FYI, all of his references to me being in "early labor" are supposed to be "pre labor". Apparently he wasn't paying as much attention in our classes as I thought...
"So there I was…
It’s 0400 on 27 Apr 10 and I feel Erin nudging me to wake me and get my attention. “I think the baby is coming today” I hear from her while coming out of a deep sleep. I know there was some sort of conversation that followed, but frankly at that time of day everything blends together. She told me that she had been having contractions for a couple of hours but I didn’t take that for much since we learned that early labor can last for a couple of days and much longer at times. In a sort of frantic huff, I can hear Erin packing all the things we had gathered together for her “over-night” bag. Listening to her, I remember thinking to myself, “I really hope the baby doesn’t come today, we just barely got ready [having just finished the nursery].”
The rest of the morning played out as any other day would begin (yet, along with contractions) with me going to work and Erin mining the store at home. Work has been quite busy for some time now but I was hoping to be able to get out early if Erin needed me. I had as good of an excuse as any having to go to the dentist for them to take a biopsy of some gum tissue. It was quite an ordeal, as the preparation I think actually took longer than the procedure itself. In the typical fashion of a doctor asking how things are going prior to an appointment I told him that my wife was having contractions. A dentist’s chair is not exactly what I would call ideal while contractions are going on; nor in the bathroom changing out bloody gauze while waiting at the pharmacy for Motrin.
Erin on the other hand, was driving to Virginia Beach for a chiropractor appointment and meeting a friend for lunch back in Newport News. We weren’t sure about all the driving she would have to do considering the contractions but after Erin talked to our doulas they gave her the “go-ahead” since she’s only in early labor.
By mid-afternoon Erin seemed to become a little more anxious and I was just looking forward to going home early…or so I thought. Go figure, just as I’m about to wrap things up at my desk I remember a tasker that is due later that day that I need to finish. I certainly didn’t like staying longer but Erin was only in early labor, it’s not like the baby was coming out tonight. I am finally able to leave around 1530 (which is still leaving early but considering 1430 was my goal, a little discouraging) but by this time Erin’s intensity in voice and texting is starting to rise. Before I could go home I needed to make a Target run on the way home. Erin was going to do this earlier but as the day went on so did her contractions and by lunchtime she wasn’t in any mood to go to Target. Anyone who really knows me probably knows that I’m not a quick shopper, even with a list. I did the best I could knowing that Erin wasn’t very comfortable but still quite unaware of what was waiting for me when I got home. Earlier, Erin had asked me to get some fries from Five Guys after Target but by the time I was done she wanted me home now! That was probably the moment when the realization hit me that this really might be the day. So after all my intensions of getting home earlier, I make it home at 1700, not exactly what I had in mind.
Once home, I could tell that the contractions were giving Erin a hard time. She told me that she had spoken with Christi earlier and her advice was to relax and ignore the contractions as best she can, to watch a movie, take a bath, etc. Erin wanted pizza for dinner so she gave me the task to place the order. Looking through the coupons I found an online deal that gave us two mediums, breadsticks, cinnasticks and a two-liter for $20. I was pretty excited about that deal. After making the order I went upstairs to check on Erin, she was in the shower trying to relax but said to me, “If this is all early labor I don’t think I can do this.” I reassured her that she can do this, and that she is doing it. I also told her that God has designed her body to do this very thing and that He has given her everything she needs to have this baby. The pizza was delivered around 1900 but by this time Erin’s contractions were strong enough to keep her from having a conversation. We called the OB just to touch base but she didn’t give us a whole lot to go on. There were also a handful of calls between us and Aimee and Christi during this time. At 1930, Erin stood up to go to the bathroom, or something like that, and immediately puked all over the floor. Fortunately, it was primarily water so she was properly hydrating herself but it was just another sign of getting closer. A little bit after that Erin was talking to Aimee and had a contraction. Erin had to pause because she couldn’t talk and immediately Aimee said that it was time that one of them got over here. Next, I got the tub ready for a bath for Erin but she didn’t stay in it long. It wasn’t long before she got out and made a home on the toilet in the guest bathroom.
At this time, if it hadn’t happened yet, we both knew that the baby was coming tonight. Throughout the evening I remember helping Erin keep her tone low and maintain proper breathing through all the contractions. It did feel a little weird constantly making a low, groaning sound but I was there to help her and from what I could tell, Erin was doing a great job. While she was on the toilet, I began to make sure we had everything that we wanted to bring to the hospital. With Aimee on the way the hospital couldn’t be that far off. I started to make the calls to our parents too. Both sets were in “stand-by” mode waiting for the call that we were on our way to the hospital. When calling my parents and telling them “this is ‘the call’” my mom kept asking, “What call?” “The baby is on its way,” I said. But then she only replied with, “But it’s not May yet.” Erin’s mom was a bit different wanting hard confirmation that the baby definitely was on its way before she bought her plane ticket. Since we were still at home, I don’t think she was too convinced despite everything else leading up to this point.
Aimee arrived sometime around 2115 and the dogs promptly greeted her with their incessant desire for attention—sorry girls, she’s not here for you. Aimee went upstairs and talked with Erin for a little bit and I remember her asking this question, “What number will you be disappointed with at the hospital (referring to dilation)?” I don’t remember Erin giving an answer but Aimee continued to give encouragement and reassurance that what was happening was just as it should be. We also discussed our birth plan and the importance of telling the doctors and nurses just exactly what our intentions were, but there wasn’t much time between Aimee arriving and her decision to press to the hospital. At 2130 we had things packed up, in the car and ready to go.
There are two interesting things about the hospital, one of them ironic. First of all, I have never been to the hospital. The only reason I knew which entrance to use was from Erin pointing it out to me in passing as we drove by it one day. As to exactly where to go and what to do once I pulled in the drive was still a mystery. The second, and ironic, thing is that Erin and I were going to do a tour at the hospital this very evening. Every Tuesday evening Riverside gives a tour for expectant families. I was unable to go the first time we had it planned, though Erin was able to, so this was our second attempt for me to see the facilities. Well, I certainly was able to, albeit without a tour guide. The forecast for the evening had called for rain but fortunately it hadn’t started…that is until we were in the car on the way. While walking through the parking lot Erin doubled over with another contraction. I don’t remember having an umbrella but I can imagine that the cool mist was more of a relief to Erin than a nuisance. Considering the time we were arriving the doors were locked but I swear no quicker than Erin could say, “I’m in labor” the doors were unlocked.
What happened in the next ten minutes was perhaps the most perplexing thing of this labor story. When we reached the maternity ward check-in window we were told that there were no rooms available, to go wait in the waiting room and they would come get us when one became available. I paused for a second and said, “Huh, that’s weird, the nurse from the class we took said that the rooms were rarely ever ‘all full’. Interesting.” Erin had this look on her face like “you’ve gotta be kidding me” but Aimee reassured us that they would not allow her to have the baby in the waiting room. She calmly said, “let’s go” and we slowly started walking. However, not more than twenty feet later Erin got another contraction that drove her to all fours on the floor. Conveniently, she stopped right under the door frame of two automatic doors. I thought I was helping by propping one door open as if they operated like elevator doors but since they were on a hinge I realized that me holding this door would do nothing for the other door that would close on Erin if it did swing shut. Fortunately, not more than thirty seconds or so later we had a team of nurses rushing to Erin’s aid, one of which saying, “Honey, let’s get you in a room.” And another nurse saying, “Room 7 is ready to go.” And I thought they didn’t have any rooms available when we arrived—I certainly didn’t see anyone leaving the minute following us being told to go to the waiting room… (After hearing Room 7 I knew this was a lucky night because of lucky 7, Joe Mauer’s number, and the Twins were currently winning too.)
The room was spotless and clean, crisp sheets on the bed and ready to go. Not that I had anything to compare to but the room was quite larger than expected. We also had more stuff than I realized, an overnight bad, two camera bags, and a lunch box. Amazing how we took over that room so quickly. Immediately, the nurses wanted to check Erin and get the fetal monitor hooked up. I was still getting things settled in when I heard the nurse say, “Wow, I’d say you’re between an eight and nine.” Perhaps that was the single-most encouraging thing we heard all night. Wow, she was an eight or nine? Incredible. I think we all were stunned to hear that. If someone wasn’t convinced that the baby was coming tonight they had to be now.
What transpired over the next two and a half hours was nothing short of amazing. Two things stand out to me as I reflect back on that time. One, everything happened so fast and two, Erin was incredible. There is no other way to say it other than she was amazing. The best way to describe it is she met the challenge head-on and didn’t back down, she took the bull by the horns, she was kicking butt and taking names…any other clichés I can come up with? The bottom line is that I was so impressed with how she handled it all. She went back and forth to the bathroom a few times and the nurses were probably a little frustrated that she didn’t stay in one place and when she was on/near the bed her positioning was conducive for fetal monitoring. All in all, the nursing staff and Dr. Casanova were great. I know there was a lot of concern going to Riverside and some of the questionable standards they hold but we told them our plan, that we wanted this to be a natural birth, that we wanted to delay cord clamping, that we didn’t want an IV right off the bat and they respected us. I think much credit was immediately given to Erin when she initially measured out to an eight or nine and how well she was handling labor while at the hospital. Aimee was a great help and Erin and I are blessed to have someone so knowledgeable, compassionate and ready to serve. She was all over it getting washcloths ready among working other creature comforts for Erin. And…since Erin and I had horrible cell coverage Aimee let us use her phone to make important calls to family and friends.
As the labor progressed I kept a close watch of the clock and for some reason I didn’t want the baby born on the 27th. I have no real reason for that, but perhaps because it goes back to 0400, 18 hours ago, thinking that the baby wasn’t coming today. I was fine with the 28th but not the 27th. I have no idea what that all means. Around 2350 Erin’s water finally broke giving Aimee quite a jolt. Going back to what I said about Erin being amazing she continued to labor with such confidence and finally I could see the baby’s head making its way down the birth canal. Moments later the head emerged and Dr. Casanova gave it a little twist and out came the baby. All this time up until now we still didn’t know the sex. However, the way the baby came out with the umbilical cord I couldn’t see what sex it was. I remember Erin asking (with a firm voice), “What is it?” and my response was “I can’t see.” The doctor finally helped me and I saw that it was a girl. I had fully expected myself to be bawling at this time but surprisingly I wasn’t. There were some tears but, in fact, I was more shaking than anything. I think the full magnitude began to settle in that I am now a father.
It was an amazing experience and I was so impressed with Erin and how she labored. She never once appeared to back down or even say that she couldn’t do this after her shower earlier in the evening. And what’s more, after all this, she never got any of that great pizza deal for dinner."