Labor of Love


Well, it happened. Four days after my depressing doctor’s appointment and nine days before his due date, Little Evan began accumulating nicknames and my belly button went from outie back to innie. Yes, these are my ways of saying that Evan was born at 9:52p.m. on Monday night.

The quick and the dirty version of the labor story is this:

I woke up Monday morning about an hour and half early. This was very strange because unlike many pregnant women, I have been sleeping better this last trimester (and the second, too) than I ever slept before I was pregnant. I woke up to discover that I had added yet another prelabor sign/symptom to my list of accumulating prelabor signs/symptoms. But this time it was a sign that my book said could but did not necessarily indicate that I might go into labor in the next day to two days. These books are full of all kinds of annoying, noncommittal things like this that get pregnant women’s hopes up enough to steal their focus and ruin their days. And yet I woke Brian up early anyway because I was kind of excited.

We went for a walk to see if we couldn’t trigger some contractions or something that actually signaled labor, and by the end of the walk I was back down to earth and absolutely positive that I was not, in fact, going into labor and that I was not going to go into labor for another month at the least.

By 8a.m., I was pretty bummed out and trying to figure out how to start my day on a good note. All I could think to do was play really hard Soduku puzzles to keep my mind completely engaged and a bit bogged down. I did that most of the morning, read an article or two for my dissertation research, ate, blogged, and by midday was feeling back to my “normal” self – neither bummed out nor overly excited.

More prelabor symptoms, more reluctant excitement, and another walk, this time solo. I walked for 35 minutes, and when I got home sat down to drink some water, stretch, and then get to work on some things from school. As I drank my water and watched ten minutes of an old episode of Law on Order on TNT, I had my first contraction. It was 3:18 when it hit and while I was pretty sure it was a contraction, I wasn’t sure.

I had anniversary dinner plans with Brian requiring I leave the house at 5:30, so I decided to take a shower instead of doing work, getting ready for dinner or the hospital, whichever came first. In the shower, I had a second contraction, twelve minutes after the first one. I think it was during the fourth contraction that I called Brian at work. That was at about 4:00, and he was home by 4:45. At that point, contractions were still coming about every 12 minutes.

So I promised that this was the quick and dirty version of the story, and here I go on rambling. Luckily, this next part goes fast: by 5:30, my contractions had gone down to 8 minutes apart and then 5. The rule of thumb for calling the doc is that you’re supposed to call when your have contractions lasting one minute coming every five minutes for one hour. So we didn’t think it was time to call yet. Mine were all at least a minute long, but hadn’t been 5 minutes apart for an hour yet. But suddenly I was down to 4 minutes apart, then three. We live about 20-30 minutes from the hospital depending on traffic and Brian was starting to get nervous. He called my doc and as I was downstairs about to email my friend Dawn to let her know our lunch plans for Wednesday were off, my water broke. It was 6:20, about 3 hours since labor had started. They say that it only breaks before delivery for about 10 percent of women and that the breaking often isn’t very dramatic. Well mine sure was. I just stood there in the basement in complete shock.

Anyway, Brian was on the phone with the doc at that point who said it was definitely time to go. The whole way there my contractions stayed about 3 minutes apart (but you time them from start to start, meaning that if the contraction lasts 1.5 minutes, you only have 1.5 minutes rest in between. It was pretty intense.

By the time we got to the hospital, I was already so tired. I was well dilated and progressing quickly so they took me right back to a delivery room.

By 8:15, about five hours into labor, it was time to push. That part took forever – more than an hour and a half – and was exhausting. I couldn’t believe how intense it was. Nothing like I had imagined, but I still managed – mostly thanks to my awesome OB nurse and to Brian – to go drug-free as I had planned. There was a while I considered the epidural, but I had also said that I didn’t want to make that decision in the heat of the moment, so Brian and the nurse helped me stick to my plan.

After awhile, I was pretty much convinced that the baby wasn’t coming out. I’d been pushing so hard for so long and he was making progress, but not crowning. Between contractions all I could manage was closing my eyes and saying things like, “Please come out, baby.” Or, “I don’t think he’s coming out.” Other times I would say things like, “I’m doing my best. I don’t know what else to do.” I was pretty frustrated because of how tired I was. But because of how tired I was, I never got to that pregnant-woman-screaming-at-everyone as-seen-on-TV stage. Brian was being so nice to me and I’m not sure I really said much at all to him the whole time I was in the delivery room.

Evan finally arrived at 9:52p.m. I pushed three times and his head came out, then I got a short rest while the doc made sure the cord wasn’t around his neck. Then I pushed three more times and his body almost came. Suddenly, several additional nurses who had been accumulating in the wings waiting for Evan rushed over, practically pushed Brian out of the way, grabbed my legs and twisted and pulled me like a chicken, and everyone cheered for one more push. I’m sure those nurses are lovely, normal-sized women but in my memory they exist like Bigfoot-sized huns out for revenge.

And then he cried, the doc cleaned just his face and chest off, and he was on my belly. I didn’t cry even though I expected I would. I think I was too tired for that. But I was relieved and happy and overwhelmed. My first thoughts all centered around thoughts like, “Oh my god I can’t believe how hard that was” and “I can’t believe it’s finally over.” They took baby to check him out and I commenced trembling – I had been so hot and suddenly, all sweaty, was so cold. They put three warm blankets on me but it was still about 30 minutes before my teeth stopped chattering. We chose Evan’s name during that time and waited eagerly for some time with baby. Soon, Evan was clean and back on my chest. We called our families, forgot to tell my mom his name, and were soon moved up to the mother-infant room we would call home for the next two nights. There, more tests and checks were administered and I finally got some much-needed food.

And then baby slept and Brian and I were wired. All night. It was wonderful.


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