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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today...

Saturday October 13th 1990 was a day that I will not soon forget. Kristin and I had been at the William Harvey Hospital overnight, not very successfully trying to get some sleep. She had been having contractions since the day before and we were waiting for her to be dilated enough to go ahead and deliver. We awoke to the strains of Deee-Lite's "Groove Is In The Heart" on the radio.

She had tried pretty much everything they'd given her for the pain and discomfort - painkillers, walking the floors, and a device called a TENS machine, which was basically a little vibrating box that you strapped to the afflicted area (her lower back) with the aid of a velcro strap, and then dialled the twiddly knob on the side to the strength you required. Well, she'd had it turned up to 11 for a long while and still no relief. As we were walking past a window in one of the hospital corridors, she glanced outside and saw a children's playground with a slide. "Ooh," she said, "if I could just lay down on that slide, that would work." Well, unfortunately, she wasn't allowed outside but soon she was discovered to be dilated enough to go to the delivery room. 

First the anaesthetist came to give her some IV drugs. His name was Dr. Baig, as I recall, and as he inserted the needle into the back of her hand, a little blood shot out and onto the floor. The nurse looked at him and said, "Oh, Dr. Baig..." as if to say, "It's OK, he does this all the time."

After a while it became clear that the pethidine was not kicking in, she was still in agony. So they decided to do an epidural. While she sat up on the bed, leaning against me for support, they inserted the needle into her spinal cord, and the epidural started to work. It was at this moment that the pethidine started working too, and so now she was floating off in la-la land.

In came the consultant, Dr. Stewart, who we had not met until this moment, because he had been on annual leave when it was our appointment to see him, so we'd seen another man. Dr. Stewart looked at the chart, and said "Hmmm, Mrs. Hickmott, I haven't seen you before have I, why is that?"

Kristin momentarily snapped out of her drug-induced haze and looked him in the eye."You were on vacation!" she said, and with that, slipped back into druggie-world.

I don't remember much after that, it all began to happen so fast, but I remember all the grody bits that no-one wants to hear about. After a while, Charles Edward Arthur James Ross Odegaard-Hickmott was among us, and I was holding him, and Kristin looked radiant, and we were getting visited by friends and family.

And now it is exactly twenty years later. Charlie has grown into a fine young man, studying at Skagit Valley College and playing drums and making hordes of young female students swoon, no doubt.


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