graham’s birth story part 2 – maybe i should’ve tipped him more
this week i’m sharing the story of my first experience giving birth. if you haven’t already, you’ll probably want to read the preface and part 1 of this story.
the first half of my ninety-minute drive to the hospital was fairly uneventful. i called my client to tell her i wouldn’t be coming to work that day and ate a breakfast of granola bars, fruit snacks, and crackers from my food stash in the car. the activity in my gut didn’t seem very consistent, so i tried to calculate if i had enough time to go all the way home, get lee and the bags, then come back to the hospital (which would almost double my drive time).
about halfway there, i realized i needed to call lee and tell him to leave work. by the time i hit the metro, my pants were soaked through and i was timing contractions on my phone while fighting downtown rush hour traffic. with waves coming every 4-6 minutes, i was becoming increasingly impatient with the stop-and-go progress and other drivers’ rude oblivion to the fact that i was in labor!
the surges were more uncomfortable than painful, really, and just felt like fierce menstrual cramps. but i was very anxious to be out of that car, and debating when it might be okay to just use the shoulder to get to my exit a mile away. i tried to be patient as we inched forward and finally reached the off-ramp.
i pulled up to the hospital entrance, one hand digging at the quarters in my cupholder for something to tip the valet. i slowly extracted myself from the car, bracing for an oncoming contraction. the attendant was kind enough to wait until i had composed myself to approach me for the key. i was suddenly horrified at the state in which i had left the driver’s seat.
unable to think of anything to say except, “i’m sorry, the seat’s a little damp,” i dabbed futilely at the puddle with a napkin before throwing him an apologetic glance and dashing through the revolving door. (a friend brought my car home from the hospital, but i’m told it was definitely parked by someone who was trying desperately not to touch the seat.)
for some reason, they keep the ob triage buried deep within the maze of halls at the hospital, but getting rapid help with directions was no problem for the pregnant lady with the wet pants. the triage nurse checked me and confirmed that i was dilated to a four and fully effaced – membranes broken, obviously – and so she began the whole process of getting me into a birthing suite.
as i waited, i called lee a few times to tell him things that needed to be added to the hospital bag that had only been half-packed. the poor guy kept begging me to stop adding to the list of To-Dos and To-Brings and just let him get to the hospital already. i guess the nesting instinct dies hard, huh?
by this time my contractions had begun to feel more like an intense pressure deep in my pelvis. i was so surprised that i didn’t feel any pain in my abdomen. i was waiting for sharp pangs to radiate from my back around to my stomach, like i’d heard they would, but all i had was a powerful sensation of something pressing hard on my tailbone. (in short, it felt like a baby trying to get out of my body. .
already, my legs were trembling involuntarily with each wave, and the nurse reassured me it was a good sign that the hormones were flooding in and i was progressing quickly. i was left alone to wait, and for the first time i had nothing to distract me from the full realization that this is happening.*
but even as that reality set in, and up until the point that i delivered my son, i didn’t have an, “eek, the baby is coming!” thrill like i expected to. each moment was simply what i was doing at that time. throughout labor i never felt apprehension or a desire to quit, as i thought i might. what i felt was focus. pure focus on the goal.
look for part 3 of graham’s birth story tomorrow.
*as evidence of the degree of my disbelief up to that point, allow me to submit this shocker: i hadn’t even called my sister! when lee called her just to say, “i’m on my way to the hospital, see you there!” she had no idea what he was talking about. after all, she had just seen me the previous night when i stopped by on my way out of town. the last thing she said to me was, “just think, in two weeks you won’t be pregnant anymore!” i remember thinking, yeah, that sounds about right.