Having the Baby
Finally, one morning I woke at about 3:00, feeling something akin to strong menstrual cramps. I was about to wake Allan, but they subsided and I fell back to sleep. When I got up in the morning, I felt fine, and we made a last-minute dash to the store to buy lollipops in case my labor outlasted my stamina. I ate a larger lunch than I should have, because within an hour, I started having contractions. At first they were tolerable and Allan faithfully timed the intervals. But suddenly a wave of intense nausea overcame me, and a strong downward pressure in my bowels told me that something was really happening. When I called my doctor and described what I felt, she said to get to the hospital right away.
Thankfully, our hospital was only a 10-minute drive from home. I was in a lot of distress and afraid of throwing up or having my water break all over the car. Happily, the towel under my seat and the plastic bag on my lap went unused. Sadly, by the time we were ensconced in one of the prelabor rooms, I realized that I wasn't going to make it on my own. I started shaking uncontrollably -- the worst convulsive shiver imaginable -- and the contractions were coming faster than I could handle with the breathing we'd practiced. The pain was like an ever-tightening vise wrapped around my entire lower torso, so sharp and consuming that it was all I could do to wait once I told the nurse that I needed an epidural now.
After what seemed like an eternity, we were moved to a labor and delivery room, and the anesthesiologist came to administer the epidural. That was somewhat painful and scary, but Allan was right beside me, offering comfort and reassurance. Once the epidural took effect, I could finally relax and enjoy my music, which of everything we brought along, was the only thing we actually used. Even the unending procession of staff entering the room commented on the beautiful music.
Of course, I was now entangled with the epidural, an IV, a heart monitor for the baby, a catheter, and who knows what else, but I was happy to be relieved of the pain. I'd read that epidurals slow down your labor, but by 9:00 that evening, just a few hours after we'd arrived at the hospital, the doctor told me it was time to start pushing. Because of the epidural, I had almost no sensation in the nether regions of my body, so I just made the motions of pushing and hoped that it was effective. The doctor did use a vacuum extractor to help things along, but she then instructed me to reach down and ease the baby the rest of the way out. The sensation of the slippery, tiny being in my hands was terrifying, but once we lifted the baby onto my chest, I knew I'd done it. With Allan cheering me on, I'd gone to the other side of that fear. I was now one of those millions of women, and Allan was as proud as could be. Our son, Jeremy, was born.