I’m sure I’m like every other mother when I say that my favorite part about celebrating my kids’ birthdays is reminiscing about the birth. Like the kids themselves, each birth experience was totally different, an event that will remain among the top 10 best moments of my life.
Part of that may be because of the huge relief of finally getting them OUT OF MY BODY, but you know, there’s all the sentimental reasons as well.
So there we were, already into our 39th week with Matthew. My doctor had originally assured me that he would have me induced in the 38th week, but the hospital was too full of women who were high-risk pregnancies taking up beds in Labor & Delivery. I was sick – sick of being pregnant and sick with a sinus infection. I was so pregnant I couldn’t sleep because I couldn’t get comfortable, then on top of that, I couldn’t breathe. So on Sept. 2nd, when I went in for my weekly check up, I BEGGED my doctor to induce me. He told me I was already at 3cm and he was going to try telling them I was in labor, but that it might not matter. He told me I could opt for a different hospital, but that was a last resort in my mind. So he went to make a phone call and sent us to make our appointment for the following week, just in case.
I remember this next moment so vividly. He was walking toward me, coming down the long hallway that led to the check out desk when he called my name and said “You’re in.” If I could have, I would’ve leapt into that man’s arms and kissed him on the lips. But I was, you know, VERY pregnant, so I just thanked him profusely. He tried to warn me that things could change overnight and that the hospital would call us early in the morning to let us know if they still had room for me.
The next morning, my hopes were dashed when I got the call that said they did NOT have a bed.
We had set our alarms for some ridiculous time like 5:30am, I think, and I was up before that because I was so excited and couldn’t sleep anyway. Brad & I were both showered and dressed when the phone rang and a very nice nurse said they couldn’t take me yet, but to continue to fast until they called with a final yes or no.
Fasting included not even drinking water after Midnight, and with my sinus infection, I was absolutely miserable. Brad went back to sleep and I dozed a little but everything changed when the phone rang at 8:30AM and the voice on the other end said “Mrs. Just? How would you like to come have a baby today?” Then she asked how quickly we could get to the hospital.
I told her 15 minutes but forgot about rush hour. It was the longest drive of my life. When we got there, though, things moved pretty fast. They got us to our room, we met our L&D nurse, filled out the paperwork and were informed when she checked me that I was closer to 4cm dilated , which meant I was probably already in labor.
We told her about Peter – how I went from being 1 cm dilated to 5 and then 10 in a matter of about 30 minutes (it was no more than 10 min from the time the doctor checked and I was 5cm to the next check, when I was 10). The nurse was glad I told her so she would be alert and watching, and sure enough, after the doctor broke my water and I had my epidural, it only took about half an hour for me to be complete and ready to push.
In fact, one of my favorite memories from that day was when the nurse told me it was time to push. She started breaking down the bed, calling in the delivery team, including the NICU team because the doctor saw meconium when he broke my water, then she decided we were going to do a practice push just to make sure I was really ready to deliver. She had Brad get on one side and she was on the other. She told me to take a cleansing breath, then just before I started to push, she said “DON’T PUSH!”. She ran to the call button and said to the nurse that answered “Call Dr. Powers and tell him we need him STAT.” Brad and I were worried something was wrong and kept trying to ask but she was busy. Finally she looked at us with a puzzled look and said “The baby is here” (like we should have guessed that). “He’s crowning!” The room became a crazy-busy place full of people talking and laughing and working and before I knew it, Dr. Powers was there in his purple gloves telling me to push – then stop – push a little more – then stop – and voila! There was Matthew!!!!
They took him to the NICU bed and suctioned him out while I lay there staring at him, crying when I finally heard him cry the first time. All those months of worrying, all those weeks of preparing, and finally, there he was.
There were a few rough moments afterward, when his breathing wasn’t as regular as the nurse wanted it to be. She took him on to the nursery, so they could monitor him, instead of giving us the first hour with him in our room, but that was fine. He was okay and by that evening, we had him with us in the room, showing him off to anyone who would look.
Of course, bringing him home and adjusting to life with a 2-year-old and a newborn was a completely different experience, but I’ll save that for another blog post. Looking back, it’s been 9 years of challenges and love and treasured moments and happiness – and I wouldn’t trade a single one of them.
Happy Birthday, Matthew!!!