Disclaimer: The following is rather long, but I wanted to have a written recording of this day somewhere. It will be fun for Shirley to read one day if nothing else.
Well, she’s here and I’m in love! I never knew I would truly love my own baby like this. It’s indescribable. God is so kind and good to give me such blessings; first, my amazing husband and now my beautiful, sweet baby. Every good and perfect gift is truly from Him.
I started having contractions around 12:30 am Friday morning of January 11th. I had been to the doctor’s earlier that afternoon and they were surprised to see me since I had been dilated to 3 cm the week before. But there I was, still dilated to a 3 or 4 and they said she could come anytime. But I didn’t really believe them. I had convinced myself that she would arrive late so that I wouldn’t get my hopes up. That night, Kwacha and I had tried to watch a movie at 7:30 but the power went out. I had said that it would be the perfect time to go into labor since we had nothing to do. But the power came back on at 9:30, we watched our movie, it finished around midnight (it was long), and we went to sleep. But not for long.
Those last few weeks I truly thought I might miss the beginning of labor because I didn’t think I’d recognize real contractions. At first I thought it was just indigestion, but after awhile I knew it was unlike any indigestion I had ever had. This was PAINFUL! I finally woke Kwacha up…or tried to wake him up. I called his name a few times than pushed him and he finally sat up. I told him I thought I was having contractions but he just sat there in a daze. I finally gave up and told him to go back to sleep than I went to the bathroom. I woke him up again and this time he realized what was happening and told me to call the hospital. I didn’t want to at first because I didn’t want to go in and find out it wasn’t the real thing. But it didn’t take me long to change my mind. When I called, the nurse I spoke to was nice, but she told me to drink some water and try to lie back down and call again in a couple of hours. Yeah right, like that was going to happen. The contractions were already five minutes apart and after about ten more minutes they were 2 to 3 minutes apart.
At this point I was kneeling over the bed and almost rolling on the ground with each contraction. In between contractions I told Kwacha, “Maybe this isn’t it.” But during each one I told him, “If this isn’t it, I don’t know what labor pains could be like!”
Kwacha called the hospital himself after that and first he got the same nurse I got. She told him pretty much the same thing. I kept going to the bathroom but couldn’t get comfortable. Kwacha called again and finally got a nurse who told us to come on in. That was enough for him! As he packed the car with our things I kept getting contractions and couldn’t do anything when I had one. (Whenever I read birth stories in the past and someone would mention not being able to talk through one, I always thought, “Really?” Yes! Really!)
As we got in the car we both said how thankful we were that we didn’t have Dr. Frields. That would have meant a 30-40 minute car ride! Our hospital is about 5 minutes away from us. I got one contraction on the way and one when we got there. We had to go through the E.R. entrance and I as I was standing there giving the guy my information, I felt silly. “I don’t even look like I’m in labor. Maybe I’m not.” Next minute I’m leaning over a chair hanging on the arm for dear life!
Soon they brought a wheelchair down and we made our way to Labor and Delivery. We got settled in the room around 2:20 a.m. and when the nurse checked me I was still dilated at a four but definitely having contract ions. Still, they weren’t officially checking us in yet. The nurse asked if I planned on getting an epidural and I said I was eventually. She asked me what I thought about getting one then and I said I could handle the contractions at the time. About five minutes later I wondered what I was thinking! I wanted the epidural right that minute! But another nurse said they were waiting to hear from the doctor whether or not I would be staying. Kwacha called my mom. By now it was about 3:00 a.m. He told her I hadn’t been checked in so she shouldn’t come just yet.
After awhile they finally told me I would be staying and that I could get the epidural. The anesthetist would be there soon. I was now dilated to a five and a half. My goal had been to get to at least a five before I received the epidural, so I was satisfied.
The nurse who gave me my I.V. told me that it would hurt worse than the epidural and she was right. I barely felt it! The anesthetist is really good at what he does! Kwacha was a little grossed out though. I guess I should be glad I couldn’t see anything.
I always assumed that the epidural would work immediately, but it took a little while. Then it only seemed to be working on my right side. However, soon it all went numb and by this time my mom and Emily had arrived. My mom had never gone back to bed after Kwacha called and as soon as she got the go ahead to come over, come over they did! Em was really sad that she missed seeing me go through a contraction.
The only small concern throughout my labor was Shirley’s heart rate. After the epidural it would go down after every contraction. They gave me medicine and kept an eye on her with an external monitor at first and then they tried an internal monitor. The internal one didn’t really go in right though and by the time they got it fixed the medicine had brought it back down. Thankfully I didn’t realize how concerned my mom was at this point. Emily kept checking to see if she needed to leave the room.
I went from six centimeters to nine and a half in about an hour. I was shocked when the nurse told me! Soon I was ready to push. It was about 8:00 a.m. and the shift changed so I had a new nurse to coach me in pushing. She was wonderful. (Really, all the nurses were great!) Since I couldn’t feel anything she had me cough to find the right stomach muscles to push and that really worked. She and Kwacha each took a leg and stayed in that position as I pushed for the next FOUR hours! She told me at the beginning that the average pushing time is about one and a half to two hours; so when I passed that point I didn’t think I had much further to go. By three hours everyone could see Shirley’s head (full of hair) and she called the doctor in. For the next hour everyone kept telling me, “She’s so close! Probably after the next push!” But she just wouldn’t come. She was stuck. So finally the doctor (who kept fashioning Shirley’s hair into a Mohawk) decided to do an episiotomy. I was just thankful to get her out! She came out on the next push at 12:44 p.m. She weighed 7 pounds 10 ounces and was 20 inches long. From the beginning of the contractions to the time she was born it was about 12 hours.
I will never forget that moment as long as I live. At one point during the pregnancy we were told that Shirley had a small possibility of having Down syndrome. I noticed immediately that she looked healthy and then I remember hearing myself say, “You’re so pretty” over and over and “You’re okay,” because she kept crying. At the same time I thought, “Who is this little stranger?” But just like they say, I had an immediate feeling of love for her. And it just keeps getting stronger every day. I’ve told many people that if I love her any more my heart will burst!
Motherhood is already pretty challenging as most can imagine. Little sleep, lots of feedings, lots of crying. But I would never change this. I already adore being Shirley’s mom!