I was pretty surprised at 11:32 on May 8th, 2006 when that first contraction hit, but I decided to lay back down and try and get some sleep. From my childbirth class and every thing I had read, this was going to be going on for a while and I should try to relax and rest as much as possible. Then, the second contraction hit. I peeked at the clock. 11:38. Hmm...that was kind of soon. I closed my eyes again and tried to fall back to sleep. That's when the third contraction hit. I checked out the clock again. 11:44. I got up and set up the laptop so I could use the online contraction monitor. Things seemed to be going a little faster than I expected.
After tracking contractions for half an hour I decided that this was probably the real thing so I went up and woke Andy up. He got up and hit the contraction button for me while I got things organized.
It was at this point that I learned something about myself. I was having contractions every five minutes. They were bad enough that I had to stop whatever I was doing and I couldn't really talk through them either. I knew this was the real thing and I knew it was time to call the doctor. But, there was the small problem of having really bad wet bed head. Did I really want all of the doctors and nurses, not to mention family members with cameras to see me looking like that?
No, I did not.
So, I decided to wet my hair in the sink and then blow it dry before heading to the hospital. As I bent down to stick my head under the faucet, I discovered that bending over made me have a contraction. But it didn't stop me. I contracted every three minutes until my hair was dry and pulled back in a respectable manner. I know it was every three minutes because I kept calling out to Andy to record each contraction while I was styling my hair. Looking back, I guess contracting every three minutes should have been alarming, but hey, the hospital was only 5 minutes away. I figured I was safe. I did pass on the makeup.
The 5 minute trip to the hospital felt like forever. Andy cut through a parking lot to save time, but we had forgotten about the speed bumps. They were just little ones, but ouch did they hurt. Each one led to a contraction. You would think at this point I would have remembered all of those breathing exercises I had practiced, but nope. I didn't.
It was after hours, so we had to enter through the ER. Andy dropped me off and went to park the car. I walked into the ER and realized I had no idea what I was supposed to do. The one receptionist was admitting a hand-cuffed gentleman and his police escort was blocking my way. There were no nurses around and there were no chairs to sit in. So, I leaned against the wall and waited patiently for my turn. It crossed my mind to cry out and play the sympathy card, but that's not really my style.
After a few moments a nurse walked by, saw me standing there contracting, and got things in motion. After registering, I was taken up to an observation room with Andy and my mom. The next few hours pretty much went like this. Pain, pain, pain, mom commenting on how cool the contraction monitor was, me asking for and epidural, and Andy holding my hand every time he saw I was about to contract. Then, pain, pain, pain, mom telling me my contraction had peaked, me asking for an Epidural AGAIN, and Andy holding my hand.
It was a busy night in the maternity ward and I was the last of the moms to check in. However, they finally realized that maybe I wasn't going to be the last to deliver and they transferred me to the delivery room. When we got there, the nurse told me I needed to walk about 10 feet to the bathroom and relieve myself. I looked down that 10 foot hallway and then back at the nurse. I really though she was joking. There was no way I could walk that far. But she was serious. So, I hauled myself out of the wheelchair, contracted down the hall, contracted while I relieved myself, and then contracted all 20 feet to the bed- which I had no intention of ever moving from again.
I have no idea how many times I asked for an epidural, I'm sure it seems like it was more times than it actually was. What I do know is that I was admitted around 1:30 am and that I didn't get the epidural until 5:30 am. I pretty much just laid there dealing with it the whole time because I could barley talk. I wondered what I would be like during labor. You hear all these funny stories of polite women cursing and yelling, and since I'm loud and not always polite, I thought it might be quite a show. But it wasn't. I didn't have it in me at the time. Forget walking around, forget deep breathing. I couldn't even talk.
I started to move into transitional labor. The childbirth instructor had mentioned that this was the bad part and that I might actually have contractions that peaked twice. My mom, who was still fascinated by the contraction monitor, kept telling me when I was having a contraction. My nurse kept touching my stomach when I would have a contraction. She was a very nice nurse but it was really making me mad. During one bad contraction, I finally told her to "STOP TOUCHING ME". I guess she didn't notice that Andy was only holding my hand during contractions, and keeping a safe distance from me the rest of the time. He was the only one that could really read me without me having to say anything.
Soon the contractions really started to bunch up on me. Andy held my hand while my mom explained my contractions to me from the monitor print out. "Oh, you just peaked three times!" she squealed with delight. Oh, there were so many snarky comments I could have come up with for that one, but I only had energy for a quiet, "No shit." Like I might have missed a contraction that peaked three freaking times.
Then, the anesthesiologist showed up. He was a gruff looking man with a big beard and he did not look like he was thrilled to be there. I told him I loved him. (Seriously, I did.) To be fair, I do love him for what he did for me. He changed my entire birth experience for me. From the moment the epidural started to work, I was a different person. I started noticing the nurses around me, I was joking with my mom and Andy. I even called my boss to tell him I wouldn't be in. (He saved the message for me and sends it to me every year for Michael's birthday. Isn't that sweet?)
I took a nap, and when I woke up the nurse came in to check on me. She asked me if I was ready to push. For some reason I thought she was just making conversation. I don't know what I said, but she said, "No, are you ready to push now?" Wait, what? Now? Push? You mean like in having a baby? Um, sure, I guess.
So push I did. At little after 8:30 in the morning, Michael was born. Andy was holding my hand. My mom was holding my leg, and we were laughing and joking with the doctors and nurses in the room. I'll be honest, it didn't really seem real until the doctor held Michael up for me to see him. From that moment on though, it's been very real, and very wonderful.
When I saw Michael, all I saw was perfection. I'd never held a newborn before, so I didn't have any idea how big they should be. I heard the nurse comment on how big Michael's hands were. Then, my mom commented about how big his feet were. But, I didn't think anything of it until the doctor glanced over at Michael on the scale and said, "He is a big one!" Michael was 9 pounds, 14 oz. Just two ounces heavier than I was at birth. At that point, I loved the anesthesiologist just a little bit more.