On the night of March 31, my jokester of a husband devised a plan. His oldest brother was out of town, and Dave thought it would be a hilarious April Fools’ Day joke to tell him our baby was born the next morning. I was on board, thinking it’d be pretty funny and totally up my husband’s alley. I texted him a photo of me holding our 19-month-old daughter the day after she was born, thinking the authenticity of the photo would help the joke along. The next morning, around 9 a.m., Dave texted his brother the photo with a message, “So, guess what?”
He didn’t buy it. He knew he was looking at a picture of his adorable niece and not a new niece or nephew. April Fools fail, but still good for a laugh. Turns out the joke was on us …
I’d been having contractions on and off for the past week. None had been painful, and there was absolutely zero pattern to them. Clearly, Baby Phillips was not ready to make his or her grand appearance just yet.
I had gone to the doctor for my 39 week appointment the day before. My cervix was 4 cm dilated and I was 75 percent effaced. Sounds pretty good, right? Sure does, unless that’s exactly what it had been the weekend prior when I was checked at the hospital due to bleeding (and subsequently sent home due to everything being OK). I hadn’t made any progress, and I was bummed.
I had spent the previous three weeks hobbling around my house, my classroom, and Target (shopping through the pain) due to a combination of crazy sciatic nerve pain and muscle soreness I unintentionally created by favoring other parts of my body in order to be able to walk. I had started my maternity leave two days earlier after deciding the pain had won. I would await baby’s arrival in the comfort of my home and try to get my labor moving by attempting to keep up with my active toddler.
Sometime around lunch, I started feeling the contractions again. Still no pain. Still no pattern. My daughter needed her lunch cleaned off her face and to be put down for a nap. The dishwasher needed to be emptied and there were still bags of Easter candy that hand’t been put away yet (and a Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg that hadn’t been eaten). So I bustled around the house doing things, thinking, hey, maybe I’ll put myself into labor! Just to be on the safe side, I called my mom and told her she may want to come over, just in case I really did go into labor, you know, when she had a moment. Whenever. I felt zero sense of urgency.
My mom came over, we chatted, and my daughter woke up from her nap. I decided to text my husband and tell him he should probably come home after one post-work beer and not stay for a second. All this time, I was pretty calm. (The same could not be said for my sister who was texting me like mad and couldn’t believe I let Dave stay for a beer.) I wasn’t convinced I was actually in labor, but I thought we were headed in that direction.
As my mom and I gave my daughter a snack, I had a couple of contractions that surpassed the “twinge-y” ones I had been having. I decided, because it was getting late in the afternoon, I should call my husband and see if I could encourage him to make his way home. I asked about his progress, and he told me he was starting his second beer. Ever the funny guy, it was another April Fools’ joke, and he was actually on his way home. We showered our daughter with kisses, grabbed the rolling suitcase I had packed (because preparedness and makeup), and drove to the hospital.
We arrived at approximately 5:15 p.m. As I was grabbing my bag from the backseat, I finally had a contraction that took my breath away! It sounds crazy to say I was grateful for it, but I felt like this baby might actually be on his or her way. I had to stop and brace myself against the side of the car. Once it passed, we headed up to the maternity wing. When they asked why I was there, I told them, “I’m pretty sure I’m in labor.”
They led me to a room and the nurse gave me a lovely gown, hooked me up to the monitors, and then proceeded to check my cervix.
“Did you want an epidural?”
I smiled, “Yes, please.”
She took a quick breath. “OK, because you’re at 7.”
I gasped and said a bad word. Was this another April Fools’ joke? How was this possible? I wasn’t even in that much pain! My wonderful nurse ordered the epidural, and my husband and I settled in.
I continued to have contractions, some weaker and some stronger. They came four minutes apart, then two minutes, then seven minutes. There was no pattern, so we figured it’d be a while. We were joking with the anesthesiologist and nurse while we listened to my upbeat labor playlist. I was shocked to find out my child of a nurse had never heard Salt N Pepa’s “Push It,” and they both laughed at me when I saw the pan of iodine and asked if it was a tray of my blood. “We don’t make a habit of putting people’s blood in trays and leaving them hanging around,” the anesnteiologist said. Silly me. This labor was making me a crazy lady.
My doctor arrived shortly after I got my epidural and checked my cervix again. I was still at 7 and 90 percent effaced. My nurse looked at my doctor and said, “You wouldn’t believe she’s in labor by looking at her, would you?” I laughed. “When you got here, I didn’t even think you were really in labor!” she told me. “You just seemed so calm.” I told her my secret weapon: lip gloss. (And I suppose the epidural may have helped, too.)
I found out that I was the only one in the whole hospital who was in labor. The only one! And it’s not like we live in a small town—we live in the bustling city of Omaha. It was clearly time to turn up the volume on my playlist and prove I was a fun patient to have in labor. We were chatting and laughing, singing and dancing (as much as I could in a hospital bed). It was relaxed and pretty chill. The epidural was affecting my right side more than my left, so they tipped me onto my left side to try to, I don’t know, drip the epidural to the other side as well, I guess. My contractions were still coming, but were still not fitting into a pattern. Where was my darn pattern?!
My doc checked me once more. “Want to guess?” she asked. I shrugged, “I don’t know. Maybe 8?”
“You’re at 10!” she said. She told me that once my contractions got closer, I would start to push. She left the room and my husband and I continued to chat with our new nurse about our mutual addiction to Disney (World for us, Land for her). She adjusted my monitors and left to go chat with the doctor.
Moments later, a bunch of people came pouring into the room. My doctor, my nurse, a med student, some one from the NICU, and about three other people rushed in. My nurse flipped out the leg holders (I’m sure they have some official name) and my doctor said, “OK, we’re going to start pushing.”
I was startled and kind of freaked out by the sudden influx of people and tension. My contractions hadn’t gotten any closer together, so I looked at my nurse and said, “Is everything OK?” She said, “It’s fine.” I looked at my husband, “There’s so many people in here. Is everything really OK?” He gave me a forced smile and said, “You’re the only one in labor. They’re probably just bored!” But I’m a smart girl. I could tell the shift in the aura of the room. I looked straight ahead at my doctor as she helped pull my legs into the holders. “What’s wrong?”
“We keep losing the heartbeat on the monitor, so we’re going to go ahead and deliver this baby.”
My heart dropped to my stomach, but I put on a brave face. “OK, let’s go.”
My nurse asked if I remembered how to push. I asked her to remind me—and then remind me again. As she was explaining it, my doctor interrupted and said, “OK, you’re having a contraction right now. You’re going to push.” I pushed thrice, then leaned back.
“Good job, Michelle!” the med student said.
Another contraction came a minute later. I pushed once and my doctor said, “OK, stop pushing!” I’d never been told that before! They didn’t want me to do my other two pushes for that contraction. Seemed a bit weird.
My husband held my hand tighter and said, “Not as much hair as Livvy.” “You can see the baby’s head?!” I was shocked. I pushed for an hour and a half with my daughter. No way they were already able to see the head after four pushes.
Another contraction was on its way. “Here comes another one, Michelle,” my doctor said. “Get ready to push.”
Three more pushes and an episiotomy later, and I heard the most beautiful sound—my baby crying. My husband leaned over and grinned, “It’s a boy!”
“It’s a boy?!” Tears started flowing and my little guy was placed on my chest. He was warm and noisy and absolutely beautiful. He wasn’t wrinkled, he wasn’t squished, he was just gorgeous. “Hi, Nathan,” I cooed. “I’m your mommy.”
As my doctor stitched me up, she told me they thought the umbilical cord had been wrapped around his neck, but it was actually over his shoulder. When I was on my side, they kept losing his heart rate because it was tucked around him. Luckily, my doctor was amazing and did everything right.
Our son was here. It was 8:59 p.m. Not even four hours after we’d arrived, we got to meet our precious son, our April Fools’ baby.
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