We visited labor and delivery triage numerous times during both of my pregnancies. Each time, except one, they brought me to the room alone to make sure I was safe and not being abused at home. After they were assured that I was safe, my husband could join me. The one time they didn’t follow that procedure we were there to deliver our stillborn son, our first child. We skipped triage entirely that day; they took us directly to my room.
That room was at the end of the hallway, right next to an exit from the unit, which was accessible only to staff. My room had been stripped of anything baby-related. I found out later that there was a sign on our door with a picture of a teddy bear looking out the window, indicating that the family inside that room had experienced a loss. Each person who entered our room knew before they even opened the door.
The nursing staff kept the door closed, trying to shield me from the noises of laboring moms and crying babies. They started the induction and encouraged me to sleep. I didn’t.
At some point during the night, my nurse was called away to help another patient—a mom who waited almost too long to get to the hospital—and the door to my room was left open. The nurse quickly readied the other mom’s room and laughingly called to her, “You better get down here, or you’re going to deliver in the hallway.” I laughed too, momentarily forgetting why I was there. Another nurse came and shut my door.
I delivered my son early the next morning. Typically, mom and baby are moved to the postpartum floor two hours after delivery. We weren’t typical, and we stayed on the labor and delivery floor until we were discharged that evening. We spent the day with our son, in the same room where he was delivered. I was thankful not to be moved. I broke when I handed him over. The nurse had us exit through the staff-only door next to my room at the end of the hallway.
When we got pregnant again, we chose to stay with the same doctor, the same hospital. We knew parts would be hard, but they had been so good to us. They knew us, our history, and we couldn’t imagine starting over with a new team. My OB was fiercely invested in us, in our family. We knew she would do everything she could to help us bring home a healthy baby.
Our second pregnancy was very different from the first.
We passed each milestone with reassuring news. We knew there was no guarantee, but we had hope. We wouldn’t have gotten pregnant again if we didn’t have hope. But we were still terrified. We bought a few things, had maternity photos taken, and even had two baby showers, but I kept the tags on the clothes, waited until the last minute to install the car seat, and only packed my bag when my OB said I needed to bring it to the hospital. Each task took a significant leap of faith. I prayed we’d bring home a live baby, but I don’t think I ever confidently believed that we would.
When we walked into labor and delivery triage that last time, I was ready to deliver, no matter the outcome. My anxiety couldn’t take the unknown anymore. They brought me into my triage room alone and asked me if I was safe at home. I answered, “Yes, I am,” and they let my mom and husband join me. After discussion with the doctors and my doula, we decided to admit me for an induction.
They took me back to my room, in the middle of the unit, right across from the nurses’ station. As I turned to walk into the room where I’d deliver this baby, I looked down the hall to the room where we delivered my son. I took a deep breath and entered my room.
I changed into the hospital gown and sat on the bed, and that’s when I first noticed it—the isolette and baby warmer along the wall.
My eyes welled with tears. I looked at my mom and husband, as they were working to get us settled. I pointed to the isolette and said, “They expect us to have a live baby. There was no isolette in the room where we delivered Patrick.”
My mom nodded her head and said, “Yes, they do.”
And in that moment, I finally believed that our baby would be born alive.
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Our daughter (shown here with a photograph of her brother) was born about seven hours later—February 23, 2016 at 12:31 a.m.