i am not a good test taker. never have been. i can study and research and practice but in the moment i tend to panic. especially when faced with multiple choice answers. every answer starts to look correct. i struggle through my confusion and cringe when i see the final grade.
i approached the whole impending baby birthing much the same way. i did a lot of research. i read lots of books and articles. i attempted to grasp the idea of hypnobirthing but couldn’t take it seriously. i talked to all my friends. i asked so many questions.
and yet in the moment – when your water breaks at 12:30am and everyone you know is sleeping – i panicked. i couldn’t remember the answers. do i call the doctor? do i rush straight to the hospital? was that really my water? do i wait for contractions?
instead of answering any of those questions, i tried to go back to bed. i told myself it must not have been my water. until 15 minutes later when there was no doubt that my water had in fact, and indeed continued to escape.
my getting in and out of bed spurred christian to sleep talk. rather than tell him he was asleep like i usually do, i simply said, i think my water broke. followed with, are you asleep? he sat bolt upright in bed and said, i’m awake now!
the on-call doctor was the one who had counseled with us in december after my miscarriage. he told us to head to the hospital. but first, i cried, scared of the unknown that was now inevitable. we arrived at ob triage at valley medical around 3am.
monitors were hooked up and my iv was placed. a strong heartbeat filled the stillness of that sterile room and i watched my contractions being charted on another screen.
we’d stay in that little cubby of a room longer than necessary because two ambulances carried in more serious situations. we would wait for a nurse to be called in.
5:30am we’d meet nurse grouchy, the one who was called in last-minute. she walked us to our room.
7am nurse grouchy commented on how i was closed and having inconsistent contractions and so they started pitocin.
8am brought nurse sharain. it seemed like a tender mercy to have her walk through the door. she was the gold-eye-shadowed nurse who placed my first iv. my doctor also stopped by to see how things were not really progressing.
12pm there was more pain. things were happening. i was a five. my body was shaking through the contractions. the anesthesiologist was called. along with birth, i harbored major fear of the epidural, but i can honestly say the iv in my forearm was by far more painful than the epidural.
an hour of relief and then over the course of the afternoon the iv would malfunction three times and be adjusted three times by the kind anesthesiologist. the last course of action was to have me sit straight up in the bed for an hour in hopes of getting the drug down to my nether regions – which seemed to be completely awake.
it did not work.
i was now a 9.
the changing of the nurses ushered in what would not be my finest two hours. i was crying and shaking through the pain and basically hysterical. i hadn’t prepared or planned for the epidural not to work. my legs were no longer tingly. in fact, my whole body felt pretty normal. the next anesthesiologist suggested the epidural be replaced. i protested. i couldn’t stop shaking. i couldn’t sit still through the contractions that were now two minutes apart.
somehow i did with christian’s help and within minutes relief washed over me as my body calmed.
8pm they had me “labor down” which was a piece of cake after the epidural craziness.
dr. bigler was off at 7pm so the nurses prepped the room for the on-call doctor. just before 9pm there was dr. bigler, back, and ready to deliver my baby. another tender mercy.
and so it began. pushing was nothing like i had imagined. both the nurse and doctor commented that they could see the baby’s head and that the baby’s head was bald. all the while christian was really confused by what they kept calling the head and worried something was wrong with our baby since he looked grey and wrinkly.
9:45pm with the room prepped and the baby nurse called dr. bigler said this was it – the baby would come out on the next contraction. with that push came excitement, everyone saying he was almost here and then, there he was. for days we’d comment on how that exact moment was one of the weirdest things we had ever witnessed. experienced. lived through.
in that moment i took back all the times i had told myself that day that i would never do this again.
seemingly just like that we had a baby. he was there, in the room with us, getting cleaned up, weighed and measured. 21 inches, 8 pounds 2 ounces. the nurse said. i did not see that coming! said dr. bigler.
and then he was on my chest. small, fuzzy, adorable.
despite having been awake for 22 hours i could not sleep that night. i just stared at the little baby. the little baby that is ours.