The nurse finished up her check of me, then the room, completed some paperwork, and briefed the young woman on the incoming shift.
“I’ll probably see you tomorrow then, so take care” she said as she got ready to leave.
“Oh, do you work in the morning?” I asked.
Meanwhile I grasped the bedrails as another contraction gripped my belly with surprising strength. Things had been pretty slow until then.
“No, I only work the evening shift,” she said, “I’ll be back again at this time tomorrow night.”
I breathed through the contraction. Breathe in, breathe out, out, out. Breathe in, breathe out, out, ouuuuuuuut. The vise-like pain started to subside.
“But surely I won’t still be here tomorrow night, will I?” I asked once I caught my breath. “She will have been born by then, don’t you think?”
“Every labor is different, you know that. Especially this one. These things take time, sometimes a lot longer than you expect. I’ve seen women labor for a day or more before the baby is ready to come out.”
She was right, I was well aware of that fact. This wasn’t my first baby, it was my tenth. But even still, it wasn’t what I expected to hear, nor what I wanted to hear.
It was evening; the room was dim. As she pulled open the door, the stark hallway light shown brightly on the green sign posted on the door. On the sign I could see the image of water droplets on a falling leaf. They had placed the sign on my hospital door when I’d arrived. They told me it’s the universal symbol for grief.