Tuesday, October 6th – Josie’s Birthday
In the wee hours of Tuesday morning I was lying in bed with major contractions ~15 minutes apart while everyone else slumbered peacefully. I had a 7 am induction scheduled and a friend coming over to watch my children at 6:30 am.
I really wasn’t sure what to think. I had been tricked so many times in the past weeks by classic signs of labor, but here I was thinking for the first time that I was really in labor and the contractions weren’t getting any closer together!
At 4:30 am, I had a contraction.. then another at 4:44 am. This one was so strong that I couldn’t stay quiet, and I thought it might not be a bad thing if my noises woke Scott up. I also found myself thinking, “I’m not sure how long I can do this for.”
Woah, where did that thought come from? I was very familiar with that feeling, but surely it couldn’t be that time already. This is one of my emotional signposts of transition, which meant that a baby was coming in short order. I didn’t feel like I was quite There but I knew I was headed there… and probably sooner than my scheduled induction.
Scott stirred in bed next to me. I woke him up and told him I thought I couldn’t wait for the induction time to go to the hospital.
I was between contractions at the time so I looked perfectly fine. He asked if he could get me anything, and then in his half-awake stupor he actually asked if it would be okay if he caught a little more sleep first.
He said he’d hop in the shower and I actually wasn’t sure that was a great idea but I reasoned that I still hadn’t had another contraction.
Awake now and clean, Scott saw me have a contraction and suggested we wake my dad. Again I felt so at ease between contractions that I hesitated. Scott reasoned that we were just giving him a heads-up, a little lead time to gather his things. Another contraction started and I quickly consented. We ended up leaving for the hospital at 5:30 am, an hour before our planned departure. I wasn’t timing my contractions but I had 3 on the 15 minute car ride and another at the threshold of the hospital so they must have been (finally) getting closer together.
I’m stubborn when I’m in labor
There is so little I can control during labor that I tend to get quite adamant about the few things that I can. I insisted Scott not speed on the drive over. After all, we weren’t in that big of a hurry.
I also utterly refused to let Scott drop me off at the door to the hospital. Why? Because I always walk from the parking lot and this time shouldn’t be any different.
Crazy but true. So I power walked from the parking garage to the hospital doors while I was between contractions. And then? After breathing through another strong contraction, I talked Scott into sweeping me off my feet and carrying me over the threshold even though I was pretty darn uncomfortable. Why? Because that’s what we do when we go to the hospital to have babies! I’m shaking my head as I type this. But those are the facts of the case.
Scott nearly refused to carry me but I think he concluded the fastest way to get me to a delivery room was to agree with my stipulations.
Scott told the ER nurse that my contractions were 10 minutes apart (though I realize in hindsight they were getting closer together rather quickly) but I was in too much discomfort to feel remotely sheepish about heading to the hospital so early on in labor. I even consented to a wheelchair ride through the crazy maze from the ER to L&D. Scott insisted on it because he said I couldn’t walk through contractions. I thought that I would be fine but he was right. I wouldn’t have made it!
It’s Definitely Baby Time
I got wheeled up to L&D, signed two papers, and was parked by the scale. At this point things were picking up speed and I marveled that they were taking time to weigh me. A nurse came right over and interceded, though, saying my doctor was waiting and I should go straight to a room.
I was dilated to an 8!
At this point my dad had stepped behind a curtain near the door of the room, but things were happening so fast that we didn’t think much of it. He ended up staying put in that corner, hearing the whole labor (and recording the audio!). He texted my mom updates periodically. In turn, and unbeknownst to me, she was giving live updates to her whole dog walking group since she was at the park at the time. That’s one way to make new friends.
Contractions were manageable and still far enough apart that I could rest a minute or so between them. Scott was a rockstar coach and remembered to do so many of the things I requested: whispering in my ear, reminding me I was in transition and these contractions were bringing the baby, etc. He even told me he was going to pull out my signs at one point, but I was in another place mentally and had my eyes closed, so the signs stayed in the bag.
The nurses tried to warm me up with hot water bottles and blankets so they could get an IV in, but they were unsuccessful. I looooved all the extra warmth and I didn’t miss the IV one bit.
I stayed on top of the contractions really well up until they checked me again and I was declared “a 9 with a cervical lip.” For some reason this news translated in my head to “these contractions aren’t doing their job and they hurt for no reason.” I was declared a 10 shortly thereafter, but I started to worry because there wasn’t a break in contractions like I had experienced with my previous labors and I didn’t feel a very clear urge to push either.
Then I felt It. Pressure.
I pushed during the next contraction and my water broke.
With the small part of my brain that was still functioning on some level, I thought, “Thank goodness! The home stretch!” With Daniel’s birth, after my water broke I had a break between contractions followed by a strong urge to push, which replaced the painful contractions, and he was born shortly thereafter.
But every labor is different.
The Hard Part
This time around I just had painful contractions coming fast and furious and the small part of my brain that was still functioning decided that since I was already fully dilated, pushing was the solution.
I pushed for 20 minutes, getting more and more desperate with every contraction. Somehow I couldn’t seem to push effectively. I couldn’t get the pain to stop. I remember just wanting to stop and focus on getting through each contraction. When I focused on the contraction I could stay on top of it, but pushing at the same time was just awful. I actually screamed. I’m told this is common, but I’d certainly never done it before. My doctor told me to stop screaming. That made me mad. (A sure sign I wasn’t all there mentally at this point.)
Finally, I hollered that I couldn’t do it! There was just no way I was capable of continuing on to get this baby out. I believed it, too. But mercifully the very next contraction brought an overwhelming urge to push, and with it the deep moan I greeted like an old friend, and the blessed automatic bearing down that had come with my previous unmedicated childbirths. One of those pushes and it was done.
Josie greeted this world showcasing a fine set of lungs, and I started sobbing with relief.
The intense emotions of childbirth are unparalleled. In the space of two minutes I had come to the outermost edge of myself and back again. I was choked by despair and desperate to find strength I was sure I didn’t have, only to have that very strength surge through me and pull my daughter into the world. In the instant her cries reached my ears my body felt empty and yet spilling over with utter joy.
Josie is my fourth baby, but, in case it needs to be said, every single birth is a miracle and a marvel. She came to us already full of a beautiful spirit and my mother heart grew a new chamber just for her. My life will never be the same.
Newborns arrive puffy, squinty, disoriented, and utterly helpless. The beauty of a family is that each new member is adored and accepted just as they come, and ever onward come what may. They are full of potential yet completely mysterious. Toes and fingers are counted immediately, while everything truly important will take a lifetime to discover.
As parents we are left to watch, hope, dream, wonder, and stand in awe of the gift God has given us.