I encouraged Kris to go to the hospital at the slightest onset of Labor because I liked listening to the baby’s heartbeat. And the hospital had MLB Network.
This Labor Day weekend, Kris was all contractiony. We went to Labor and Delivery three times. Each time, I left the ‘go-bag’, with chocolate and newspapers, in the car. We settled into the delivery room and listened to the baby’s heartbeat. Kris winced through contractions while I watched baseball and wished I had chocolate and a newspaper.
The doc checked her and sent us back the first two times: Nine months pregnant and still not far enough along.
The third time, however, Monday morning, as the Yankees played the Rays, the doc took pity upon us and said we could stay. I ran out to the car, brought the bag in, and settled in for the long haul.
Doctors and nurses came and went taking blood and measurements. The baseball game and the contractions continued.
About two and a half hours into our stay, the doctor came in and said, “We need to take some more blood. I’m sure the lab Is wrong, but they came back with a platelet count of 5,000. If that were true, your gums and nose would be bleeding. Most pregnant women have platelet counts around 150,000 and yours was over 300,000 just two months ago.”
The nurse drew more blood and we went back to baseball and contractions.
The Yankees lost. I had eaten most of the Special Darks out of my bag of Hershey’s Miniatures. The doctor came back in. “Your platelet count is too low. We can’t support you at this hospital.” The technician hooked up a yellowish liquid to Kris’s IV. “This is a consent form for a platelet transfusion. Without the transfusion, you could bleed out during birth. We’ve got an ambulance waiting.”
Kris signed the form, the platelets flowed, and I followed the ambulance to Providence Hospital. We checked in and a new doctor came by. “We’re taking blood now to re-test your platelets. There are only two more bags of platelets in all of Alaska. We tried to fly you down to the lower 48, but you’re in active labor and we couldn’t risk the 48-hour flight. To save your life, we need to do a C-section, but we can’t do it until your platelet count reaches 40,000. If you start bleeding, we may need to do a hysterectomy.“
A moment of clarity. Diversions ceased. Questions flowed. If she delivered naturally, both she and the baby could hemorrhage. They couldn’t test the baby’s platelet count because if it was low and they pricked the baby, she could bleed out. They have to use a general anesthesia.
A shot to stop contractions. Her bloodwork came back. Her platelets were up to 21,000. The second bag was begun. More bloodwork. Twenty painfully slow minutes. 51,000. She walked away into the OR.
No dads allowed. More painful minutes. And then a bright light in a bassinet came out. Lots of hair and dark blue eyes: Angelica Ruth. I introduce her to her brother.
And accompany her on her tests while her mom finishes the surgery.
She has high Apgar scores, ten fingers and toes.
I bring her back down and we wait for her mom. I introduce her to her grandparents and we wait for her mom. I call family and friends and we wait for her mom.
Ninety minutes after her birth, a bed rolls into the room. My tired and somewhat loopy wi-ife. She gets to meet her daughter. Our trio is a quartet. And I exhale.