Much like the birth stories of my first two children, this day started with a pang, just sharp enough to wake me from my sleep. I sat up in bed around 2 a.m. on Sunday, February 4. I grabbed my phone and eagerly opened my contraction timer app and waited. Being 6 days past my due date I was like a crazy person, rejoicing when I felt anything I might classify as a contraction. By 2:40 I was certain the contractions, though still mild, were the real deal! I distracted myself by messing around on my phone and went to the kitchen for a snack. Over the next hour or so I was excited to notice the contractions were consistently coming every 12 minutes or so. Steven awoke and I let him in on the exciting news. We started wrapping up a few loose ends (there weren’t many since I had been “ready” to go for a few weeks by this point!). He packed some things into the van and we waited. I really didn’t want to jump the gun so I restrained from calling family or declaring anything. I was glad for the hesitation when, about the time the sun was beginning to peek it’s way over the horizon, my contractions slowed down. It was pretty frustrating, after feeling like I had waited so long for labor to start. But I took this as an opportunity to sleep a bit more, so I went back to bed. The contractions slowed to a gaping 30-40 minutes apart by the time I woke up again. It was disheartening, but I firmly trusted God’s timing and did my best to keep my patience.
The morning bloomed, the boys woke up, we made some breakfast, the males in the family got settled with video games and TV and I proceeded to labor the hours away. We told the boys that it would likely be the day their sister was born. They shared my impatience and I found myself answering their frequent inquiries between contractions, explaining that we just had to wait and see, because we didn’t know exactly when sister was going to be born. (Then I would remind myself of the same truth in my head).
The remainder of the morning and early afternoon I was having very inconsistent contractions. It reminded me eerily of my labor with Finn. Some contractions were so strong they made me want to rush to the hospital in a panic, only to be followed a few minutes later by a weak contraction. Then I would find myself waiting sometimes 20 minutes before I felt a subsequent contraction, once again very strong and sometimes lasting 90 seconds or more. I had scheduled a Walmart grocery pickup for noon so we ventured out in the snow. It had snowed a few inches overnight, another consideration I had at the back of my mind as I contemplated road conditions and driving times to the hospital. It was just an odd little thing about the day to remember, waiting in the snow-covered parking lot at Walmart and laboring in the passenger seat.
After returning with our groceries I attempted a bath, which helped a bit with the pain. Then I retreated to my bedroom, hoping to avoid the well-meaning intrusion of my little ones during the more painful moments. After a few extremely painful contractions (still somewhat far apart) I began to wonder if we should go the hospital anyway. I came downstairs to share these feelings with Steven after a particularly painful contraction. His answer was something like this “Ok, we can go after I finish this round” (On his video game). Ha! He’s lucky he answered me between contractions. About 10 minutes later, after another intense contraction, I was a bit more insistent about my feelings on the matter. So we loaded the boys into the van and called the in-laws who planned to meet us at the hospital.
It’s almost as though making the decision to head to the hospital kicked everything into gear. I measured the trip the hospital in contractions. By now they were all strong and lasting a very long time, but still only 8-10 minutes apart. About 5 contractions later we pulled up in front of the birth center in Shawnee Mission. The length and intensity of the contractions had me in a state of constant pain. Even the gaps between them were so painful I didn’t want to move. I sat in the passenger seat, waiting while Steven and my in-laws moved the boys’ car seats over to the other car. The moments I sat there felt like one long, never-ending contraction. When the boys were fully gathered to their grandparents, Steven took my arm and helped me hobble to the front desk to sign in. I wasn’t actively timing my contractions at this point but they were definitely getting closer together. We were brought to triage, welcomed at the doors by none other than nurse Holly. Holly, I immediately recognized, was the nurse who attended the bulk of my delivery with Finn. You can read more about her part in his story here, but let’s just say she was not my favorite person that day. Steven and I shared a glance in recognition of the irony.
Nurse Holly checked me in triage and pronounced me 4 cm dilated. I knew from my previous history with her that this was probably more like a 5 (lol.) They decided to admit me since it was baby #3 and my doc had given us the go-ahead on our way there. I explained to the nurse who helped transfer us to the delivery room that my epidural had not worked with my previous delivery. She quickly became my pain relief advocate. She started my IV and called in the nurse anesthetist right away, who decided to give me a spinal epidural for more immediate relief. Sitting on the bed in the delivery room as they set up the IV and prepped me for my epidural, I had two separate nurses comment on how long my contractions were (almost 3 minutes each!!!). Because of this frequent, long-lasting torture, it took every ounce of my will to scoot just 3 inches over in the bed to get in position for the epidural. The nurse anesthetist reminded me that the sooner I was in position, the sooner I would have relief. I guess that was just the nudge I needed. My “people” (the nurse, the anesthetist, Steven…) were great!!! They helped everything along and the epidural worked like a charm. It went in just right and without issue. Minutes later I was swimming in sweet relief! Even the pain that had been lingering strongly between contractions was just eased away. I settled back into my hospital bed with a sigh and a laugh and tuned in to watch the Superbowl.
Once I had settled into the bliss of my epidural (about 45 minutes after arriving at the hospital) the nurse checked my progress and announced that I was dilated to 9.5 cm!!! Steven had to confirm the number three times because he didn’t know if he could trust his ears. Lol! Our nurse calmly called my doctor and alerted the rest of the team of my progress. This was around the two-minute warning of the first half of the Superbowl. We called my parents at this point and let them know how things had progressed and we all agreed that it was best for them to wait until morning to travel to the hospital since the weather was even worse in their area. My doctor arrived and said hello, confirming that I was very close to delivering a baby, we were just waiting for her to move down a station or two. After a few contractions my nurse checked again and said she had moved down into position, I was at 10 cm and it was baby time! She called my doctor, who had wandered away and decided that while we waited we would start pushing to get things going. The nurse guided my pushing through two contractions and had me stop because baby was coming fast. In God’s perfect timing that had providentially been presiding over the entire day, my doctor came in with a smile, put on her smock (whatever it’s called lol) and had me push! Halftime had just started and the speaker had slipped down near my ear. I listened to Justin Timberlake perform the half-time show and watched him sashay through the crowd in his silly outfit as my baby girl was delivered into the world.
The moment she was born and placed on my chest I had eyes for nothing else. All slick and heavy and beautiful, she wailed a little cry or two and looked right up at me, eyes bright as she took in her first views of the outside world. The moment her eyes met mine she stopped crying and she settled into my arms like she’d always been there. Her daddy and I showered her with murmurs of welcome, spending those first moments introducing each other. When it had stopped pulsing, daddy cut the cord and I my little Remi latched on to nurse for the first time. This was the first time any of my babies had latched right away! She nursed lazily for the next hour and a half, then “baby Claire” (so named because both my nurse and the baby’s nurse were named Claire that shift) gave Remi her first bathing and wrapped her up all cozy.
Recovery and Thoughts
They transferred our little trio to the mother room where we would finish out our stay. Here another memory stuck tightly in my brain, breathing deeply as I was wheeled through the halls from delivery room to recovery room, the breeze from the movement blowing lightly under my hair, cooling the sweat on my neck. The first moment being once again just me, a single body, instead of two.
I spent the rest of the night and our stay in euphoria. It was a wonderful contrast to the feelings I had wrestled with during my previous labor and delivery. I praise God with every ounce of my being for the peaceful and joy-filled experience I had this time! It was unquestionably the work of God and His grace. I had approached this delivery fully aware of the shadow of my previous delivery and the anxiety that consumed me, praying over and over that this time would be different. And it was just absolutely perfect. The next day one of my nurses came in and marveled at how zen I looked (lol). I felt it, too! It was the Holy Spirit surrounding me and us the whole time.
Each of my deliveries had their charm and I will cherish the bits and pieces of each of them that make them special. For this one I will always remember the novelty of giving birth during the Superbowl and pushing during half time. I will cherish the calm and joy that wafted in with each of my nurses, my doc, and others, shared in small smiles and quiet laughs, tucked away in a corner room. It was just me, Steven, and our little girl that night… sharing a treasured pocket of tranquility among ourselves before being plunged into a lifetime likely to be predominately chaotic. I’ll remember my first walk with Steven down to the cafeteria together, testing the waters of my independence, putting just a bit more distance between me and the little being who had lived within me for months. I’ll remember the morning after Remi was born when all the grandparents came to meet their first granddaughter and our other children met their sister for the first time. The love that shone bright and eager on Miles’ face. The way Finn seemed surprisingly calm about the shift from baby to big brother.
I should stop there or I will recount every tiny moment and turn them significant, from hospital food to paperwork. I know this telling of Remi’s birth story is long and probably unnecessarily detailed, but I mostly write it out like this because I want to remember everything, even the “insignificant” things when I look back years from now. So thank you for indulging me when my language turns cheesy, or too flowery, or too messy, or just plain boring.