Without the presence of these unpleasant side effects, there would be nothing to hold down or dampen the joy and contentment that has sustained and lifted me since our sweet baby's arrival. My helium balloon like happiness would be completely free to float and soar without worry of deflation.
Having noted the opposition, beauty is everywhere. As I look out at my backyard, the beautiful colors of each blossoming flower, the heaven inspired fragrance from two large lilac bushes and the continued increase of green leaves is a joyful song that seems to be heralding in the long awaited stay of Spring.
Sunday, May 5th, Andrew and I dropped by the hospital as I thought that I might be leaking amniotic fluid. Adding to that concern were consistent contractions. Two hours later, we were on our way home with a large sign reading, "FALSE ALARM" stamped to my forehead. And while we didn't leave with our baby, we took with us the knowledge that I was 4.5 cm dilated and 80% effaced. Having only reached 37 weeks the day before, I wasn't eager for true labor to arrive. I felt like it was more beneficial for the baby to stay put. The longer he had to grow, the better.
As a result of the triage nurses
Satisfied with the state of my house, I sat down to relax. Just before 9:00 p.m., Andrew appeared in the kitchen. Having denied the kid's pleas for ice cream earlier, I felt a twinge of guilt as I watched him dish some for the two of us. Joining me on the couch, Andrew extends the two bowls of ice cream toward me. He asks the familiar question,
"Right or left"...
Having made my selection, I take a bite. As I'm shifting my weight from one position to another I feel two distinct gushes. My eyes grow wide with alarm. I look at Andrew and for the second time in two days I exclaim,
"I think my water just broke!" Forgetting my bowl of ice cream, I rush to the bathroom to investigate. Fluid continues to leak. My excitement excels as my certainty of what is happening solidifies.
"It's still coming!" I shout to him. "It's really broken this time!" He probably made some type of reply, but my head is spinning. I don't hear him. I try to give him direction on what I need.
"Can you go upstairs and get..." my ability to articulate my thoughts is suspended. Hoping for the best, I run upstairs myself. I anticipate a sudden flood of water as I take the stairs to my room. It never comes. However, the trickle I feel doesn't dissipate either. I'm soaking wet by the time I make it to my bathroom. I get myself situated and return to Andrew.
"I'm sure!" I exclaim. He looks relaxed. Does he not understand the urgency of the situation? Have I not made my feelings clear on how important an epidural is to me since Lottie's birth?
"Okay." He finally replies. "Do you want to go now?" Skipping the twenty minute lecture on why I want to leave as soon as possible, I emphatically declare,
"YES!" I explain that I've already called for the neighbor to come sit with the kids until his Mom arrives.
"I'm going to finish my ice cream first." Motioning to the bowl I left on the couch he adds, "I think you should do the same."
Remembering that Lottie was born two hours after my water broke and taking into account that I'm already 4.5 cm dilated, walking away from the bowl of ice cream was an easy decision.
We thank our neighbor, Miss Nancy, as we head out the door. I'm a ball of giddy nerves as I waddle myself to the car. The blessings of how things fell into place in regards to the care of our children doesn't escape me as we make the five minute drive. The moon is bright as we park the car. Impatience steals me away from Andrew as I head right into the lobby while he retrieves our bags.
Two women sitting in the lobby look up as I enter.
"Are you here to have a baby?" they ask in unison. Enjoying the moment, I reply happily,
"Yes! My water broke!" Andrew catches the tail end of the conversation and assumes that I'm telling anyone who will listen what's going on. He motions to a man who sits by a fireplace. Joining my 'effort' he hollers to him,
"Did you hear? Her water broke! We're having a baby."
A common question follows.
"Is this your first?" We smile as Andrew replies,
"Number four..." A surprise filled face is the general response. Having recently familiarized ourselves with the labor and delivery unit, we return to the nurses station and fill them in. They aren't as jazzed as I'd been hoping. Then again, women come in all day making similar declarations. I'm relieved, however, that they trust me enough to skip the investigation in triage. They assign me to my labor and delivery room right away.
Minutes later it's confirmed that my water has broken.. They suspect that the rupture occurred at the top of my 'bag of water.' There's still fluid around the baby and it doesn't seem like they are in a hurry to break what remains. Future contractions would get that job done. I am happy to say that they take my plea for the epidural seriously. Even though my contractions haven't picked up on their own, they call the anesthesiologist. Bless them all!
I was then left to labor. My body reacts as it did during labors past. The epidural invites nausea. I throw up three times during the duration of my labor; a price I readily accept in place of feeling each of the contractions. We are exhausted as we wait for my body to progress. Andrew falls asleep as I let the nurses change my position to help move things along. Unlike my experience with Lottie, I am not dilating at the rapid pace I expected.
As I get closer to delivery, the foggy effects of the epidural and the fact that I haven't slept a wink washes a heavy blur through me. It feels difficult to concentrate. Despite their best efforts, I'm suddenly feeling great pain. The pain I had successfully evaded for most of my labor is there now and it's hard to ignore. A nurse tells me I'm stuck at an eight. The pain contradicts her statement. Rather than screaming through it, like I did with Lottie, I begin to sob like a small child. I can accept the pain and pressure of labor but I'm having a hard time hearing the word, 'stuck.' That feeling should be pushing me closer to my baby.
Suddenly, my doctor arrives. I'm embarrassed that I can't keep my tears in check. I explain my frustration as he examines me.
"You're in pain because you're at a ten and are feeling the urge to push!" His words resurrect my lost focus. The tears stop. As I'm given the green light to push, relief replaces pain and strength replaces discouragement.
Less than five minutes later, after two rounds of pushing, Forrest Daniel enters the world. The sound of his cry fills me with relief. As his beautiful, tiny body is placed at my chest, the tears return. This time, however, my sobs are born of intense happiness and gratitude. It would seem that my inability to contain my emotion is contagious. My faithful spouse who helped and comforted me through each step with perfection is crying too. The sound of his uncontrolled cries tells me that he too has just fallen in love with our new son.
We are then left alone to bond and marvel over our new baby. Those minutes feel sacred as we take him in. We talk over his weight, size and smile over the perfection of his sweet face. I kiss his fingers and stroke his hair as we wonder aloud if our other kids had as much hair when they were born.