As with every other pregnancy, I began counting down the days until the due date around week 37. Those final weeks are brutal on my body, and although I realize most women feel the same, I just can't help wanting to try all the crazy forms of inducing early labor. You name it; I've probably done it. However, I was determined not to drink half a bottle of castor oil or eat an entire pineapple or drink gallons of raspberry tea this time because I wanted to see if it was possible for my body to go into labor alone.
Well, the answer is yes.
Felicity's birth story is absolutely unreal to me. If I hadn't lived it, I wouldn't believe it. It's been five days, and I'm still trying to wrap my head around everything that went down that night.
Around 6:30 on Tuesday evening, I began feeling cramps. I was working upstairs and had been having cramps on and off for days so I brushed the uncomfortable feelings aside and continued editing. Ten minutes later, the cramps grew worse so I mentioned to Tim that I thought it would be a good idea to get the kids in bed and call our neighbor to come watch them. For twenty minutes we read and sang to the girls so as not to disrupt our normal routine, and I felt the air literally go out of me in the middle of the third verse of "Teach Me to Walk in the Light." The air never returned. I kissed the girls and let Tim finish putting them to bed. I quickly ran downstairs and sat in the bathroom holding my stomach and hitting my legs so I wouldn't scream. I really didn't want to scare the girls. They get really freaked out about well...everything so I thought it best to keep things to myself.
Our neighbor was in the shower so her husband said she'd be over in a minute. Apparently when Tim went across the street to ask for help, he didn't really give them any sense of urgency (my husband...always the calm one) so she didn't come for another 20 minutes. I felt my water start leaking, which had never happened in any of my other pregnancies, and I told Tim that if she didn't come in another minute, we would have to find someone else because I could feel the baby coming, and we still had a 25-minute drive to the hospital. Once she arrived, I hobbled to the car while Tim gave her minimal instructions and told her we'd call later.
I hadn't really considered the cramps to be contractions, but once we were in the car I realized there was a pattern to the cramps and began timing them. They were coming fast--every 45 seconds to a minute. During each contraction, I'd hit the door and yell, "Damn...damn...damn...damn." (I had to keep it clean for Tim ;)). As mentioned in an earlier post about Texas, Texans drive really slow--at least the Texans who live close to the Oklahoma border. My goodness. We were stuck behind a really slow Camaro driving 65 mph in a 75 mph zone, and yet we couldn't get around him in the slow lane because the slow lane was full of drivers going even slower, if you can imagine it. Let's just say I wasn't so clean with the language in my head towards the drivers that night...if you catch my drift.
When we finally arrived at the hospital, I felt so much pressure that I really thought I'd have the baby right there in the hospital entrance, but thankfully a nurse was just arriving at the hospital, and she wheeled me up to the third floor, only banging me once into the elevator door. She apologized profusely, and I finally looked at her and said blankly, "Listen, I'm having a lot more pain in other regions of my body, I really wouldn't worry about it." All the delivery rooms were full so I was taken to an observation room where at first observation, the nurse realized the head was already coming so yeah, I really needed one of those occupied delivery rooms. They set up a make-shift room and phoned my doctor while I quickly undressed with the help of a new nurse with a thick accent. I honestly couldn't breathe at this point, and my body was on fire so she kept reminding me to breathe along with her...you know..."Hee, hee, hooooo.....hee, hee, hooooo." I did the best I could, but it was a lot harder than the movies make it seem because while I sat trying to concentrate on my breathing all the other nurses were trying to poke or prod me in one way or another, and my body was on fire. I kept begging for wet rags, and finally they conceded. Tim had arrived from parking the car, and he ran down the hall and grabbed me ice chips and dutifully held one of my hands while placing ice chip after ice chip on my tongue. I was so hot!
One nurse tried to put an IV in my left arm, and I just looked at her and said, "Um...not during a contraction." Hello?! So she waited for about five seconds before poking my arm and missing my vein so badly that Carmen, the nurse with the accent, just said, "I think she's going to have this baby without an IV." Bless you Carmen. Bless you. I kept looking at Tim, and he kept staring down at my legs. And just like that...my water burst. Whoa...I had also never experienced that. And all I have to say is whoa, that was crazy.
My doctor had barely walked in the door, and the nurses were tying up his gown when I yelled, "She's coming. I'm pushing. MY BODY IS PUSHING!" He slipped on his gloves just in time to grab her head and ask me to push one final time. Holy hell, it was painful. It was so painful. I screamed in a way I didn't know I could scream--in such a high pitch cheerleader kind of way, and if you know me, you know I am no cheerleader.
Eighteen minutes after I entered the hospital, Felicity Birdie Bea was born at 8:29pm. The moment she was out of my body, I felt sweet relief. The relief left as soon as I realized I tore and would need stitches, but my body calmed down quickly. It was the most amazing feeling I had ever experienced. I'd do it again that way if I knew it was always going to be just 18 minutes. I have no idea how some women labor for hours without pain medication. Awful. Just awful.
With my body calm, it instantly began to shake because it was cold so I started begging for warm blankets. The nurses looked at me like I was crazy. One minute she's screaming for wet rags, the next she's asking for blankets. I'm sure that's what they were thinking, but they were kind, and they brought me several warm blankets. I sat there taking everything in and looked to my left where the nurses were huddled over my brand new baby girl. And just like I have with my other girls, I began to get emotional as I watched them clean her skin and wrap her in a blanket. That is my favorite moment after delivery. I know the room was loud and full of people, but it seemed so quiet to me. It was just me and Felicity, just as it had been for the previous nine months. I couldn't wait to hold her and kiss her sweet face, which I did about a hundred times that night.
That's the story of how Felicity came to be. To this day, I feel a deep sense of gratitude for Tim, our neighbors, Carmen and the other nurses who helped me that night. It was so crazy and fast that I literally couldn't have done it without them.