Corduroy Road

After emptying the sterilizer, I stepped back into the labor room hallway to check on how things were going with our only labor patient. The labor and delivery nurse walked out of the mother’s room. Glancing at me, she ordered, “Set up the delivery room. We’ll be moving our patient there as soon as I call Dr. Rice. This is her fourth baby, so when it’s ready, it’ll come quickly.”

Pulling a surgical cap over my hair and covering my nose and mouth with a mask, I entered the delivery room. First, I opened a supply kit on a large wheeled table next to the delivery bed, then I took a sterilized package of delivery instruments from the shelf, opened the outside wrap and placed them next to the placenta basin without touching the inner wrap.

By the time I returned to the labor room, the nurse had already unplugged the bed and pulled the mother’s IV pole behind the headboard. Waving a greeting at me, the soon-to-be-mother grimaced with her next contraction. The nurse and I guided the wheeled bed out of the labor room, through the delivery suite hallway and into the setup room. By the time we transferred the mother to the delivery bed and I’d pushed the wheeled labor bed into the hallway, Dr. Rice had arrived, capped, masked and freshly scrubbed-in.

The mother and I knew each other. Between contractions she distracted herself by conversing with me. She asked, “Are you still living in Marshfield?”

Stepping alongside her so she could see me easier, I shook my head and explained, “A few weeks ago my husband and I moved our mobile home out into the country.”

“Oh? How far out?” the woman inquired.

Smiling behind my mask, I chuckled, “Not very far. I live only two miles east of the WDLB radio station!”

Glancing up from where he sat, Dr. Rice quipped, “I know that area. You live out on Corduroy Road.”

After the patient’s next contraction ended, she mused, “I know Marshfield very well, but I’ve never heard of Corduroy Road.”

Picturing the rutted surface of the street that I used to go to and from work every day, I explained, “That’s not the street’s real name. It has ruts one after another for long stretches, looking like the ribbed material we call corduroy.”

The next several minutes were busy as the baby arrived in a rush. I started the Apgar timer and made out the mother and baby name bands. Dr Rice placed the crying infant on his mother’s belly for a few moments while he clamped the umbilical cord and cut it. Moments later, after the nurse wrapped the baby in a receiving blanket and placed it in his mother’s arms, I snapped one ID band on the baby’s right leg and the matching ID band on the mother’s right wrist.

I helped the nurse move our newest mother to recovery room.

Then, three new labor patients arrived in quick succession. The rest of my work day was spent admitting the new patients, cleaning the delivery room and setting it up for the next birth. I washed, packed and sterilized instruments.

Several hours later as I was driving home, an oncoming car swerved dangerously before slowing down. The driver must not have had much experience with rutted gravel roads. I knew that if you drive too fast over the ruts, the car vibrates sideways towards one ditch or the other. Dust churned up by the other car coated my windshield.

Just one mile from the radio station, the number of houses quickly decreased in number. The five farmyards that were the closest to my new home were all owned either by families named Weigel or their in-laws. For good reason local people nicknamed the area, Weigelsdorf.

I loved everything about our new location. The big blue barn in our yard was full of Holstein heifers and cats with kittens, reminiscent of my childhood home.

As my car bounced over the bumps and my teeth were rattling, I smiled, remembering the delivery room conversation about Corduroy Road. The nickname sounded charming, until you drove on it.



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