I thought my eight-year wedding anniversary present was supposed to be pottery, bronze, linens or lace. My husband Jordan and I usually took the day off of work to spend the day together, but because we were due two days prior, I had figured we would be snuggled up with our first born. I was saddened when this didn’t happen.
I had what I thought was a stomachache the entire night before and only slept for about two hours. I got up and got dressed in my running clothes as I prepared to do my daily run/walk and head to work. While I was standing at the vanity in my bathroom, my back started hurting so badly that I almost couldn’t stay standing. I called my doctor while bouncing on a stability ball in my living room. She calmly asked, “Where are you going?” “For a run,” I replied, and she promptly stated back, “No, you’re going to the hospital.” I walked upstairs and woke up Jordan with a simple sentence, “You need to get up.” As he got ready, I texted my boss and explained that I was heading to family birthing to get checked and was either coming into work late or having a baby.
At family birthing, I was assured that I was having regular contractions and was 1.5 centimeters dilated and 50 percent effaced. I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions quite regularly since 36 weeks and was at a pathetic 0.5 centimeter dilated, so the contractions didn’t alarm me except they ran down the fronts of my thighs. The residents caring for me ordered an ultrasound where they checked our baby’s heart rate and the amount of amniotic fluid. Everything checked out and we were encouraged to go home to rest. They joked that I might be back by the weekend (this was a Tuesday), or they’d happily schedule me to be induced next week. I was very discouraged, as I wanted to have a natural labor and know that often interventions like induction can lead to further interventions. Jordan asked me if I wanted to grab something to eat for lunch, and I decided to go home because I would feel awkward working through a contraction in the middle of a restaurant.
At home, I had chicken Parmesan from the night before while sitting on the stability ball. I went upstairs to rest, and when Jordan came to check on me, I was on all fours doing cat and cow yoga poses. He filled up the bathtub for me, and I stayed in there until it was time to leave for our 40-week prenatal check up. I showered and had some Greek yogurt with pomegranate. On the drive to the doctor’s office, it was getting more difficult to stay seated during my contractions. I almost told Jordan to drive straight to the hospital, but I couldn’t stand the thought of the residents telling me they would induce me next week again.
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At the doctor’s office, I told the nurse that I was having some contractions and to just ignore me if I immediately stopped talking. This should have been my first clue. I waited patiently as the nurse took my vitals and doctor made all the necessary measurements. When she checked me, she asked what I had been at family birthing that morning? I had sheepishly muttered, “Dilated to 1.5 and 50 percent effaced.” She looked at me with wide eyes and said, “You’re 3-4-5 to 6 centimeters and 90 percent effaced.” Before Jordan and I could say anything she exclaimed, “Let’s go have a baby!”
I don’t remember much of the drive to the hospital because I was so excited that we would finally meet our little one. Our nursery was painted gray and yellow, and we had names picked out for either gender, as we had decided to not find out until the baby was born. My husband and I called him Fred because two of our nephews had decided that is what we should name the baby if it were a boy. I buzzed myself back into family birthing and was caught by surprised eyes from nurses as they realized I was their active labor patient who was carrying her own bags.
We settled into our room, and I labored standing up because the contractions were still running down the front of my thighs. It felt good to rock up on my toes and back to my heels when the contractions peaked. I sat on the ball for a while and remember the nurses explaining that one half of my cervix wasn’t dilating as fast so they wanted me to try laying on my side to even things out. It felt so good to lie down, and all of a sudden I felt like I had to push. I locked eyes with Jordan through each contraction, neither of us saying a word, but my mind was screaming, I need to push!
Then my doctor came in to check me and told me that I could push—just what I wanted to hear! My nurses instructed me to push three times with each contraction. I did as instructed. The minute they put my legs down this awful pain ran down them. I finally realized that I needed to push one more time. For each contraction, I pushed four times then closed my eyes in between contractions to rest. All of a sudden during one contraction, I felt the worst sensation in my belly and overheard the nurses saying that my baby had just turned. Unaware to me, he had been sunny side up which was the reason for all my “leg labor.” I remember pushing and hearing voices yell, “Come on, Fred!” Jordan told me excitedly that he had seen Fred’s ear! They asked me if I wanted to feel his head, and I quickly shook my head. I wanted my baby out and in my arms; to me feeling his head just wasn’t good enough.
One of my nurses said that I had one more contraction, and Fred would be here. After eight more contractions, my doctor explained that she needed to “make some room.” I told her to, “Knock the whole wall down if you need to.” My husband looked away as they did the episiotomy, and before I knew it I felt every part of my baby’s body leave mine and enter the world.
I could hear my husband’s sobs as he announced, “It’s a boy!” I looked down at my beautiful baby boy as Jordan announced his name to the room, “Arthur Alden!” I responded, “It’s Edward!” (Side note: My husband had a track record for announcing my nephew’s middle names incorrectly.) Amongst the commotion, Arthur picked up his head and looked right into my eyes. I immediately melted as tears streamed down my face.
The NICU nurses picked him up and monitored his breathing as there was meconium when they broke my water. They were very kind and explained everything that they were doing. Jordan and I watched as they monitored his vitals. I couldn’t help but admire how handsome he was. After everything checked out, he was returned to me—my little man—7 pounds, 14 ounces and 19 inches long. He was born at 11:22 p.m. on January 7, our eight-year wedding anniversary—the perfect present!
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