At around 1 am I woke up with the worst gas in the world. As this gas started to ebb and flow at regular intervals, I realized, “Oh, what that one teacher told me is true. Contractions really do feel like gas. Hunh.” This was actually somewhat of a relief. I had always had a deep fear of childbirth and always considered myself a pretty big wuss when it came to any physical pain. I couldn’t wait to have a baby, but I had been dreading this part of it for as long as I could remember. Now that it had come, these pangs weren’t as bad as cramps I’d had in the past, which left me in agony for hours.
I went to Wole, who was snoring peacefully in our little full sized bed and said, “I think I’m having contractions. Its time to go to the hospital.” Wole sleepily and calmly looked at me and said, “How far apart are your contractions? We should wait until they’re really close together, because wouldn’t you rather be at home as long as possible? Why don’t you try and get some sleep while you can.”
So I tried to get some sleep, but I’ve never fallen asleep easily and now every ten minutes or so I had pain shooting through my stomach. After a while, I gave up completely and got up to distract myself with the TV. I remember some Maroon 5 video was on, but distractions were not working. The contractions barely took a break, so I insisted Wole get up and told my mom, who had come to stay with us for a few days, that we needed to go. I was so far along, I didn’t think I was going to be able to walk down our stairs from our second floor apartment, but slowly and carefully I made it.
When we got to the hospital, no one came rushing in with a wheelchair like I had always seen in the movies and I walked all the way to the birthing wing. The nurse in the birthing area greeted us with skepticism when she heard this was my first baby. She took me to this area with beds and curtains as far as the eye could see, but all were empty. She started out with a smug look on her face, as if to say, “This rookie still probably has days to go.” Her look quickly changed when she exclaimed, “You’re already 7cm!” I gave her a “Duh!” look and pettily took joy in proving her wrong.
They quickly got me an epidural, but first my cool, smooth husband looked at me and said, “Come on, just once, give me an ‘Ooh. That was a toughie.’” (For those of you who have no idea why he would do this, unlike my family, you are obviously not ardent FRIENDS followers.) I did laugh at him, even as I wanted to smack him. The epidural came and managed to numb my legs and barely take a small edge off the contractions. (I had an awesome epidural with my second child and then discovered I pretty much had had natural childbirth with the first) I was told to try and sleep after the epidural since this was going to be such a long process, but with people checking on me every few minutes and that small matter of the pain, sleep was not really going to happen.
After about two hours, the nurse told me I could begin to push saying, “Nothing much will happen this first time, but you’ll get better as we go.” Apparently I have special pushing talents, because after that first push the nurse’s eyes grew and she said, “I’m just going to get the doctor in here for a minute.” Now everyone had told me pushing would feel good after the pain of the contractions and I would just feel a slight pressure. Those people were complete liars! Pushing something through there was the weirdest and worst feeling of my life. In between each push, I sobbed, which seemed to scare and confound my doctor. She commented to the nurse and Wole, “She was so calm and strong until now.” Ten minutes later the doctor threw a baby in my lap. Wole had made a point of communicating in our appointments his astonishment that people taped this experience and wanted to cut the umbilical cord, a procedure that surely should be left to a medical professional. I loved my doctor and was super proud of Wole when she forced him to come cut the cord and he embraced the beauty of the event.
In hindsight, baby girl had some cutening up to do. She stayed in just a little too long, which had caused her hands and feet to have a wrinkled been-in-the-tub-too-long look. Her head was also so pointed it made Wole ask the doctor, “Is her head supposed to look like that?” But to me, from the moment I saw her, she was the most beautiful and precious person I’d ever met!
Thirty-six hours later, I hadn’t really slept and was looking forward to sleeping at home. Baby girl had other ideas. She was hungry and had decided this new world was not living up to her expectations. As the night wore on and nothing seemed to stop her crying, I began to break down and cry myself. Wole grabbed my shoulders and looked me in the eyes saying, “We don’t have the luxury of losing it anymore. You have to be strong for her.” Between that comment and the doctor’s view of me as calm and strong while facing one of my biggest fears, I began to see myself differently. Baby girl not only blessed me with her presence, but with a new view of myself and a very tangible purpose. Today my “baby” turns eight years old and I couldn’t be more honored and proud to be her mother.