It’s a funny thing about April Fool’s Day. It is one of those days that sneaks up on you, and depending on your frame of mind, may make you do any number of things, including but not limited to: giggling (at some poor victim of foolery), ignoring (cranky fool that you are – you lack a sense of humor either in life or for the day), plotting (probably the only day that you have a “get out of jail free” card to menace with society), or, birthing, which is the one action that I have taken on April Fool’s Day that has trumped all others, and has rendered any other of the aforementioned actions, moot.
Married for a little over a year, I found myself pregnant with my first child, and terrifyingly, sentenced to bed-rest at a very critical development stage for my unborn child. Even in the midst of a blizzard-filled winter, snow everywhere, I thought forward to my child’s due date in April, and planned how my baby was staying put until the END of April. Yes, END! My life was filled with weekly doctor appointments, injections to ensure proper lung development, ultrasounds, failed blood glucose tests, retests of blood glucose tests, and tantrums (worthy of a three-year old, not a 25 year old) about the most unreasonable items, including purple stripes on my breasts (which I flashed at my obstetrician, to the horror of my husband, because I was certain it was anything other than stretch marks), a broken holiday ornament (I cried for 3 hours), a certain Disney movie with an unnaturally high number of canine births, (if I think about it any more, I may just start crying right now), and finally, the fact that my high-risk pregnancy might very well end on April Fool’s Day, as it fell right on the cusp of that magical milestone in a pregnancy – 36 weeks gestation. Did I mention it was a leap year?
Lo and behold, March 31 arrived (it should have been March 30th, except for that annoying leap year thing!). An overwhelming sense of relief was definitely part of that day – my baby was developmentally ready, but I was willing my body, newly free of labor-stopping medications, to hold that little one in tight, so he/she could continue to live blissfully inside, at least until April 2. Funny what games I played in my head, getting myself all in a tizzy about a date on a calendar, when 3 months prior, my child could have been born with severe developmental limitations, or worse. So, it was only fitting that the universe and God decided to teach me a lesson about what was important… and so, those funny little cramps started in the morning, on March 31st. Now, I had done my research – what else is a woman on bedrest to do but be able to quote verbatim from various pregnancy guides. The book said to change what you were doing if you felt contractions. I was cleaning my apartment like crazy (duh – nesting, but I didn’t know that). To stop these funny, regularly occurring “cramps” I lay down to have a little nap, which lasted 3 hours. I woke up, and Oh good! No more cramps… until 8 minutes after I woke, and 8 minutes after that… In denial, I continued through my day – I wasn’t in pain, so this wasn’t labor. And then the pain started.
I placed a phone call to my obstetrician, and we were on our way to the hospital. We had spoken to family during the day – jokes about an April Fool’s baby went around, but we didn’t let on. I wasn’t in labor, I wasn’t in pain, and I WAS NOT having a baby on April 1st – case closed. So we found ourselves in the hospital, after 3 or 4 hours of some pretty bad pain. The doctor examined me, told me that I was only one centimeter, and not in labor (in retrospect, I suppose I should have demonstrated my pain better than I did, but I WAS NOT having a baby on April 1 – mind over body!). In fact, she sent me home with a prescription for the pain. We went to the pharmacy where the pharmacist refused to fill the prescription – to this day, I don’t know why, but I wasn’t particularly reasonable so that I could ask. I just walked out, holding tight to my dignity, even though I think the pharmacist thought I was an addict. I got home, and my husband went to bed, under my assurances that I was fine, this was NOT labor, and it would pass. I bit my lip with the agony of “not-labor” that steadily intensified. And then it was midnight, and April 1. I got in the bathtub – God as my witness, I was stopping this “not labor”,with a soothing bath. The pain got worse, my cries woke my husband, and reason prevailed, in his brain at least. We got back in the car and went back to the hospital where the nurses yelled at me, prior to examination, that I WAS NOT in labor (I know I said to myself – because my baby is NOT going to be born on April 1st). I did yell back that if someone didn’t manage my pain in MY hospital, I would find a group of doctors that would at a better hospital. Quickly, based on the waves of pain that they saw come over me, they examined me, and just as quickly they, and I, understood that a baby was coming, fast!
So, remembering all that I had read during my three long months of bedrest, I requested an epidural. Epidurals can slow down, and sometimes even stop a labor, right? Problem was, I was just too far into labor to get one – something about transition – and that is when the nurses laughed at me. It was 6:20 in the morning, and I had the delusional thought that I would somehow postpone the birth of this baby for 18 hours with an epidural. Just get me to April 2, please? (And damnation on that stinking leap year!) In fact, I was so ready to give birth in the wee hours of April 1, that I had to wait for the doctor to arrive to even begin pushing.
So, without giving you the details of a delivery that was traumatic for reasons that relate only to me, my crazy mind, and my April Fool’s Day aversion (and the lack of pain medications of ANY sort), a beautiful baby girl was born. That was the beginning of me understanding the big picture: the blessings that are life, love of family, love for a child, and thankfulness for the miracles we are given each day in those blessings. The single-most significant accomplishment of my life was bringing this miracle into the world, after months of bedrest, health scares, my temper tantrums, and a crazy, unreasonable aversion to birth on a day, that in the scheme of life, really didn’t matter (and which, I am sure would be diagnosed by any mental health professional as some sort of displaced anxiety). For the lesson learned, I am grateful. I now have three beautiful children (only the first one born on April Fool’s Day), and those two subsequent pregnancies resulted in the same bedrest, health scares, and anxiety. However, I was a different woman, entrenched in being thankful each day for the blessings of my children, whose smiles gave me hope that this next pregnancy would end as happily as the one preceding it.
Epilogue: On that April Fool’s Day, we could not wait to share our fabulous news with all of our family and, as soon as it was a reasonable hour, started making phone calls. Lo and behold, each and every family member responded to the news of our new baby with some version of “Uh-huh…. Nice try. April Fool’s, right? ” UGGHHH!!!!