Home > Parenting Lessons > January 22, 1993 – The calm before the storm

January 22, 1993 – The calm before the storm

Rumors have it that we will be going home today or tomorrow.  Heather has only had a couple of small contractions over the last couple of days.  She has been allowed to lay flat on her bed and has been on a liquid diet since Thursday night.  The nurses have hinted that she just needs to get back to eating a solid diet and have a portable pump set up so that she can have the magnesium sulfate administered at home.

I am all for going home.  I haven’t spent a night in a hospital since my own birth until this little escapade.  I have learned that hospitals are bearable at best, and this is only when you are in desperate need of attention, but quickly become a form of prison when one is in a ‘wait-and-see’ situation.  That’s where we are at, “Let’s wait and see what the doctor says when he looks over your charts”.  It was only three days ago that we began this journey but in hospital time that is just this side of eternity.

My thoughts are interrupted as a nurse walks into the room, “Ok, dad, let’s get you trained on how to use the Terbutaline Pump!”

“Great, what do I have to do?”

The nurse is busy unwrapping a small device, tubing, and what looks like a small first aid kit.  She doesn’t pause to answer me, “It is pretty simple. There is a pump that will inject a maintenance level of medication into mommy to keep her from going into contractions.  The pump is connected to a pad that has a needle which is placed on the thigh.  Your job will be to clean and place the needle when it needs changed. ”

“Uh, I have to stick a needle into her?” I have to admit that the thought of inserting a needle into my wife gives me the heebie-jeebies.  I have no problem with blood or needles.  I have actually slaughtered my share of chickens, cleaned fish, and even given myself stitches with a needle and sewing thread.  But for some reason, purposely sticking a needle into another human being just gives me the creeps.

The nurse seems entertained by my question, and light-heartedly answers, “Well, she can’t do it herself. She has to remain lying down even if she goes home.  You’re a big boy.”

Heather joins in with the nurse, “Yeah, Tony, it’s just a little needle.  You can do it.”

The nurse has been swabbing a spot on my wife’s thigh with alcohol in preparation for the needle to be inserted while I have been going over what it is that I will have to do.  I don’t get much more time to think on it before the nurse waves me over.

“Ok, put these gloves on,” she hands me a pair of latex gloves which I slip on my hands.

“Good, now hold the needle pad in your right hand like this”, she has it clasped between her thumb, index, and middle fingers much like you would do if you were holding an egg up for inspection.  I take the needle pad into my hand mimicking the way the nurse had held it.

“Now for the easy part.  Just stick it into your wife’s leg right here where I have already swabbed it. One quick motion and it will stop when the pad touches the skin.” She moves her hand through the air in the motion that I should copy.  It is just an easy swing of the hand towards the target – nothing too forceful.

I think about it for a second trying to build up the nerve.  “C’mon, Tony.  Just do it.”  My wife encourages me.  I think she likes the fact that I am not enjoying this procedure.  I decide that I have to get this over with so I take the needle, and copying the nurse’s technique, I stick it into my wife’s leg.  It felt ‘gritty’ and it causes me to jump back and bounce around the room.  I start shaking my hands trying to make them forget what that felt like.

“That is so gross!!”

Both the nurse and my wife enjoy a laugh at my expense.


We really were ready to go home on that Friday evening so many years ago.  And, yes, I did get the heebie-jeebies and dance around the room after sticking a needle into my wife’s leg.  I still remember what it felt like and I still don’t like it.

Friday was a quiet day.  Things almost seemed ‘normal’ besides the fact of being in the hospital.  We would experience that type of day many times over while raising Lauren.  And like that Friday, many of those days would be the quiet before the storm.

Tomorrow I will take you through the day that Lauren was born.  I may have to do it in two installments… in actuality, I could probably write a book on that day alone, but I will keep it short for this purpose.

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