It started out as a day like any other, or so I thought. As was typical for me, once the noon hour passed without any real contractions, I gave up thinking that that would be the day our daughter would be born. For weeks the only thing I wanted to do before going into labor was get a manicure. I had tried earlier in the week to get one, but got in an accident in a parking lot instead, which hijacked my plans for a manicure. After talking to my mom, and Anthony telling me that I better go that day if I wanted a manicure at all, we loaded up Monkey for an outing an a manicure for Mommy.
While loading Monkey in the car, Anthony dropped his phone…into the gutter and we watched it submerge in the icy waters, practically in slow motion. He ran inside to put it in rice and I finished loading Monkey in the car. All loaded up, we headed out in the cold winter air for a nail salon. I thought I mentioned to Anthony that Target was only a few doors down so he could walk around with her while I got my manicure and we could be on our way.
I sat down, watched the Gilmore Girls revival on TV and got a manicure. It was glorious and relaxing…and I felt a few more of what I thought were Braxton Hicks contractions. Whatever they were, they couldn’t be real because they felt nothing like what the onset of labor felt like with Monkey. My nails all pretty and dry, I paid and walked over to Target to find Anthony and Monkey. Anthony’s phone still being submerged in rice at home, I had to walk the entire store in an effort to find him. As I power walked through the store I felt a few more Braxton Hicks contractions, still unable to find my family. It turns out that Anthony took Monkey to a toy store in the opposite direction of Target. He went back to the nail salon to find me and they pointed him in the direction of Target. Reunited, we headed to the car to go home.
As we drove I started to wince at the non-contraction events that were occurring. Anthony asked me if I had been timing them at all. I told him that I hadn’t been, they were maybe every 20-40 minutes, not that bad, and not real contractions, so what was the point? By the time we got home (it was a whopping 15 minute drive) he told me to sit down and start timing.
All along I was hoping for a morning/early afternoon onset to labor so that I wouldn’t be worn out from the day by time labor started. But there I sat at 6pm, timing contractions (still unconvinced that’s what they were) that were 6-7 minutes apart and steadily getting longer and closer together. Our teammates who were scheduled to watch Sophia in the event that labor started, were two hours away in the mountains. I text them and put them on notice, but insisted that it wasn’t worth having them leave right away (what can I say, I’m stubborn!). Half an hour later, contractions continuing to increase, I told them (after much, uh, cajoling from Anthony) to head back. Thankfully, our contingency plans had contingency plans, and one of the students from the university was also on call and headed over to our house. We put Monkey to bed (not easy to do when I was contracting!) and I continued to time the contractions.
I am a Type A personality and a rule follower, so when the rule says don’t go to the hospital until contractions are five minutes apart and a minute long, I listen. My contractions were still about 6 minutes apart and 45 seconds long. Occasionally they’d be five minutes apart, but not consistently enough for me to agree to head out the door. Eventually I was persuaded and we got to the hospital at about 9:45pm.
I remembered from our hospital tour that if you got to the hospital before 10pm, there was valet parking, but if you got there after 10pm you had to go through the emergency room to find help with your car. We parked the car, gathered the essential things and headed in…to find an empty valet station. Anthony called the number listed and was connected to the night security guard who, from Anthony’s description, seemed to be not totally clued in to the whole valet thing. Anthony said something about how he could go park the car and be back before the security guy showed up, but a contraction was coming on and I told him he better not leave me, I didn’t give a care about the darn car or the security guy *grunt and moan through contraction*.
The security man rounded the corner, took the keys to the car and told us to wait there. We got the receipt for the car location and made our way to the elevator to check in at the labor and delivery triage center. I filled out the required paperwork (my goodness, why do they need paperwork? I’m contracting! It hurts! I’m bending over the desk! I can’t talk! Stop asking questions! Why is this the longest half-sheet of paper I’ve ever had to fill out in my life?!) and headed back to a room.
The nurse asked me if I needed to use the bathroom and I told her that I didn’t really need to go since I went just before I left the house (rookie mistake – didn’t I remember that they’d need a urine sample?), but she told me to try anyway. I had very little in me and every tiny drop that came out missed the cup because, really, who can easily hold a tiny little cup under a giant belly while having contractions and manage to aim? Not me. Defeated, I went back to the room and told her there might be a few drops on the outside of the cup, but I needed more water before she would get anything else out of me. She started asking me some routine questions when she noticed that my OB hadn’t charted any cervical checks since I’d been refusing them, so we had no idea how far along I was. We went over my birth plan, complete with me telling her that of all the things that would come out of me, the ONLY thing I wanted to see was my baby, period. After a few more contractions, being hooked up to the monitors, and other things I’m sure I’ve forgotten, she finally checked me.
Now, flashback to the bathroom. As I was struggling to pee in the world’s tiniest cup, I told Anthony that I might just op for the epidural, despite the fact that I’d been planning on another pain-med-free birth. After all, it was already after 10pm and I was tired, I didn’t think I had another 10 hours or more of labor in me. I needed rest.
So the nurse checked me and announced that I was already at 7cm at 10:45pm. I literally cried tears of joy. Already at 7cm, I was pretty confident I could make it the rest of the way without the epidural. The nurses paged my OB since she wasn’t on call that night and she headed to the hospital. Since I was very much in labor, we talked about getting me a real labor and delivery room. Here’s how the conversation went in my head:
Me: Anthony, there is no way I’m walking to another room. No. Freaking. Way. They can wheel me there, airlift me there (yes, the room is just down the hall), or carry me there, but I ain’t walking. NOT HAPPENING.
Anthony: Okay, I’ll ask.
Here’s how the conversation *actually* went:
Me: Do I really have to walk? I really don’t want to walk. Please don’t make me walk.
Anthony: Okay, I’ll ask.
Anthony to nurse: She really doesn’t want to walk, is there a way we can get her to the other room without walking
The wheelchair arrived and I could swear to you that the nurse thought she was in the Indy 500 as she raced over every tiny little bump and wrinkle in the carpet on the way to my room. In reality, she probably drove a normal speed and the bumps just happened to be there, but man alive did I feel every ripple in the carpet.
We got to my room at around 11:10pm, at which point the nurse asked me if they should get the jacuzzi ready since laboring in the tub was in my birth plan. I told her that I wasn’t sure I wanted to lift my legs to get in and out of the tub and that maybe she should check me again before I got in. Before I got into the bed to be checked, I had another strong contraction and felt like my water broke or the baby’s head was just wiggling around down there – something different. I finally crawled into the bed and waited to be checked. Mind you, this was less than 30 minutes after I had first been checked. As it turns out, in less than half an hour, I’d progressed to 9cm, and yet my water still hadn’t broken (no biggie, with my first, the doctor broke my water at 8cm since I was stalling). Nope, no tub for me, I’ll just stay right here in the bed, thank you very much.
I told Anthony to text the group text and tell them I was at 9cm. He text them at 11:26pm. He was trying to ask me if I wanted to tell them anything else and I – mid-contraction – could have screamed at him. As the contraction slowed, I told him to text them 9cm, nothing else, stop asking me questions, and tried not to cry because I’d snapped at him, but gosh darn text what I say and be done!
At what I can only assume was 11:29pm I had a horrendous contraction and in one fell swoop, I screamed, squeezed Anthony’s hand to the point of nearly breaking it, my water broke, and the baby’s head came out. Of course, I can feel all of this, but all I can do is scream. Blood curdling, mirror shattering scream. And poor Anthony is in the room without any nurses and we hadn’t even been there long enough for anyone to show him where the call button was. So there I am, screaming, and it is all I can do to rip the blanket off of my legs to reveal a head making its way out before three nurses come rushing in just as Anthony was getting ready to jump into the catching position he’d been joking about so much in the weeks leading up to this moment. I half pushed my way through the rest of the contraction and the nurses caught our daughter. One contraction. One half of a push and there she was, snuggled up on my chest.
From timing the contractions to birth: 5.5 hours.
From arriving at the hospital to birth: 1.5 hours.
7cm to birth: 45 minutes.
9cm to birth: 4 minutes.
And there she was, Ms. Caeli Grace (pronounced Ch-ay-lee), born 11:30pm, 6lbs, 14oz, 20.5’’ at 38 weeks, 6 days gestation. When my doctor arrived 20 minutes later and walked in the room, I apologized and told her I just couldn’t wait. For the record, I’m pretty sure that if I *had* walked from the triage room to the delivery room, Caeli would have been born in the hallway. A very different labor than my first, but still life-changing, in more ways than one.
More on naming her and God’s perfect plan for the day she was born (and how His plan, duh, was better than what I wanted for labor) in subsequent posts. 🙂