Gray shirt: thrifted (Ann Taylor Loft); Lace undershirt: Downeast Basics; Cardigan/Cords/Shoes: Target; Bag: Zappos
Some people hate birth stories. I happen to love them. To those of you who can't stand hearing about the minute details of how someone else's baby was born (can't say I blame you), just focus on how awesome these teal cords are and wait for something more interesting tomorrow. :)
Baby C was due on September 24th. I had a feeling she might come a day or two early, but not really anything more than that. The day before was a Sunday, and I went to church feeling perfectly fine and energetic and without one single thought that I would be having a baby the next day.
That night, it occurred to me that my friend, who was due a couple of weeks before me, had had her baby 5 days early. I turned to Dan slightly anxiously and commented that 5 days early was only 3 days from then. We could, theoretically, have a baby in 3 days! He laughed and said he knew the baby could come early, but that it would be great whenever she came. He noted that we'd gotten in all the really important things already. He'd felt that we'd be okay to plan our camping trip and for them to go on the fathers and sons' campout a couple of days before, for which his dad and brother had come into town, but that he hadn't felt any guarantees after that. Because he'd felt we were safe through the weekend, and because we'd wanted Dan to give Nat a blessing before Carina's birth, Dan thought Sunday night would be a good time for it. It was sweet and meaningful and perfectly timed.
We hung out with Dan's parents that night, and went to bed a little late. Dan usually goes into work pretty early, and woke at 6:15 the next morning. As I saw him climb out of bed, I told him to lie back down for a bit since we'd gone to bed later than usual. He tried to insist on getting ready then, but I joked that I know best and made him come back to bed. Half an hour later, when he would've been on the Metro, I awoke from my doze and ran to the bathroom. As I stood in the tub, I called to Dan, who asked, "your water broke?"
As Dan helped me back to a now-towel-clad bed, we both laughed at the timing. With neither of my pregnancies have I felt a single Braxton-Hicks contraction, even, so we were completely surprised. After lying down for a bit and calling our families, including Dan's parents who were scheduled to leave town later that day, we got back up and did some laundry (this seems to become something of a tradition after my water breaks...). I was having some slight contractions, but nothing really painful or strong, and coming about 20 minutes apart. We talked to my wonderful doctor, who said it was fine for me to labor at home for a little while, and to for sure come in by lunchtime or by the time my contractions were 5 minutes apart, whichever came first.
At around 9:40, my sister-in-law called and I happily chatted with her for a few minutes. I got a contraction in the middle of our call and asked her to hold on for a minute, but was still sitting up just fine and easily resumed talking right after. My contractions were still about 15-20 minutes apart at that point. Starting at around 10, they started coming a little more quickly, maybe 8-12 minutes apart. A little after this, I suddenly had a couple of really painful contractions. They were so painful that I decided I did want an epidural and we figured we'd head over to the hospital, even though they still weren't that close together. After another blessing, this time for me, we gathered up our bag and the last minute things we'd packed that morning and called Dan's mom, who'd come over to watch Nat that morning (she was supposed to leave on a bus up to New York later that day, but switched it to the next day). We walked down to the car (I had one small contraction in the stairwell, which was bizarre), and said bye to Nat and Mom. On the way, I had another super painful contraction and was a little miserable even after our sub-10-minute drive to the ER entrance.
After pulling up at just about 11, an orderly came out with a wheelchair, and said Dan could park in the clergy spot for a little bit while accompanying me over to the labor & delivery ward (which, conveniently, is on the exact opposite end of the hospital from the ER entrance, so after getting the wheelchair and checking in with the nurses downstairs and walking over, took a good 15 minutes to get to). We checked in (well, Dan checked me in with the nurses while I huddled miserably in the wheelchair and managed to get out a few words to ask for an epidural as soon as possible) and they took me over to a triage room. Mercifully, the room was roasting, so a nurse offered to get me a different room and took me over to a labor & delivery room. We must've gotten in this room by about 11:20.
I immediately fell over on the bed in the midst of a painful contraction. The nurses left us alone for a few minutes and Dan offered to go get the bag from the car which had my ID, which they'd said they needed. Dan stepped out for a moment and asked another nurse, and she said it was fine and not to worry, and as he walked back in, I writhed in another contraction and asked to push my feet against Dan's legs...and felt the baby's head crowning. I felt like I couldn't NOT push. I yelled at him that the baby was coming, which everyone must've heard because at least 4 people immediately came rushing in. A nurse quickly checked me (I could feel her make a huge circle so I must've been fully dilated) and rushed to put the thingies on my stomach to check the baby's heart rate and stick an IV in my arm (for which I had to hold still while in the midst of a contraction...yeah, that was fun). At this point, Dan was clutching my hand and quietly asked the nurse if it was too late for an epidural. She pursed her lips and nodded sympathetically, but not before I saw (although, bless them, they kept telling me until the end that they were trying to get me an epidural, so I had a glimmer of hope). I had two long and painful contractions after that, during which I felt more pressure and, again, couldn't not start to push.
The nurses had tried to call my doctor a few minutes before, but he was in with a patient. Another doctor happened to be there and she came in to assist. She coached me through pushing through one contraction and told me it could all be over very quickly if I did it naturally, and that the baby could come out with a couple of good pushes. To be honest, I didn't really believe her. She didn't know that I pushed for 2.5 hours with Nat, and that I eventually needed an episiotomy because I just wasn't tearing on my own. So I pushed, but not the very hardest I could.
Miraculously, halfway through that contraction, my doctor, who I adore, came racing through the door. They'd managed to contact him and he'd left another patient in the middle of an appointment and come racing over. His office is a 5-10 minute drive from the hospital, and the parking garage and hospital itself are a maze, so he must have literally FLOWN over (later, when asked where he parked, he said, "I don't even know" :)). He took one look and told me the same thing the other doctor had, that with one good push, the baby would be out. He was so supportive and wonderful and told me he couldn't even imagine how painful a natural birth was, but that it could be really really quick. I looked up at him and asked if I needed an episiotomy and he said he definitely didn't think so. So with that, on the next contraction, I pushed. Really pushed. And it was ridiculously painful and the most pressure I've ever felt. But a minute later, I felt the biggest sense of relief of my life. At 11:40am, 20 minutes after arriving in the labor & delivery room and less than 10 after I started pushing, I had a baby girl in my arms. I wouldn't change a thing and would do it again in a heartbeat.