Maybe I’m anticipating that one day you’ll ask me about the day you were born. Perhaps I just want to write it down, so that years from now when my memory is hazy I can savor all the little details again and again.
So, here it goes . . .
At about 2:45 am, on Friday, March 10, 2017, I was startled awake. Had I just wet my pants in my sleep? This would have been extremely embarrassing had I not been 34 weeks (and 3 days) pregnant. As I was, the first thought that crossed my mind was how nearly every pregnancy article I’d read warned that a woman should readily expect to wet herself at least once during pregnancy. It seemed to be something very matter of fact that was bound to happen. As it hadn’t yet happened to me, I figured this was my moment. So, I got up and went to the bathroom.
A slight nagging thought crossed my mind, which I immediately pushed away and crawled right back into bed. But the thought only crept back in, and my mind shifted to the possibility of preterm labor . . . Did my water break? Was that possible? I was still six weeks away from my due date. Mentally paging through my pregnancy file, I tried recalling every tidbit I’d read about it. Supposedly it was unmistakable. So the membrane couldn’t have ruptured if I had any doubt, right? Overcome with a wave of confusion, I turned to my dear and trusted friend, Google.
As luck would have it, nothing I found really seemed to fit my situation. The more and more I searched, the more unfocused my mind became. So . . . I did the only other thing I could think to do. I prayed. For clarity. For guidance. For strength. And although I wasn’t struck with a sudden ‘aha’ or light bulb moment, a warm calm washed over me. I still had no clue what the very near future was going to bring, and that was okay. I knew that everything was going to be alright.
As I lay in bed, a dull ache began to radiate throughout my lower back. Warning sign number two, although I didn’t know it then. I’d spent over an hour walking earlier that day, and thought I’d just overdone it. At that point in my pregnancy, sciatic nerve pain was as common as breathing. Physically and now mentally exhausted, I decided to try and go back to sleep. A completely pointless move, as my backache only began to intensify.
At about 3:15 am, the real magic began. The pain came abruptly. Sharp and electric. A piercing in my lumbar spine. And as suddenly as it came on, the pain subsided. At this point, I was on high alert. More than anything though, I was hopelessly confused. Why was this backache so much more intense than any other backache? Had I pulled a muscle? Was this labor? Did my water break? True labor pain wasn’t isolated to only the lower back, right?
The cycle of pain, relief, and mentally chewing it all over continued for another 15 minutes before I finally decided to wake your Dad. Just in case.
So, as gently and calmly as I could, I woke him up. He immediately consulted with Google, just as I had. By then, I’d been up for 45 minutes and it was clear that I wasn’t going back to sleep. On a whim, I opened my contraction tracking app and began recording each peak and fall of pain. For some reason, I thought it the perfect time to put together my hospital bag -something that was on my to-do list anyway- and realized that the task required doing a bit of laundry. Meanwhile, the pain grew more acute. When Dad realized that I was doubling over on my knees with each peak -a detail I for some crazy reason didn’t realize- he called the hospital. It must have been between 4:30 am and 4:45 am. As expected, the hospital advised us to come in. I was still in a state of confusion and disbelief, so I continued to try and pack. Again, a futile endeavor, as the pain was increasing in severity and I was getting absolutely nothing done. Dad took charge as this point and firmly let me know that we had to go. Now. Reluctantly, I pulled on sweats, grabbed what I had managed to pack, and we were off.
I remember very little of the car ride. My contractions were right on top of each other, and had sky rocketed in intensity. That ride from Henderson to Centennial felt both speedy and like an eternity.
We pulled into the hospital parking lot at roughly 5:30 am. Once on the L & D floor, I was swept into triage. I don’t think the triage nurse initially thought I was really in labor, as she said something along the lines of, “We’ll have to do an exam, and get a hold of your doctor. IF you are ACTUALLY in labor, he’ll likely want to stop it since you’re only 34 weeks.” So this is what false labor feels like? How awful! But at least I get to go home and sleep it off.
Nausea began to wash over me. I was riding a wave of sickness and crazy-insane pain. I numbly changed into a hospital gown, left my specimen sample for the nurse, and awaited the exam. She ran a test to confirm whether my water had broken. Negative. We were later told that this was likely a false negative. In the moment though, I felt relieved . . . Until the nurse performed a pelvic exam. She immediately called for another triage nurse, stating that we were going to need a room. I will never forgot your Dad’s reaction.
Dad: Does that mean baby’s coming soon? . . .
Triage Nurse: Oh yes. Baby’s coming now.”
Turns out I was 9 cm dilated.
And just like that, a switch flipped on in my mind. We were having a baby. Today.
From here my timeline gets hazier and hazier. I remember being wheeled to a room. No recollection of being IV’d or hooked up to the various monitors. Something I’d for sure remember any other day.
Then . . . Pain. Searing. Hot. White. And all in my lumbar spine. I was dead certain that any second I’d hear the loud crack of my spine snapping in half. The nurses insisted I remain on my back, sparking pain so excruciating that I threw up. Only then was I allowed to reposition myself.
I remember begging for pain relief. They offered an epidural, reminding me of my natural birth plan, and letting me know that this option required sitting still for 10 minutes. I didn’t want an epidural. Period. But wasn’t there anything they could offer to take the edge off the pain? One of the many, many nurses crammed into my L & D room informed me that narcotics were not an option when delivering a premature baby.
It was then that I hit a wall. I couldn’t do this. The pain was too much. This Everest of a wall wasn’t fear based. It was more a logical acceptance on my part that I physically could not complete the task at hand. Not today at least. You would just have to defy all natural laws and stay safely and securely in place until my due date. End of story.
Then . . . Blur . . .
I think the mind flips a switch to primal mode in the last moments before birth. The insane, unstoppable urge to push overtook every muscle in my body. I felt I could have run a full 26.2 miles in less time, although I was told it took only four or five rounds. After what felt like a ten lifetimes, I heard you for there very first time.
Your cry cut through the thick haze. Somehow both delicate and strong. Saying hello to this world for the very first time.
The rest is a merry-go-round blur. The NICU team. Tubes. Wires. Doctors and nurses. I held you for mere seconds before you were whisked away to the NICU. I had to wait what felt like an eternity to see you again . . . But that is a story for another day.
On Friday, March 10, 2017, at 7:41 am all 4 pounds 10 ounces and 17 inches of you came into this crazy, rad world, making me a mom . . . And the happiest lady this world has ever seen.
It seems silly to end simply with love. Love alone just doesn’t capture it! But I have a feeling no word this language has to offer ever will, so I offer a combination of two classic closings.
Love(× ∞) + XOXO,