Almost 4 months. That’s how long it’s taken me to finally sit down and put this story down for the record. I’m starting to fear that the details might fade, so I’m not going to bed tonight until the story is told.
It shouldn’t take long. You’ll see why.
It was the 6th of February. A Wednesday. I wasn’t due until the 26th, and I was planning on working until the 15th–at least another week. But, I was starting to get a little nervous about my long commute (65 miles) and what I would do if I went into labor at the office. My team had a plan at the ready (a funny plan, not a real plan) and I had a bag of spare clothes under my desk, but frankly, I could barely walk and it felt a little too much like the baby was going to fall out if I took a wrong step. My plan was to ask if Friday could be my last day, so I took some time to clean up my desk and send out some emails about partially finished projects I was handing off, and I headed home.
Two days before baby.
I don’t have a clear memory of that night. I think it was pretty boring. At that point, I wasn’t doing much besides sitting on the couch, trying to keep my feet up. I could no longer sleep laying down, so I sat up on the couch for the few hours I was actually able to doze off.
Thursday rolled around, and I had my husband wake me up at 4am so I could get a shower before he left for work, then I did a little work online. At about 5am, my son wandered out sleepily from our room and climbed on top of me on the couch. He nursed a little and fell back to sleep, and so did I. I was happy to, since I didn’t have to take him to my mom’s house until about 11:00. She was planning to watch him for me during my ultrasound, non-stress test and OB appointment.
We slept for about 2 hours, maybe a little more. I felt a lot of Braxton Hicks contractions, which I had been having tons of for at least a month or more. Lots of painless tightening, over and over. But I was really uncomfortable, so I asked my little man to move over on to the other couch. He did, and I sat up, turning to look at my laptop. I felt a weird pain in my side, so I stood up and headed to the bathroom to pee.
2 steps, POP, and GUSH. My water broke. HARD, and all over the place. Like in the movies.
Had it been any other day, I would have been driving to work…well over an hour away…at exactly that moment.
“Mommy, why you peed your pants?”
I was in a little bit of shock, to say the least. I had no idea what to do. I was induced last time, so this was entirely different…and 3 full weeks early. I was NOT ready – no clothes washed, no nursery set up, no bag packed – but I knew that gush of fluid meant that it was go time. So I told myself repeatedly to just stay cool so I didn’t upset my poor son who had no idea what was happening, and then I did the most rational things I could think of:
- Sent my husband’s partner at work a text, since my husband doesn’t get cell service there. “Hi Ed. Can you please tell Shane to call home. It’s baby day.” It was 7:42 am.
- Crossed my fingers that he might actually get the message.
- Called my mom, who did not answer the phone. OMG.
- Painted my toenails purple. Yup. Thought that was important, I guess…
- Dried my hair (still wet in a bun from my shower, which I was so glad I had taken!)
- Scrubbed my toilet.
- Called my doctor and explained that I thought I was in labor and that I needed very clear instructions on what I should do because I was feeling a little panicky, and asked how long I had. She asked what made me think I was in labor, and I explained that there was a huge puddle on my floor. That convinced her, and she told me not to take more than an hour, but also not to panic.
I tried my mom again. No answer. My son was asking tons of questions and I had no idea what to do. I realized I was in NO pain, so I figured we were ok for a while.
But last time, Dr. T broke my water and then the pains started. About 30 minutes after my water was broken. If that happens again, they should start about…..now.
By this time, that 30 minute window was almost up. I had a feeling hell was about to break loose.
It was about 8:10 am.
Finally, I got a text from my husband. “On my way.” Yay for Ed! So I took a few minutes to try and finish packing the bag I had set out but barely started filling. I don’t remember what I put in it, but I clearly remember tossing in some good chocolate for after delivery.
My husband walked in the door, and I filled him in on everything that was going on, including the first few painful contractions I was having. We grabbed everything we thought we’d need, and headed out the door. It dawned on me that I should eat, but I had no time. I knew there would be no eating once I got to the hospital, so I decided we’d just drive through somewhere for an egg sandwich or something. Protein. I really felt like I needed protein. But first, on the way out the door, I remembered that I didn’t have a photo of my son with my belly…so I took a blurry iPhone shot.
We did a quick drive-by and practically tossed our son out the window to my mom, who had gotten my message. I told her I’d call as soon as I could, and we sped out of the driveway. By this point, I was in serious pain and I think I forgot to even say goodbye to him. About 5 minutes down the road, I got my phone out and started timing contractions. (Oh, and I called work to tell them they could choose the winner of the labor pool.)
It took about 2 miles to realize we weren’t stopping anywhere for food. The contractions quickly went from 6 minutes apart to 4 minutes apart, and by the time we got to the hospital 20 miles away they were 2 minutes apart. I spent most of the ride practically standing up in the front seat, nearly ripping off the passenger side door handle, and telling my husband not to speed. I’m pretty sure he laughed at me.
It was 9:00 am. We arrived at the hospital and left the Jeep in the spot that specifically said not to leave your vehicle. I carefully waddled through the front doors, deciding against a wheelchair. A woman came up to me and, after looking at my face, put her hand on my back and said “Oh, honey, let me walk you upstairs. You’re going to be juuuust fiiiiine…” in a voice so calm and kind that I really wanted her to stay with me. Turns out she was the head of the maternity ward (everyone in there referred to her as their boss.) She made me get on the scale (I weighed exactly the same as the morning of my last delivery!) then got us a room immediately.
A nurse came in and told me to change into a gown, and then disappeared. Some nurses came in and out, and I vaguely remember snapping at one when she tried to tell me I had to do something that I felt was less important than breathing through my next contraction. I didn’t like her much, but the rest of the nurses were great.
Once I was laying down (very uncomfortably), hooked up to a million monitors, answering a ton of questions, and telling my husband I was scared because it was sooo bad already and we had only just started, someone decided to check me.
I was almost 9 centimeters.
The mood in the room changed. Everyone started treating me like I was really in labor. (‘sabout time.) I remember a young guy at my feet, a student, I think. I remember a nurse from last time, whom I was happy to see. I remember being thirsty and getting ONE measly ice chip, like that was going to make a difference. I remember concern about my blood pressure, but nobody would tell me why. I remember feeling incredibly… primal?…this wasn’t going the way I had planned. I wanted to be calm and peaceful, using what I had learned, but it all felt completely out of my hands.
A few short minutes went by, and I really wanted to get up and labor on my knees like I did last time, but it didn’t happen. My body took over and I told them I felt the need to push. With the first push, fire. With the second, as I finished rolling from my side to my back, I felt the fire go out and the very distinct feeling of shoulders, arms and legs quickly slipping by. I heard a wail as they laid my baby girl on my chest and covered her with a warm, heavy blanket. She was bright purple, tense and crying. Her arms and legs were stiff and shaking. As I wrapped my arms around her and spoke quietly, she slowly relaxed and quieted. That really is the best moment of all, in my opinion. That moment when you know that baby knows who you are, and relaxes in comfort. I couldn’t see her the way we were laying, so I asked if she was OK. Everyone said yes, she was perfect.
Then she peed on me. A lot.
It was 9:49 am. And it was over. My girl was here.
In my fog, I asked if we could delay the cutting of the cord. “Oh, sure. We do that now.” I was really surprised because I had readied myself for a battle, but nope…they let the cord pulse for a while while I held her tight, our nameless girl (we didn’t name her for about 24 hours), and I felt the cord still attached, laying on my body. It was the coolest feeling and one I won’t forget. After about 15 minutes, Daddy proudly cut the cord and in ran our birth photographer. While we may have missed a few moments (I don’t blame her…we barely made it to the hospital ourselves), I’ll be forever grateful for the ones she was able to capture.
For a bigger gallery of our photos, visit the blog post about our birth photos at Ashley Rawlings Photography.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my story. I’m sure I’ll change and tweak it a little each time I read it. Now, I’d better get on that 4 month update…
P.S. Oh, and I did finally get to eat. Forget hospital food…hubby got me a steak and sweet potato once I finally got to my room! Best. Dinner. Ever.