When we found out Walt’s due date, November 3 2012, I immediately hoped that he would make his appearance a bit earlier. I wanted a Halloween baby! Our first born just had to have a cool birthday. Since my plan was to go into labor naturally and continue to deliver him unmedicated, I knew that his coming on Halloween was most likely not going to happen.
I had a doctor’s appointment on Tuesday the 30th, and I was encouraged to hear that I was already 3.5 cm dilated and 80% effaced. Dr. Ross was pretty certain that we would meet our baby before the weekend. I wasn’t so sure. I hadn’t really felt significant contractions and he had not dropped at all. That night, we went out for some cheap Mexican food and I came home to take Heidi for a long walk. Exhausted and sore, I took a bath and called it a night.
Around 4:00 am, I awoke to some unfamiliar pains. I walked around our quiet house for a while, bounced on a birthing ball, climbed back into bed and finally woke up Kent. “Hey Kent, I’m pretty sure I’m in labor”. Reassuring him that I was timing the irregular contractions, he had plenty of time to have coffee, bacon, shower, pack and feed Heidi. Meanwhile, I was pacing, timing and freaking Heidi out. Contractions were coming on stronger and quicker. Between contractions, I felt it necessary to put on makeup and a half decent outfit… oh the crazy thoughts that dominated my mind.
On our way to the hospital, we sent texts to our family to let them know it was game time. I soaked in what that early morning looked like the whole way there. This was the ride I had been waiting on for 9 months. As I gripped the handle on the side of the car, I announced that I was going to be sick in about 10 seconds. We were in unusually heavy 6:30 am traffic, and in a left hand turning lane. The threat of being run over while in labor was not my dream scenario, but we made it unscathed to the hospital. After answering 3 million questions for the hospital administration, I was at 5 cm dilated and 100% effaced. “This is going to be quick,” I thought. We will meet our son very soon.
Tub. Shower. Bed. I desperately rotated between those 3 spots in an attempt to find a comfortable position. My dear friend Kamin has been on deck to photograph Walt’s birth before we were even expecting a child. Our friendship graduated to a place unknown after it was all over. I remember thinking that she and Kent were putting on brave and cheerful faces as labor became more intense, but their look of worry gave them away. In my preparation to give birth, I thought that the least amount of people and chatter in the room would help me the most. The idea of lots of nurses cheering me on would annoy me and cause me to lose focus. I wanted to experience natural childbirth and the stubborn part of me would do it all on my own, thank you very much. The surprising truth is that I thrived when I was being challenged and pushed to my limits. The cheers of my husband, nurses and Kamin were what kept me going.
Around noon, I had progressed to 8 cm but Walt still had not dropped. Dr. Ross’s sporadic visits were welcomed, but each time he left, I knew I still had a lot of work to do. Finally, around 4:00 pm, my water was broken and the intensity was unlike anything I’ve known. Noises were coming out of me that I had not heard before. In those loud moments, I would look to the door and hope that no one was walking by. By early evening, I announced I was ready to push. With each contraction, I pushed in groups of 3. 1 hard push, 1 even harder push and then 1 exhausted push. 3 slow moving hours went by with progress being made. With each need to push, I announced to the room, “Okay, I’m ready.”
As I looked to my right, with tired eyes and body, I saw Dr. Ross enter the room wearing a mask and gloves. With a handful of pushes, Walt was crowning. The doctor announced, “This baby has a lot of hair!” “This is a big baby!” I was filled with immediate relief that he was a big baby. “Ah, that has to be the reason it’s taken so long to push him out,” I thought. With one last push, my body unhinged itself and Walt came rushing out.
The pain had vanished; I was finally holding our child. I silently studied every inch of him, taking in every detail. Our Halloween baby was here and he was perfect. I looked at Kent, in complete shock and delight at what had just happened. We all took wagers on how much our big baby weighed. “I’d say 8 lbs, 1 oz,” said one nurse. Kent and I were hilariously surprised when he was in fact 8 lbs, 9 oz. While we prepared to introduce our family to Walt, our doctor laid hands upon our little one and prayed over our family.
The combination of adrenaline and the desire to snuggle with Walt made sleep nonexistent that night. Our little family had gained its newest member; this is what I was after all along.
All photos courtesy of the amazing Spark and Arrow