Even before I got pregnant, my biggest labor fear was that my water would break at work. I mean, how embarrassing, right?
Tuesday, January 12 was a normal day. I had lost my mucus plug a couple of days earlier, but when the doctor checked me at my weekly appointment the day before, he was unconcerned. There was no reason to think that I would be having my baby any sooner than my due date. I’d been feeling really gross since Sunday… like I couldn’t get clean, no matter how many showers I took. When I went to work on Tuesday, I noticed that every single person I ran into was commenting on how it wouldn’t be too long before I went into labor. I had 3 more childbirth classes to go, so my standard answer was “give me 3 more weeks, and I’ll be ready!”
Around 4pm, I went to eat my afternoon snack. As I was reaching up into my cabinet, I felt a gush. I had just gone to the bathroom, so I was sure I hadn’t peed myself, which I knew is common late in pregnancy. I was hoping that maybe it was just a big gush of the liquid-y discharge I’d been having for the past 2 days, so I went about my business….. and about 30 seconds later I had another gush. At this point, I was pretty sure my water had broken. At work. At the end of the day. I texted my mom to tell her, because she was the person who was going to pick me up if I went into labor at work. (my husband works 30 minutes in the opposite direction of the hospital.) I told her that I thought my water had broken, but I wasn’t feeling any contractions, and it was the end of the day, so I thought I’d just stick it out and I’d be fine to drive myself home. And then I had another gush. And another. And I ran into my boss’ office to tell her the news. She was on the phone and gave me an annoyed “can’t this wait?” look. I shook my head. She said “ you’re not in labor, are you?!” When I told her that I thought I was, she went into panic mode! She made me sit down, which was a total mistake, because then I couldn’t stand up! And because I couldn’t stand up, we had to call 911 for the paramedics to transport me to the hospital. As if my water breaking at work wasn’t humiliating enough, now I had to have the paramedics come wheel me out on a gurney!
Through it all, I was really calm! I still wasn’t feeling contractions, and I was making jokes and laughing at the absurdity of it all. The EMTs had a good sense of humor, too, which was good. Unfortunately, I work in a different county than the hospital I was supposed to deliver at, so they couldn’t take me there. The hospital they took me to was so packed in L&D that the only bed they had for me was in the recovery room. I was 3cm dilated and 80% effaced, at -2 station when they checked me. I begged and begged, and because I wasn’t having regular contractions, they let my husband drive me down to the hospital I was supposed to deliver at. By the time we got there (around 7pm) my contractions were 4 minutes apart, 60 seconds long, and all in my back. Still, I was calm. I was laughing at my husband as he broke the speed limit (something he RARELY does) and told him to slow down. We were close enough, and the baby was not going to be born in the car!
After we got to the hospital, everything became one big blur. I remember the 75 year old security guy outside of the ER yelling at Paul to park the car because the valet guys had gone home. I remember being wheeled up, roomed, and hooked up to the monitors before he found me. The contractions weren’t the worst pain I’d ever felt. Really, it felt like I had a bad stomach flu, but all of the pain was in my back. I was immediately hooked up to an IV, and they started an antibiotic drip. (Since I was only 34 weeks along, I hadn’t had time to get tested for Strep B.) People were in and out, and the contractions were getting worse. I wanted an epidural, but the anesthesiologist was running behind, and they were waiting on the results of some lab work they had done (I can’t remember what exactly it was.) The doctor suggested I get an injection of something that “wouldn’t take the pain away, but would make me care less about it.” I can’t remember the name of the drug, but it made me REALLY sleepy!
Finally, at what they tell me was around 8:30pm (but I can swear was more around 10), I was able to get my epidural. Honestly, that was the scariest part of the whole thing. There were no complications, and it went quickly and smoothly, but thinking about someone messing with drugs and needles around my spine freaked me out. After it was in, though, I felt like a new person. I was trying to keep people updated on what was going on by texting, and my husband thought it was the funniest thing! I’m pretty sure we have some video of him making fun of me for Hannah to laugh at later on. (Or roll her eyes at. We’ll see how she turns out.)
Before long, it was time to push. I couldn’t feel my contractions AT ALL, so they had to turn my epidural way down…. And really, I still couldn’t feel much. I did about 12 practice pushes and 12 real pushes, and she was out! (Thank goodness! I have no idea how women push for hours!) When the Dr pulled her out, I couldn’t believe it was real. It felt like I was watching it on TV or something.
They took her away from me as soon as she was born, because they were concerned about her breathing, since she was a preemie. While the doctor “did his thing” I watched the nurses work on my daughter. She was so tiny at 4 lbs, 11oz! As I listened to her cry, all I could think was “my poor baby! She must be so scared!”
And then my favorite moment of the entire night happened. Hannah was crying, and Paul walked over to see her. The neonatologist said “you can touch her,” and as soon as he did, she fell silent. Even brand new, she was able to tell the touch of her Daddy apart from the touches of all of the doctors and nurses around her. That’s when I cried.
She was breathing on her own, but not well. I was able to hold her, but only for a minute. Our family was allowed to come in and see her for about 30 seconds before they rushed her away to the NICU, which would become her home for the first week of her life.