mild and erratic contractions began as wes was getting ready to head to work on sunday afternoon. my plan was to head to my parents house for dinner and a swim. and after an hour in the pool the contractions seemed to subside, but i still felt like her arrival was near. i had a nice dinner with my parents, and mild contractions kicked back in as i drove home for the evening.
wes arrived home from work around midnight and at one in the morning on july twenty-ninth, we were getting into bed for the night. not five minutes after we settled in, i experienced a small gush of liquid and said to my husband, “wes, i’m not sure, but i think my water just broke.” this is my first pregnancy and i definitely was not sure if it was my water breaking but my heart told me it was. we were running on little to no sleep so we decided to try to sleep a bit and if contractions continued, we would head to the hospital.
around five-thirty in the morning on the twenty-ninth, i decided it was time to head in. we showered, ate, packed and drove the seven minutes to the hospital we were delivering at. we checked in, and just as i had doubted myself, the hospital staff doubted whether my water had broken. they ran a test which came back negative, but i still felt like this was the real deal. after a call to my doctor (who also happens to be my brother’s future mother-in-law) and an ultrasound from the on call doctor, it was determined that indeed my fluids were non existent and it was time to admit and induce me. even in these moments when everyone was saying we were having a baby today, i still knew she wouldn’t be here till tuesday.
like any new mom, labor made me nervous. how bad would the pain be? what would pushing be like? what damage was i about to endure to my body and mental health. but even more than that, i wondered, would i connect to my baby. i have never been a baby person. i love children and have always wanted a little army of my own, but babies have always made me nervous. all the horror stories of sleep depravation and fussy babies didn’t help. i was prepared for six months of hell coming my way. this was just the next step in a long line of discomforts to getting to the fun parts of having my child.
things started slowly. for hours, i experienced mild, randomly spaced contractions. my mom showed up, my brother called and we decided he would come with playing cards so we could pass the time. but around two in the afternoon, they kicked up the inducing drugs and within a half hour, my contractions were insanely intense and coming every two minutes. i went from feeling like i had a handle on things to experiencing the worst pain in my life. i was inconsolable. i was BEGGING for an epidural. i was only one centimeter dilated and i had to get to three before they would give me the good stuff. the next two hours were the most intense i’ve ever experienced. breathing, moving, stretching, walking, laying did nothing. i thought about all my hero girlfriends and my own mother who had natural child births and i couldn’t fathom their strength. then, like most of my pregnancy, the puking set in. and the uncontrollable full body labor shakes. my brother showed up with playing cards and realized, no games would be happening today. everyone around me looked WORRIED. i just couldn’t comprehend how much pain i was in and how long i still had to go.
close to five in the evening, my doctor arrived and informed me that i had made it to the goal. three centimeters had been achieved and i could have the epidural. only to be informed by the nurse that the anesthesiologist was in an emergency c-section and was unavailable for another hour. PANIC rushed over me. i begged for more iv drugs and for the next hour i was in a haze of half asleep torture. when the good drug doctor finally arrived to give me the epidural i was barely coherent. he was talking to me and instructing me and all i could say to him was “i’m sorry doctor, i am usually much more engaging, but i’m a bit of a mess at the moment.” not three minutes after i was hooked up i was relieved of the pain. joy rushed over me. the numbness was amazing and i was so happy i had decided to get the drugs. normally, i avoid medication at all costs, but on this day i was so grateful for modern medicine.
the next hours were an insane shift in mood. i was euphoric. friends and family came to visit me. i got to sleep for HOURS as my body worked to move from three centimeters to ten centimeters. the night nurse took over and i instantly connected to this beautiful soul. carla was a former swimmer with great energy and humor and she made me feel like i was in the best possible hands. each hour, as we inched closer to tuesday i knew the finish line was coming. still, the idea of pushing was making me really nervous.
around two in the morning on tuesday the thirtieth, the date i had dreamed of, it was go time. my mom and dad had arrived back at the hospital. my mom was there to be part of the delivery team and my dad who had originally planned to be in the waiting room was instead hiding behind a curtain in our very large room. present, but not wanting to see his own baby in pain. wes was perfectly calm and supportive. my music playlist (appropriately titled new baby tuesday) i had prepped for months of all the songs i wanted her to know and love was playing in the background. the lights were dim and everyone was calm but excited.
i was as scared as i had been, but as soon as we started pushing, i felt relief. the end was near and pushing was an amazing reduction in tension and pressure. carla was the greatest cheerleader. she cracked me up making swim references. “one more set” she kept encouraging. my overachiever self was extremely motivated to get this done quickly. after twenty minutes of pushing they made me take a break so my doctor could come join us. thirty minutes later, they could see her head and the end was near.
at three am on the dot, they pulled her from my body and set her on my chest. my fears that i wouldn’t connect evaporated as she immediately opened her eyes and locked onto mine. she grabbed both my hands with a death grip i had not expected and looked at me like she knew me a lifetime. like she had been waiting for this moment just as long as i had. wes cried with joy. i stared at her in wonder. my body immediately felt a relief i had been craving since my sixth week of pregnancy. after six months of waffling on what her name would be, we settled on sage. a name that for us embodied so many meanings. a beautiful color, a gorgeous scent, something we loved to cook with and even more than that, someone who is wise and knowing. her middle name is evelyn after my grandmother who passed away in january, just weeks after learning of her first biological great grand child and my own mother’s middle name. there was so much joy. the nurses cheered at her good health. my parents beamed. so many beautiful pictures of the moments after her birth were snapped. everyone oohed and awed over her alertness and beauty.