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Oh, hey! I had a baby! Three weeks ago! Andrew “Drew” Jay joined us on June 8th. We are overcome with love and happiness. Here is his story.

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On Friday, June 6th, I felt off. I can’t explain it exactly, but I felt differently than I had the previous 39 week. I was also losing my mucus plug (Oops! Sorry! Gross TMI birth stuff a must.), and since the same thing happened the entire day before my labor started with Ryan, I had an inkling this baby’s birthday was not far off. At just four days from my due date and having experienced lots of false contractions near the end of this pregnancy, I didn’t expect much to happen, but I called my mom anyway and told her maybe it was a good idea if she made the 3.5 hour journey my way. She agreed, and I went off to get a much anticipated pre-baby pedicure. I left the appointment with pretty toes, and headed to the grocery store.

While I was in the checkout line, I started to feel tired. SO TIRED. Like, about to fall over with exhaustion tired. It frightened me for a second until it passed, but reiterated what I already knew: something was up. A few hours later my mom arrived and we spent a nice day with the boys playing, planting flowers, and just…waiting for something to start. I was REALLY grumpy all day, too. Just like before Ryan. It did not go unnoticed haha!

Friday came and went without incident. Saturday morning I heard Owen calling for me at 6 a.m. I stood up and had a very mild contraction. I didn’t think much of it (again, lots of false labor), and went about my morning. The contractions continued on and off, but were not very strong nor regular. Sometimes I would have one an hour. Then maybe three. Then none. I was frustrated. I wanted labor to either ramp up, or the contractions to stop. Not this in-between nonsense. I was grumpy and emotional. Michael was supposed to be at work but after lots of back and forth (and an emotional breakdown from me), he decided to stay home. I’m so glad he did, because it was one less thing for me to stress about.

By the afternoon the contractions were stronger, but still not regular. Ten minutes apart. Then 22. Then five. Then THEY WOULD STOP. I started to walk circles around our cul-de-sac, occasionally being stopped by neighbors wanting to chat about how I was doing. By seven p.m., 13 hours after the contractions started, I had fed the boys, given them a bath, and done their nighttime routine. In that way, I was glad the labor had progressed as it had, because I was able to give them that stability and say goodnight to them. I told Owen there was a good chance I wouldn’t be home in the morning and his grandmother would be here instead. He understood what that meant and happily kissed me goodnight.

After the boys went to bed, it was almost as though my brain allowed by body to really get going. I bounced on an exercise ball and the contractions got more intense and closer together. For the first time, I experienced back labor (OW), so my mom would push on my lower back during a contraction. It helped a ton. This went on from 8-10:30 when suddenly…the contractions stopped. Cold turkey. That’s it. I’m done. I’m going to bed, I thought. If I wasn’t going to have a baby tonight, I wanted to go to sleep. I was exhausted from laboring all day. Just before 11, I texted my sister who was almost at my house. I told her to let herself in, lock the door, and I would wake her if anything happened. I got ready for bed, climbed in next to Michael, and we heard the door open.

“Your sister is here,” he said.

“Yeah, I hear her,” I replied, grumpily.

And then my water broke.

YES!

I shuffled to the bathroom to get stuff together as Michael let the hospital know we were on our way, called his mom to come stay with the boys and gathered up last minute items. Those mild and irregular contractions had instantly turned into strong and regular ones after my water broke, so I didn’t feel like hanging around the house much longer. By 11:40 we were in the car and making the short, familiar drive to the hospital. All my babies began their labors at night, so there is something nostalgic about that middle of the night drive for me. Though, contractions in a car are hell. Pure hell.

We arrived in no time at all, and soon enough I was changing into a particularly difficult hospital gown. (It took three of us to figure out the snaps on it!) I was hooked up to the IV and the fetal heartbeat monitor, and tried to find a comfortable position, which proved difficult with the contractions now only seconds apart. Michael applied pressure to my back and I worked through some of them laboring on my hands and knees. When I was checked, I was dilated to about five centimeters, and decided to once again get the epidural. The anesthesiologist was already on the floor, so it wasn’t long before I was being prepped for what I knew would be sweet relief.

I leaned into my wonderful nurse as the epidural was put it, and tried to focus on the sound of my baby’s heart beat coming through the monitor. I told myself the pain was worth it. It was bringing him to me. And soon I would feel relief and could rest. There were no longer breaks between the contractions, and I began to wrestle with my thoughts. I didn’t feel like I could do it any more. The pain so so intense and so constant. I tried to tell myself it would be easier soon, but I didn’t believe my own words.

Finally the epidural was in, and I leaned back onto the bed. I knew from my previous births that relief would come shortly. Only, it didn’t. Suddenly I began to feel intense burning and shouted at the nurse that something was wrong. She calmly said she would check things out, and her check revealed I was fully dilated and the baby was on his way out. Looking back, I realize now I was going through transition while sitting absolutely still for the epidural. Which explains the crazy head games and also ALL THE PAIN.

I am told Andrew was born in just minutes, but it felt like hours. I now understand what women mean when they speak of the “ring of fire”. I had always wanted a natural birth, but changed my mind in the end. This time, I didn’t have a choice. Drew was born the fastest of all my babies at 1:01 a.m., just an hour and a half after my water broke and hard labor began. And…before the epidural kicked in. As a matter of fact, the only thing I got from the epidural before they took it out was tingly feet 10 minutes after he was born. I won’t lie. It was the most painful hour and a half of my life, but I felt amazing afterwards. Like a rock star!

He was placed on my chest and my heart once again filled with love for our new son. He had a full head of dark hair, the longest fingers and toes, and lungs that announced to all he was here. We lay skin-to-skin while I delivered the placenta, and soon he began to nurse.

A few hours later, Michael brought Owen and Ryan to meet their new brother. Suddenly we were a party of five. In the time he’s been here, I find myself delirious both with lack of sleep and love. Every day is more challenging than I thought it would be, but oh. My three little boys. I am so very lucky.

Heading home!

Heading home!

 

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The day before my due date I was terribly crabby. No, scratch that. I was downright bitchy. Nothing could make me happy, I didn’t want to do anything and I was done, done, DONE with being pregnant. That morning Owen and I met some friends for coffee and when they asked if I was having any symptoms of labor, I regretfully said no. Nothing! After coffee, Owen and I went grocery shopping. I figured the baby had to come at SOME POINT during the week, so I should probably make sure I had some food in the house. After no less than three cashiers made comments about me still “not popping”, I decided we were done running errands.

Later that afternoon we went out on the boat. We had been out on it almost every day that week, and every time I told Michael to really hit the bumps hard. Bounce this baby out! The bouncing didn’t do anything, but we had a nice afternoon — our last as a family of three. I made spicy burritos for dinner as one last ditch effort for the day, and put Owen to bed. By 10 p.m. I was still grumpy and figured I might as well just go to bed. I read a magazine for a bit and at 10:45, right before I closed my eyes I said out loud, “Baby, you are coming out tomorrow. Understand? Good.”

Thirty seconds later my water broke.

With no contractions to speak of, I went to the living room, shared the news with Michael, called my family and told them to hit the road, and started getting things together.

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Last belly picture — one hour before being 40 weeks pregnant — baby time!

When we were ready to leave for the hospital, I tiptoed into Owen’s room, snuggled the blankets around him and kissed him goodbye. He didn’t wake, but mumbled a little in his sleep. I was overcome with emotion then, and had to leave the room before my tears woke him. I came out wiping my eyes and Michael gave me a big hug and assured me that Owen was going to be just fine. (Spoiler: he is!)

My mother-in-law arrived soon after, and as I was now having contractions about 5 to 7 minutes apart, we headed out. We checked in around 12:30, in the same room I delivered Owen in. I told the nurse I was maybe interested in using the labor tub, and she was all for it. Whatever you want to do, she said. I figured I would play it by ear. At this point, the contractions were, well, contractions, but they were pretty manageable. They began to set me up for the IV, and this is where things went a little wonky. I HATED the IV last time. Worst part of having a baby. I told them as much as since it was hospital policy I have one, I asked if they could at least put it in a different spot than last time (it had been right below my thumb near the wrist). Their first attempt this time was in my forearm, but it wasn’t taking. As the woman continued to jab me — and talk about how it wasn’t working — I began to get lightheaded. REALLY lightheaded.

Before I knew it, I had an oxygen mask on my face and the nurse was saying something about my blood pressure being sixty over thirty, and I don’t know much about blood pressure, but I know that is not normal. Baby wasn’t in distress, though, so long story short, in a little bit I was fine and they put the IV in the back of my hand. Wish they had just done that the first time.

The clock ticked into the one o’clock hour and as the contractions got stronger, I reflected back on Owen’s birth which was 16 hours start to finish. I’d only been in labor for just over two hours at this point and hadn’t yet slept. This was going to be a long night, I thought. I think I’d like to get some sleep. Right then and there I changed my mind about the tub and asked for the epidural and not long afterwards, I was comfortably resting.

My mom and sister arrived and since the maternity floor was empty, the nurses set them up with some beds in an empty room so they could sleep. I didn’t get much sleep, though, because the nurses kept bothering me. Every so often they would come in and roll me over, move the fetal heart monitor or check something or another. As it turns out, my contractions started getting further apart instead of closer together, and when they reached 10 minutes apart, the OB came to check me. I had gone from 2 cm at check in to about 6 cm, and they discovered that I had a second small bag of water (I didn’t know that could happen) that was still intact and was acting like a little pillow for baby’s head, slowing dilation. I asked him if he could break that bag and he said yes. As soon as he did, I felt TONS of pressure and when he checked me again not even 15 minutes later, I was 10 cm.

I told the nurse I felt like I could push, so they asked me to do a “practice” push before they woke up my family. Michael stood by me, I gave a push and they all said to stop. Baby was coming!

My mom and sister came in, everyone gathered around and I started to push. Unlike with Owen’s birth where it took a while for me to feel the urge to push and I pushed for an hour, this time it was immediate. The nurse laughed that this would be quick, then told me NOT to push for a minute (I don’t know what the reason was, but ah! agony!) I panted trying to fight the urge until finally I was all, “Um, I’m pushing…I have to push. I’m going to push RIGHT NOW!” and I heard Michael say “SHE’S PUSHING!”

And just like that, Ryan Mason literally tumbled into the world. Six hours start to finish, nine minutes of pushing. (And no tear this time, thank god!)

Owen arrived a few hours later and cuteness and sweetness filled the room. He was so excited and proud to meet his baby. We stayed the full two days. I could have left earlier, but I liked the short time of relative quiet where I could bond with Ryan. And then we headed home, our family of four.

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Life is good. It’s tiring and chaotic and sweet and wonderful. I am so lucky.

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(Ryan says “woe is me”. Life on the outside, man. Crazy.)

Part One
Part Two
Part Three

They told me it was time to push, but I didn’t exactly feel like I had to. The epic battle of Butt vs. Torso continued, but I didn’t yet feel like the solution to stopping the pain was to push. But since they said it was time, I figured I would try.

With Michael on my left holding my leg and my mom and my sister on my right holding the other, I lay back into the semi-reclined position and looked to the nurses for guidance. They told me to bear down as if I was having a bowel movement. So I did. And then, as they instructed, I did again. The more I pushed, the faster the contractions came and the worse the pain in my pelvis became. Let me be clear, the epidural did work in the sense that I felt no pain, only pressure in the vaginal area; but I did feel every. single. contraction.

And all the pain that came with them.

At some point they had me roll onto my side and push in that position, which I prefered to being on my back. However, I suppose the progress wasn’t so great so I rolled back over.

As the contractions went from minutes to seconds apart, I found myself in doing the hardest, most strenuous physical work I had ever experienced. A contraction would start as a wave, gripping my middle and washing over me from head to toe. I followed my body’s lead, curling forward over myself, lifting my knees to my chest, resting my forehead on Michael’s and pushing with all I had.

My main nurse had a nice strong count. “One. Two. Three. Four.” She would count for three counts of 1o, and I would take a deep breath between each set. Eventually, she encouraged my mom to count for me, but she was far to gentle in her counting and I requested that the nurse resume in her firm manner.

In the moments between contractions I would collapse back on my pillow, or chew on ice chips my sister was feeding me from a spoon. Except for the one time she gave me a massive scoop and was met with a “TOO MUCH ICE!” from me, the ice was a welcome relief in the seconds between pain.

All the questions I had regarding labor and how would I know how to push were answered as my body told me repeatedly what to do. Once a contraction started, I couldn’t stop pushing if I wanted to. As we continued, it was the only thing I wanted to do. The nurse would stop counting after the third set of 10 and I would yell out, “ANOTHER!” and push for a fourth set. At one point, she told me I was getting a little hysterical and should really try and rest between my contractions. My brain was screaming at her that my body wanted to push for four sets, that my contractions were lasting for four sets, but my mouth couldn’t form the sentences.

So I ignored her, and did exactly what my body wanted to do.

There was excitement building in the room. I didn’t realize it, but my doctor had been called to the emergency room and was also tending to another woman in labor, and was not back to me yet, despite frantic pages to find her. Eventually I heard a nurse try a page one last time, saying this baby was coming NOW! Luckily, my doctor burst into the room just in time and took her place at the foot of my bed. Turns out that full moon made the hospital a little crazy! My doctor was great, telling me I was an excellent pusher and that my baby would be here in just a few more pushes.

Then, I heard some gasps. The doctor asked me if I wanted to reach down and feel my baby’s head, so I did. It felt…hard. And slimy. I think I wiped my hand on my gown. My sister told me later that for a while, what she saw was just an It, a something. But all of the sudden she saw a little ear and it all became real to her.

With my support team around me and my medical team cheering me on, I put all the strength I could muster into those last few pushes. I made noises I never knew I could make — deep, guttural moans that came from my core.

And then, after pushing for an hour, there was crying. Loud, frantic screams coming from a little person who was being placed on my chest. Our baby, our son.

Our Owen.

This picture isn’t pretty, but it’s real.

In that moment, I became a mother, and the emotional heaviness of that hit me like a ton of bricks. I looked at Michael, my husband and now a father; at my mother, now a grandmother; and my sister, now an aunt. We all cried tears of joy together. And my dad, who had arrived just in time to hear Owen being born from outside the doorway, became a grandfather. I am so happy I could share that moment with everyone.

Owen stayed on my chest through all his exams and I was able to try breastfeeding him almost immediately. (Breastfeeding. I think that deserves its own post!) As I bonded, my doctor stitched up the small second-degree tear I sustained pushing out that 8 pound 1 ounce little boy. The stitches stung a little, but I didn’t really notice them. She also showed me the placenta, which was…weird. The body is a strange thing — creating and disposing of an organ just for childbirth. I can’t accurately describe it, except for it was a lot bigger than I thought it would be.

Owen was bundled up in a blanket and hat and we all began the process of getting to know the new edition to our family.

There is more to this story — post partum and all that comes with it, but that’s a story for another day. But I’ll end with this: for me, the cliche was true. I fell instantly in love at 1:05 p.m. on June 26th.

Unconditional, pure love.

Part One
Part Two

After being in the hospital bed hooked up to the monitors for 20 minutes, I was allowed to get out of bed. This was my idea of heaven, as lying on my back during contractions, well, sucked, and I had to wear a tight tube top type girdle thing around my huge belly to hold the fetal heart rate monitor in place. It was snug and hot and uncomfortable, which are three things you don’t want to feel while in labor. Unfortunately, hospital policy dictated that the IV (which was administering fluids to keep me hydrated…I think. To be honest, I didn’t ask and didn’t really care except for the fact that it made my arm uncomfortable) remained attached to me.

When I stood up I started experimenting with positions to labor in. During my pregnancy, I had all these notions of laboring on the birthing ball, walking the hallways and practicing my yoga positions.

Instead, the only thing I wanted to do was lean over a chair and sway. So sway I did. With that lovely hospital gown open in the back, exposing my butt to anyone to cared to look. Labor is sexy, y’all.

By this point, my contractions were less than two minutes apart and I was still only 3-centimeters dilated. Each time one started, I would lean over the chair, grab Michael or my mom’s hand and try to focus on anything but the pain. The best way I can describe what mine felt like is this: it felt like my bottom half wanted to rip itself from my top half right through my pelvis. I also had accompanying nausea and had asked for “something to be sick in…just in case” from the nurse. I’m pretty sure she handed Michael a plastic bed pan. Every time I had a contraction I would yell, “Get the bucket!” and he would hold it below my face.

I never did get sick, but I did burp a lot. It tasted like that English muffin with peanut butter.

Gross.

As we approached the 8 o’clock hour, two hours into our hospital stay and three hours from my water breaking, the contractions were less than a minute apart and taking my breath away. I asked to be checked.

5 centimeters.

At this point, realizing that I was only halfway there and finding it hard to manage the non-stop contractions, I let my idea of a drug-free labor go out the window and asked for the epidural.

At first, I was really upset with myself. All through my pregnancy whenever anyone asked if I was going to use drugs, I told them I was going to go natural as long as possible, but not be a hero. If I thought I needed the drugs, I would take them.

Even though this is the story I kept repeating, there was a part of me that always believed I’d be able to have an entirely natural childbirth, no problem. So when I found myself in the position of where I didn’t think I could do it anymore, a little part of me felt like a failure.

And then I had another contraction and knew that for me, for this birth, the epidural was the right choice. I don’t know, maybe if my water hadn’t broken so early the contractions would have been manageable for longer. But in the end, it was the decision I made, and I don’t regret it at all.

So I asked for it. And was told, sure, no problem! We’ll get things set up. But we can’t administer it until the OB is in the building. She should be in at 8 o’clock.

I glanced at the clock and saw I had 20 minutes to go. I could totally do another 20 minutes, I thought.

Omigod, was that a long 20 minutes. During this time I actually had to have a conversation with the anesthesiologist about types of pain relief and I’m pretty sure I signed a form at one point, but for all I know I signed “arrrghhhhhhhhh” on the X instead of my name.

Oh yeah. I also overheard the nurses talking about whether or not my doctor was en route, and I heard one say yes, she had just talked to her, and she was at the local coffee shop and would be in soon.

My brain was screaming something like, “COFFEE????? **&(*^%^^#$)!!!!!!)”, but I think all I managed to say was some type of groan.

Finally, finally, around 8:30 a.m. my doctor came in and I could get some relief. I moved to the bed, leaned over the table as instructed and prepared myself for what I thought would be a very painful needle injection into my spine.

And then I had a contraction. And I announced it to the anesthesiologist as kind of a “hey, heads up. Hold on a sec,” and she informed me very nicely that, oh well. We’re already in the middle of it and you’ll just have to stay still while your butt rips itself away from your torso and runs away down the hall.

Oh, sure. Stay still. OK.

But I did! And yes, the epidural didn’t feel great, but compared to getting the IV it was cake and you know what happened next? Like, instantly next?

I felt warm in the tips of my toes and it quickly spread up my legs and into my pelvis and my butt no longer tried to rip itself away from my torso.

Relief. Sweet, sweet, relief.

Feeling better, I got into bed and was able to relax for a while. I could still feel the pressure of my contractions, but the pain was gone. I could still move and feel my legs, so I wasn’t freaked out by the sensation as I thought I might be. The only real downside was they have to insert a catheter to remove urine, since I wouldn’t be able to feel the sensation of having to go to the bathroom. The idea grossed me out, but I never felt or saw it, so in the end, no biggie. I sent out a few texts messages, laughed and joked with my mom and sister and ate an orange Popsicle, which being the only thing I had eaten since 4 a.m. tasted AMAZING. Then we all took a nap.

~

Around 10 a.m., the nurse came in to check on me. In the time since the epidural, I had progressed to 8 centimeters, but was starting to feel the contraction pain again. The anesthesiologist came in to adjust my medicine, saying that some women just need a little more than others to manage the pain. 

There’s a button attached to the pain medicine that I could push twice in the span of an hour to get a boost if I felt I needed more pain relief. As we approached noon, I had pushed it more than twice (which is pointless, since it won’t give you any more medicine after you’ve exhausted your two pushes), and called for the nurse.

I still hurt, I told her. I didn’t know what I was supposed to feel with an epidural, but something told me I shouldn’t hurt THAT much. My butt was rebelling against my torso again.

Before taking the route of upping the medicine again, she decided to check my progress.

I hurt so badly because I was 10 centimeters dilated and This Little Baby was in the birth canal and ready to go.

Say what?

Michael had fallen asleep in a chair watching Dirty Jobs, and my mom and sister had curled up on the Dad Bed (a recliner that folded down into a bed) to nap, and suddenly, everyone was up and moving around.

The anesthesiologist was back, and told me that this was usually the time she turned down the epidural so women could feel the sensation of the urge to push, but hey! Your body is already doing it, lucky you!

I wanted to ask her if that was the case, couldn’t she turn the epidural UP instead?

I think the answer would have been no.

Before I knew it, everyone was gathered around me, and the nurses were at my feet.

It was time to push.

Continued from A Birth Story, Part 1

And then I heard a pop.

I gasped, and then I felt it, at exactly 5:11 a.m. A huge gush of warm water. On my couch. Thank goodness for that blanket!

I had this irrational fear during my pregnancy that my water would break in the produce aisle of the grocery store. I don’t know why, I was just terrified of it. So having it break on the couch was preferable, yet…messier. Because had I been standing, TLB’s head would have acted as sort of a plug, making the gush more of a trickle.

Instead, I was reclined, so the gush was actually like dumping an industrial sized Gatorade cooler onto my yoga pants.

“My water broke!” I exclaimed.

My sister jumped into action.

“What do I do?!”

“Um…get a towel?”

She rushed off to the bathroom and returned with a towel. As I shuffled to the bathroom with it between my legs, she ran upstairs to wake up Michael, who had been sleeping the whole time and didn’t even know my family had arrived. I wish I could have seen his face when she woke him announcing the news.

(Note: I promised you an honest birth story. So from here on out there will be talks of fluids and pain and…aftermath. I really appreciated mothers who were honest with me regarding the ins and outs of birth, which is why I want to be honest here. Just giving you a heads up if you’re not interesting in these kinds of things!)

I actually never really expected my water to break at home, since many women don’t have theirs break until they’re much further into their labors…many even having them membranes manually ruptured later on. So I wasn’t really sure what to expect when it happened. Well…there’s a LOT of fluid. And for a while, it just keeps coming and coming and coming. I sat on the toilet and waited for it to slow down enough so I could get things ready, and noticed that I had also lost my mucus plug. And it looked gross.

Really gross. Yet, that didn’t stop me from announcing it to anyone who was listening outside the door that in fact, I had LOST MY MUCUS PLUG!

My sister returned with a fresh pair of yoga pants and a pair of the big old throw away underwear I had bought for the occasion. I put on a pad (for the first time since middle school, I think) and started packing up my toiletries.

My original plan had been to labor at home as long as possible, going to the hospital when I felt I was close enough to warrant being there. Generally, doctors prefer for you to deliver within 24 hours of your water breaking to prevent infection, so I knew I had a lot of time. But on the advice of my mom, I decided to call the maternity ward and let them know I would be in at some point. I talked to the nurse and she suggested I take a little time to get things together, but head in within the hour.

I was skeptical. I had hours and hours! But OK, I’ll get things together and see how it goes.

And then, like a freight train, the contractions started coming.

Hard.

And close together.

I found my best coping method was leaning against a wall or the counter and swaying from side to side until the contraction passed. In between, I packed up the final stuff for the bag, straightened some last minute things around the house…and made Michael put the air conditioner in the guest room for my family.

Yes, really. It’s weird the way your brain works during labor. Suddenly, that seemed really important to me.

So, he did! And afterwards he said he wanted to move the cars around in the driveway, which seemed perfectly reasonable to me until about five minutes later.

“Michael,” I said quietly.

“Yes?”

“I think we need to go. Now.”

~

We live very close to the hospital, so I luckily did not have to labor long in the car. We pulled up in front of the hospital just after 6 a.m. I climbed out of the car to wait while Michael parked it, and noticed that my pants were soaked through completely. As I gripped the railing outside the door and swayed through a contraction, I complained to my sister about my pants. I’m pretty sure she told me not to worry about it.

You would have to ask my family if this is really true or not, but I don’t think I ever became too mean or bitchy during my labor. However, I do remember thinking my sister was walking way. too. slow. into the hospital, and shoved her into the elevator.

Shoved her.

Oops.

We arrived at the Women’s Wing and were greeted by a nurse who would escort us to our room and be with us all day. Now, before we could get to that room, Michael remembered to ask a very important question.

See, when we took our childbirth class it was taught by one of the Labor and Delivery nurses, who told us that we should absolutely ask if one of the corner rooms was available when we arrived. The corner rooms were the big rooms and well, why not ask?

So he did. He asked the nurse if a corner room was available and she looked at us like we were nuts. What did we think this was, the Ritz? The corner room? Really?

Well, there was a corner room, she said, but it wasn’t set up. They’d have to do that first. You know, make the bed, bring in equipment and monitors.

“I’ll wait!” I cried out, and proceeded to have a  contraction hanging onto the hallway wall.

 I don’t know what she thought of us in that moment, but she left us to set up the room. And you know what? I’m so glad he asked! The big room was awesome.

~

When the room was ready, I was handed a gown and told to take off everything I was wearing and put it on. Know how fun it is to get undressed while having a contraction and leaking amniotic fluid everywhere? Not so fun. Not so fun at all. And those gowns? Do NOT cover your butt. Not even a little. Here’s a fact about birth: EVERYONE will see your butt.

Everyone.

There is no such thing as modesty anymore and there will come a point when you just don’t care.

In that moment, I still cared. So I shuffled to the bed the best I could while holding the back of the gown closed.

Ha.

It’s hospital procedure that you get in bed and are hooked up to a fetal heart monitor, blood pressure cuff and an IV for 20 minutes when you first arrive to see how things are going. I hated this part and could not wait to get out of the bed. I was also terrified of the IV. Not labor, but the IV! I had never had one before and the thought made me nauseous.

Having the IV was my least favorite part about having a baby. I’m serious.

The nurse checked to see how far along I was, and I was disappointed to find I was still only three centimeters dilated, the same I had been earlier in the week. At this point, the contractions were less than three minutes apart and they HURT. And I still had to get to 10?

I did my best to turn inward and use my prenatal yoga skills to focus and breathe.

They still hurt. Oh man, did they hurt.

On Thursday, June 24th I went in for my 39-week OB appointment. My doctor did the usual exam and told me that she was actually surprised I hadn’t gone into labor yet. I had been 3 centimeters dilated for a week, and little boy had been head down and pressing on my sciatic nerve for twice that long. I really, really wanted my OB to be the one to deliver my baby, and she told me she was working that night, and on Saturday. She also mentioned that Saturday was a full moon, and the maternity ward often gets hopping on those nights.

I laughed, put my pants back on and headed home knowing This Little Baby was staying put for another week.

The next day was just like the day before. I was feeling a lot of pressure in my pelvis, but nothing really different from any other day that week. I emailed with a friend periodically and told her nothing was happening, baby wasn’t coming today. I posted my 39-week Belly Friday post, 100% convinced I’d be posting week 40 the following Friday. 

That evening, probably around 7 p.m., I felt the overwhelming desire to clean my house. My house — which I had cleaned top to bottom earlier in the week — suddenly seemed filthy to me. As Michael watched me quietly from the couch, I scrubbed the bathroom, cleaned counters, vacuumed and folded laundry. Occasionally, he’d mention as nicely as possible that all those things had just been done and I was essentially just redoing the chores, but I couldn’t stop. Nest. Nest, nest, nest, nest, nest.

By 9 p.m. I was finished and tried, so I took a relaxing shower and climbed into the recliner to watch some TV. A little while later I felt a pain. Sort of like a menstrual cramp, sort of like a diarrhea cramp. Not too bad, and brief enough to make me think it was probably gas. There had been a lot of gas up to this point, so it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to have more.

And then, I felt it again.

So…I tired to fart. Well, wouldn’t you? I mean, I thought it was gas.

The fart was unsuccessful.

I rotated a bit in the chair, got comfortable…and felt another one.

I started thinking to myself, “Could this be it? Is this what it feels like?”

Michael had worked very early that day and was almost asleep on the couch next to me. I didn’t want to set anything in motion until I was sure something was happening, so I quietly got a piece of paper and started writing down whenever I felt a cramp.

I didn’t feel them at regular intervals, but they were usually between 12 and 8 minutes apart. They lasted anywhere from 25 seconds to a minute long, and after about an hour I figured something was up.

“Michael, I think I’m having contractions.”

“Really?!” he answered, perking up instantly. “What do we do?”

I laughed. “Nothing,” I replied. “He’s not coming tonight. But, you might want to get some sleep.”

By midnight I knew that this was early labor. The contractions were strong, but manageable. They made me a little nauseous, but nothing that I couldn’t handle. I called my family and after the inital excitement, they jumped into action. Being three and a half hours away, my mom and sister decided to jump in the car and hit the road immediately. My dad planned on coming up a few hours later, which meant he was the only one who got to sleep!

Michael decided to take a shower just in case there wasn’t time in the morning, and we headed to bed to get some sleep. I know I was vaguely aware of the contractions during the night, but I was able to sleep through them pretty well. Until 4 a.m. when I woke up starving. I decided to get up and eat something, because I knew that if I went to the hospital soon, I wouldn’t be allowed to eat. I got up to make an English muffin with peanut butter and when I stood up, the contractions were gone.

Frustrated, I walked around the house trying to get them moving again. Nothing! I had read that you can be pretty sure you’re experiencing “false labor” when changing positions or walking around stops the contractions. As I chewed my breakfast, I wondered if I had cried wolf and set into motion a lot of fuss for nothing.

I called my mom to tell her what I thought. They were about a half hour away at this point, so there was no turning back for them. She assured me that this is what happens in early labor, and that I wasn’t wrong. It was just going to be awhile, that’s all.

To pass the time until their arrival, I flipped through various infomercials on TV, drank some water and walked around some more. Eventually I felt another contractions, but it was fairly mild. By 4:40 a.m. my family arrived, and after hugs and excitement all around, my mom decided to take a nap while she still had the time. My sister and I stayed up, talking in the living room and timing the mild contractions that were finally coming back.

I put a blanket on our leather couch because it was chilly from the AC, and lay down to get comfortable. After a particularly strong contraction, I mentioned to my sister that OW! That one kind of hurt!

And then I heard a pop.