It was the longest of labors, it was the shortest of labors...
Wednesday, June 17th:
I was busy stalking two other pregnant friends who were in a race to the finish with me, and were now in labor. I kept checking their status online, and thought, "Huh...how funny...all this reading about labor is making me think I can almost feel contractions. No...wait...I DO feel contractions!" I found it interesting that instead of just being dull "practicy" ones, they actually caught my attention. A couple more happened that evening, which put me in excited mode. I let Garfield know he should probably plan to not work the next day.
3 a.m.: Woke up to more contractions, couldn't fall back asleep, figured this was it.
6 a.m.: Fell back to sleep after contractions puttered out. Woke up late the morning of the 18th quite confused, as the contractions seemed weaker and farther apart. Felt guilty for asking hubby to stay home for nothing.
Thursday, June 18th:
Weird day. How do you keep on functioning like nothing's going on when you're having random contractions all day? They were quite sporadic, and not lasting very long, so I still wasn't sure I was even in early labor. That's how very unconvincing these contractions were. I called my Dad, who lives 30 minutes away, and let him know that he may want to plan to spend the night since he might be getting a middle-of-the-night call. I did some napping, played with the kids, made dinner, ate dinner, prepped kids that they might wake up to find us at the hospital, took last family picture of 5 "just in case"...
10 p.m.: Dad arrived. I had just laid down on the couch with a notebook, curious to time these suckers and see if they had any rhyme or reason to them. They were 15-19 minutes apart, lasting about 45 seconds. No biggie. I don't like to leave for the hospital until they're about 4-5 minutes apart, 60 seconds long. We've got time.
11:30 p.m.: Garfield and I headed upstairs to "get some sleep in case we have to leave in the morning". Yeah. That worked. For about 2 seconds. Now the contractions were suddenly about 5-8 minutes apart. We threw some more things into our half-packed bags.
Friday, June 19th:
Midnight: No sooner had we climbed into bed when the contractions started flying at me much closer together. It's ok. I still have a handle on them. They're manageable, but I definitely know this is labor by now. Sorry, Honey, you can't fall asleep after all.
1 a.m.: First contraction to get away from me (read: I snap at poor hubby that he'd better kick up his coaching into high gear, or else...). Are these seriously just 2-3 minutes apart? What the heck is going on? I'm usually the world's slowest laborer! I call the doctor's phone service to let them know we'd be coming in. They assure me that if I know I'm in labor, I just need to show up, and congratulate me on the impending birth. They probably laughed a maniacal laugh at their cruel joke after hanging up with me.
1 a.m-2a.m.: Fastest hour ever to pass, as we desperately try to grab the last few things from the checklist between suddenly killer contractions. There's not even enough time between them to go to the bathroom. An experience I don't recommend. Garfield's grabbing his coffee, I give a quick thought to putting on a bit of makeup for the pictures. Immediately scratch that idea.
2 a.m.: Rush out the door in a mad panic, barely taking the time to let Dad know we were leaving. Pray out loud, desperately, that the Lord would let this baby slow down long enough to let us make it in time. Climb in van, trying not to think about how in the world I could already be feeling an urge to push.
Our traditional "heading to the hospital" shot, taken in a frantic rush. Note the fear in my eyes.
2:10 a.m.: Calmly ask Garfield if he could please drive just a wee bit faster. My teeth were chattering (it's 100 degrees outside), so he turns down the a/c. I don't tell him that it's because I'm in transition, lest he become as panicked as I was.
2:15 a.m.: We wait at an interminable red light, through an excruciating contraction. Why on earth we didn't run the light is beyond me. Middle of the night, and in labor. Doesn't that give you the right to violate traffic laws?!?
2:20 a.m.: Arrive at hospital, but can't make it to the door without stopping for a contraction. Door is LOCKED. Are you kidding me?!? Fighting tears as the security guard comes to let us in, and has the nerve to hold us up by asking for hubby's id. Listen, Mister. Unless you know how to deliver a baby, you had BETTER speed this up. I am SO not naming the baby after you! I envision the headlines: "Baby born in hospital elevator, crazed mother strangles security guard".
2:30 a.m.: Arrive at the Labor & Delivery unit, just sure that this kid is going to fall out right onto the wheelchair. The bewildered nurses ask me if I called ahead. "Yes, and they told me there was no need to notify you directly, but I'm guessing they were wrong?" They exchange nervous glances.
I get into a room and tell my nurse that I either really need to pee, or I need to push, but this being my fourth baby, I'm guessing it's push. This apparently is a good way to avoid filling out all that paperwork during labor, by the way. She checks me, and I'm 7 cm dilated. I roll onto my right side, and less than five minutes later I'm 9 cm dilated. Did I mention that I'm usually the world's slowest laborer?!
My home away from home, a Northeast Baptist L&D room
The next few minutes were quite exciting. I now have five nurses helping us, and no doctor in sight. (My doc was out of town, so they were trying to get a hold of the doc on call.) I can tell that Shepherd's head was all but out. The water bag was the only thing holding him back. I keep begging for them to break my water, but they tell me that only the doctor is allowed to do that. Then where the heck is the stinkin' doctor?? The nurses accuse me of still having my sense of humor.
(Later, Garfield tells me that the nurses were whispering with concern about not being able to reach the doctor. Apparently his wife was also unaware of his whereabouts, and was not pleased about being woken up at 2:30 a.m. Garfield also told me later that a kind nurse had mercy on me, and might have "accidentally" snipped my water bag.)
The doctor didn't have time to make it to the scene, so the nurses got the excitement of delivering! Almost simultaneously with my water breaking, I can feel Shepherd's head emerge, and then his little slippery body just squirmed right out. That right there has got to be the best feeling in the world. It was 3 a.m., just half an hour after arriving in the hospital room, and only two hours after my first really difficult contraction. I was nursing my sweet baby before I'd even had time to process the fact that we'd left home.
Whew! A little too close for comfort, even for someone who likes to do most of her laboring at home. And so goes the story of Shepherd Landon Green's arrival.
All slicked up, and nowhere to go
Our little glow-worm