On my wedding day, a sheet of paper was passed around the reception for people to write down their guesses about how long it would be before I was pregnant. When I was in high school, my “senior prophecy” said something to the effect of “Katie will have ten or more kids, biological and adopted.” Needless to say, it has been well known that I have always wanted to be a mom and love kids.
Six months—that’s how long it took for me to get pregnant, though I didn’t know that was the case. I was miserably sick. I was tired and sore. My pastor’s wife took one look at me one day during a mission trip to Haiti and said, “Are you pregnant?” She was right.
Fast forward nine months. Nine months of being pregnant in a small town where everyone knows your name. Nine months of teaching four year old kindergarten during the day. Nine months of the cafeteria ladies sneaking me extra rolls and fellow teachers leaving chocolate in my office. (I gained more weight during this pregnancy than either of the two that followed it.)
About a week before my due date, my husband and I headed to the doctor’s office for our weekly visit. (Sidenote: My OB’s daughter was in the classroom next to mine. I saw him outside of the doctor’s office often. It was a little awkward for me.) We went during lunch, planning to return to school, (My husband also worked at the school.) but the baby had other plans. I wasn’t having contractions. My water had not broken. Nothing seemed different, but the doctor told me my blood pressure was up. He looked at us and said. “Do you want to have this baby today?” It was surreal. I mean, I knew the baby had to be born at some point. I knew he couldn’t hang out inside me forever.
We left the doctor’s office. On our way out, we ran into a friend from church in the waiting room (small town, remember). He was so excited to hear our news that he jumped up and prayed for us right then and there. He got on the phone and started the news trickling around town. I called my mom and told her that they should probably come, but not to worry about hurrying since I wasn’t even in labor. She and my dad lived three hours away. The hubs and I headed home. I ate a bagel or two, took a shower, packed my bag and we headed back to the hospital. When I went to check in, they receptionist asked if I was sure I was in labor. I said, “I’m sure I’m not. I am going to be induced.”
We checked in and got settled up in labor and delivery. We were the only ones on the floor so we got a lot of attention. They started the pitocin pretty soon after I got there. I had some pain medicine that completely knocked me out. The contractions started, and they came fast and hard. I would wake up for the contraction, squeeze my husband’s hand and then fall back asleep until the next one. Some friends brought him a Subway sandwich that apparently he ate with one hand while I was crushing the other. I was so exhausted from the pain that I couldn’t imagine having energy for pushing when the time came. I battled with whether or not to have an epidural, but in that moment, I made my decision and asked for the epidural ASAP. Well, ASAP in a small town hospital does not actually mean as soon as possible. It actually means, “we only have one anesthesiologist and he’s busy… so just hang tight and he’ll be up when he can.” An hour and a half later, he finally came. (By the way, I know his teenage daughter—small town, remember?) I sat up to start the epidural process, but at this point the contractions were coming so hard and so fast that I literally couldn’t make my body sit still for the needle. I tried—really I did. They finally got it in. They asked if I could feel it working. (No.) They asked what my pain level was on a scale of 1 to 10. (It was 11.)
The nurse checked me and said, “You’re at 10 cm. We don’t have time for the epidural—it’s time to push.” I thought, “Wait … what?” Five hours before that point, I had not even been in labor—I still had a week to go until my due date! Then thirty minutes later, I watched my husband cut the umbilical cord of our precious baby boy. (By the way, after all the work that I had been through, the doctor and my husband handed me the camera so I could take a picture of the cord cutting.)
The next few minutes were a bit of a blur. I remember food. I remember that the epidural started to work. (Too little too late!) I remember a steady stream of visitors coming over the next couple of days. And I remember holding my little boy Elijah, and falling head over heels in love with him. He came out with eyes wide open and has been curious about life ever since.
I have since had two more children and have realized that I actually enjoy giving birth. Weird right? But, there is a crazy sense of accomplishment when everything is all said and done. And what a sweet prize you get to take home with you! Every time we’ve left the hospital with a newborn, I’ve looked around and thought, “Wow! They are really going to let us take this home with us.”