Our decision to have a fourth child was made after much careful thought and conversation. My husband’s first two children, Andrew and Melinda, were seven and 13 years older than our year-old son, Timothy. We didn’t want him to feel like an only child; we wanted the two youngest to grow up together without feeling like the lonely tagalong baby. The excitement was evident as we shared the news with the family. Our newest family member should be joining us in June of 1984.
Ultrasound technology had not progressed to a level for reliable determination of gender so we had no clue whether this would be a boy or girl. The family cast ballots and the vote was two for a boy, one abstention, one too young to vote, and one vote for a girl. I thought it would be nice if two little boys could grow up together as pals with big brother Andrew in the lead. Andrew, however, was in the minority and was absolutely sure this would be a girl.
Speculation would have to wait. The Church had other plans for us. Moves in the ministry can come at the most inopportune times, as we were to find out. My minister husband was being moved to a new church in a town about a 40-minute drive northwest of our current location in Omaha. His first Sunday in his new pulpit and our due date were within the same week! I began to imagine having to excuse myself in the middle of Joe’s sermon and make a made dash to the hospital thirty miles away. Worse yet, Joe was going to have to commute to the new church for about two weeks until the home we bought in our new town would be available. In these days before cell phones, he had to make sure he let his secretary or me know where he could be found at all times. I have never been more acutely aware of his whereabouts before or since.
I am fortunate to have had two very easy pregnancies. I had only feelings of queasiness with no real morning sickness; I didn’t miss any days of work because of my pregnancy; and I loved the feeling of the baby growing and moving inside of me. I found myself connecting easily with my unborn child and feeling very protective. While I was certainly ready to have my baby in my arms, I found being pregnant was exciting.
Both my mom and mother-in-law arrived to help with the majority of the packing for our move but as my due date came and went I grew more discouraged. We often started timing contractions only to have them fade away. The doctor assured us that this was a good thing and these Braxton-Hicks contractions were getting the process started and would make delivery easier.
I was overdue by exactly one week with our first child so I anticipated that I’d go past due date with this one, as well. Due date came and went and still we waited. Since my mom was staying with us, my dad checked in by phone often. He told me that this baby was just waiting for the new moon to occur and would be born on June 13. I never knew he followed the lunar cycles but he was right.
At last the time came when the contractions did not just fade away. In fact, they were continuing at a regular pace and continuing to grow stronger. They started around suppertime. Melinda had taken on the job of timing and recording contraction durations. As soon as Joe arrived home that afternoon he started making the necessary phone calls to the doctor and hospital. Andrew was busy running between the bedroom and the kitchen to report the latest up-to-the-second news to Joe at the telephone. It was also his job to gather up the last minute items for the hospital and Lamaze bag. Two-year-old toddler Tim was in the middle of everything enjoying all the excitement and anticipation.
With a mad dash to the bathroom, I announced that my water had broken and we all knew that the time was at hand. With two grandmas in the house we were not concerned about having to take the kids to a sitter but my mother-in-law seemed most anxious making the remark that I was sick. I assured her that all was well and the baby was coming: I was certainly NOT sick. As we drove off to the hospital at 7:40 p.m., Andrew was informing the whole neighborhood that the baby was “on the way.”
The hospital was not far and we arrived at the emergency entrance within minutes. I was whisked away to prepare for labor and delivery while Joe went to move the car from emergency to regular parking.
My delivery nurse soon realized that things were moving faster than expected. Contractions were doing their job and the nurse started watching the hallway to hurry Joe along as soon as he came into sight. My own doctor had been contacted but, fortunately, a partner from his practice was already at the hospital attending another delivery. Joe came in, quickly suited up in protective hospital garb, and grabbed the camera; the substitute doctor arrived from the other delivery and I was in position. In spite of the quick progress, I did experience lower back pain and vomiting during delivery. The vomiting had happened with my first baby but the back pain was new. The nurse had me turn on my side and massaged my lower back.
I needn’t have worried about making it to my Lamaze review classes because I didn’t have time to do any controlled breathing. At the first intense contraction, the head had been delivered, and within what seemed like seconds, we learned that we had our beautiful baby daughter. Delivery of the afterbirth presented more discomfort than the actual delivery had. The doctor had been with us just long enough to catch the baby, cut the umbilical cord and hand her to the nurse; I’ve often thought about the other woman who had to have realized that she was laboring a lot harder and longer than I did. Time of birth was 8:05 p.m., just 25 minutes from backing out of our driveway. Our doctor never did have to leave his dinner party. As a result of the fast delivery, I did have some tearing in need of repair with stitches but I was holding our perfect little girl, my daughter. I couldn’t have been happier and more in love.
Andrew proudly ran around the neighborhood announcing the arrival of his little sister, Allison Leigh Scahill. Amazed friends were in disbelief, assuring Andrew that it took longer than that to have a baby. The next day two grandmas and three siblings greeted our newest family member. Everyone got to hold and kiss her as we started the sibling bonding process. She was now in this world, surrounded by love and adored by her family.
We came home from the hospital within a few days but did miss Joe’s first Sunday sermon in our new church.
There was a minor glitch in my recovery as there was some undelivered afterbirth that caused some bleeding and abdominal discomfort. I was in the shower when I passed what appeared to be a mass of blood. After a quick trip to the doctor and some medication, all was well and we prepared for our big move.
Having the attention of her big brothers was a real delight for her. Her need to speak was delayed only because her slightly older brother anticipated her every need and made the appropriate requests for anything she might want. When she did start to speak, she made up for lost time.
Allison was an especially cuddly baby. She loved to be held and my great delight was sitting with her and having her fall asleep on my chest with her nose tucked into the crook of my neck. When I think of her baby-days, I can still remember that cozy loving feeling. My life is fuller having had the opportunity to love, care for and raise our baby girl and watch her grow into a caring, dynamic and intelligent woman.
Written by Marilyn Potter Scahill