing between the contractions, and they were less than five minutes apart.  My mom tried calling my husband.  Cell phones were not around in those days so trying to a hold of someone didn’t happen quickly.  He finally got back to our apartment, and my mom told him to come right back.  It took about thirty minutes for him to get there.

It took another thirty minutes to arrive at the hospital.  I got checked in and wheeled to the delivery room area.  I had to change into a gown. The nurse started an I.V. on me. The contractions were getting closer together.

An unknown doctor came into my room and introduced himself as my obstetrician.  He explained my previous doctor stopped seeing me because I had no insurance.  My husband and I had no idea she dropped me as a patient.  The new doctor was rude.  He was more concerned about getting paid than the health of the baby and me.  He drilled me about how I would come up with the five thousand dollars it would cost for the delivery.  I couldn’t take him badgering me so I lied and told him my sister would pay.

It was time to wheel me back to the delivery room.  My husband stayed outside of the room.  The rude doctor was waiting along with an intern.  I got prepped up into the stirrups.  The sweet nurse coached me on how to relax and breath.  She warned me the more I fought the contractions, the longer the delivery would last.  She had me focus on a happy place in my mind.

The pain was so intense I didn’t feel when the intern messed up my episiotomy.  The doctor yelled at the intern that wasn’t the proper way to slice.  I gave a few more pushes, and my son was born.  My husband and I arrived a little before midnight, and it was now 2:40 a.m.  My labor was intense, but the delivery was quick.

The nurse cleaned my son up a bit and handed him to me.  I couldn’t believe he was here.  I held him wondering how in the world did I end up with such a beautiful baby.  He weighed seven pounds, ten ounces and was nineteen inches long.  I gave the baby back to the nurse so the intern could sew up the episiotomy.  I let out a scream because the intern had forgotten to numb the area.  I felt the first stitch.  The doctor yelled at the intern once again.  I had tears rolling down my cheek.

The nurse brought my son out to my husband.  The intern got done stitching me up, and I got wheeled back to my room.  The nurse asked where my husband had gone.  I told her I have no idea.  She gave me a sad look, and both of us knew he left.  He never waited for me to get back into my room to ask how I was doing.  He took off.  It was his usual routine.

I barely fell asleep, and the same rude doctor came into my room around seven in the morning.  He explained he is going to discharge me within a few hours because of having no insurance.  I could barely move let alone stand because the intern sliced a significant nerve and the doctor wanted me out. At this point, I didn’t care I wanted to leave.  He proceeds to tell me, however, the baby needs to stay a couple of extra days because of slight jaundice.

It was the most challenging thing I had to do by leaving my newborn at the hospital.  I wanted to take him with me back to my mom’s apartment.  The kind nurse who helped me with my delivery and explained the importance of my son getting treatment for jaundice.  I reluctantly agreed.

It was the most harrowing two days of my life.  The hospital finally called on the second day, and I was able to take my son home.  My brother drove to the hospital and drove us back to my mom’s apartment.  I had a difficult time standing because of the pain from the episiotomy.  I didn’t care; I had my son with me.


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