With several birth plans in place–one at a birth center, one at home, one at the hospital–and leaving it all in God’s hands to direct me, I woke up on the morning of Monday, August 11th with sharp labor pains. “Time to make some cookies!” I declared. I had gotten baby cookie cutters and indented to make cookies in the shape of rocking horses and baby foot prints in early labor.
But I never was sure it was labor. The pains were sharp, and yet irregular. Sitting down made the contractions stop. It could be false labor, I thought. So I never started the cookies. I cleaned, paid bills, took a walk around the neighborhood. I prayed morning prayers. I was excited it was the feast of St. Clare of Assisi and felt so inspired by her.
Ron was with me the whole morning, more sure than I was that it was true labor, and that this would be our son’s birth day. I suggested that we all go to Mass to celebrate Clare’s feast day (for our daughter Clare) and in case it was labor, Mass seemed more than appropriate. I got nicely dressed, nails done, hair done, and waddled to the car. I had to stop mid-step from time to time, struck by another lightening bolt contraction. But they were still irregular.
We went home and I laid down. Contractions. Contractions. Contractions. Finally one was so strong that I said, “Time to go to the hospital!” We called our team of people, and told them we were headed to the hospital.
Why the hospital? During Mass I had prayed about it, and felt like there, I would have the most options. I could go natural, but I could also get some medicinal help for the pain. I felt like it was good to have the options. From the beginning of the pregnancy, I felt similar to marathon runners who say, “I don’t have any more marathons in me.” They do not regret their marathon running, but they are just pooped out. I, too, never regret my natural childbirths–I adore them! But I just intuited from the beginning that I did not have another natural childbirth in me. So I signed up with a midwife at the hospital. I’d have both options there.
We called Mom and Dad to come over to be with our kids, Mary helped me finish packing my bag, and Ron and I got in the car and drove to Baylor Dallas.
“The worst that can happen is that they can send me home if it’s not real labor!” I said. Ron laughed out loud. “They may not be regular, but they are real. If they’re not, they can check ME into the hospital,” he said. I think he was looking for a little paint relief himself.
Here we are, taking a selfie as we walked from the car to the hospital.
Here I am right before an intense contraction; moments after this photo, I was buckling over on the curb:
I had to stop every 3-5 minutes or so with more lightening bolt contractions. I couldn’t even make it to the curb, crossing the street from the parking lot. Some nurses had a wheel chair brought out to me. My first time in a wheel chair (as a patient) ever!
They brought me in, checked me, and declared, “7 centimeters!” Ron and I were overjoyed!! It had been true labor all along, since 5:15 AM. God had just spared me the intensity of the “THIS IS IT!” moment. So I was able to go through the first 7 cm. in stride (and in denial!).
I knew that in an hour or two, I would have a baby in my arms if I went naturally. But I felt such a strong desire for someone to just help me through. So I asked for an epidural. I knew it might take longer (an epidural tends to prolong labor), and I knew it would be a new and possibly strange experience for me, with risks of headaches, nerve damage, etc. that I had never had before. But I just yielded, wanting even more for this to just be calmer, smoother and easier than past labors. They started right away getting fluids in me, taking the baby’s heart rate, and getting me prepped for the anesthesia.
When the anesthesiologist walked in, the ladies (midwife, doula, and nurse) declared, “Oh, the best anesthesiologist in town!” He is the chief of staff at Baylor. I was overjoyed that if I could trust anyone, I could trust him. Five minutes later, I had been anesthetized. I was already feeling much relief. I could still feel my toes–that too was such a good thing for me. So I just relaxed and enjoyed!
Then, some of the anesthesia wore off, and the pain shot back up. But I could not move, and so was rather miserable. But they administered more of the anesthesia, and then some blood pressure meds, and I was stable and relieved. I rested in silence, and did my natural childbirth relaxation visualizations, to calm me as much as possible.
The midwife broke the silence and declared, “Let’s check you.’ Then: “10 centimeters! You’re ready to push!” I double checked and got my instructions from my team. 2 pushes later, and the baby was out and in my arms! The whole room cheered. Ron was amazing. It was such a moment of joy, I cried. I was so excited. The little baby was so ABSOLUTELY precious and words cannot express how magical of a moment it is to hold your new child in your arms for the first time. Speechless.
Thank you Lord for so many answered prayers, and for a perfect labor!!