Some time has passed, making it easier to look at the emotional event that is Little Man’s birth.
I was having some contractions Monday night, but they weren’t very bad and I was only feeling them when I got up to go to the bathroom (because, you know, that’s what you do when you’re pregnant). I had plans with my friend L to go walking on Tuesday morning — not to help my own labor (as far as I was concerned, I wasn’t going into labor because I had almost two weeks before I was due. L, on the other hand, was about a week late and was planning on being induced Tuesday night. I wanted to help her along, so we decided that we were going to walk up and down some of the hills near her house and go to lunch on Tuesday.
I woke up Tuesday with some cramping that seemed to come and go. Braxton Hicks, I said to myself. Nothing to worry about. I’m not due for another twelve days.
I decided to keep track of my contractions on my smartphone (thank you, technology and Contraction Timer app) and to do it as not-obviously as possible. Easy. Just click the Start/Stop button and L won’t be the wiser.
When I woke up on Tuesday morning, I wasn’t entirely sure that I should be going on this mountain walk. I was a little sore. But, it wasn’t bad. I would be fine. I just needed to get out of my head.
I met up with L and tried to be as not-obvious about the fact that this random cramp-like pain kept coming and going every ten minutes or so. This probably would have been easier if I hadn’t been climbing hills and breathing more heavily than usual. Oh, and “looking” at my phone every ten minutes.
After about half and hour of walking and talking, L and I went to a little cafe for lunch. I think she figured out what was going on when I would get these far away looks every eight to ten minutes and would stop talking for about thirty seconds at a time. I told her that I’d been contracting this whole time, but that it was “probably nothing.” This served two purposes: 1) in no way did I want to admit that I was actually in labor and 2) I wasn’t ready to give birth before L — she was supposed to go through this first!
We started talking about what we were each planning on doing during the day: she was prepping for going to the hospital and I was going to clean the house and go to the store to get some laundry detergent. We hugged each other, parted ways, and promised to text over the course of the day.
I went home and my sister, who is a nanny for a nurse, called me. She asked how I was doing and I said, “Well, I think I’m in labor, but I’m trying to ignore it.” The proper amount of freaking out happened on her end and she told me to go to the hospital… or AT LEAST to call my doctor.
“I can’t, I don’t have time,” I said. “I have to go to the store and get laundry detergent. If I don’t go, Teacher Man (my husband) is going to kill me. I have a coupon that has to get used TODAY.” My sister thought I was crazy and told me should was going to call our mom. Funny how not much changes when you’re an adult. 🙂
My contractions (sorry, not contractions: abdominal cramps) were now about 6-8 minutes apart and my mom called. We went back and forth and she told me to call me doctor. I told her I would as soon as I came back from the store. Doctor had said not to call before Contractions were five minutes apart and lasting about a minute. We weren’t even near there as far as I was concerned. I wasn’t even having contractions, even though everyone seemed very worried about the fact that my baby was going to be born in the grocery store parking lot.
I went to the store and got about 6 giant bottles of laundry detergent (because I had a coupon), which I probably shouldn’t have been carrying whether or not I was having contractions. Which I totally wasn’t.
I called my doctor when I got home (it was about 3pm now) and she said that it would be a good idea to keep track of the contractions and call her in a couple of hours.
No problem, I thought. I don’t have a bag packed anyway and I need to do some laundry and probably finish up the dishes from lunch.
It did occur to me that I should probably call Teacher Man (he was on his prep period) and let him know what was happening. He was giving a placement test after school that day and I wanted him to know that if I called him later, this was not a drill. Luckily, he had his phone on… it was my second day of maternity leave after all!
I kept track of my contractions while I packed my bag for the hospital. I had no idea what to bring and managed to flip through my copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting and throw some of the stuff that they mentioned in my bag — some books, a journal, changes of clothes for me and Little Man, and I don’t even remember what else. It didn’t matter. I probably would just be coming back home anyway. I had so much still to do — I needed to decorate Little Man’s room, wash some more clothes, clean the house, make some dinners to freeze for once Little Man came. I didn’t have time to do be in labor. There was stuff to do!
Finally, the abdominal pains (Braxton Hicks, I was still thinking) were about 4-6 minutes apart and I called my doctor. Calm person that she is (one of the reasons I loved her so much), she told me that it might be a good idea to go to the hospital and get checked out. She would call and tell them that I would be coming in. You know, sometime in the next little while. I called Teacher Man and told him that he should head home sort of now-ish. He rushed home (thank God we don’t live far from school), packed his bag, and we got in the car for the twenty minute drive to the hospital. I called my family on the way to let them know (they would have a seven hour drive to come and see Little Man once he got here) that we were going to get checked out. No big deal. I would call them if we ended up staying at the hospital.
When we got there, I told Teacher Man to leave the bags in the car. I didn’t want to be That Girl who goes to the hospital and comes in with all of her stuff only to be told that she’s only 1cm dilated and to go HOME for Pete’s Sake.
We calmly headed up to the labor and delivery ward and checked in there (it was about 5:30pm at this point). They took me in to a room and told me to change into a gown so the nurse could do an exam and see how far along I am. The nurse admitted that she was skeptical — I was much too calm to be far along.
We were all shocked to find out that I was already 5cm dilated! I was admitted and dubbed the Most Calm 5cm Ever by the nurses. Quite the honor!
Teacher Man and I made the obligatory phone calls and texts to family and friends who were on the Need to Know list and he went to go and bring in our bags. We were staying until we could bring our Little Man home with us!
The next six hours were spent walking the hallways, getting my vitals checked, texting with L who had been admitted to be induced at a different hospital) and choking down some soup and a PB&J sandwich; I wasn’t sick, just much too nervous to eat!
At about midnight, I realized that I was kind of done with this whole contraction game (yes, now I was able to admit what they were) and asked for the epidural. Best. Decision. Ever. I managed to take a few cat naps while listening to my son’s heartbeat on the monitor and trying to annoy the stupid automatic blood pressure cuff that they had on me.
When the nurse came to check in on me around 3am, I asked her what I was supposed to do next. If I was all numb and stuff, how was I supposed to know when the real show was going to start? “When you feel like you have to poop,” she said, “give me a call.”
Around 4:00am, I felt like I had to poop, called the nurse, who in turned called my doctor (she had popped in sometime in the evening as well to check in on me and I talked to her on the phone before I had the epidural).
At 4:30am, the nurse came in to check on me again and I told her that it kind of felt like Little Man’s head was already outside of me and could she please check to make sure he wasn’t already coming out. She looked at me like I had completely lost my marbles (which I might have) and checked. “Nope, he’s still in there.” Good.
A little later, my doctor came in (about 4:45), checked things out and said that I could start pushing soon. We sat and chatted with the nurses and the respiratory therapist. I think Teacher Man was a little worried about the fact that I didn’t seem to be uncomfortable or in pain at all. And I wasn’t. Guys, the epidural was AMAZING. 🙂
5am rolled around and my doctor said that I could start pushing. And push I did! It wasn’t nearly as bad as I had worked it up in my mind to be; I pushed, chatted with my doctor and the nurses (Teacher Man still wasn’t sure what to do other than stand at my head and stroke my arm and help the doctor and nurses count for the contractions) and tried to get the baby out!
Then, all of a sudden, his head was there and they told me one more push and then out of nowhere there was a person where there hadn’t been a person before. There was sheer joy and happiness when they placed this wriggling, crying, wonderful Little Man on my chest. I cried. How could I not? This tiny baby that I’d spent the last nine months bonding with was suddenly here on me and he was (and still is) absolutely beautiful.
I don’t remember many of the tiny details that went along with those first minutes after him being born. My memory is just a flood of emotions. The joy and love I felt in those first minutes for Little Man blew away any preconceived notion that I might have had about what this was going to feel like. Everyone says that you immediately feel this love for your baby, but I never really thought that it would happen to me. I was always worried that I would never feel that way. But, really, it was the most amazing thing — I was completely in love with him from the minute I heard his tiny little cry.
Teacher Man and I fawned and cried over our Little Man, they cleaned up whatever went on down there (I refuse to think about it), Teacher Man cut the umbilical cord, and then they cleaned up Little Man and we got to spend some time with just the three of us.
I nursed Little Man for the first time with the help of one of the nurses. It was a very different experience than I thought it was going to be. It was pretty intuitive and went well, but the connection that I felt with Little Man was something that I wasn’t entirely prepared for.
Once we spent some time together with just the three of us, the got us ready to move into our new room, I did the whole using-my-legs-for-the-first-time-in-hours drill, and then we called our families to tell them the good news and that they could come and visit whenever they were ready (or, in the case of my family, when they got in town).
I was just so happy, sitting there in our hospital room with my husband and this new, shiny little soul that I promise to work hard to protect.