It's a Tuesday in October, and I'm now 3 days past my due date, feeling huge and uncomfortable. I was sleeping somewhat peacefully until a sharp pain took over my body and drove me into sudden consciousness. I sat straight up in bed, grabbed my enormously round belly and simultaneously let out a yelp and while somehow
managing to suck in a full breath of air to hold through the wave of pain. I grabbed my husband's arm and gently shook him to consciousness.
Me: (Panting and heaving in the most unattractive way) “Oh boy! It's time! My labor has started and it hurts.” (Grasping the sheets for the next wave to hit me).
My husband: (Slowly coming to life and realizing what's going on.) “Ok, let's get you dressed and we'll go in. Just try to take in deep breaths and slowly breath out.”
We're both, by now, out of bed and I've hobbled to the restroom to “check things out”...
Me: (From the bat hroom...) “Oww...WOW...OWWOWOWWW! God! That hurt!”
My husband: “Are you OK in there? Do you need me to come in and help you?”
Me: (By now, I've gone potty and noticed a lot of really unpleasant looking brown stuff that resembled brown jelly on the toilet paper.) “Oh boy, this doesn't look good. I've never seen this stuff before. What is this? I need to go in. I need pants. Get my pants!” (I'm now panting even harder and waddling like I've inserted a tampon in the wrong place)
My husband: “I've got your pants. Do you need help getting them on?”
Me: “No. I can do it, I think.”
I proceed to take the pants from him and wedge myself into a stance kind of position against the wall. I lifted one leg shortly after my last contraction had ended, and quickly squirmed into them. As I began to lift the other leg, the next contraction hit me and I froze in place while the pain gripped me.
Me: “I'm going to have this kid here if I don't get these pants on! I do not want the fire department coming in to find me positioned against the wall with my pants half on and a baby hanging out of me! I need help!”
My husband: “OK .. babe. Hold onto me.”
After some heaving and groaning, I finally get my pants on and we're out the door and in the car. He's always so level headed and keeps his cool. I swear, the end of the world could be taking place and he'd be just as calm about it as ever. The hospital is about 40 minutes away, and he's doing just slightly over the speed limit by this time, while I am reclined in the passenger seat with my right leg hanging out the window and the left leg sprawled up on the dash. Hey, you do what you have to! Folks we are passing by aren't sure if they are witnessing a porno scene taking place besides them, or what. But we definitely were getting some interesting looks from our fellow travelers. Eventually we are within minutes of the hospital and I can see it off in the distance. I spot a McDonalds even closer by and the wisdom of my mother popped into my head. “Stephanie, it's important to eat. Forget what the doctors tell you. You need to eat to keep your strength for the labor and birth. So remember to eat something BEFORE you go in!” Ah, yes. She was right. I had never felt more hungry in my life than right after the moment I gave birth to my first son, Justin. I recall briefly kissing him and greeting him into the world, and then something about ham on rye to the passing nurse. As this thought processed through my mind, my mouth seemed to simultaneously uttered a breathless “Food!”
Me: “Food.....McDonald's....stop there. I need to eat. Anything....I don't care.”
My husband: “Are you sure? You're hungry? Now!?” (Looking at me as though I've lost my mind.)
Me: “Yes! I won't get to eat again for a day or two. I need something now! Get me something, please!”
My husband parks the car in the parking lot, and I'm still reclined with my right leg hanging out of the window, my huge belly working up and down as I pant like a dog, and my left leg still propped up on the dashboard of my car. By this time, I'm not even paying attention to who's staring at me and wondering what the heck I'm doing. Meanwhile, my wonderful husband is inside McDonald's testing out the theory of “fast food”. Surprisingly, when you mention something about your wife being in the parking lot in full labor, and you need a McBurger STAT – they really do become a fast food establishment. Within minutes my husband was back in the car with a breakfast sandwich and hash brown. I managed to eat every last bite and from then we continued onto the hospital.
My husband: “Do you want me to drop you at the ER entrance? I have to park the car, but I can drop you there so they can get you started and I will be in shortly.”
Me: “NO! Stay with me. I need to walk anyways. This hurts so bad and I need to walk.”
So we circle the parking garage and find a nice, convenient parking spot. By this time, I am no longer patient, and ready to hurl myself out of the car door to begin jogging small circles while he parks. But, I manage to stay within the confines of the moving vehicle until it come to a full stop, and then repositioned myself enough to stand up out of the car and while my husband was getting my bag from the trunk. The moment I stood up, contractions really got down to business, and I leaned against the car just breathing through the waves, imagining I was trying to blow a candle out that was 20 feet away. I'm sure I looked more like I was trying to blow a building down though and a few veins in my neck were bulging as well making me look like I was about to either have an alien burst out of me at any moment, or The Hulk was really a woman in a bad disguise. Either way, it wasn't a pretty scene.
As we began our walk to the labor ward through the parking garage, I would walk five steps, stop, grab a pole, try to fold it in half with my super human (imaginary) strength or reach for my unsuspecting husband's hand, depending on whichever I felt like taking my pain out on. Then I'd begin waddling my pregnant self again to the entrance way with a few huffs and puffs in between steps. It seemed like about 20 minutes of this pattern before I finally approached the entry of the building. By this time I knew I had to be at least dialated to a 7 or close to it. I remember the information desk lady saying something to me, but I ignored her as my sights set in on the elevator that promptly took me to the Labor & Delivery flood. I was already registered there and ready to go, so I was in no mood to grunt my intentions to her. So I headed up the elevator to labor and delivery. Upon arrival to the nurses desk, I was met with speculation.
Me: -Pant- -Pant- “I'm in labor. This baby is coming. OooOoOOHHH!!!!”
Nurse: (Nasal sort of speech) “Hmm, ok, well have a seat in this wheelchair and we'll take you to the examination room in a moment.”
Me: (Nearing a growl) “No...you don't understand. It hurts! This baby is coming! OOOOOHHHHHAaaaaarrrrggghhh” ("ye' matey" might have been appropriate to add in, but I wasn't feelin' it at that moment,)
Nurse: “Ok, I understand. Let's go back there now and get you in a gown. The doctor will come check your progress.”
The nurse wheels me into the room where I am directed to the bathroom to change out of my clothing and into a paper dress. It almost defeats the purpose of covering up, it's so thin. But I didn't really care at the time, and so I was off to hop and waddle uncomfortably out of my clothing. If she only knew what a feat it was for me to simply get my pants on, and now she wants me to put on a gown? This was a job for my husband, again.
Me: (Whining) “Honeeeeyyyy, I need help. I can't get my pants off again.”
My husband: “Ok baby.”
It takes us about five minutes to get me out of my clothing and into the gown, where I was soon resting UNcomfortably in the bed. The first nurse walks in now and brings a bag for my clothing to go into. She decides to be helpful and goes over to pick up my clothing. Her body freezes for a moment while inspecting my undergarments.
Nurse: “Did you just take off this panties? Are these yours?”
Me: “Yeah. They sure aren't my husband's!” (Wondering why she'd ask if they were mine, as if some other woman wondered into my room and just stripped off her panties and threw them onto my stuff?)
Nurse: “Oh goodness. You're not going anywhere today. I'm going to prep you a room immediately and get a doctor in here. I will be right back.”
Me: “Wait...what? Hey!” (Watching the nurse hurry out of the room, and quickly my glance shifts to my husband. Perhaps that brown jelly stuff WAS actually important! I just thought maybe the baby sneezed or something. So much strange stuff comes from that end during the last part of a pregnancy, you almost just stop trying to figure out what "that" was!)
Within moments an entire nursing staff and a doctor were in my room to check me out. Soon the fetal monitor was around my belly, and I was able to hear that wonderful little tempo that indicated life inside my body, thriving and wiggling to get out into the world. As the buzzing of staff around me took place, my husband was calmly seated beside me, stroking my hair and keeping me focused on a happy and healthy delivery. I admit, I was more than a little nervous by this time. Something about meconium was mentioned to me and my baby being in distress and it was announced that I had arrived to the hospital dilated to a full 7cm. Supposedly, it wouldn't be long now.
Eventually I was whisked away into my labor room, where for the next several hours, I labored and awaited the arrival of my beautiful little girl. I finally hit a full 10cm around 9pm at night and began my pushing. An hour passed by, and my progress was small, and tiring. After talking the doctors into one more hour of pushing, having my husband sit behind me and press downwards on my abdomen while I bore down with all of my might - still, my stubborn child simply would not come out!
After many hours of labor, I was finally at an end, realizing that she was just simply too stuck to arrive the way nature had intended. By this time, it was now 11:30 at night and the doctors were set in their minds that a cesarean section was imminent. I protested, but eventually had to come to terms with the fact that she was not going to budge, and she was in great distress by now. So in a blur of staff and white coats, I was prepped and rushed into the operating room for a cesarean section delivery. As all things in my life, this had become complicated and my body refused to cooperate with the combination of sedatives I was being given to numb me up for the procedure. The end resulted in me being put to sleep for her arrival.
My husband kissed me on the forehead and squeezed my hand in a reassuring way, and told me he'd be right outside. The staff wouldn't allow him to remain inside while I was under, as he was considered only moral support with his presence. The nurse above my head leaned inwards for me to better see her and began giving me instructions.
Nurse: “When I place this mask over your face, I want you to take ten deep, slow breaths. Ready?”
The mask is placed over my face, and I begin breathing deeply. Soon I am feeling a bit drowsy and giddy feeling, and then very heavy. The room begins to blur and spin, and the nurse sounds as if I were listening to a tape recorder playing on super slow motion. She even begins to become a double vision as I can feel my eyes crossing in attempt to focus on her. I briefly recall thinking to myself, "Wow, so this is what I missed out on by not doing drugs!" My husband is still holding my hand, speaking words of encouragement to me, and the mask is removed from my face.
Nurse: “You will now feel my hands pressing on your throat.”
Me: Somehow I still had the presence of mind to say... “Ok..wait..why would I feel..........”
And that is the last thing I remember before waking up to the sound of a crying baby. As the white room slowly come back into focus, I turned my head to the left, instinctively towards the sound of my baby girl, who was obviously quite upset about the change in her environment. I'd never heard such a strong cry come from a newborn, and it sent a rush of emotions through my body. Before I had a chance to attempt to speak, a doctor come into slightly fuzzed view and smiled at me warmly.
Doctor: “Congratulations, Mom! You have a very big, and healthy baby girl! She weighed a whopping nine pounds and thirteen ounces!”
Me: “Oh my God! She was HOW big? The midwife told me she would be around seven and a half pounds! Wait! Did you said SHE? It's a girl? REALLY!?”
By this time, the shock of actually having a girl had set in and I was over come with joy and happy tears. Twice before, I had been told via ultrasound that my baby would be a girl. Both times, they were surprisingly born with a twig and two berries between their legs. Both times, the babies went home in something girlie, with their feminine name written in sharpie marker on the bottom of their diaper bag, which was also all girlie. Fortunately, for my two sons, I had boy names picked out as back ups.
Before I had a chance to lay eyes on the little beauty, she was whisked away for her bath, and testing. The nurses carefully carried our cone-head shaped daughter, screaming her little lungs out, down the hallway past my husband. Once I had calmed down a bit, I faded back into a sleep. When I awoke, I was in a white room with curtains around me, and my husband was sitting to my left, holding a Styrofoam cup of ice chips in his hand, ready for me to consume. The first thing I did was whisper “water”, to which he lovingly placed a few chips of ice into my mouth. Slowly I become aware of my surroundings, and was soon after transferred to my private room.
When I finally held my baby girl, the name "Alexandria" that had been previously decided on for her was immediately changed to "Autumn". It was a beautiful fall day outside, and her presence just made the day that more beautiful. It was only fitting then to name her after my favorite time of the year. The next several hours were spent mostly sleeping or breastfeeding my baby girl. During the entire time my husband was with us, he was snapping photos of our every moment in the first day of Mommy and baby. But sometimes mishaps take place even with the best intentions. My husband inadvertently caught a few pictures of my boob hanging out and neither of us caught it at print. So he had bragged about his new baby girl at work with photos of me holding our daughter with my boob hanging out from under my hospital gown. *sigh* I guess that'd explain why I got so much more money as "gifts" from his co-workers that time around!
The day after delivery proved to be a real treat as far as experiences go.