To get to 1-8-93 we actually have to back up two days, to Thursday, 1-6-93.
Bob is working the late shift (to 10:00 each night) for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Hunstville and I have completed my first semester as a graduate teaching assistant for Dr. James Olson. There's still another week and a half before I head back to classes and I am about as pregnant as you can get. You know the old joke, you can't be a little bit pregnant? Well, you can, in the short term. And you will also be a whole-lotta pregnant, too.
I was in the whole-lotta pregnant stage where you are so absentminded you barely remember your name. Back in December I'd managed to walk out into the back yard of our little rental home with our dog Shelby and lock myself out of the house. It was around 6:00 p.m. and cold and none of the neighbors in our sparsely populated area were home. I found a window, up about 4 feet from the ground in the backyard that wasn't locked and had to hoist my big-bellied self up on top of the doghouse that I'd dragged over and make it up and in to keep from sitting outside freezing half the night since I would have to not only wait until 10:00, but the inevitable hour it would take for Bob to realize I wasn't picking him up from work, find a ride, and get to me. So up and in I went and my arms stayed sore for weeks.
Shelby was my constant companion in those days. She was also my first dog. I'd rescued her from the shelter a little more than a year before when I'd volunteered to help with the animals and ended up falling in love with her on the first day. She was already graying in her muzzle and was the quietest, sweetest, most loving soul I've ever known. We would drive to pick Bob up from work every night at The Walls in downtown Hunstville and she would ride in her seatbelt in the passenger side and watch keenly for him to come walking out before hopping into the backseat. I was addicted to McDonalds Quarter Pounders in my first pregnancy and the drive-through folks knew us both by sight. We'd fixed up the nursery and she had taken to sleeping every night on the rug beside the empty crib. We were already calling her Nana-Shelby.
(Please look at the cute dog instead of the deranged poodle on my head.)
These fine shorts were tugged up and over the baby bump, but that still doesn't excuse their wretchedness. . .
Above is one of the last pictures I have of me pregnant with Nick, with Matt, Melissa, and Heather at Christmas.
About ten days after the above picture was taken, Shelby was acting listless and odd. I called the vet, who suggested I give her some pepto and call him the next day. We had a cold front move through and the temperatures were freezing. When I let her out that night, she laid down in the backyard and didn't want to come in. At my insistence, even attempting to lift this 60 pound dog at one point she came inside. When I got up to check on her around midnight, she was not moving, but her eyes were open and her heart was still beating. I woke Bob who pulled her up on the bed with us and I encircled her in my arms and said goodbye. I felt her heart beat its last and the most comfort I could take was I had made her last year one of maddening love and joy.
I was inconsolable.
Bob was awakened Thursday morning by a call from our landlady and dear next door neighbor, Grace. Bob sleeps like the dead (although his snores will put that fear quickly to rest) so I have to imagine the phone must have rung 1000 times before it woke him enough to answer it.
"Bob, this is Grace. Do you know where your wife is?"
It was early dawn, and raining, and near freezing. She'd seen me walking off back into the acreage of trees behind our houses with a shovel.
Bob, who already knew my penchant for doing stupid things super-preggo, thought I was off digging a grave on my own and raced out to find me. I really wasn't, promise. I was marking the spot I'd already picked out for her, near Grace's beloved dog, up under the pine trees in a pretty shady spot. I'd already walked from the house to the spot three times in the early morning light, having nothing else to do but cry and blubber and sit and pet the still body of my Shelby laying wrapped and awaiting burial.
I walked that hill ten more times that day, unable to do anything else. Since I hadn't slept the night before, I crashed that night in a haze.
Which brings us to Friday, 1/8, when I walked that hill again many times, putting flowers on her grave and grieving. Bob went out to buy the commemorative Elvis stamp, released that day on his birthday. We did some errands. And I walked the hill to talk to Shelby. By lunch I was noticing some rather regular, sharp pains, but said nothing for a few hours, convince they were false contractions due to all the exercise, and I didn't want everyone to get worked up. By dinner, I spilled to Bob, who immediately went into worry overdrive. By that evening, they were still 20 minutes apart and not bad, and I insisted Bob get some sleep, since we might not get a lot of that in the coming weeks. He made me promise I would wake him if they got to 10 minutes apart.
I, in my infinite wisdom, knew that if I woke him when they were 10 minutes apart he would insist on driving me to the hospital (exactly one red light and less than a mile from the house) where the nurses would roll their eyes and tell me to go home and wait. So, they got to 10 minutes apart and I let him sleep. I decided at 5 minutes apart, I would get him up and we would go. When he stumbled into the living room at 11:00 that night and asked me, "how far apart now?" and I said "6 minutes" that man woke up faster than he had in his entire life, eyes as big as saucers. So, rolling my eyes, we got into the car and got to the hospital at 11:01.
The nurse asked, "how far apart" and when I told her "6" she rolled her eyes and said, "We'll check you, but you probably can go home for awhile."
I shot Bob my best "I told you so" look and we headed back to the examining room.
She did the check, which is when her eyes got wide, and she said, "Oh, you're already dilated to almost 9! We need to get you upstairs!"
It's almost midnight and almost January 9. Guess what Bob's eyes were doing now.