It was the type of day you love to have. The rare day when everything goes right, is filled with people you want to spend it with, and you appreciate even as its happening.
I reported to work shortly after 8:30 on Tuesday, June 2nd. My days at work had gotten pretty soft as I had turned over the majority of my duties in preparation for maternity leave. I bopped around the Internet, talked on the phone, chatted up my co-workers, and maybe analyzed a few reports to fill my day. Angie, my fellow employee, mentioned that we really should go look at the white tiger cubs that were visiting our zoo. They were born in December, had been on exhibit since March, and would be leaving for their permanent home in a few weeks. I told Angie that I wanted to see them, but only if we drove a golf cart (cut me some slack, I was nine months pregnant). It was a lovely afternoon; working at the zoo has its perks (like a personalized tour of the property on cart). We drove around and looked at all our favorite animals. The tiger cubs, by the way, were huge; we’d missed our opportunity to see them as cute, cuddly, little guys. Angie dropped me off at my car and I snuck out a bit early. I had the next two days off and was fully prepared to see Angie on Friday.
We really needed groceries but for some reason I decided to stop by the house first instead of going straight to the store. James was supposed to be working so I’m not sure what made me take the detour. It was meant to be, however, as Sally (James’ mom) was standing with James in the driveway. James’ parents don’t stop by very often, instead preferring that we visit them, so seeing Sally was a very pleasant surprise. Seeing my husband standing in the drive was a shock; I hadn’t realized that he had called out sick that day due to a bad night’s sleep the night before. We hung out in the drive for awhile, and then decided to go into the house so I could sit. After a while, Anissa called and said she was on her way over with the bassinet. She’d lent it to another friend and had just gotten it back that day over lunch. Anissa stayed for just a bit and took some pictures of James and I posing in front of the fire place (I am so glad she did!). Eventually everyone said goodbye and left.
James and I hopped in the car and drove to Kroger for the before mentioned needed groceries. On our way back out to the car, Anissa, Doug, and Kate drove by and yelled something at us (they were on their way to LaTerraza for supper with friends which is in the same shopping center). I got really warm while shopping and broke out in a sticky sweat. I didn’t think anything of it at the time; I overheat easily.
On the way back home, I returned a call I’d missed while grocery shopping to my brother, Josh. James carried in all the groceries, cracked a beer, kissed me, and then went to the basement for drum practice (U2’s New Year’s Day). I started defrosting some brats for supper then laid down on the bed for optimum comfort while talking on the phone. After a while I really had to pee, so unbeknownst to my brother, I took the phone with me to the toilet (he would not be a fan). I didn’t quite make it (not uncommon for a very pregnant woman). Then it went on for a long time, with no control. Once finished and still on the phone, I went back to my side position on the bed and tried to carry on a conversation with Josh while my mind started pondering if my water had just broken. I got up and went to the bathroom again; same situation, only this time it was a yellowish brown color. I was making my way back to the bed when James came into the room. Not wanting to alarm Josh, I told him that I needed to let him go to make some supper. I hung up and looked at James with an excited face and said, “I think that should be your last beer. I think my water just broke.” His eyes got huge and he said, “So does that mean its time?” I felt a bit sheepish in that I wasn’t sure if my water had just broken or if I’d just wet myself. I was having zero pain, no contractions what-so-ever. James wanted me to call the doctor, I felt silly so was putting it off and went back to my spot on the bed. James jumped on the computer to research. I got up a few minutes later to go back to the bathroom and WHOOSH; there was no doubt that this was not just pee. Pain or no pain, it was time. James and I were so giddy. I called the after hours number and left a message for my midwife, hoping that she was the one on call. I then called Anissa to share the excitement and she didn’t answer! So I called Doug and he didn’t answer! So I sent a text message to their friend, Ellen, asking her to tell Anissa that I was in labor.
About 45 minutes later, Dr. Spetalnik returned the call. After asking a few questions, he told me to come on in within the next few hours. I’d had my bags mostly packed for a few weeks so just needed to throw a few last minute things together. Always the organized one, I had prepared a list of exactly what I still needed. James ran around throwing things he needed in a bag; since I wasn’t due for another 2 weeks, he didn’t have his stuff packed for the hospital yet. We packed everything in the car (you’d have thought we were vacationing for a week instead of going to have a baby) and were on our way.
We first stopped at…Wendy’s (remember our brats were in the microwave defrosting when this started). I’m a pain-puker and have discovered that the only thing worse than throwing up is not having anything to throw up. We treated ourselves to combo selections, normally avid dollar menu eaters. Next up: Walmart. James needed batteries for his digital voice recorder. I stayed in the car and by about this time realized that I really needed something waterproof under my butt (I confiscated the Walmart bag when James returned to the car).
I called my parents, who were in Minnesota taking Grandpa Barney to the VA Hospital. My mom was excited by our news and equally heartbroken. At first she thought I was kidding; once she knew I was serious her first words were, “We’ll never make it now.” She wanted to be with us for the birth so badly. They decided to stay the night at the cabin with Grandma and Grandpa and start out early in the morning for Tennessee. Anissa called me back and passed the phone around to various members of her supper club who all wished us the best of luck. I then called Josh to tell him the news since he played a part thus far (his response: “I hear she can’t wait to meet me”). That was it for my calls.
James, on the other hand, called all his parents and then started with the A’s in his phone book and went down the list. I had prepared a phone tree list for labor and then for delivery, but he was just so excited he wanted to tell the world. It was very endearing to see.
It was 11:00 by the time we got to the hospital. We had to enter and be admitted through the emergency room. We got escorted to our room and got situated. Dr. Spetalnik came in to do the exam and confirmed that, yes, my water had definitely broke (I really didn’t have a doubt about that anymore). He started me on a petocin drip to jump start my contractions as I was still in no pain. James and I were super excited but decided to try to catch a nap before the real fun began. I awoke less than an hour later to some major pain. I was finally having contractions and not enjoying them at all. I have always had very severe cramps with my monthly visitor and these were very similar, just magnified. I felt them deep into my thighs. After suffering through these for about 45 minutes solo, James finally woke to my heavy breathing. I remember him trying to crack a joke and me not being amused. He came to my bed side, held my hand and stroked my hair. After several contractions I asked him (whimpered really) when I could get my pain killers. He hit the call button and said to the nurse, “Mrs. Peach is inquiring about when she can have some medicine.” Even in pain, I really enjoyed him calling me Mrs. Peach.
The anesthesiologist team responded quickly in getting me an epidural (we’d already discussed it). I remember sitting on the side of the bed and leaning forward into James and the nurse while Anesthesiologist Adam worked his magic. I don’t remember if the needle hurt or not, I just remember that when they told me I could lean back I was feeling so much better, relaxed even. James and I chatted up Adam for awhile, talking about beer and summer festivals, before he checked how well the epidural took. He discovered that it was inserted a bit too far (one side of my body was drastically more numb than the other) so he pulled it out a bit. Then I got to lay on my side and sleep like I’ve never slept before. It was glorious. I am a person who wakes numerous times throughout the night from body aches and makes at least 3 trips to the bathroom. On drugs I didn’t feel my body, let alone the aches, and my catheter took care of the weak bladder problem. Absolutely divine.
Hospital personnel came and went but I barely noticed. When they woke me up, I was 9 centimeters dilated. Holy crap! I was only 4 when I went to sleep; most awesome labor ever. Since my epidural was still slightly more focused on the right side, they didn’t make me change positions (I was lying on my left side) so I returned to my glorious slumber.
A phone call from Mom and Dad woke us around 7 am to tell us that they were on their way. I shared my progress with them and assured them that we’d keep them posted on any updates. The conversation was short but long enough for me to discover that my stomach was very upset. Nausea was a possible side effect of the epidural I’d been warned about.
James’ Dad was our first official visitor; he stopped by on his way to work. We visited a bit and my stomach was getting more and more upset. I remember thinking that I didn’t want to make Eddie uncomfortable by vomiting and then knowing that I didn’t care anymore as I puked into my bedpan.
A short while later, Anissa showed up with Radio Raheem (a giant boom box from the ‘80s that James inherited from Doug) and a camera charged and ready to go. We all sat around talking for awhile and my nausea kept worsening. Anissa was so excited for us and I just couldn’t share that feeling with her at the time. I tried to focus on the conversations going on and had real trouble doing so. I kept almost passing out right before I’d puke some more. Finally, Carolyn (my main nurse) offered me something for the nausea, which I gladly accepted straight through my central IV. Within minutes I was drifting back off to sleep. I think I heard James quietly usher everyone out of the room so I could rest. He’s a good, good man. I am pleased to say that the nausea was the most difficult part of my labor and delivery.
The next time I was woken up the nurse checked me and told me I was fully dilated and ready to push! James went out to the waiting room to tell Anissa and his mom (Sally had shown up while I was sleeping and didn’t even get to come into the room before delivery began). He came back and put in a Martin Sexton CD (my favorite) and soon Raheem was singing his lullabies.
The nurses, Carolyn and Tiffani, started preparing the room, bringing in the stirrups and a table of “goodies” set beyond the foot of the bed. Carolyn was training Tiffani as it was her first delivery assist. I found the training fascinating and found myself asking questions and contributing to the session.; after a while, Carolyn started addressing both Tiffani and myself like we were both her students. I learned a lot that morning, from how to install and adjust the stirrups on the bed to how to change the paper in the monitoring machine. Carolyn apologized a few times when the questions or discussions turned to less than ideal situations/things that can go wrong, telling me that they don’t discuss these things in front of a mother in labor. I encouraged them on; I loved learning and hearing the stories first hand. By the end, I was confident that I could competently assist in a delivery myself, but then again I was on drugs. I retained none of the knowledge I’d gained after my delivery. I truly enjoyed my time with Carolyn and Tiffani; I felt we were like family by the end of the morning.
Once I was positioned (it took some help as my right leg was dead weight!), Carolyn would tell me when to push by watching my contractions on the monitoring machine beside the bed. Tiffani and James were holding my legs back and Tiffani was counting to 10 to help me focus on how long to push. My epidural was perfect. I really couldn’t feel my contractions at all, but by holding my hands on my belly I could tell when they were happening as my stomach would grow hard and tighten. Eventually, I took over for Carolyn telling them when it was time to push. Between the contractions we were all talking and laughing and having a great time. No kidding. A contraction would come and we’d get down to business, it would pass and we’d pick up the conversation where we left off. Carolyn kept warning Tiffani that in her 30+ years in labor and delivery she’d never had a delivery go so smoothly for the mother. I could feel James beaming at me with pride.
Soon, James took over the counting. He’d look right into my eyes and slowly count to 10. There was so much love in his eyes; I hope never to forget the way he saw me in those moments.
Carolyn had offered me a mirror to watch and I surprised myself by taking her up on the offer. I am so glad I did. It is the most amazing thing. Seeing the top of the baby’s head, dark hair and all, was so motivating! I couldn’t wait to meet her! It was incredible to watch her come out a little more with each push, then retreat back some. Things were going so much quicker than expected so Carolyn asked if I could wait through a few contractions and not push (the midwife was tied up delivering a baby a few rooms down). Even without pushing you could see when the contractions were happening as the baby kept advancing. She was ready to join us!
Around this time the room got very busy. They could tell by my broken waters that there was meconium present (the baby had a bowel movement in the womb) which can be potentially dangerous to the baby, so an entire team of Pediatricians were present to whisk her away the minute she came out. The midwife showed up with an entourage of people with her, as well. At this point, I cared very little about my modesty. I was in my own little bubble with my husband, my baby, and my two new supportive friends, Carolyn and Tiffani. A few more good pushes and the baby’s head came out, followed by the rest of her body. It is the only time in my life I have ever felt the word “Plop”. I looked to James and saw my expression mirrored on his face: our mouths hanging open, eyes glowing, and giggles on our lips. The love in that moment was unabashed, silly, and beautiful.
The Pediatricians took the baby and work began on Mommy. James went out to the waiting room to tell Anissa and Sally that he had a daughter while I drank 2 full pitchers of water, followed by a sprite. Tiffani was kind enough to get me some graham crackers as I hadn’t eaten for 17 hours. They called in a surgeon to assist in stitching me up; there was some extensive tearing that took 2 hours to fix. (Which means Sally and Anissa had to wait an excruciating 2 hours before being allowed into the room after James shared the news). Carolyn forgot to move the mirror away and was appalled; she wouldn’t stop apologizing. I just chose not to look at it (I quit looking as soon as the baby came out; Just Say No to Placenta!).
Partway into the fixing of my mommy-parts, someone handed me my baby. She was so beautiful…I looked up at James and he told me to tell her her name. Sofia Grace Peach. All of her hospital bracelets and paperwork say “Baby Girl Peach” since we shared her name with no one before her. I greedily soaked her in for some time before passing her off to James. My heart melted as I watched him look down at her so gently and talk to her ever so softly. She gazed right back into his face. She knew her Daddy, no doubt about it. It was a very special moment between just the two of them that I was blessed enough to witness.
Carolyn helped me position us for our first nursing session; Sofia was a natural with good instincts and a very solid suck. It felt so good to have her nestled into my chest, so natural, so right.
Welcome to the world, little one. I’m so glad you’re finally here.