I started out the day being pretty restful. I had a long quiet time which was much needed followed by a walk through a park to a baby consignment store where I had hoped to find a few last minute items. I made a stop by the library and picked up a few books and then made it to the grocery store. That afternoon, I prepared a meal for a friend who had a baby the previous week and then got started on dinner. Chris and I were going to go to our small group potluck that night. At 4 p.m. I decided to put my swollen feet up for a bit and read my new book. At 4:50, I got up to clean the kitchen so Chris wouldn't come home to a mess before having to leave for small group. I felt a slight cramping feeling at this point but thought nothing of it.
At 5 p.m. I felt another surge of cramps coming on. I checked the clock and thought, okay, that's probably a contraction. 10 minutes apart. That okay. I sat down again, and tried to keep track of them. At 6 p.m. I thought, Where is Chris? He should be home any minute. I tried calling him, but didn't get an answer. Seconds later I heard the front door of our building close and just knew it was him. Sure enough, he walked through our door moments later. He took one look at me sitting on the couch and asked, "What are you doing, Honey?"
"Having a contraction." I said.
We discussed if he should still go to small group (the quiche was just about done!) but decided against it. I had expected the first stage of labor to last several hours and it had only been one; it didn't make sense to me for us to be stuck at home if nothing was going to happen. Chris didn't feel comfortable with that so we called the host and let her know what was going on.
I told Chris the contractions were about 10 minutes apart, but now seemed to be closer to 6. I took a shower, which at first felt nice, then it was awful so I got out and laid down for a while. Chris started his coaching script trying to keep me calm. He also took over the stop watch to clock the contractions. He quickly noticed that they were now 3 minutes apart. Okay, things were going quickly. Our hospital wanted us to call when they were 3 minutes apart for an hour. Well, after 30 minutes they were 2 minutes apart! Chris called the hospital and they told us to come on over.
Thankfully, the hospital we chose was just a mile down the road and after 8 p.m. there was hardly any traffic. When we arrived they put me in a wheel chair and brought me to the labor and delivery floor, we checked in and they put us in this tiny tiny room where they took their sweet time checking my blood pressure and had me take a urine test. When the nurse finally got around to checking my progress she exclaimed, "You're fully dialated! You're going to have this baby soon!"
They moved me to another, much larger room just as my urge to push was starting. They told me not to push yet, which in my mind made no sense at all . . . but the doctor wasn't there yet and my water had not broken yet.
Side note: For the past nine months I had been working with a midwife from the hospital so I was under the assumption I would have a midwife deliver my baby. But on that night, the midwife wasn't on call! It turns out, doctors and midwives operate very differently when it comes to delivering babies.
Once the doctor on call arrived there seemed to be a lot going on, and I don't really remember those details. A lot of questions were asked, people were scurrying back and forth and then they finally told me I could start pushing.
I grabbed Chris's hand every time a contraction started. (This was not part of my birthing plan so it surprised me that I needed to do this.) When it was time to push, the nurse on the other side guided me while holding one leg and Chris took the other. I had not planned to give birth on my back as I had read about other positions being easier, but there wasn't really time to discuss it at this point. During one of my contractions, another nurse tried to give me an IV; well, that was a complete failure as I ripped my hand from her as I was trying to push. I didn't even realize what she was trying to do until it was too late. That left a nasty bruise. Then they said I needed oxygen so they put a mask on my face. This was fine for a few minutes but then during another contraction it started to suffocate me! I ripped it off of my face only to have Chris put it back on saying the babies heart rate was dropping and the oxygen was helping that. I gladly took it back.
It seemed like just one or two pushes later they said they could see the head and I could touch it if I wanted. I had never thought of doing this before, but with the offer before me, I did. And with two more contractions (and a little bit of screaming on my part) my baby was born!
Chris looked at me and said, "We have a baby BOY!" And they wiped him off and put our son on my chest. He had a beautiful face with round cheeks, big eyes and tiny nose. There wasn't a mark on him at all. He looked perfect. William Bradley was born at 9:22 p.m. - just four and a half hours after I noticed my contractions had started.
There is more to the story that I hope to share in the days to come, but today we'll end on a happy note!