Ch. 9 Lies of the Magpie

Ep. 31 BABY #3

In the meantime, I got an epidural that nearly paralyzed me for life.

Aaron fled to the furthest corner of the room and hid his face in his hands, peeking occasionally through his fingers to see if I was dead yet. The anesthesiologist inserted, pulled out, and reinserted the epidural needle four times. “You’re so skinny, there’s no fat to stick the needle into.” I didn’t think this was a good time to comment on my boniness.

Suddenly, with a five-inch needle searching its way around my spinal nervous system, I felt my entire abdominal area expand, like someone had opened an umbrella inside my pelvic bones. At that moment, everything on the inside of me urgently wanted to get outside of me.

“Aaahhh. Never…mind…the…epidural,” I said grimacing. “This… baby…is… coming……NOW.”

Tina dropped on top of me, bracing my shoulders in the gentlest tackle ever administered. “DO NOT MOVE.” she said, “You have to hold completely still.”

“Aaahhh. Stop the epidural. I can feel the baby coming.”

“Too late to stop now.” The anesthesiologist was not going to let this bony specimen get the best of him. “I’m almost finished.”

“Aaahhh!”

“Call the doctor,” Tina shouted to the hallway. She couldn’t make the call because she was holding me in a half nelson. “Hold still. He’s almost done.”

After an eternity, the anesthesiologist removed the needle and taped the tubing against my back. Tina rolled me gently; I winced as the epidural rubbed against the sheets “Aaahh.” More opening and Ooouuuuccchhh, something hard and round trying to squeeze through a hole ten times too small. “I can feel the baby’s head!”

“Don’t push. We have to wait for the doctor,” Tina ordered.

Seriously? Not with the waiting for the doctor, again.

“Lay on your side,” Tina helped me roll back. “Be strong and keep your legs together.” She should have told me that nine months ago.

“Does no one believe me? I. Really. Have. To. Puuush.”

Everyone in the room (except the anesthesiologist who’d disappeared from the room faster than a cub scout who’d broken the cookie jar), screamed in chorus, “DON’T PUSH.” This included Aaron. Whose side was he on anyway?

Telling a woman who has the burning need to push is like exploding Hoover Dam and telling the water to stay put. “We don’t need the doctor.” I pleaded. “I trust you, Tina. You deliver this baby.” I was thrashing around on the sheets.

“No, no. They don’t like us to do that.” She patted my head gently. “You can hold on. He’s on his way.” Tina put her hand over my ear and screamed, “Did anyone get through to the doctor?”

Was anybody even out in that hall? Finally, a desk clerk or maybe a janitor poked his head in the door, “He says he’s checking out at Walmart and will be here in ten minutes.”

Walmart? No one ever checks out of Walmart in ten minutes.

“Aaron, honey,” I looked up grimacing. I needed to push more than I’ve ever needed to do anything in my entire life. “One push and this baby will be here. You can catch it. I trust you.”

Aaron backed towards the corner again waving his hands in front as he retreated. “No, no. Wait for the doctor.”

Tina rubbed my back, “This will sound strange, but if you curl into a fetal position, it will help relieve the pressure.” I tucked my legs up to my big belly pretending that the lower half of my body was not attached to the upper half. “Remember to breathe,” Tina encouraged.

I inhaled and sighed as the epidural medication kicked in.

“The doctor is on the elevator,” the janitor/clerk stood in the door holding a phone. Tina opened a cupboard and grabbed a surgical gown and gloves. The janitor/clerk helped Tina stretch out the gown like a ribbon across a finish line. “He’s on the floor. Get ready, and in five…four…three…two…”

The door swung open and Dr. Juarez walked into the gown and gloves, crouched down, looked side to side and yelled, “Go.”

That was my signal to snap the ball, but I couldn’t believe what I’d just seen. Did Dr. Juarez bypass the sink? What happened to official scrub-in policy? I didn’t let my own husband touch me if he didn’t wash his hands after shopping at Walmart.

If I weren’t such a lily-livered coward, intimidated by his medical degree, I would have asked him to turn back around and scrub. With soap. Instead, I stared.

“Go ahead. Push,” Dr. Juarez ordered.

I just mastered not pushing and now he wanted me to push! Having a baby can really give a girl schizophrenia. I felt strangely floaty and heavy at the same time, like a concrete cloud. I gave a wimpy push.

“No. Wait for a contraction. Push during the contractions.” Dr. Juarez rolled his eyes like I was the biggest idiot excuse of a delivering mother he had ever seen.

“I can’t feel when I’m having contractions,” I said. My abdomen was as still and peaceful as a glass lake with no wind. The epidural was working and I had found my happy place.

“I’ll tell you when you’re having a contraction.” Dr. Juarez watched the monitor. “Now. PUSH!”

“I am pushing.”

“Push harder. Come on. Put some determination into it.”

My determination skipped town about the time I realized we hadn’t brought any DVDs. Ten minutes earlier I could have sneezed the baby out. Instead, we endured fifty-five minutes of everyone yelling at me to push harder and me shouting back, “I am pushing…I think…I can’t really tell. Will I ever be able to feel my legs, again?”

A head and shoulders appeared just before five o’clock. Dr. Juarez declared the delivery time with unspoken emphasis that he had predicted exactly the time of birth. He was also gloating in the fact that he’d broken his own record for longest episiotomy. He stood up from stitching, and I imagined that I looked like a kindergarten class’s first patchwork quilt project. At this point, when one would expect a hearty “Congratulations!” Dr. Juarez said, “The nurse will give you the information for direct deposit to my bank account. Holidays are double time.” Then he looked in the mirror, wiped blue powder off his mouth, and disappeared into the hall.

The epidural had been stronger than Schwarzenegger on steroids. My legs were cinderblocks. Aaron helped to hold the baby on my chest. “Hello there little man.” I traced the shape of his nose and cheeks while he blinked his eyes. “Welcome to this big, wide world. I’m so happy you made it here.”

Ch. 8 Lies of the Magpie

Maleah Warner Memoir

Ep. 30 Invisible

Last night when I packed my suitcase, I opened my linen closet to find my bag of travel size items which I keep in a plastic storage bin on the bottom shelf.  A wave of shame made me tremble and I retrieved the bag, closed the lid and stuffed the container back in the closet as fast as possible. I rarely think about the closet incident, but every now and then something will trigger the memory and I’m washed with humiliation. Was that really me? Did I really lock my children in their bedrooms and hide in the bottom of a closet? 

Aaron and I have grown closer over the past four years, but he doesn’t know about the closet. I don’t want to freak him out. Nor have I ever told him about driving away from home in the middle of the night planning to change my identity and start a new life in Vegas.

When Kate was about 18 months old, I heard Marie Osmond give an interview talking about her experience with postpartum depression. “One night I got in the car and started to drive,” she said. “I didn’t know where I was going or what I was going to do. All I knew was that I was unfit to be a mother and that everyone—my kids, my husband, even the Osmond family would be better off without me.”

I took in every word. I’d always felt a tiny connection to Marie Osmond. We’re both Mormon and we both have a lot of brothers. And at about the same time, we both got in our cars and drove away from our babies. She traveling north on the Pacific Coast Highway. Me traveling northwest towards towards Las Vegas.

That was the first time I’d ever heard the term “postpartum depression.”

At the end of the interview the audience applauded. She was hailed as courageous for sharing her story, for talking about a taboo subject. She’d had postpartum depression and audiences applauded her for it.

I don’t know if I had postpartum depression.

But I do know, that no one applauded.

Nobody even knew.

I was no Marie Osmond. All the attention, the demands of notoriety were a burden for her. My burden was that nobody noticed me.

Nothing I did was admirable or worthy of attention.

I was invisible.

(continued on podcast)

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Ch 7 Lies of the Magpie

Maleah Warner

Ep. 29  The White House

When I think back about the year after Kate’s birth, my memories come with the wonder of Dr. Jeckyl and the taint of  Mr. Hyde. I was genuinely happy; I wasn’t faking happy. I wasn’t “happy on the surface and sad underneath.” I was happy to the marrow of my bones happy. I experienced joy I didn’t know possible. I had never before known how having children in my life could be so magical.

Danny thrilled me. He was smart, inquisitive, playful, and interactive. He learned quickly, could recognize alphabet letters, learned new sounds daily. He loved dogs and begged to watch Disney’s 101 Dalmatians on VHS every day. We dressed him as a spotted Dalmatian for Halloween.

Kate was the most beautiful baby, strawberry-shaped lips and rose petal cheeks. She was so pink and petite that no one ever mistook her for a boy. She was tiny and strong. She could lift and turn her head a few days after birth and she learned to roll, scoot, and crawl quickly. When she discovered her laugh, it came out hearty and full from deep in the belly, which made her, and the rest of us, laugh harder. Every day she smiled and laughed and flapped her arms the moment Aaron came in the door from work, knowing he would play with and tickle her.

In November, when Kate was six weeks old, nearly all of our family came from Utah for her baby blessing. (A baby blessing is the Mormon version of a Christening, but without the baptism and Godparents.)  Even my brother Kevin made the ten-hour drive, which was miraculous because his health seemed to be getting more fragile.

Kevin was eight years older than me, two years older than Annice. He had turned 33 days before Kate’s birth. He had Down’s Syndrome and a hole in his heart (a common complication of Down’s Syndrome which doctors repair today, but not in 1966 when Kevin was born.). His mind was sharp, but his holey heart struggled to pump enough oxygen to his extremities. After the long drive, his fingers and toes were dark purple. When he arrived at my apartment door, he enveloped me with the largeness of his hug and an exuberant Hello!

“Con-grat-u-la-tions,” he pronounced each syllable deliberately.

“Do you want to meet your niece?” I asked.

He sat on the blue loveseat, situated his body, positioned his arms into the shape of a cradle and smiled up at me, ready to receive this marvelous package. I balanced Kate in his arms steadying her head on his crooked elbow.

“She is beee-au . . . bee-au . . . bee-au-ti-ful.” It took three tries to get his favorite word to come out the way he wanted. He leaned down and kissed her forehead.

(Continued on the Audio. Click Play Button Above)

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Ch 6 Lies of the Magpie

my journey healing through postpartum depression

Ep 28 Mothering Failure

We brought Kate home and began adjusting to life as a family of four. Danny thought Kate was a toy that squeaked, moved, and cried if you poked it in the eyes. We set up a playpen in the family room—a protective perimeter to separate Danny from Kate. Aaron’s trip to St. Louis had proven profitable, he had passed his tests and was an officially licensed stock broker. His license came with a marvelous perk—a legitimate office of his own, a place to get off his feet during the day and here’s the best part, it came complete with air conditioning. With getting an office, Aaron had permission from Goodwin to hire his own personal office assistant. “I am going to spend eight hours a day with this person, and it will likely be a woman, so I want you to help me interview the candidates.”  Go back to 4 and clarify when I visit Karly that it’s in a temporary office

On the first day in his new office, Aaron came downstairs showered, freshly shaven, and dressed in a new shirt and tie. “You look like a man with important places to go and people to see.” I sat at our card table wearing wrinkled pajamas, my hair scooped up in a messy bun on top of my head, spooning oatmeal into Danny’s mouth. Kate was sleeping in the playpen next to the table, and Danny kept pointing at her with questioning eyes. “It’s Kate,” I’d say.

Aaron kissed the top of my messy bun. “You’re down here early.” He sounded so chipper. I wanted to go back to bed.

“Kate woke up at five to eat. Danny was wide awake at six. He’s been down here playing. I tried to keep him quiet.”

“I didn’t hear a thing,” Aaron poured some juice. “Did Kate wake up in the night?”

“At two thirty and then at five. Congratulations on your new office. Your first day with a real desk and air conditioning. This is a big day.”

“Yes it is. Have fun here. What are you guys going to do today?”

I didn’t know how to answer. What did he think I should do today? What did he think I could do today? In between hooking a six-pound human to my chest every three hours and stopping eleven-month-old Danny from running over his new sister with his fire truck, what did he expect from me?

Did he expect that I would read Barney books to Danny and tell him the name of every plastic alphabet letter he brought to me. Because that’s what I did.

Did he expect that I would wince and cry each time Kate started to suck on my cracked, bleeding nipples? Because that’s what I did.

Did he expect that I would lay Kate down on our bed and fall sound asleep next to her?

Because that’s what I did.

Laiah and I talked most often when I took Kate downstairs for her 2:30 am feedings. Laiah never seemed to need sleep like I did. I sat in the rocking recliner staring foggy-eyed at the bucket of Danny’s toys in the corner. In the dim, mysterious glow of the lamp light, I expected at any moment for the toys to come to life and perform a midnight matinee in the middle of the family room floor.

“I’m not winning any prizes in the mothering arena, am I?” I whispered to Laiah while I leaned my head against the recliner waiting for Kate to finish. “There’s no report card. How do I know if I’m doing this right? What tells me how I measure compared to other women?”

Laiah knew the answer. “The mothering judges aren’t as direct. You have to watch for subtle signs from people around you. They may not come straight out and tell you what they think, but watch their actions and listen for the underlying meaning of what they say, especially Aaron, and you’ll have a good idea of how you rank in your performance as a mother.”

“Nancy, a lady at church, went two weeks overdue. She said I was lucky that I only had eight month pregnancies.”

Laiah nodded, “People will rightly think that you weaseled your way out of those hardest, last weeks of pregnancy.”

“Does Aaron think that?” I asked worried.

“Aaron never fully believed you about the bed rest. He thought you were milking the situation. The bed rest and the false labor embarrassed him. It made him realize that he married a weak woman.”

“How do you know?” I asked.

“You just need to open your eyes and pay attention to Aaron’s cues. What was his reaction after you gave birth to Kate? Did he say you were brave? Did he say you did a good job?”

Click to Listen to Full Chapter 6

Chapter 5 Lies of the Magpie

Maleah Warner

Ep 27 Bed Rest for an Overachiever

In August I had my first prenatal appointment with my new Arizona obstetrician.

The week leading up to the appointment I had started having contractions. I’d hoped the preterm labor I’d experienced with Danny was a fluke, a one-time thing. No such luck. It seemed my uterus was prone to contract more than a team of commissioned corporate lawyers.

“You’re twenty nine weeks and already dilated,” Dr. Magnuson said with a grim expression. “Was you last baby premature?”

“No. He was born at 37-weeks and was perfectly fine. No complications.” I didn’t like where this conversation was going. Dr. Magnuson sent me to Labor & Delivery for monitoring. After two hours they sent me home with a prescription for Brethine and instructions to limit my physical activity.

The next day I didn’t take Danny for our morning stroller walk. I didn’t push him in the playground swing. I didn’t vacuum or scrub bathrooms. We didn’t go to the library or the grocery store. We didn’t go swimming. At naptime I didn’t carry Danny up to bed, but knelt behind as he practiced crawling up the stairs on his own. 

This new routine of non-doing was okay for a solid three days before we were both stir crazy and ornery.

 

The next morning, as usual, Danny was wide awake at 6:00 a.m. Our ever predictable early bird. For convenience, and to not wake up Aaron, I did carry him downstairs where I changed his diaper, fixed him a bottle of formula, and parked him in front of the television feeling grateful that PBS started their children’s programming at 6:30 a.m. with Caillou (in my opinion the second-worst children’s show in the universe only beat out by Teletubbies) followed by an hour of Sesame Street at 7:00 a.m. I fell back asleep on the floral beast and woke to the strains of the Elmo’s World them song at 7:45 a.m. as Aaron quietly closed our front door behind him.

He left without kissing me goodbye.

Immediately I called Laiah. “I think Aaron’s mad or annoyed with me.” I told her. She hurried over and we had an extensive conversation. I couldn’t do much of anything else.

“You can hardly blame him,” she replied. “He’s outside all day every day burning his butt off making money while you sit here in this cushy apartment doing nothing.”

The broken springs on the couch poked into my back. There really was no comfortable position on that couch;  if the floral beast was anything, it wasn’t cushy. “I didn’t ask to sit in an apartment all day,” I argued my case to Laiah. “I didn’t ask to have preterm labor and to be put on limited activity. I would one hundred times rather wash dishes and run errands than be cooped up all day, doesn’t Aaron realize that?”

“Doesn’t matter,” Laiah said. “Aaron’s working hard. You have to suffer equally or your marriage won’t be equal. It’s not fair if Aaron is sweating in the sun while you’re at home relaxing.”

Chapter 4 Lies of the Magpie

Memoir story of my journey healing through postpartum depression and chronic.

Ep. 26 Stay At Home Mother

The word default has two meanings. One, it connotes a failure to meet an obligation or expectation. And this is what happened. By the time I told Aaron the news about our imminent arrival, our internet store had still not made a single sale. We had a hefty monthly business loan payment and zero business income. Default hints at a lapse of judgement, a miss, an overlook, a mistake. But it couldn’t have been Aaron’s fault for enthusiastically jumping onboard when I wanted to buy the same internet retail package that I was selling to business-minded adventurers from Idaho to Iowa. Nor how could Galaxy Mall be blamed for believing that every person with a home computer would be clicking and ordering before the year’s end? Who could have known it would take twenty years to shift the public’s habits away from brick and mortar shopping? Nobody else inside Galaxy Mall was making any sales. My company went under and I found myself pregnant, unemployed, and working assembly-line temp jobs.

But the word default can also mean a predetermined setting that the programmer has chosen the mechanism will automatically revert to when no other alternative is selected by the user. Clocks revert to midnight, calculators revert to zero, computers revert to basic programming. Mothers revert to caring for their offspring. We house, feed, and grow them within our bodies for 9 months, naturally we provide for their sleep, shelter, and food. This is mother’s instinct at its strongest. It’s our default setting.

Click to listen to Chapter 3

SOUTH AFRICA: What I Learned from My Travels

giraffes, south africa

Ep. 25 South Africa

A few weeks ago I left my monochromatic Utah County life (which I rarely do, even though I love diversity) and traveled thousands of miles around the globe to visit South Africa and Lesotho. I experienced diversity in culture, language, race, religion, food, plant and animal life, and traffic. But for all the diversity, the biggest thing I brought home from my travels is the reminder that we are more alike than different.

Shoes

While waiting to board my flight to Dubai, I passed time watching people. I was studying the traditional Arab dress of one particular woman, when I realized that she and I were wearing the exact same shoes. I wondered if she had bought hers at Costco like I had. Do they have Costco in Dubai? Or perhaps she lives in the States and is traveling to Dubai like I am. Did she buy her shoes for the same reasons I had, because they are perfect for traveling?

There is something about flying that connects travelers. All of us at Gate A-12 had booked tickets on the same flight. We were literally all traveling in the same direction. And at the moment we were all hoping for much the same thing: to get settled on the plane and to sleep as much as possible during the 13-hour flight. And we were probably all fretting about the same thing: having to use that itty bitty airplane bathroom.

Maya Angelou titled her 5th narrative memoir, All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes

We come from different cultures, ethnicities, religions, traditions. We might speak different languages. But we are all on a journey, and we need good traveling shoes. 

Home

“The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” Maya Angelou

As a black woman born in Missouri in 1928, Maya Angelou never felt completely at home in America. In 1966, at age 33, Maya traveled to Ghana in search of her roots, in search of home. She was surprised to discover that as a black American, she wasn’t readily accepted in Africa either. She wrote, “[I] had not come home, but had left one familiar place of painful memory for another strange place with none.” 

Home isn’t a place that exists, home is a place we create. It’s connection. During my travels, though I was far from “home,” I experienced moments of home—connecting with a mother traveling with her autistic child, washing my feet in the Dubai airport, traveling through familiar scenery in Lesotho, learning to say Sawubona, or realizing that an Arab woman and I were literally in each other shoes. 

Does any of us ever feel completely at home or do we all struggle to find the place where we truly belong? Is the human life really just a journey home?

Indeed, all God’s children need traveling shoes.

Chapter 3 Lies of the Magpie

postpartum depression

Ep. 24 The Story of My Journey Healing Through Postpartum Depression and Chronic Illness

Laiah was the first to see the flyer advertising the Miss Aspen Canyon Community College Pageant. “You should enter.” She ripped the flyer from its tack and handed it to me. “The winner gets a cash scholarship and a new computer.”

How would I compare in a line-up of accomplished young women? Growing up in a society where girls were not my comrades, but my competition, what would it mean to me if the judges scored me as the very best one? No friendships were at stake, my circle of girlfriends remained always the distance of my measuring stick. I filled out the pageant application, submitted a photo, and borrowed a dress.

The night of the pageant I was pacing backstage waiting for my turn in the talent competition when I heard a voice call to me. “Hey stranger,” Aaron walked towards me dressed in a sleek, black tuxedo, a ginormous grin covering his face.

“Well, you clean up pretty well,” I said taking in his aura. His hair was slicked with gel. He straightened his bow tie and winked at me, looking like a GQ model. I was already nervous, wringing my hands and pulling at my numb fingers. His presence filled me with electricity and I wobbled unevenly in my high-heeled shoes, fighting to stay balanced. The air in the dark back stage was frigid, but suddenly I felt an odd mix of hot and cold, as if my entire body had been placed in a furnace, except my arms, which were in a freezer.  I rubbed my shoulders, my wrists, my palms together and blew into them as if I were standing outside in a snowstorm. “What are you doing here?” I asked Aaron, trying to sound completely calm and in control.

“Madame Pageant Director asked the senators to be your escorts this evening,” he spoke with an exaggerated, sophisticated accent. “I just wanted to tell you good luck. You’ll do great out there.” He rocked back and forth in his black dress shoes and I wondered if he was thinking about giving me a hug or a high five. Instead he performed a classic Aaron pivot, and chugged his arms getting his train ready to depart. Before leaving he flashed me his huge smile. Our eyes locked, briefly and in those seconds, all the electric waves surging through me collected as if pulled by a magnet and traveled on one current that connected Aaron’s gaze to me. “Break a leg,” he joked and walked back behind the curtain. A jolt knocked me backwards as the electric connection broke. I stood trying to catch my breath and find my composure before my name was announced for my performance in the talent competition.

After my piano solo, I bowed graciously to the judges, smiled at the crowd, walked off stage and went directly into the dressing room to change into an evening gown and pin up my hair. The temperature felt like a hundred degrees backstage.

Chapter 2 Lies of the Magpie

Postpartum Depression Memoir

Ch. 2 Lies of the Magpie

The story of my journey healing through postpartum depression and chronic illness. 

The thing Aaron remembers most about me from college is my fast-paced walk around campus. His tennis class met at three o’clock at the courts across from my off-campus housing. For weeks he watched me leave my apartment, hurry across the road, rush past the tennis courts, short cut across the grass and disappear into the Humanities Building. His tennis partner noticed him staring and said, “Don’t waste your time. That is Maleah Day. She is the Academic Vice President. Ten bucks says you can’t get her to stop to talk to you. She walks that fast everywhere she goes.”

It was my sophomore year. I was ten years older than the straggly nine-year-old girl from Ms. Wickersham’s fourth grade class. My bean-pole figure had filled out in a few key places. Two years of orthodontic work and contact lenses had tamed my profile, but my ambition—if possible—was still as potent. I’d traded my dream of becoming a firefighter and astronaut to becoming an Airforce pilot and a foreign ambassador. I declared a Political Science major and carried an application for the Peace Corps in my backpack.

Still, I’d never forgotten my dream to become Mrs. Murry from A Wrinkle in Time and have my own kitchen/chemistry lab. My scholarship covered full tuition and fees, regardless of number of credit hours, so in addition to my social science courses, I registered for a Biochemistry Series, Anatomy, Microbiology, and Physiology. These would cover all lab science prerequisites, just in case I changed my mind about Foreign Diplomacy and decided to apply to Medical School. It was a good plan, I thought, to keep both options open.

Play button above to hear the full chapter.

Listen to Chapter 1: https://maleahwarner.com/?p=1258&preview=true&_thumbnail_id=1269

Listen to the Introduction of Lies of the Magpie https://maleahwarner.com/new-summer-series/

 

Book Cover Art by:

Bethany Baker  of Midsummer Studios https://midsummerstudios.weebly.com/

Chapter 1 Lies of the Magpie

Memoir story of my journey healing through postpartum depression and chronic.

Ep.22 The Story of My Healing Journey

The road I’m traveling stretches endlessly ahead across the Sonoran desert winding through a vast panorama of monotony. Each new mile looks exactly like the last.  Faster, I urge the engine forward pressing my foot deeper into the gas pedal of my husband’s car. I’m supposed to be traveling to the Arizona Music Teachers Annual Convention in Tucson, but I haven’t seen another vehicle in at least thirty minutes. This can’t be I-10, there should be more traffic on a major interstate.

The red speedometer needle trembles over ninety miles per hour. Still, the barren scenery passes too slowly. I might as well be a pioneer driving an old wagon pulled by a pair of sauntering mules. The summer heat turns the car into a furnace. I reach over to crank up the air conditioner, but it is already blasting at full power in a futile effort to keep me, and my enlarged belly, from over-heating. So why is it getting hotter in this car?

A tightening pinch begins in my back and wraps around to my front. The contraction pulls and twists causing me to grab my stomach. I grit my teeth and grip the steering wheel to keep from swerving. Breathe, I remind myself, noticing that I’ve only covered  seven miles since the last contraction. I squeeze my eyes shut tight against the pain, then re-open a narrow slit of vision—just enough to make sure my car tires stay on the road. I wince and wait. Two full minutes pass on the digital clock before the pressure releases. Tears burn in the corners of my eyes.

Please, baby, hold on a little longer.