It happened so fast. It was also 100% not what I was expecting, and I was trying to go in with minimal expectations.
Monday was my self-calc’ed due date, so I spent the day doing things I thought I wouldn’t be able to do any time soon after Lady Jr’s arrival. I got my hair cut and I walked around the mall and ate a cinnamon sugar pretzel. Then I spent a lovely evening with my wife watching stupid stuff and cuddling. When we went to bed around ten, I knew I wasn’t going to make the OB’s predicted 10/11 due date either.
Hahahaha – boy was I wrong.
At 11pm my water broke. It felt like someone had just whacked my cervix with a pickax. Lady felt the pop and we both were instantly 100% awake. I didn’t really realize the ensuing pain was a contraction, I just thought it was a super intense cramp. Then I felt the trickle of water and thought, oh shit – we’d better call the hospital.
But maybe not? I mean, it wasn’t much and it was mostly a lot of bloody mucus. And then another cramp hit and I couldn’t move, it was so painful. I was shaking pretty badly. Lady timed it, then timed the next one, then the next one – 4min apart, then 3 and 3. Each one was worse than the last. She called L&D and they told us to come in right away.
We got up and got dressed. Lady hurriedly packed a few last minute things. I found that standing and moving made the contractions a lot more bearable. I knew they were contractions by then because they felt like a wave of pain, and were coming in intervals. Riding in the car, though, was pretty difficult. During a five minute drive to the hospital, I had three more contractions.
We sat in the car in the parking lot while I rode out the end of the last one and watched another pregnant couple get out of the car in front of us and head in. Then we followed. While she got into a wheelchair at the elevators, I insisted we take the stairs. I just knew it’d be more bearable. We walked all the way to L&D, me gripping Lady’s hand hard during each contraction and trying to breathe through them.
We waited behind the other couple at check-in, me grabbing the counter and going still with each wave of pain. Finally, they started checking us in, but it seemed like they didn’t have our pre-registration anywhere in the system. So Lady was answering all their questions for me and when they got to the fact that my water had already broken, the nurses were like – oh, we can you back to triage now and Lady can finish up with the check-in.
So they led me to the back and another room and told me to disrobe and lie down. By then I was shaking uncontrollably and it was difficult to do either. I managed, though, but waited to lie down until the nurse actually showed up and finished putting on her gloves. Then my wife was allowed in and the nurse checked my cervix.
I laughed and asked the nurse if she had just said 8cm. She re-confirmed, then said happily, “you’re gonna have a baby!” And I was like, “within a few hours?” And she was like, “I doubt it’ll take that long, but we can still get you an epidural.”
To which I responded YES PLEASE NOW.
The contractions were unbearable, one right after the other, and I was panicking. I couldn’t imagine experiencing anything worse, yet they were getting worse. On top of that, I was suddenly very terrified of pushing. I didn’t care that I’d made it this far without any pain meds – I wouldn’t make it any further.
Well, I made it to 10cm. They wheeled me into delivery and had to verify that my platelets were all right and also fill me up with two bags of saline. It was the longest 30-45 minutes of my life. I felt pressure in my pelvis and the urge to push, but I resisted so hard because I just wasn’t ready. I still couldn’t believe this was happening. Every contraction I felt like I was going to faint, die, or throw up – or all three. I squeezed my wife’s hand so hard and she stayed right at my side, answering all the questions the nurses threw at me. Was I allergic to anything? No. When was the last time I’d eaten or drank anything? 8pm. When had my water broke again? 11pm. Was this my first time? Yes. Holy fuck? Holy fuck.
I was whispering please please please through each contraction as they set up the epidural. Then they had me sit up and lean forward and I heard them marveling at how still I was. They watched the contraction peak and ebb on their fancy screen and then the epidural was in. I hadn’t even felt it.
The relief came slowly. By the third contraction, I could tell the edge was off. By the sixth and seventh, I could talk and breathe again. I relaxed and they turned me from side to side as my legs grew numb. The surge of nurses trickled out, leaving me alone with one, and I suddenly knew I could do this. Lady helped me top off the epidural and finally everything was blissfully numb. I hardly felt each contraction and then I didn’t feel them at all.
That’s when the nurse decided it was time to push. Another rush of doctors and nurses and they got me legs up and ready. They waited for a contraction and then told me to push with all my strength. So I did. Then we rested and we did it again. Then we rested and did it a third time. I felt something slip free and suddenly the pressure was gone and there was a blood-covered, very upset baby on my chest.
I cried. Lady cried. Lady Jr cried. Inbetween, I delivered the placenta and the doc stitched up a small second degree tear. I didn’t feel it. I could hardly believe what was on my chest. I could hardly believe what had happened.
My water broke at 11pm and Lady Jr was born at 2:05am. Three hours. Three insane, intense, incredible hours.
The last two days have been a whirl of nurses and newness and exhaustion and pain and soreness and trying to figure out what this tiny human wants and needs. I’m more than a little afraid of the immediate future, but I know we can do this. Already my wife has been 900% amazing and supportive and I honestly couldn’t have done this without her.
Welcome to the world, Lady Jr, aka Hazel Marie.