I’ve always rolled my eyes at movies and television that depict a woman going into labor as, “Oh! My water just broke!” I mean, who does that happen to? No, you go a couple weeks feeling Braxton Hicks and then a couple of days feeling real contractions and when they get closer and more intense you go to the hospital. The water breaking may or may not be of note. But that was not my experience. I was the first example: “Oh! My water just broke!” That was me. And to increase the “Hollywood Factor” it was on Mother’s Day.
My mom and I were wandering around my grandparent’s yard taking photos and then it happened. I was so… so many things, but mostly denial. I was so denial. I mean come on, I hadn’t felt any contractions ever, at all. And yet, my water broke. But did it? I’ve never done this, maybe it didn’t. Then I was telling my family and my dad’s face went white. I called my husband, he was working at the time, the sound of his voice was on the edge of frantic.
“Okay, I’m leaving work now.”
“Well, Baby, I’m still at Grandma’s.”
“Why are you still at Grandma’s?!”
The thirty-minute drive to the hospital was wrought with me convincing myself I wasn’t in labor. But I was. I knew the whole time I was pregnant that it would happen in the thirty-seventh week, but still, I couldn’t believe I was right. But I was. From 5:10 when the process began to 6:45 when my husband arrived at Triage the ultrasound showed everything was good to go, the baby was in position but I still hadn’t felt any contractions.
They lead me, my husband and my mom to the Labor and Delivery room and I felt the first twist of my uterus. One of my best friends arrived bearing the hospital bag I had failed to pack for thirty-seven weeks, but if you know me then you know that is only to be expected. My sister-in-law arrived and then my dad came shortly after that. We were a party of five waiting for the baby to arrive. They were there for hours but I have no memory of what we talked about. My brain was still reeling from a few hours before: “Oh! My water just broke!”
The nurse suggested that we walk around the floor. Here I am in my hospital gown and hospital-issued socks, wandering around with my husband. I hate being gooey and gross, so even though the walking was a relief it was short lived because in case you didn’t already know, I was still leaking fluids down my legs and it was soaking into the socks. My contractions were getting harder to ignore, as well. We went back to the room and, bless our family members, they took note of my condition and offered to leave.
That’s when I got really uncomfortable. Everything was progressing so quickly that by 9:30 I was halfway dilated without any medical intervention. The contractions were right on top of each other and intense. I didn’t have a lull in between contractions, just varying levels of pain. I am not a yeller so instead I laid on my side clutching the bed railing repeating, “Okay… Okay,” in a sad whimpery voice. My husband was rolling a tennis ball on my back. I really feel for him, I cannot imagine watching him hurt like that for hours with only a tennis ball in his arsenal. About an hour later I was signing the consent for the epidural. A half hour after that I was dozing off unable to feel my legs and experiencing strange dreams.
Then a couple more hours passed and they were checking to see how dilated I was. And there’s something strange. In the words of nurse Becca, “It’s squishy.” I can tell you, this is not what you want to hear. Then our doctor checked and the baby was breached. “Okay,” said the doctor, “we’re doing a cesarean.” I felt a lot of things at that moment but mostly I was relieved. I still couldn’t feel my legs and I didn’t know how I was going to push. I also have never had a huge desire to push.
But then there was also fear. I am the product of an emergency c-section. I know they are fairly standard, but I also know they were going to cut me open, remove some of my organs and pull our baby out of my uterus and put those organs back before closing me back up. This never seemed like a small medical procedure.
I was in the OR so quickly. My husband came in shortly after. I couldn’t stop shaking. My teeth were chattering. I was scared I’d bite my tongue. I kept humming Ben Folds “The Luckiest” to try and calm down. My husband’s face was right there. There was one Anestatision explaining what was happening step by step. His face was right there. I wanted to remember every detail of him. “The Luckiest.”
“There’s going to be some pressure as they pull the baby out.”
And then her cry.
I was somewhere between a laugh and a sob.
Our first conversation.
Nurse Becca, “Here she is.”
My husband laughing, “She’s disgusting!”
She was, all blue and skinny legs and arms, wailing.
Then she was on my chest. This little creature that was us and ours and all her own. I tried to connect her to the bump that had formed in stomach. She was too real and tangible. Her little head bobbing, rooting. She looked like my husband: his chin, his brow, his feet in baby form inked onto the paper.
To him, “Do you want to holder her?”
He looked at me. I nodded. Standing he held his hands out awkwardly and admitted, “I’ve never held a baby.”
“Okay, sit down.”
She’s in his hands, three seconds of not knowing and then there he was: her dad. And she was the extension of us we had been waiting for. This piece of us that fit perfectly in his arms. She’s ours and she’s all her own. One second we’re us, the next we’re parents and she is… too much and too precious; the lightest pressure and the heaviest gravitational pull.
I loved our life. I loved being my husband’s wife, but now we are something more. We are very much the same but different. Throught pregnancy, my body changed. Through birth, my mind changed. And through her, my heart changed.