The smoke detectors in our house started going off at 2:30 in the morning on September 13th, 2013. Steve (my husband) and I ran downstairs to see what was on fire. Nothing. Absolutely nothing was smoking or burning. The oven was off and the dryer had completely cooled down from hours ago when it was tossing our wearables around in dry heat. After scratching our heads for a few moments, the smoke detectors decided there was nothing to scream about and they stopped by themselves. At that moment I started feeling contractions. They were mild but frequent. It was time for early labor to start.
We decided to set up camp downstairs on the couch so we could rest in front of the TV. Our movie of choice was The Hobbit. Steve fell asleep and I stayed up for almost the entire 3 hours of the movie. I was too uncomfortable to actually get any sleep. I was tracking my contractions through an app on my phone. As the day grew closer, my contractions became more frequent. Day broke and Steve went off to work. I told him I would call him if it were time to head to the hospital. He kissed my forehead and made his way to the farm. We both thought it was too early for this to be time for anything real to happen. We figured I would be in early labor for a day or so. But as the day went on, the contractions got closer to the 1-minute long/5 minutes apart mark. I had been in touch with, Kristen, our doula, keeping her posted on my position. I was in contact with my mom so she and John could make plans to travel out this way from Long Island. Steve’s mom came over to keep me company and to keep an eye on me. We waited, tracked, and watched countless daytime TV. shows to pass the time. We even went for a walk down the long driveway, but at that point I could only make it half way until my contractions became too intense to walk through.
It was 3:30 p.m. when I decided a phone call to my OB was necessary. I told him that the contractions had made it to the hospital worthy timing and he said to come in and get my dilation checked. I called Steve to come home with excitement in my voice, “It’s time”. We raced to gather everything we might need for the stay and charged down the driveway in our Toyota Tacoma. Our conversation was infused with excitement and interrupted every 5 minutes to pause for another contraction. Everything seemed so surreal – as though the trees were thinking, “is this really happening”?
We got to the hospital and I decided I wanted to walk to the triage instead of hopping in the wheelchair that was offered to me. I felt like I needed to walk. When we got up to triage, a doctor who I had never met before checked my dilation – I was only 1 centimeter. He instructed me to walk around the hospital for an hour to see if that would move things along. I remember the endless hallways of sterile décor and the pain that came in waves every 2 minutes. Our doula walked with me as Steve got himself something to eat. We met up with Steve and his parents along the way. They were a nice distraction from the pain. Especially when Steve’s mom held up her phone to show me a picture that my nephew, Owen, drew of Van. It was priceless. It was time to head back to the triage and have another dilation check. I had moved to 3 centimeters, which meant I could be checked into a room in Labor & Delivery. I was thrilled to not have to go back home and wait, and that it was actually happening. My spirits were up and I had not one feeling of fear or anxiety. I knew it was time.
I made the decision to allow Steve’s parents and my mom and John to be in the room with me as I was going through labor. It was nice having them around talking and keeping the situation light. The pain started to really bear down at around 10pm. The contractions were becoming very intense and were sometimes showing up off the charts on my monitor. After sitting on the bed, walking around, sitting on the exercise ball, then back on the bed my doula suggested I get in the shower and have the warm water fall on my belly. Steve came in with me and rubbed my back as I sat on the plastic bench in the shower stall. It really did help. It was very soothing. So soothing that my water broke. This was fortunate because I didn’t have to deal with the mess in the bed. It was a release, a rush, that had elevated me to a whole new plain in the birthing process. It also elevated my pain. I thought for sure I had to be much more dilated after that. I was checked again immediately after my water broke and I was still only 3 cm!! I couldn’t believe it. I was exhausted from the pain, lack of food and water, and from only getting a few hours of sleep the night before. At this point it was 2 a.m. and I had been in labor for 24 hrs. Without a doubt in my mind about it, I requested an epidural. I knew it was the only way I could get through the labor and to have a vaginal birth. I felt I would have been way to tired to get to the pushing if I hadn’t. It was never my intention to get an epidural, but I allowed the option should I have needed one. So the anesthesiologist rolled in with her equipment and started to prep me. I remember the needle going into the space in between my spine bones. It hurt, but it was a welcomed pain because it was so different from the intensity of labor pain. About a half hour after the injection, my body got a break.
I was able to rest for 4 hours. Everyone, with the acception of my mother-in-law, decided to get a little sleep. Steve and the doula were asleep in chairs. My mom and John went back to their hotel to get sleep. My mother-in-law was wide-awake playing games on her phone. The nurses were angels coming in to check on me and give me ice chips. I lay in the bed, totally hooked up to tubes and monitors, waiting and staying completely still in the moment. The digital clock read 6:30 am and everyone started stirring in the room. I had started to feel some pain from the contractions again. I didn’t think that was supposed to happen with an epidural. But apparently one can start to feel pain again once they are about to deliver. That’s what was happening. About a half hour later I started to feel this force from within that I could not control. The pain was getting intense and off the charts again. One of the nurses checked my dilation and I was at 8 cm. It was happening…fast. My OB was in the next room delivering a baby. I couldn’t hold back my urge to push any longer. Our doula got a nurse and told her I HAD TO push. The nurse checked my dilation again and I was at 10 cm! I couldn’t hold it in. So I started. It was like a freight train was barreling through my body. It was so painful but I couldn’t stop. My OB hurried in and got himself prepped in a flash. He was great. Not the OB I had selected in the group initially. But when I met him for the first time I liked him immediately. He had a calming presence, with a smile on his face. I mean this in the best way possible, but he looked sort of like the snowman from the claymation Rudolf the Red nosed Reindeer movie. He had that white mustache and rosy cheeks. He also always wore cowboy boots, which I appreciated. He gently asked if I was ready. YES. I was.
It took me 15 minutes, six intense pushes and a possibility of an episiotomy to bring my son, Van, into this world. It’s almost impossible to describe the feelings and emotions I was going through during those 15 minutes. I couldn’t help but think of my dad, who passed away in December of 2000. Van was born on his birthday. The day couldn’t have been more magical. The little force that was kicking away in my belly for all those months had finally made its way out into the light and into my arms. We did “skin to skin” immediately and he latched on like a champ. My whole being was filled with joy and amazement and from that moment on my life was forever changed.