There is an old joke when it comes to pregnancy, that your due date is the one date you can be sure your baby won’t come. But I actually started early labor on my due date, May 2nd, which took me quite by surprise. Painful, regular contractions didn’t commence until the next day at 7 p.m. I reached 5-1-1 (contractions 5 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute, consistently for 1 hour) at 11 p.m., but by that time I was exhausted and all I wanted to do was sleep. I kept trying to convince my husband that things were not serious yet, but my reaction to the contractions betrayed me. As much as I was trying to get back under the covers, I knew that the worst thing would be to wait too long and not be able to labor at the birth center (using the whirlpool) or worse, to give birth in the car on the way over (which the midwife said does happen!). Despite my protests, my husband called the birth center's midwife and started packing the bag surreptitiously after she suggested that we come in. I still was in denial. Why couldn’t the baby come at 2 p.m. when I would be well rested? We arrived at the birth center at 12:45 a.m. and the midwife immediately examined me. Just as she was starting the exam my water broke. I was only at 3 centimeters! Judging from the pain, I had thought that the baby would be practically crowning. That’s when panic mode kicked in, I could not imagine the pain getting much worse than it was, particularly not with 7 more centimeters to go!
The midwife sent me on a walk in the adjacent park. A walk was the LAST thing I wanted to do. I wanted to run and hide and turn back time! Luckily, it was spring and the weather was perfection as we did loops around the park. My contractions were beyond the beyond. We had practiced our labor exercises so many times but everything we had worked for was instantly rendered obsolete as each contraction crippled me. No matter what position I was in when one struck, I was stuck there for the next minute while my husband was left trying to support me from tipping over while at the same time trying to touch me as little as possible as any touch made things hurt more.
As the hours ticked by, given the particularities of the pain and where it was coming from, it was suspected that I was having back labor. At this point, I could no longer accept my husband’s help or utilize Bradley techniques because the pain overtook me until moving around was impossible. I found myself hiding under the covers of the bed at the birth center because it was the best I could do to block everything out. I was now “fighting the contractions.” My labor had stalled and the midwife said she needed to give me Cytotec (a drug used for inducing labor) and if that didn’t work then I would need to go to the hospital for Pitocin and an epidural. At this point I was vomiting a lot, unable to keep down even water, which concerned the midwife. She already had me on two IVs and there was no end in sight. My husband asked the B-R-A-N questions (what are the benefits? what are the risks? what are the alternatives? And what if we do nothing?) and we decided that if I was probably going to need to go to the hospital anyway, then I should just go now and save myself a few hours of agony. Privately, I had been begging my husband to take me to the hospital for about an hour, but couldn’t pull the trigger and officially ask for the transfer for what I perceived at the time was just my own comfort and not necessity. I wanted to stick it out. I thought that I could, but back labor is back labor and when a baby‘s skull is rubbing against the base of your spine there is only so much you can do to stop yourself from jumping off the nearest cliff. The midwife was awesome with the transfer. I could barely pull myself together; it makes me cringe to remember what I looked like. She had me at the hospital in no time (she said it was 3 minutes door to door, I am inclined to believe it was even less) and I was in such a state when I arrived that I was given a room and an epidural within 8 minutes, which is unheard of. The epidural was administered immediately with only a verbal consent given due to the state I was in.
The epidural was the most insanely incredible thing ever. Epidurals are God. I went from nearly suicidal to bliss in mere minutes. I commented at the time that I was unsure who I wanted to make out with more, the anesthesiologist or the epidural itself! They are miracle workers in the truest sense. The best advice I can give to any woman who experiences back labor – take ALL the drugs, ALL OF THEM! Once they gave me a little Pitocin I was FINALLY able to sleep and get my strength back. This also allowed me to welcome my husband back into the process and it became a team effort again, which was very meaningful. I was finally able to look around me and realize how amazing everything was. The nurses were awesome, our birthing suite was awesome, and my husband was there!
Our doctor, the OB affiliated with the birth center, checked in on me and she was incredible. The “c” word (caesarean) never passed her lips. She monitored me and kept me focused on being relaxed and using positive visualization, which is exactly what I needed. It was kind of crazy to see the contractions printed out on the machine as I wasn’t feeling them. After sleep, I watched The Office on TBS while I waited. I was enjoying myself until Lopez Tonight (terrible, terrible television) came on but things were getting going, so no one thought to change the channel.
I pushed for precisely an hour, but it felt like it was 5 minutes.. The nurse was an amazing coach. I got the pushing thing down about three fourths of the way through and things went really fast from there. I think what really clicked was not the physical but the mental, OH MY GOD I AM HAVING A BABY finally became a reality and I focused. And so, our beautiful baby was born to David Arquette, Chris Jericho, and George Lopez inexplicably performing “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” It was completely ironic considering that is one of my husband’s favorite terrible 80’s songs that he breaks out into often. He and I just looked at each other, the meaning and the irony too thick to even begin to verbalize. The nurse called out the time and our baby was placed on my chest briefly before he needed to be taken for examination, but in those few moments I looked him in his big blue eyes. He was beyond the beyond. I realized that I could not have imagined what he looked like because I could not have imagined that kind of perfection.
He was quickly taken to have the meconium suctioned out. They told my husband to talk to him, so he pulled that night’s Brewers game re-cap up on his phone and read it out loud to the vast amusement of the staff in the room. After the baby was all cleaned up, he was placed on my chest for good and it was magic. The look he gave me, the eye contact, was unbelievable. My husband asked me the name, but I was so bathed in love and the moment that I told him it wasn’t time yet. To me, such a monumental decision needs time.
We were moved up to the recovery room a few hours later. I let my husband go home to have a decent night’s sleep. The baby was being seen by the pediatrician and not in the room with me, so I decided to use the alone time to regroup as best I could. Finally, the next morning, I looked at the baby, looked up at my husband, and conceded he looked like an Asher. My husband nodded and smiled, it was right. Birth center midwives, nurses and our doctor came and went, but I had not the slightest concept of what time it was. Our family was in its own little world. Three days later, we went home. I was definitely ready but totally unsure of what was to come. We packed up, I was wheeled out, we strapped our little man into his car seat, and off we went, a family.
Asher is amazing. He is perfection and we feel beyond blessed. And those who know me, know that I am not one to throw the term “blessed” around. Ever.
Asher was born May 4th at 10:46pm, weighing 6lbs 14oz, and was 19.25” long.