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My fiance, Brian, and I had hoped that our son, Joshua, would be born on or before Father's Day, which happened to be the day before my actual due date. I spent the day at my grandparents' house with my family, and as it got later into the evening, started feeling a familiar ache in my lower back. That late into my pregnancy, I was constantly uncomfortable and achy. I didn't think anything of it.
That night was very stormy! After I got home, there were torrential downpours of rain, and the electricity kept getting kicked off by the lightning. After eating a spaghetti dinner, Brian and I decided to go to bed for the night. Well, that was the plan!
No sooner had I gotten into a deep sleep, was I awoken by the same pain in my lower back, only it was worse than it had been earlier. I could only assume it was 3:00 or 3:30 in the morning at that point, because the clock hadn't been reset since the power kept going off. I did what I could to get comfortable again, and started drifting off again, but before I could get to sleep, I was awoken once again by the pain in my back. It was odd to me - while I had often been unable to get to sleep in the past, never had I actually been woken up by the pain. Still, I brushed it aside, rolled over again, and tried to get back to sleep. Once again, as I started drifting off, the pain woke me back up. I gave up at that point and decided to get up and watch some TV.
As I passed time flipping through the channels, the ache in my lower back and came and went, came and went, came and went. I figured my muscles were sore for whatever reason (being 40 weeks pregnant, EVERYthing was sore). I couldn't understand, though, why the pain was intensifying as the hour passed by. It didn't occur to me that contractions aren't always felt in the abdomen, and that 1 in 5 women experience back labor. Around 5:00, it was painful enough that I figured something needed to be done, one way or the other. I called my parents, who are typically up around 5:00, and spoke with my mother. She recommended a hot shower, and to call my Doctor's office to see what they felt I should do. Problem was, my Doctor's office didn't open until 8:00, another three hours! I felt that I could tough it out until then, and went to take a hot shower in the meantime.
The shower was wonderful, it relieved the pain (that was now coming about every five minutes or so). But the second I stepped out, the pain was exactly as it was before. I went back downstairs to watch TV again, in an attempt to distract myself from the pain. All over the news was coverage of extensive flooding all over the area due to the rain the previous night. My father, a Fire Lieutenant for a local town, had been called in three hours early because a flood gate had broken in his district. He had predicted several days earlier that I would probably end up having the baby on my due date, just because that would be an inconvenient day for him, because he was scheduled to be at work. I had laughed it off, thinking of how unlikely it would be to actually have him on my due date!
Around 6:00, I could hardly tolerate it anymore. I was twisting myself into all sorts of positions (as best I could) to relieve myself of the pain as it came around. I realized I would not be able to wait another two hours until my Doctor's office opened, so I called the hospital that I was registered to deliver at. After being transferred three or four times, I finally got ahold of a Labor & Delivery nurse. After explaining to her my symptoms and concerns, she recommended that I come in within the next couple of hours to be checked out, because it sounded to her like I was in early labor. Early labor?!? It still hadn't registered in my head that this could actually be labor! I think I was in denial.
I waited another half hour or so, then went upstairs and woke Brian up. I told him I had been having pains, and had called the hospital and they said to come in within the next couple of hours. He rolled back over and said, "We have a couple of hours then," and went back to sleep. Ohhhh, that made me mad! I didn't say anything though. I started packing the last few items into my hospital bags, then took them downstairs and set them by the door.
By 7:00, I was unable to stand or walk through the pains anymore. I waited for one to pass, then made my way back upstairs to our room. I woke Brian up again, and firmly stated, "I can't wait another couple of hours. Get up, get ready, we need to go soon." Amazingly, he got up without any further discussion. I went back downstairs to tough it out until he was ready.
The pain was still primarily in my lower back, and was becoming so intense that I could no longer talk during it. Mr. Know-It-All Brian said at one point, "We can go up there, but they're going to send us right back home. But I'll take you up there." I was in too much pain to argue with him, although despite what he said, he called his parents to inform them of the situation.
Finally, by about 8:00, he was ready to go. I told him to get the car door unlocked and open for me, because I would have to get up and get in between the pains, which were getting closer and closer together. I hadn't been timing them because, like I said, 1) I was in denial, and 2) all of the clocks in the house needed to be reset because of the storms the night before (the time frames I am referencing, I know because I checked the clock on my phone from time to time). We timed the contractions on our way to the hospital. They were coming in three minute intervals, and lasting for about a minute. So I was experiencing roughly a minute and a half to two minutes of relief between each contraction. That was the longest car ride EVER! Having a contraction every minute or two, while sitting in rush hour traffic... NOT FUN! Brian was sweet enough to offer his free hand for me to squeeze... I didn't let go!
Once we got to the hospital, Brian pulled the car up to the entrance and waited for me to get out. I just sat there and looked at him - did he really expect me to get out and stand there waiting for him to go park?? I asked him to please go get me a wheelchair, there was no way I could stand or walk for more than a minute, much less make it up the elevator and into the Labor/Delivery wing. He apparently thought I was over-exaggerating, but nonetheless, went to get a wheelchair for me. He pushed me in and left me sitting next to the elevators while he went to park. I felt quite vulnerable, people walking by as I huffed and puffed my way through contractions, just sitting there waiting... at the time though, do you think I really cared?
We got up to Labor/Delivery and I got checked in. After answering the hundred million questions they ask (some of them more than once), they examined me and determined I was already seven to eight cm dilated. "Send us back home" my butt! Brian made the necessary phone calls - to his work to tell them he wouldn't be in that day; to my parents to confirm that yes, I was in labor; to his parents.
Of all people, my busy father was the first one to the hospital. He and Brian were in the room with me, and I was in the bed still fighting my way through contractions. That seriously is the worst pain I've ever felt! At one point, while I was in the middle of a contraction, Brian had the nerve to comment, "Wow, that one's off the chart!" while looking at the monitor. I yelled back, "SHUT... UP!!" I mean, seriously, do you really think I need you TELLING me how bad it really is, while I'm sitting there EXPERIENCING it??
FINALLY, the anesthesiologist came in to give me my epidural. Sweet relief!! I was in Heaven at that point. They were actually telling me when I was having a contraction because I could no longer feel them! Then again, I could no longer feel anything from my abdomen down either.
My Doctor came in and broke my water, since that had yet to happen. It was then determined that Joshua was "sunny-side up" - he was facing up instead of down, which explained why I had felt my contractions in my back instead of my abdomen. They said that unless we could get him to turn, the pushing stage might be longer. The nurse turned me onto my left side for about 45 minutes in an attempt to encourage Joshua to roll over. If he did, I didn't feel it, but it finally came time to push.
Like I said before, I had to have them tell me when I was having a contraction. I also watched the monitor so I would know when to push. I had Brian and my mother in the delivery room with me. Each time I pushed, I heard them holding their breath, and when I'd release, I'd hear them do the same. After awhile it became humorous to me, and I just started laughing. My sister, who was sitting outside the door listening, couldn't figure out why I'd be laughing in the middle of delivery. Seriously, all I have to say is, epidurals are a gift from God!
I pushed for about an hour and a half total. My Doctor came in and said if I couldn't get him out in the next few pushes, he was going to use the vacuum thingamajig to assist. I nearly popped a vein pushing so hard, but within the next few pushes, I felt Joshua slide out and saw the Doctor hold him up. At that point, everything became a blur. I heard him crying, and then I started to cry too. But I didn't cry as much as I thought I would - I was in such awe.
Our beautiful baby boy was born at 3:12 PM on June 18, 2007 - right on schedule! He was 7 lbs 8 oz, 20 in. My pregnancy, my labor and delivery, everything was textbook, it was perfect and went off without a hitch. I actually ENJOYED childbirth. It was the best day of my life, and look forward to doing it all over again at some point in the future!