The Wild Card

3rd February 2023

“Third babies can sometimes be wild cards!” I remember my Doctor sharing with me as I glided through my third of three pregnancies and we discussed birth plans. So when at my 36-week appointment the Doctor shared that the baby wasn’t quite heads down “wild card” and is what jumped into my mind. He asked me to follow up with another appointment a few days later.

On Monday, my 37-week appointment, the baby was heads down, but this time, the Doctor asked “have you ever had high blood pressure?” It turned out this deck had more than one wild card in it. It had been a particularly stressful week at work and I brushed it off as such, determined to make it a few more weeks. I had already scheduled another appointment for Friday, so back I’d come in a few days.

By Friday, work had really escalated and so had my contractions. I had a sneaky suspicion the wild card might show its hand again and I asked Patrick to join me at this appointment, carseat and hospital bags packed in tow.

Show itself it did with another  high blood pressure reading and off to the hospital we went. We settled in and were given a green light to walk the halls of Piedmont for 45 minutes of every hour, with 15 minutes to monitor. I set out to walk like it was my job, including a quick detour of getting locked outdoors in the 30 degree weather while wearing a hospital gown. It turns out the Piedmont Hospital Walgreens is not accessible from the inside and they don’t sell lottery tickets. I digress.

Somewhere along our third round of this, we ran into the Doctor who joked about my speed walking, I asked her if I was allowed to run this baby out down Peachtree Street, we are situated on cardiac hill after all. She didn’t find that funny. Nor did she think I was serious. I was. I didn’t run.

After several hours of this and few places left to explore, little had progressed. I argued with the Dr. to head home, it was after all “just stress” that had caused my blood pressure to spike. She argued that was probably not the case and to induce me. She won. She was certain I’d have this baby quickly, overnight. It was my third after all.

Night came and went and that little stubborn wild card stayed put. Despite Pitocin and Cervidil, baby hadn’t moved an inch. With morning came a change in Doctors and my own Doctor would now be doing rounds. She chuckled when she saw me. I was here, two weeks early, thanks to two rogue high blood pressure readings, destined to deliver my third of three babies with her by my side. She assured me I would not leave this hospital without a baby, no matter how frustrated I was becoming.

At this point in the story, I’ll pause for an intermission of a different kind. That morning, we got word from my in-laws that our sweet dog Vida was not well. Patrick and I were both convinced they were overreacting, so with a stalled labor and no baby in sight, we agreed he should leave the hospital and check on her. His call came quickly, Vida was not well. He would stay with her a little longer before my father in law took her to our vet to say goodbye.

That damn dog, 15 years young, had waited until we left to have a baby to turn a corner. I was angry, sad and had to laugh a little bit that she was going to do this her way, while I was stuck in a hospital unable to pet her head while telling her exactly how I felt about this shenanigan. If you’ve ever wondered if it’s possible for two emotions to perfectly coexist in a single moment, I can assure you, they can. Joy and grief. Perfectly hand in hand.

By this point, my frustration in labor had really begun to grow. My Doctor decided to break my water and see if that trick might get things moving. She tried and couldn’t. It was terribly painful, but I was so ready to get this show on the road, no amount of pain was going to stop my hard headedness. She opted to wait until I could have an epidural and try again.

An hour or so later, epidural was in and she successfully broke my water. With Eloise, breaking my water lead to a baby in arms about 45 minutes later, but remember, this is my wild card. No such luck. A few more hours passed with little progress and more frustration on my part. Impatience is a theme here.

I changed positions, sitting up, and Patrick left again to get a snack. Welp, that did the trick. Suddenly this baby decided now was the time to make his or her arrival – and do it quickly. The nurse let me push once, then asked me to stop and I didn’t ask too many questions why. Patrick and my Doctor had barely gotten back to the room by the time this little one was ready to make an entrance. Wild card number three.

Baby arrived swiftly and quietly. No immediate cry. I only heard the words “double nuchal” and no words on gender from Patrick. It turned out she was a she and she had a double wrap of the cord around her neck, which may have prevented her for moving down earlier in labor. Thanks to being two weeks early, she had extra vernix on her skin, making her appear paler than she actually was. He was convinced, if only for a brief moment, something was terribly wrong and was in shock. She let out a beautiful little cry, he let out a sigh of relief and awe and joy filled the room for a third time to learn this little one was a little girl – our Lilah Cordelia. Praise be to God.

From the moment you take a pregnancy test, you begin to imagine what that baby might be like. Brown hair or blond? Stubborn or easy going? Boy or girl? I think it’s natural to dream up who this little person you carry for nine months might become. However, what they don’t tell you to prepare for is how this little person might change who you are destined to become too.

Lilah Cordelia was just the wild card I needed. A reminder that you don’t get to pick the timing, the circumstances or even believe the story you’ve told yourself that you have a stubborn little one who refuses to come into the world. In the weeks since her arrival, Lilah has been everything except stubborn. She sleeps softly, nurses like a champ (my first baby not to fall backwards on the growth chart post birth!) and will stare at you with these big, round blue eyes as if to say “I’m so happy I’m here.” Us too baby girl, us too.

Lilah, my prayer for you is that you always force us to slow down and take in the world at a slower pace. I pray that you march to the beat of your own drum, unapologetically, and that you see the world with those big, open eyes. And perhaps if we are so lucky, or simply not too stubborn, your wild card will rub off on all of those around you too. All my love, mom.