Thumper is…12.

Twelve years ago my boyfriend, PQ, and I went over to our friend’s house for pizza. They thought I was crazy because I  dumped Thousand Island dressing all over my pepperoni slice, but we chalked it up to being out of Ranch and called it a craving.

Afterwards PQ and I took a walk and went to bed early since he had to take one of my Brown City students, Mike, to Western the following morning for an early bird college orientation. PQ was his recruiter and Mike had no adult family to help, so it just made sense. In fact, they had to leave at 4am to arrive by 8am and with traffic, and who knew how long they could get stuck on 69?

So the alarm went off by 3am and PQ begrudgingly got up to head from Lapeer to Brown City to pick up this kid and then drive him over to Western Michigan University. After he left, I got up to use the bathroom, but I couldn’t stop peeing. It was an odd sensation-one I had never experienced before. Maybe this isn’t pee, I thought to myself. Then it hit me: this wasn’t pee! Oh my god I am going to have a baby tonight! I grabbed a towel as the fluid continued to trickle and called PQ. I am sure I was a cursing blubbering mess already but all he said was: “Carrie, you’ve got this. Get the to go bag downstairs and go to the hospital right now.” He told me he loved me and he would see me and “Thumper” as soon as possible.

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I wandered downstairs in somewhat of a fog until I saw the bag and thought: THIS IS IT. I am going to drive myself to the hospital and have this baby. There were still no contractions, but the fluid was still trickling out. I grabbed a banana and shoved it in my mouth, drank some milk out of the carton, and picked up the bag. There was still a towel stuffed inside my panties so it was awkward getting in my Jeep to drive, but I figured out how to balance just right without getting anything too wet.

Luckily the hospital was only a mile from our house in Lapeer, so it did not take long to arrive. Once I did, though, I wasn’t sure where to park. We took those classes, but they never really go into the important stuff….like where the labor and delivery entrance is and how to drop yourself off if you need assistance. Does that happen often? I finally stopped circling the place and followed this pregnant couple inside. I got on the elevator with them and figured they would know where to go. Getting off with them on the delivery floor, a raucous table full of overworked, underpaid nurses sort of greeted me.

“Are you delivering tonight?” one nurse shouted over the others.

“I think so….” I replied.

“You think so, girl, c’mon now,” she stated matter of fact.

“Well my water broke…I think….” I said.

“You think?” she replied.

Because it wasn’t the gusher I had seen in every movie, I really had no idea.

“Well let’s take a look,” she said escorting me to triage. One look and they confirmed my story.

“Your baby’s got a ton of hair,” the delivery nurse said.

“Whaaaat? You can see hair already? Oh. My. God.” I reached for my bag and called PQ.

“Where are you? Call my parents. The baby has HAIR.”

He thought I had already delivered so he arrived moments later breathless and sweating.

“Where’s the baby?” he asked simultaneously with my, “Where’s Mike?” I couldn’t stop thinking about this poor kid who had no clue what was about to happen to his life as a new college student driving himself to his own orientation. Kind of a metaphor for PQ and I now that I reflect on our situation.

“I gave him the car. He’s gonna have to be a big boy today,” he said. Taking my hand he told me how proud he was of me and asked for the details. I wasn’t contracting but was still losing water so they thought it best if we begin Pitocin. I wasn’t sure I wanted any meds but the more I lay there, the more I worried my water would run out and Claire would not have anything left to swim around in so I consented and we began the induction.

At this point it was nearly 6 am and my parents had heard their message on the answering machine once they woke up. The both hopped in the shower to drive from Burton to Lapeer, and my dad apparently thought my mom was taking too long so he left her. While she was still showering. He didn’t want to miss it! He was speeding east on 69 and got pulled over so when my mom arrived, he wasn’t there yet and we were both in a delivery room reading. She walked in like, “Where is the baby?” while we said “Where is dad?” We were pretty worried about my dad after we filled her in on the labor prognosis. About twenty minutes later dad rushed in thinking he had missed everything and said, “Where’s the baby?” while we all replied, “Where were you?” He talked us through his police ordeal and managed to not get a ticket using Thumper as a true excuse. It was a good laugh and then things got real pretty quickly.

Contractions finally started and we were on our way to becoming a family. Little did we know then but this baby would unite PQ and I more so than any ring or promise. She was our union. When she finally arrived at 1:42pm, she wailed. Like a huge HELLO! And then a small, “Where am I?” We decided to call her Claire Elizabeth. PQ had to help the doctor with the cord blood donation after he cut it, so my mom filled me in on her ten toes and fingers. Finally they gave her to me and I was awe struck. This beautiful being was created from two naive, reckless lovers and she was absolutely perfect.

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As she suckled, we crooned over her. Then we heard someone knock at the door: a visitor already? It was my student, Mike, returning the car keys. He had a good orientation at WMU and had made it back safely. Then we introduced him to Claire. He said, “I guess you won’t be there for exams tomorrow, huh?” I smiled down at the greatest gift I have ever been given and realized not only did she get my dad out of a ticket, she got me out of proctoring exams!

Claire really has the best birth story.

 

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