I don’t want to panic anyone, but the clock is ticking. I’m sighing a huge sigh of relief because I managed to get everything shipped off to my family by the postal suggested date of December 10. That includes birthday gifts for my twin granddaughters, their birthday was on the 10th. My eldest daughter’s birthday is today, in fact. Writing this blog takes me back to when she was born. Denny was in the Marine Corps and had been transferred from Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, to the Marine Corps Air Station in Southern California. Because there was no hospital on base I was assigned a civilian doctor who took military patients. I was young, in a new place, and Denny was being shot off to parts unknown at a moment’s notice. Our first baby was due around Christmas.
I didn’t like the doctor. He was gruff and smoked cigars that made me sick. He wasn’t an OB/Gyn—the Marine Corps didn’t have one on the roster.
I started labor on the 18th. My water broke but I wasn’t making progress. The doctor said I should walk up and down the halls of the hospital. The nice thing—it was a fairly new hospital and the staff was compassionate. I kept laboring to no avail. Early on the 19th the doctor decided to give me a shot of Oxytocin because he wanted to speed up my labor so he could go on vacation. Late that day he ordered a second dose. I can tell you still, the pain was terrific. Thankfully Denny flew in from Japan.
By the 20th I wasn’t doing well, although a nurse said I’d made a little progress. The doctor ordered me set up for delivery. I’m not sure what happened after we all arrived in the delivery room, sans Denny. (Back then they didn’t allow husbands at a birth.)
The doctor said he’d use forceps. I don’t know what he did, but I remember feeling faint. I remember hearing a nurse say she was losing fetal heart tone and my blood pressure was thready. I’d been a medical record technician and medical transcriptionist, so in some part of my mind I knew it wasn’t going well. Then the doctor said, “I can’t deliver this woman.” And he didn’t.
I later learned in bits and pieces that he literally threw up his hands and walked out of the delivery room. One nurse stepped into the hall and luckily snagged a well-known OB/Gyn who was sauntering past. He came in, took a look, said: “they’ve let this go too long to do a c-section, but put this woman out, I’ll have scrub up and turn this baby ASAP.”
And he did. Kelly was a footling breech with the cord wrapped around her neck once. Every contraction jerked her up instead of letting her head down the birth canal.
What I know is the doctor who delivered her didn’t get paid a cent. The military had already paid an up-front charge to the derelict doctor. The good man said he didn’t want anything, and to just tell me Merry Christmas, and enjoy my miracle baby.
A nurse relayed all of this before I was allowed to go home on Christmas morning. Denny had found time to put up a tree in our little mobile home; a 3 ft silver tree that Kelly still has, though it’s seen a lot of miles.
In fact, neither Denny nor I were savvy enough to sue that doctor. We felt blessed to have our first baby, who on this December 20th is a beautiful, talented, kind woman, and a wonderful mother herself.
There were some good things that happened back then. She was the 100th baby born in the hospital. They gave us a photograph plan along with a gorgeous leather album. And because they listed her birth in the local paper, including her name, Kelly Fox, the radio station in the area with call letters KFOX, swooped in and gave us a complete layette, a convertible stroller and a lot of other gifts. I haven’t thought about this in a long time. But I continue to believe that Christmastime is a season of miracles.