Tuesday, January 29th came and brought with it not a baby, but another milestone in my journey as a mom. For the first time, I woke up on my due date and found myself ... still pregnant.
That evening the kids and I went to cheer on Jeremy's basketball team. The school where the game took place is just down the street from our hospital, so Jer had been telling me all winter that I should plan to labor at the game and then drive over to the hospital afterwards to have the baby. The game, however, was not exciting enough to induce labor; we won 69-24. A wild thunderstorm swept across the city just after the game ended, and we rushed to our car in a torrential downpour, but on the contraction front, all remained quiet.
Around 10:00 pm I started contracting somewhat regularly, but I went to bed and tried to sleep. I was in and out of bed all night, with several stretches of time when contractions were getting "longer, stronger, and closer together." Sometimes I sat in the bathroom; other times I walked, knelt, or sat with my back to the heater in my kids' room. Finally, at 4:30 am I crawled back into my own bed, exhausted. "God," I prayed, "Please just let me sleep for a few hours and have this baby tomorrow."
Wednesday morning I woke up, still pregnant, very tired, and not in labor. I declared it a "Lazy Day," stayed in my p.j.'s, and rested as much as possible. The kids and I watched a movie, read lots of stories, and played with puzzles. The mom of one of Jeremy's basketball players sent two meals home with us after Tuesday's game; we ate her delicious food off paper plates for lunch and dinner. Jeremy came home and we piled in his car and drove to AutoZone to pick up our van, which needed new tires. Jer left from there for two meetings, and I drove home to put my little ones to bed.
Later in the evening, my energy started to return. I caught up on the housework I had neglected all day, spent a long time filing papers, and took a hot shower. Then I noticed that my ankles were finally swollen, just like they were during the days before Ali and J.D. were born. "Hmm. That's a good sign," I thought. "Maybe I'll have this baby in the next few days."
Jeremy still wasn't home, so I propped up my pillows and read my Bible in bed. Three passages encouraged me - Philippians 4:4-7, Colossians 3:15-17, and I Thessalonians 5:16-18 & 20. All three showed a connection between a joyful, grateful, prayerful heart and God's peace. I wrote them in my journal, thinking, "These will be good to remember during labor."
Mild contractions had been coming here and there all throughout the day and night, but nothing worth stopping to think about. When Jer finally came home it was near midnight, and we commented that January 30th would not be our baby's birthday. Jer was excited about the Bible study he had just come from, and I was eager to share the verses I had just read, so we talked for a while. About 12:30, he started snoring, and I started trying to sleep.
I never did. Sometime around 1:00 am, I had a strong contraction. I got out of bed and immediately had another one. Leaning against a chair and breathing slowly, I thought, "This feels like the contractions I have at the END of labor!" Then I had another contraction, and another, and another just like it. I woke up Jer in a panic. "You need to call my mom and the doctor right now."
He made the calls, and the contractions kept coming. I walked from our room to the bathroom to the hallway and back, hunched over like an old lady. I couldn't stand up straight, and I couldn't think straight. The doctor called back in the middle of a contraction and calmly told me to head over to the hospital to see what was going on. All I could say was, "Okay."
My mom arrived to stay with the kids. Jer and I got into the car at 1:33 am. Sitting was torturous. "Drive fast," I said.
Then we realized my door wasn't shut. I opened it and slammed it shut. It still wasn't closed. At the next stop I tried again. Still no luck. Jer offered to stop and shut it himself. "Just drive," I said. "I'll hold the door."
We made it to the hospital's road, praying all the way. Jeremy started to turn right, away from the hospital. "The hospital's that way!" I said, pointing the other way. He whirled the car in the correct direction, and soon we were in the hospital parking lot. He wanted to drop me off, but the drive past the entrance was blocked with cones. We parked and walked to the entrance - the same entrance we've used for all my other deliveries - and found it locked. The hospital has been remodeled since we were last here. We walked over to the new emergency entrance, wound our way through some abandoned hallways, and found the elevators we were looking for. Throughout this crazy trip, God was faithful to answer my prayers for peace. I could see the hilarity of the situation and could even laugh about it (on the inside).
Keep in mind, my contractions at this point seem almost continuous, and I'm walking completely bent over at the waist because of all the pressure I feel. We arrive in the maternity ward and start to check in. The time is 1:44 am. A nurse notices my distress and takes me to a room while Jeremy finishes the paperwork. She gives me a gown, and I put it on. Now she wants me to get in the bed so she can examine me. I keep waiting for a break in the contractions so I can climb onto the bed, but it never comes. Finally I force myself to get in the bed and brace for the exam. The nurse just stands there with her gloves on. "What's going on?" I ask.
"You're complete," she says. "There's the head. You can reach down and feel it if you want to." Then she calmly starts paging nurses to bring in the items we need for delivery.
"Can I get out of bed?" I ask. I desperately want to walk around because I can't figure out how to cope with contractions sitting still. The nurses say no. "Tell me what to do, " I cry. "I don't know what to do." They suggest panting. "No, I don't want to pant." One nurse tells me to focus on something. "I can't focus!" Just remember to breathe, they say. "I don't want to breathe!" Later I'll feel bad that I shot down all their ideas, but right now I just want to know where my doctor is.
"He's on his way," my nurse says, "but if he doesn't make it, we're here."
He didn't make it. My body reached the point where there was no way not to push. The water broke with the first push, Jonah's head came with the second, and his shoulders came with the third. At 2:05 am, just 21 minutes after we checked into the hospital, my son was in my arms. I spent the next several hours trying to make myself believe that all just happened. But here's the story in print, and here are more pictures of the sweet boy who came in such a hurry.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Saturday, February 2, 2008
Jonah made his grand (and fast!) entrance at 2:05 am on January 31, my Papaw's 80th birthday. He was 7 pounds, 15 ounces and 21 inches long. Jair says, "He's sooo soft." Ali says, "He's just so cute. He's adorable!" Here are the pics; see for yourself!