My contractions started at 3:00 PM on Tuesday while Nathan and I were in the car, waiting for my mom to emerge from the grocery store–a quick run for that night’s dinner ingredients. I didn’t feel any contractions with Nathan, but I could tell that the rolling menstrual cramps were a sign. When my mother appeared, I said, “Let’s go home now because I think I’m having contractions.”
She raised her eyebrow and said, “Oh!” Then she paused and added, “Can we just swing by the post office? I need to get some flat rate boxes.” This is the reason why my mom is not my birth coach. I’m sure if my contractions started at the mall, she’d ask if we could stop into JC Penney because she “just wants to look!” I’d start laboring between the racks of elastic Capri pants and floral cotton blouses while she took a moment to ask the saleslady what perfume she’s wearing.
We got home, boxes and bags in hand and I started to wait. My mom kept going on about how the spaghetti sauce was different because she put sugar! Ancient Chamorro secret! While she hemmed on about how Mike would love the dinner, I called my doctor’s office to find out when I should come in. The nurse on call said as soon as the contractions were 5 minutes apart consistently or if they became excruciating, then I should come in.
It wasn’t until 7 that the contractions were no longer the whimsical tee-hee “Are *these* contractions?” but the crippling, lying on the ground type of searing pain, like my baby harbored a prison shank in the placenta and was trying to knife his way out.
I called a little before 8 and was told to come in, so of course there was much pre-departure panic, like my “landscaping” wasn’t ready and I didn’t want to be the woman in room 402 with the funky grass on the field. Can I get a witness here, Pacific Islander ladies and those classified as Homo sapiens neanderthalensis?!?
Mike and I left to the hospital. The pain continued to roll through, thundering in my body. In the labor and delivery triage, my doctor checked my cervix and announced that I was already six centimeters.
I couldn’t believe that I was that far along, especially since it was only 9 pm. In the hospital room, I tried to watch LOST but I couldn’t focus and we had missed the first ten minutes already. I have certain rules about LOST like I must watch it from the beginning, I cannot stop to answer questions from husbands who have not paid attention so they complain that they don’t get it, and most importantly, I cannot watch and be in labor at the same time.
It was around 9:30 when I finally recieved my epidural. The pain subsided and the magical vein thrill raced through my body. The anesthesiologist asked how I was doing and I sleepily answered, “I love everyone in this room!”
Then I did the worst thing to do when you’re high in a first world country: I pulled out my Iphone and said, “WHAT CAN I BUY ON I-TOOONES?!” I purchased a few episodes of 30 Rock, some more apps and the island of Nauru.
Around 10:30, the nurse checked my cervix. I felt a hot wet gush and said, “Was that my water?!?” She nodded and added, “You’re nine centimeters!”
My doctor was called in, along with a resident doctor who looked like he was 12. Once the lights were set up and everyone was dressed, my nurse held one leg, Mike held the other and once the machines showed I was having a contraction, I exerted a long, hard chin-to-chest push. Mike kept coaching me, telling me to give it all I had. I could feel my baby emerging and during the next contraction, I forced myself to push harder than I had before. Suddenly, my baby appeared, eyes wide, fingers stretched, perfectly in tact.
I cried from being so physically spent and so full of love and happiness and shock from how fast the delivery had taken place. I cried because my son was beautiful and finally, finally in our lives.