My husband awoke at 2:45am on Monday, March 18th to the sound of my shuffling slippers. He found me in the kitchen attempting to make a midnight snack. I had been timing contractions since 2am when I finally realized I couldn’t sleep and would instead get some food. The contractions were coming ten minutes apart, but to me it was nothing new – I had been losing sleep over contractions for the past week, though they had never before brought me out of bed. Max gave me a kiss, instructed me to be careful with the cheese knife I was wielding, and heading back to our bedroom.
He lasted maybe fifteen minutes in bed before he was back by my side, claiming he knew it would be a no-sleep night. He must have subconsciously known that this was it. I, on the other hand, was blissfully oblivious. I remember walking around the den, the dining room and the kitchen island, reminding my husband that walking is supposed to stop false labor. It just didn’t register with me that, since the contractions weren’t stopping, this wasn’t false labor. Max took over timing duties and followed me around as I employed all the positions for laboring I could remember – sitting on my birth ball, leaning over the bed, hanging off of him. I knew from our Birth Journey class that breathing was my strongest pain coping technique, so I concentrating on bringing all my awareness into my breath and breathing in and out positive messages.
Max continued timing, though I wasn’t the best at recognizing the contractions. He would actually look at me and say “I’m starting the timer–you’re having one,” before I even knew one was starting! If they weren’t especially intense or painful, I thought they shouldn’t count. Around 4:30am I announced that I wanted to labor in the tub, so Max drew me a nice bubble bath. At that point the contractions came every three minutes. I got a little anxious, thinking we might have to make a speedy trip to the hospital, so I jumped from the tub to the shower and decided to get ready for the day. The contractions slowed a bit again, and Max assured me we had plenty of time at home before we needed to head to the hospital.
At 6:00am, Max texted both of our moms and had already emailed into work that he wouldn’t be coming in. Our moms were planning on flying in later in the week, and we had planned for them both to be at the birth of baby. Max said he wasn’t making any promises, but it looked like baby might come today. That was enough for both moms, who hurried to jump on the first flights to Phoenix that they could. Max fielded some phone calls from family members and work. It was surreal to hear him talking about me “Oh yeah, she’s doing great. Oh! She’s having a contraction. Yes, right now, she’s leaning over the couch.”
Finally, it was time to head to the hospital! I sat, bouncing on my birth ball, in the hallway as Max packed up the car with our hospital bags and pillows. Around 11:00am he announced that everything was packed, the car was locked, and he realized the car clicker had run out of battery power. All of our things (including the backup keys) were inside the SUV, and he couldn’t get in! I remember thinking: This could be bad, this could be sooo bad. Luckily, he was able to get the clicker to work to unlock one door. He crawled through to the back and retrieved the backup keys, whew! By 11:15am we were off. It was so odd leaving, with so much uncertainty lying ahead!
We pulled into the hospital and were very lucky to see someone leaving so we snagged their parking spot. We got out and Max held my purse and my arm as we made our way through the lot. I was definitely in pain and going slowly when we were stopped by a hospital worker in a golf cart asking if we wanted a ride. It seemed easier just to walk so I declined. For some reason I just wanted to keep walking! Max and I rode the elevator to the second floor and made our way to the desk under the Family Birthing Center sign around 11:30am. Max was so sweet to do all the talking for me. They had my paperwork right at the top, and it was just a couple minutes before they called me into a triage room.
I got dressed in my hospital gown and waited to be checked. When a nurse did come and check on me around noon, she announced that I was 5cm, 100% effaced and baby was at 0 station. I was elated! My fears of being turned away for not really being in labor disappeared – I was halfway there! At that instant, I knew that I could do it and knew I wouldn’t need an epidural or any pain meds. The nurse said I would be able to walk around which made me even happier then left to phone my doctor, but returned with the news that my doctor did not want me to walk around. I needed four hours of ampicillin to clear the Strep B bacteria in my intestines to make delivery safe for baby. My doctor was afraid that walking around would speed up labor, and in fact I needed to slow it down to make sure I didn’t deliver before the four hours were up. The nurse even pushed an epidural, saying that it would slow down labor. I declined the epidural and listened to her talk about how the needle is not that bad, and that getting the epidural really wasn’t painful. I wanted to tell her that it wasn’t the pain of getting one that was stopping me, especially since I was pretty sure that laboring through contractions was going to be much more painful than getting the pre-shot that numbs the back before the epidural catheter is inserted. But I didn’t, and just listened to her, and even signed the waiver allowing for an epidural later if needed, since I could tell she was very skeptical that I would be able to deliver without it.
A bit after 2pm, our moms walked into the triage room! We visited with our moms, and I remember getting sad that I was not in an actual room and did not have ice chips! So Max’s mom went out to get some from the galley and returned with a nice cup of them (which made me twelve kinds of happy), and the news that my room was ready and that we were just waiting on the nurse!
Once in the labor and delivery room, the contractions stepped up and were so much closer together. My new nurse gave me the go-ahead to stand up while laboring, which made me so very happy! I began relying a lot on standing and literally hanging off my husband to work through the contractions. My new nurse checked me to give an update to my doctor and I was 8-9 centimeters. She and another nurse who was in the room seemed very surprised I was this far along and started congratulating me on not having any pain meds, saying “You did it!” I remember saying “Well, I haven’t done it yet!” They replied that I was almost there and it was going to happen. They relayed the news to my doctor, who was stuck in rush hour traffic.
The contractions at this point were coming every couple minutes and I kept saying over and over that I was so hot, so my mom and Max cooled me down with some refrigerated aromatherapy cloths. I had my “bloody show” and almost immediately began feeling the urge to push. I was told not to push, and given instructions about how to try to hold it off. I hadn’t yet received the ampicillin and hospital policy has all newborns exposed to Strep B checked out and brought to the NICU. We of course did not want this to happen, and wanted a safe delivery for baby. So, I did what I was told and tried my best, but with each new contraction I could feel the pushing and could feel baby moving down! I stopped standing and walking and had to just lay back in the bed to deal with the pain. My doctor arrived and kept telling me to hold out just a few more minutes.
I was enduring one of the “pushing” contractions when, all of a sudden, there was a huge gush of water–my water breaking! I had labored all that time and had pretty much forgotten that it hadn’t ruptured yet. My water literally shot off the end of the bed and onto the floor, several feet away! Unbeknownst to me, there was a whole team of medical staff prepping and gathering right outside the door, because I was about to be given the okay to push. My doctor checked me and said that I was ready to go! I endured maybe one more contraction, and then with the blink of an eye, the room was full, baby gear was brought in, the end of my bed disappeared and my doctor said that I could push. It all seemed to happen so quickly!
I always thought I would be a good “pusher” but it turns out I was lousy at following directions! I was supposed to be holding my legs a certain way, pushing my chin to my chest and curling forward. Max and my nurse helped by holding my legs in place, and at one point my nurse said I had to open my eyes to look at her and listen. Max was watching and kept saying over and over how amazing it was. The pain, however, was hands-down the worst of my life, but I kept trying my best to follow along and push when I was told. Max let me know that he could see baby had a head of hair. I definitely let out a few screams from the pain, which I hadn’t done the entire day. My doctor started being very firm with her coaching about the pushing, saying I had to get it done. I didn’t know at the time, but baby had passed meconium while I was pushing, which sometimes means baby is in distress. Finally, my doctor said that it was the “ring of fire”, that I had to just push through it and that I was almost there.
The entire process seemed to go by in a minute, but I actually pushed for about ten. Finally, baby’s head was out and my husband told me to open my eyes and look down! One more push and, at 5:01pm, our sweet baby was born! My doctor said “Well dad, what is it?” and Max announced “It’s a boy!” He later told me that he checked three times to make sure. Seeing that I was not even processing what was going on, he put his beaming and teary-eyed face close up to mine and said “We have a son!”
They put him right on my chest and it was the most amazing and unbelievable moment! I was completely in shock and at the same time overjoyed. My doctor asked if he had a name and I looked at Max and said “Parker” – the first time our little boy heard his name! Max then cut Parker’s umbilical cord, and soon after the nurses took him over to get cleaned up and to be given his newborn shots. Max stayed right by him and rubbed his cheek, which stopped his crying. Parker weighed in at 7 pounds, 4.9 ounces and measured 20.75 inches long. They wrapped Parker in a blanket and brought him back over to me. All I could do was stare at him. I just could not believe that my husband and I made him. He was absolutely perfect, and absolutely the most precious being I had ever seen.
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