When the nurse looked at me and told me I was simply dehydrated and could go home, I thought to myself, “I better stay so they can cut this thing out of me because if this is not labor, I don’t want to know what is!
In celebration of my little man’s birthday and to kick off a new weekly series called, Sh*t My Kids Say,” I wanted to share his arrival story with all of you because he certainly made an entrance (as did both our children) and continues to keep us on our toes and laughing our way through parenting…most of the time.
Earlier that day, I had gone to work like any other day (in heels nonetheless because if I wore flats my feet swelled up like little sausages). I was 38 weeks pregnant.
We had wrapped up our birthing classes a few weeks before, where I joyfully exclaimed to everyone in our group that my birth plan included getting to the hospital several days prior to the delivery so I could have a drip of anything that would numb me from the waist down. I didn’t want to feel a thing.
Pushing a human out of my lady bits wasn’t exactly something that had been high on my list of priorities up until that point and considering my girlfriends who had children were brutally honest about what actually happens in the delivery room, I had a healthy dose of fear. No detail was spared in those conversations. I knew I loved this little human growing inside me and was completely fascinated by hard kicks during boardroom meetings, dancing while listening to music, and seeing how the shape of my belly changed each time the baby shifted, but I was not looking forward to the process of getting him from point A to point B.
I had already prepared my team at work for my maternity leave, taking them through goals and tasks to complete each week I would be gone, but was still interviewing candidates for the temp position I needed to fill to help them out during that time.
I had another candidate coming in that afternoon to interview.
We had a team lunch planned for one of our colleagues that was leaving the company so I knew if we left early enough, I would have plenty of time to get back, get some work done, and do the interview.
I had just ordered when it happened.
I was talking with one of my coworkers and something took my breath away. I sat for a minute, wondering if that was a contraction or if it was my body playing tricks on me. There were about 20 people at lunch that day and we had a new server, so our order took longer than normal.
About 20 minutes later, I felt the same thing.
As our food arrived, I looked at the burrito taking up residence on my lunch plate, quickly recalling all the delivery room stories I had heard about pushing. If these were indeed contractions, there was no way I was eating that.
The thought of the burrito ending up on the delivery room table absolutely mortified me.
So, I went with chips and salsa just to be safe.
As we wrapped up lunch, I felt it another time. And again, on the off chance this was it, I asked for the receipt because being my first born, I kept everything in a lovely baby book. My apologies to my second born, I tried.
About an hour after lunch, my interview arrived and I can’t tell you a single thing we talked about during her interview. Not one.
The pain I had felt at lunch had progressed. I kept looking at my watch all while trying to conduct this interview.
5 minutes. FIVE MINUTES.
I stopped her mid-sentence and simply said, “that’s lovely. I need to go now. I think I’m having a baby.”
The look on her face is the only thing I do remember from that interview. Her jaw hit the floor and she stood there in disbelief.
I gathered my belongings and as I walked out, I stopped by our Associate Publisher’s office and proclaimed, “I think I am having a baby. Tell her she’s got the job!”
I left and headed towards home. I called my husband on the drive and told him to meet me at our place. I will never forget his initial reaction,”are you sure? Happy hour just started.”
I will leave out the expletives that followed his sentiments. It worked. He left.
When he finally got home, we sat there timing everything just as we had learned in class a few weeks prior. We finally looked at one another and said, “we better go in.”
As we drove, we were convinced this was it and quickly texted all our friends and family.
When we arrived, we calmly checked in and were directed towards the Labor & Delivery area so they could monitor the situation. Our nurse was Stephanie.
Stephanie explained to us that it was nearly time for her to go and how excited she was because she was going away for the long holiday weekend. She hooked me up to the monitors and started poking around at me like I was a science experiment.
I was told by friends that once you are ready to give birth, so many people have seen your vagina you simply stop caring or noticing. It’s true.
At one point Stephanie starts poking around and says, “I can’t feel your cervix. Your bone or the head or something is in the way!” I had never given birth so I had no idea. All I knew was that whatever was happening hurt and I didn’t like it.
She monitored me for a few more minutes, told me I was dehydrated, and sent me home. As we were getting ready to leave, she was quickly packing up and ready to get her weekend started so another nurse came to take out my IV. I was in pain and crying by this point, completely perplexed how this was not labor and how a trained professional couldn’t feel my cervix.
As we drove home, we were both in a bit of shock. I texted everyone back, “false alarm.”
We had moved to Nashville about 6 months before and were coming into the spring/summer, which was also tornado season. The sky had darkened while we were at the hospital and a storm was headed our way.
On the drive home, I remember being in so much pain I kept grabbing the handlebar of the passenger door, closing my eyes, and breathing through it. When we finally got home, I got out of the car and sat there on my hands and knees in our driveway, doubled over in pain.
How the hell is this not labor? I yelled at my husband.
We were both equally confused.
I managed to crawl my way into the house and within minutes, was vomiting on the living room floor. As he cleaned, I went upstairs and put on my pajamas. I figured I would just breathe my way through the night and it would all be fine by morning if I could just get a good night sleep.
Now, another part of my birth plan that should be known at this point, was that under no circumstance would I go in wearing a nightgown, no make-up, and looking disheveled. That just simply wouldn’t be the case. I wanted to be pretty when I met this little human.
But since I “wasn’t in labor” I proceeded to put on pajamas and wash my face.
During the process of doing so, I felt pain like nothing I have felt before. Over and over again. Minutes apart. As soon as I would stand up to catch my breath, it would happen all over again. I didn’t know what was happening. I just assumed, as we were told, it wasn’t labor.
I alternated between washing my face and laying on the floor, curled up in a ball or rocking back and forth on all fours.
This isn’t labor? Dear Jesus and all things holy, if this isn’t labor what the fuck is???
This went on for another hour. Rocking back and forth, curling up, breathing. At one point as I was rocking back and forth, I noticed blood.
I called out for my husband and we decided that we didn’t care what the nurse said. I was bleeding and there was a baby inside me. We are going back!
By this point, the storm had picked up and we were in the middle of a tornado warning. Our regular route to the hospital was blocked by the trees that had been knocked over in the storm. At one point, we even drove underneath one that had fallen across the road, just barely getting by.
We finally made it to the hospital. This arrival was a bit of a different scene than the previous.
A few hours earlier, I had calmly said, “five minutes apart.”
This time, I could hardly walk and was hunched over in pain.
The nurse who had helped me with my IV just an hour earlier recognized us and quickly brought me back to assess the situation.
It all happened so fast.
She quickly had me in a gown without missing a beat and had someone else in the room within minutes to get my husband into hospital blues.
I sat there wondering what was going on. She looked at me and said, “you are at a 9.”
I thought, WAIT!!! I was just told an hour ago from the other nurse that I was just dehydrated and now you are telling me I am at 9?!?
I quickly remembered from birthing class that a 7 is the point of no return. Seven. At seven you can kiss that glorious epidural goodbye. And I was at a NINE?
I was having no part of that nonsense.
By this point a team of 3 nurses were wheeling me into the elevator with my husband barely dressed, rushing beside them.
“Epidural” I said without missing a beat. I looked straight at the nurse, grabbed her by the wrist and exclaimed, “EPIDURAL.” And kept repeating it over and over.
Epidural. Epidural. Epidural.
She tried to tell me this baby was coming and there was no time. Little did she know I spent my days negotiating my way through media schedules and publicity tours – I would find a way.
When we arrived at the delivery room to what seemed like a viewing party, I looked at the doctor as he came to introduce himself, interrupted him, and quickly said, “Nice to meet you. I am going to need that epidural now.”
He tried to explain the same – there was no time. So I demanded to talk with the anesthesiologist.
When he arrived and explained the baby was coming in less time than it would take to get the needle in my back, I quickly countered with, “I will hold it in.”
It was at this point, after watching three failed negotiation attempts, that my husband interjected. Loudly.
“Jenn, you are not getting an epidural.” (It was like an Exorcist moment).
I realized this negotiation was not going in my favor.
During my failed attempts, there were moments of breathing and IV’s and conversations – most of which is a complete blur.
It was time to push.
Our son arrived shortly after. (I will spare you the horrid details).
From the time we arrived to when he was born, 54 minutes passed.
The doctors would go on to do a D&C in the delivery room for some placenta that enjoyed residing in my uterus so much it decided to stay. I still didn’t get drugs. That was super fun.
And while it was crazy, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I had certainly never planned to give birth naturally and certainly not without makeup – but welcome to motherhood. I no longer got to decide those things. Timing and schedules were a thing of the past.
My baby boy was placed on my chest and we sat there for hours. Snuggling. He continues to snuggle with me, seven years later. And while he tells me he will always be my snuggle bug something tells me teenage years will quickly change those sentiments.
A great reminder to cherish every moment, they really do go by so quickly.
PS – I got the epidural with our second child. It was GLORIOUS.