On Thursday, April 7th American Idol started its finale and I lay on the couch with “contractions” thinking, tonight is the night that I will meet my baby. Instead I got up from the couch and exclaimed, “David did my water break?” He rushed over to the couch and then looked at me and said, “No, your water bottle leaked all over the couch.” Disappointed in our false labor, we headed to bed not knowing exactly when to expect our little man to arrive. It is the hardest part of the end of my pregnancies. Obviously, the baby will join you, but WHEN? With Henry, I always felt that if the day started without labor beginning in the middle of the night then that was a day in which the baby would not be joining us. Owen though proved me wrong.
Monday, April 11 was Fun Day at school. Hearing my alarm at 5:00AM go off though was very disappointing. Here I was still pregnant, so close to my due date, and heading in for a day at work. The silver lining though was that Fun Day meant the students would be running around campus playing games, watching a hypnotist, and just enjoying a day “off” from school. Not a terrible way to spend the day, right? At the end of the work day, I bid adieu until tomorrow to my co-workers (I was so convinced that nothing was happening in the baby department) and headed to see my OB. Dr. Srinivasa assured me that everything looked great with baby but had me book two post-due-date appointments. Seriously, I thought, this baby might be in here for two more weeks? Before leaving she checked to see if there was progress and declared that I was 4cm! WHAT!? How could I be that far along and not in labor? I was confused and frustrated by the news but again knew that the baby would have to join us sooner than later. My cervix of steel and I headed to pick up Henry from daycare and then we went over to a friend’s house to play until it was time to pick up David from work.
At 4:40PM David arrived at the commuter rail and I told him that I was feeling a little cramping but nothing consistent or serious. If anything, I thought “Hey, maybe tonight will be the night.” We arrived home a little before 5PM and after settling in, I went upstairs around 5PM to lay down since I was feeling just a little crampy. Laying in bed, I burst into tears. It felt so lonely upstairs while I could hear Henry and David playing and I just couldn’t shake the idea that I was missing out while laying down. Should I go back downstairs? Could I get back downstairs? I sobbed for a bit and then called my mom to share that I thought tonight might possibly be the night and to be on alert for my call later. Later was at 5:20PM, that crampy feeling turned into pretty regular contractions every 5 minutes that lasted about 1 minute long. They didn’t take my breath away but they were not painless. She hung up and headed over. At 5:33PM I called our doula, and left a message that I thought we were in early labor and that the contractions were gaining in intensity but again still not taking my breath away. At 5:40PM I called David upstairs and asked him to call the OB-GYN. By the time the OB called us back, I was crying into the phone that the contractions were super intense and I wanted to go to the hospital. They agreed and we headed out.
The hardest part of getting out of the house was saying goodbye to Henry. There he was happily eating his dinner and there I was feeling like someone was stabbing me in my back while trying to breathe calmly through a goodbye. I hugged my little guy and felt all the feels. I felt the pain of the contraction, the sadness of kissing my son goodbye, the excitement that I would be meeting my second son, the fear of labor, the moment was intense and it was terribly hard to leave him even though I knew I could not stay home a minute longer. We pulled out of our driveway at 6PM. With two carseats in the back row, I was confined to sitting in the passenger seat as wave after wave of contraction washed over me. David drove purposefully, talked minimally, and did his best to weave through the traffic. At is point the contractions were coming every two minutes and lasting a minute. They radiated down my legs, across my back, around my stomach, and up to my neck. I stared at the clock: 6:02, 6:04, 6:06, 6:08…… how long exactly would it take to get to the hospital, how many more contractions? In the moment, my decision was made: I would demand an epidural upon arrival.
We arrived at the hospital around 6:25PM. The contractions paralyzed me. When they hit, I could not walk, I demanded that David squeeze my hips together with as much force as he could and I cried out. We stopped all along the way between the car and the fifth floor of the hospital. I could hear people asking David if we were okay, if we needed help, but when you are going through that contraction there is really nothing anyone can do. I felt like I just needed to be alone through the wave. When we arrived at the check-in desk, the pressure was so intense I refused to answer their check-in questions about my date of birth or blood type or allergies. Instead I repeated two things, “Please please get me an epidural” and “I need to push.” Their answers were so frustrating in that moment: You will get one soon and don’t push until a doctor sees you. Finally a wheelchair whisked me toward the antenatal room to get checked, the contractions and pressure made sitting in that wheelchair torturous. We never made it to the checkpoint, a nurse intercepted us and said “take her to delivery.” We arrived and I repeated my request for the epidural. I begged and pleaded and asked where the anesthesiologist was. I leaned over the bed while the nurses tried to start an IV and told them I had to push and that I could not stop pushing. Again, they said not to, but my body would not hear it, it literally took over. They got me on the bed and the OB rushed in and said, it was definitely time to push. Three pushes later and Owen was born and I held my baby on my chest for the first time. It was the most incredibly intense experience of my life and here he was, my son.
After he was born, he struggled to take his first breaths and I started to hemorrhage and this was very scary. All my attention was on Owen while the nurses ran around us and I just said a silent prayer that we would both be okay. The birth happened so quickly that both he and I were in a little bit of “shock.” While Owen took 1 hour and 49 minutes from start to finish to enter the world, we stayed in the delivery room for three hours while we waited for the bleeding to stop for me and to have his oxygen levels stabilize. I was left completely exhausted from the the experience and loss of blood, but in that moment all I could do was marvel at Owen and tell David how much I loved him. I was a mother again and it all happened so fast. While a natural childbirth had always been my goal, I never thought I could actually do it. Weighing 8lbs 9oz and 20.5in Owen is my perfect littlest one and Owen’s arrival didn’t give me a choice in the medication department and it was amazing to experience it all even though is was so incredibly intense. I had been so proud and thankful for Henry’s smooth delivery almost two years ago and here I felt nothing but the same gratitude to the delivery staff, to David my support in every way, and most importantly to my body for making a miracle.
Now that we have been home for a week, it feels so beautifully natural to be a family of four. There are hard moments when Henry fusses, or my body feels completely sapped, but I truly feel blessed in motherhood and I cannot believe that just like that our family was made complete.