It was a beautiful day spent visiting my sister and her family three hours from home. My husband had a boys weekend near my sister’s house, but he was worried about being away from me because I was 37 weeks pregnant. I just had an appointment with my OB, and she said I was safe to travel, nothing would happen. At the last minute we packed our bags, including hospital bags and car seat—just in case.
It was a Friday, and I was uncomfortable with the warm weather and my lower leg and foot swelling was getting worse. That night I went to see Finding Dory with my family while my husband got together with a large group of college friends. He was worried about drinking in case he needed to drive to the hospital. I said, “Don’t worry; nothing will happen. Go ahead, and have fun.” I went to bed at about 10 p.m. feeling well.
At 1 a.m. I awoke from a deep sleep and jumped out of bed because I felt a gush of fluid. I didn’t know what it was initially. Because I was staying with my sister, I texted her to see if she was up. I waited a minute for her response, as I didn’t want to wake her. Then I thought, This is crazy. She is always up with her two boys.
I walked into her room and rubbed her shoulder until she woke up. I asked, “How do I know if my water broke?” She came to the bathroom, so we could talk. She asked if I was having any contractions. I said I didn’t think so, but I wasn’t sure what they were supposed to feel like.
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We called my OB looking for guidance. She suggested going to the hospital there to get checked. My sister drove me there and called my husband telling him what was going on. He had a little too much to drink because “nothing was going to happen” (or so I said). Apparently he told my sister, “Uh um … I’m going to need a ride, not in good shape to drive.” He felt terrible that he wasn’t able to get to me right away, but we were immediately grateful that we stayed close during the late stages in pregnancy. Then my contractions started en route to the hospital.
We arrived at the hospital and triaged at the labor and delivery unit. The nurse confirmed the presence of amniotic fluid and checked my cervix. She said I was 8 centimeters dilated. I looked up at my sister in horror. I was scared and wasn’t ready to deliver. It was all happening so fast. Then the nurse said, “No, wait. Never mind, you are only dilated 1 centimeter.” What a relief.
I was admitted and got settled into my room. My mom, also visiting for the weekend, picked up my slightly intoxicated husband and arrived at the hospital. He hadn’t gone to bed for the night and wasn’t prepared for the day ahead.
I showered, changed into my gown, got my IV started, and sat on the physio ball as the contractions ramped up. I asked for my epidural when I was dilated 4 centimeters. When I watched my sister get her epidurals she didn’t seem to be in much pain. However, I flinched due to the pain even though they said it would be “just a sting.” That was my first indication my pain tolerance wasn’t as high as I thought.
Pretty quickly the pain lessened, and I was able to rest as I progressed and my husband slept. I started to feel some discomfort in my left groin that was getting worse. The nurse checked, and I was dilated to 9 centimeters in just two hours.
My mom and sister had returned to her house thinking labor would be drawn out with this being my first. I frantically called them to come back to the hospital because I wanted them in the room for delivery. The pain worsened in my groin, and the nurse said I must have a “window,” which is an area where the epidural doesn’t take and you feel the pain of the contractions. We tried two boluses and repositioning but nothing helped. My goal was to “labor down” and only push four times before out pops a baby—like my friend’s experience. However, this was not the norm. I couldn’t bear the pain anymore, so the nurse suggested I start pushing as this sometimes helps manage the pain.
So, I started pushing with each contraction. My mom was on one side and my husband on the other. My sister took pictures and offered encouragement as well. My son’s heart rate started to decrease, and they gave me oxygen. I had washcloths rewetted constantly and an emesis bag near. I was getting exhausted and thought, I am done pushing. But the only way to get him out was to push harder, and after one hour he arrived.
He had brown hair and an elongated head. His body was placed on my chest. He was covered in vernix, a white waxy substance that usually sloughs off by 40 weeks, but because he was early, it was still there. I look up at my husband expecting him to be crying tears of joy. Instead he stood still and observed with an expression of concern and bewilderment. I asked, “What’s wrong?!” He said he was just assessing the entire situation from a medical perspective, given his background, and just taking it all in. (Not to mention he was somewhat hungover at this point.) I was so relieved it was over as I was tired, covered in sweat, thirsty and hungry.
My mom and sister left the room to give my husband and I some time with our son. We both had some skin-to-skin contact to bond with our little one. The entire labor and delivery was 12 hours, pretty good for my first. After two days in the hospital, we made our three-hour drive home, being ever so cautious with our precious cargo. It felt like an eternity, but we all made it home happy and healthy. Now the real adventure begins.
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