It was a Tuesday. I was scheduled to work up until our second son made his appearance. My husband, a firefighter, was also supposed to be at the station that day, yet for some reason, we had both decided last minute that we would stay home for our final 24 hours as a family of three. Now, I call that fate.
I had longed for labor that started naturally after having my water broken to initiate labor with my now toddler son, Luca. But, at this point, I came to accept the predictability and structure offered by a planned birthday. Actually, my Type A personality was cheering inside as my contradictory dreams of a whimsical and spontaneous labor slipped away. In my process of both embracing and grieving, we designated the day as one for our eleventh-hour preparations.
The morning was not too out of the ordinary. I made breakfast for my son, played and then laid him down for a nap. My husband, Kyle, decided to start some yard work, so it would be one less thing to worry about once we were back from the hospital. Desperately in need of time to pass, I decided to stay productive. I swept, vacuumed and mopped floors as I did a few loads of laundry.
Upon folding the last clean batch in the living room, I was hit by a drenching flash of heat. My skin started melting off, and my reaction was to immediately sit down on the floor and rip off my shirt. There was a bag of pretzels ready for munching in reach, so when Kyle happened to walk in and check on me, he was gifted with quite a sight.
After a prolonged amount of time in his bed talking and not sleeping, I decided to fetch my son from his room because perhaps something in the air was preventing his slumber. We plopped down on the couch together as I daydreamed about the lunch out that was ahead of us. But, not so fast says destiny!
At precisely 12:30 p.m., I stood up from the couch, and it felt like a bowling ball fell from a skyscraper inside the confines of my abdomen. A second later, there was an audible pop, and I immediately put my hand into pants to see what would come out. Low and behold, the almighty gush commenced!
I ran to the front door as my husband was whacking weeds near our walkway and yelled to him in surprise, disbelief and new anxiety. I apparently clapped and bellowed at him theatrically, which I will never live down. We won’t talk about how this guy proceeded to take his time showering and moseying around the house before we even left for the hospital.
I should note that I was Group B streptococcus positive, and my first labor was only four hours, so we were needing to start antibiotics as soon as possible. Contractions started immediately, and as soon as my mother in-law got to the house, we were off on the seven minute drive to the hospital.
As we walked to the main entrance and I waddled with a towel between my legs, Kyle was sure to point out a sign on the doors that said “No Deliveries,” chuckled and pretended to turn around. Once in the labor and delivery unit, the nurses moved at a less than urgent pace and seemed to think I was adding some dramatic flair to my “early” contractions.
It felt like forever until we were actually in a room and I was checked. I was 4 centimeters dilated and 80 percent effaced a week prior and now progressed to 5 centimeters and 90 percent. The staff was still moving slowly, and my nerves were in high gear as my IV line still had not yet been connected.
My goal was a natural birth after coming up just short with my first, but I was in more pain than I remembered and also just ready to concede thanks to the overall surprise of the day. In hindsight, I was in transition. You know how they tell you that you can tell active labor contractions from Braxton Hicks because they wrap around your torso and into your back? Well, these babies wrapped me from head to toe. I was wrapped, double wrapped and triple wrapped in one gigantic tightening and stabbing cramp.
I shook uncontrollably and dug the oxygen mask into my face as guttural screams shook even my husband to his core. The anesthesiologist also took his sweet time to get to me. Once he was finally in there and preparing to administer the epidural, the nurses were working on sitting me up when I felt it. I needed to push! He darted out of the room without a second thought. Oh—and no—no antibiotics could be started in time.
I was somehow at war with myself. I pictured the end reward with 10 sweet fingers and toes and managed to refocus. I had to force my mind in concert with this amazing, albeit excruciating, physical process. And so, I rediscovered my bearings and began to anticipate the infamous “ring of fire.” Imagine my surprise when after three pushes, our midwife asked us to meet our baby. Perfect Julian Lee was born at 2:02 p.m. on July 11, 2017 at 6 pounds, 7 ounces and 20 inches long.
I continued to shiver and shake for at least an hour after delivery as the adrenaline proceeded to pump. I am not fully convinced that they weren’t just convulsions of pure love. I was in awe of this beautiful boy who made his swift entrance—or exit—all on his own. I was in awe of the human body. Of my body. I felt empowered and ready to take on the world with Juls latched on my bosom.
Thankfully, all observation and testing for GBS complications were negative, and we were home with big brother two days later. Even though we knew we would be meeting him soon, it was still the surprise of a lifetime and mommy got everything she could have dreamed of and more.
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