Our story probably starts on a Saturday evening, 4 days before our daughter’s “birth”day. From around 6-11 pm that evening, I was having what I would consider irregular contractions. They were uncomfortable, but they didn’t quite take my breath away and were anywhere from 3-10 minutes apart. Our family was fishing out at Lake Shawnee and I thought it’d be better to keep myself distracted through early labor if that’s indeed what this was. The evening was gorgeous. Our older boys were chasing one another while my husband and I watched the bobbers on the calm water. I remember taking that moment all in, knowing that whether tonight was the night or not, our lives were soon all about to change.
Around 11 pm, after our boys were tucked in bed, and the house was quiet, my husband and I were trying to decide whether we should stay up or go to bed, we figured if it was true labor things would progress, if it wasn’t, we were going to exhaust ourselves staying up. Needless to say, the contractions puttered out and the next thing I remember is waking up the following morning totally back to normal, somewhat disappointed.
However, that morning I start to notice throughout the day, I occasionally feel a little “leaky”. Not anything blatantly obvious, or startling, nothing I needed to put a maxi pad on for- just damp and I knew I hadn’t just peed. I don’t think I mentioned it to anyone that day, but when Monday rolled around and I still felt that way I got finally the courage to verbalize what was going on. I told my best friend I thought my water had broken, but I really couldn’t tell! You can’t imagine how upsetting and unnerving this was for me, as I am a labor and delivery nurse, and it’s part of my job to help women determine this. Everyone tells you, “When it happens.. you’ll KNOW”… Well I DIDN’T!
I continue on the rest of my shift and coincidentally enough I wind up being assigned to a laboring woman who reports that her water might have broken two days ago, but she wasn’t sure. This only heightens my anxiety about everything that has been going on with me! I want to scream, “ha! Me too!” But of course I couldn’t do that!
Tuesday rolls around, and I still feel a little damp occasionally, but I haven’t had any regular contractions since Saturday night. I’m exhausted though; I feel a lot worse this week at work than I did the week before. My work load has been significantly heavier this week and my mental state is waning! I know I have to be back the following day for another full 12 hour shift and I am DREADING it. What was I thinking, volunteering to be on the schedule my 40th week of pregnancy?!
Tuesday night my husband, Dustin and I go to bed and as we’re lying in bed, I have a complete emotional/hormonal breakdown. We have both been stressed about a multitude of things and I don’t really feel close to him like I normally do. Sobbing, I tell him, “I don’t even want to have this baby right now with everything that’s going on.” I imagined bringing this baby into the world, feeling nothing but love and joy, but instead I felt as though we were being pulled apart by the stressors of life. He listened to me, acknowledged my feelings, held me, and we fell sleep, much more reassured about everything. We had no idea that in just a few hours we’d be meeting our little one!
Wednesday 1:30 am- I wake up for a potty break. Nothing unusual but my heartburn is raging so I go back to sleep in our recliner. Dustin has rearranged the room so that the recliner is right next to the head of the bed as he still wants us to feel like we’re sleeping next to one another.
4:00 am- another potty break, but this time accompanied by a pretty strong contraction when I first awake. I walk to the bathroom and have another, and notice there is SO much pressure. I think I need to poop too! I do my business but keep having these strong contractions. These are no joke! I call for Dustin, who startles awake and tell him, “I just want you to be awake.” Another contraction comes. I’m not timing anything but I feel like they are coming fast, and they are getting a lot more intense with each consecutive one! Dustin says he’ll start timing them. I start my next contraction that I need to really moan through and tell him, “forget that- call Rena (my midwife)! There is sooo much pressure!” So he does- and after a couple of questions she says she’s on her way. That was at 4:15 am. I begin walking around as Dustin begins tidying up the house, knowing that I have been on a nesting frenzy planning for this home birth.
Another contraction, I have my first moment of doubt and begin thinking to myself, “What in the hell were you thinking doing this again without pain medicine?! These contractions are so intense and I have only been doing this for 20 minutes. I can’t do this!!” I felt completely out of control and I needed help. I call for Dustin to forget about the house and please start filling the tub, hopefully that will make these contractions a little more tolerable. He is moving around the house in a furry while I struggle through every contraction.
4:23 am- While Dustin is getting things in order I find my phone and call the rest of the birth team, including my photographer and best friend and beg them to come quickly- “it just happened so fast, please come!” They both say they are on their way.
Through the next several contractions, I watch as the tub fills up at the slowest rate in history. I just want to be in that thing so badly. Then suddenly I have a contraction that feels much more manageable if I bear down instead of moaning. After it passes, I catch Dustin as he is still pulling things out of our birth kit. I ask him to stay close-forget about the tub. We need to get the chux pads, unbelievably, I think things are getting close.
We slowly move over to the foot our bed and finally tell him, “Honey, you’re gonna have to catch this baby.” He doesn’t say anything but he later admits, he didn’t really believe me, after all we’d only been at this for probably 45 minutes. After the next several contractions with me bearing down, I could really feel the baby move. A few drops of blood begin to fall between my legs and Dustin realizes I’m not kidding. He checks to see what’s going on but doesn’t see anything just yet. My entire body is shaking and I feel weak with exhaustion, yet incredibly powerful at the same time. Dustin must notice me shaking, as he grabs my hands to help steady me through the contractions. It only takes a couple more contractions before he begins to see the top of the baby’s head. He then moves around behind me to prepare to catch this little one. There was no waiting for our birth team, “It’s coming” I tell him. And with another great surge I slowly ease her head out.
At that moment, we can hear the front door open – someone made it! Dustin calls out from the bedroom, “We’re in here! The head’s out!” Again another contraction begins; with it the baby starts to move, and the body is delivered, without much, if any fluid behind. I hear my friend’s voice whisper, “Good catch!” to Dustin as both of their gentle hands welcome our baby into the world. The next several minutes are a blur, I am just standing there in complete shock and disbelief. Did this really just happen?! Someone looks at the time–just after 5:00 am, only an hour since this all started! Soon my baby is in my arms and I make my way around to the bed, sit down and try to rest. Within the next 10 minutes or so our midwife and her assistant arrive.
As our midwife begins her assessments, I realize it hasn’t even crossed my mind to check out the gender. Here in my arms, I look down and discover for the first time, we are the parents of a beautiful little GIRL! I am beside myself- in awe and completely in love! She is stunning, with a full head of Daddy’s dark brown hair. What a crazy ride she had us on. And she was worth every moment.