Everyone said, "You'll know when you're in labor".
At 11:40pm I woke up with what resembled to be intense menstrual cramps. I fell back asleep. 10 minutes later I woke up again with the same feeling. Immediately, I google searched "what does labor feel like?" and found that this could potentially be it but again it repeatedly said, "you'll know when you're in labor".
When? When will I know if this is labor or not? The next hour and a half I downloaded a labor timing app and laid in bed timing my contractions while vigorously texting my mom, "Is this it? I'm really not sure." By 1am, the contractions were about 7-8 minutes apart and I decided to wake the daddy-to-be. Now we were both googling and playing the am-I-in-labor game. I took a bath and ultimately didn't feel contractions for a while, which added even more to the confusion. I decided to try and get some sleep (HA!). I laid back down and immediately the contractions were back and with more intensity. I decided to take a shower. They became very faint to the point where I wasn't sure if it was even a contraction. I laid back down in bed. Even stronger now and closer together, we decided that this MUST be IT. By 4am they were close to 5 minutes apart and we started packing up to head to the hospital.... but I just needed to do one thing before we went. I had roughly 5 minutes before the next contraction so I quickly teased and brushed my hair, dusted my face with powder and applied 2 swipes of blush. Okay, NOW I was ready! ;)
Arriving at the hospital, we walked into labor and delivery and the nurses asked my husband how they could help him. Confused, he replied, "Well, my wife is in labor?". After some odd looks, they walked us back to the triage room and had me change into a gown. While changing, the nurse inquisitively asked my husband if we had been up and out all night at which he confusingly replied, "No? We were sleeping." She commented that my hair was perfect. Knowing me well enough, my doing my hair didn't phase Spencer for a second. He nonchalantly said, "Oh, yeah she did it between contractions before we left the house". I was feeling completely miserable in every way possible. The least I could do was give myself a nice do!
Turns out, in order to be admitted, you must be dilating along with your contractions and my hair being done had left doubt in the nurse from the start. I laid their in the triage room hooked up to the monitor, contractions coming every 3 minutes and in serious pain. After an hour, the nurse returned to check my status. I had only dilated to a 2. Apparently in order to "play" I needed to be progressing more than that. As a last ditch effort, she sent us marching through the maternity ward in hopes of gravity assisting in move things along. After an excruciating painful hour of walking in circles, I had no dilation changes. She was ready to send me on my way and tell me to come back later, as it appeared I wasn't in "active" labor yet. WHAT?!?!?! I was having contractions every 3 minutes! What was I supposed to do? How was I to know when to come back!?
Luckily, the doctor (not mine) came in to evaluate me. He looked at my contraction status and asked if I was in pain (as if he really needed to?). He walked away and muttered, "let me see what I can do". After a call into my doctor, they both agreed to go ahead and admit me.... I could have cried tears of joy if I wasn't practically crying tears of pain!
I didn't make a birth plan because I had figured that labor wasn't exactly the kind of thing that you can plan out. The one thing I did have planned was an epidural. Unfortunately, because I wasn't dilating, although I was admitted, they couldn't administer an epidural until I reached 4cm. With breath-taking, muscle-wrenching, toe-curling, screaming contractions every 3 minutes, they offered me pain medicine to "take the edge off". I was desperate at this point and agreed before she even finished asking. Within a few minutes I fell into a drowsy, loopy, nauseous state. My contractions were there, but with much less intensity and I was able to relax. After about an hour, my wonderful nurse came and updated us with the progress. The fluids and pain meds had slowed my contractions way down, causing me not to progress. She said I would need Pitocin to help speed things up and get this baby out. For those who don't know, Pitocin is the drug they administer to put you into labor. It creates extremely strong, painful contractions. Conveniently, right as my pain meds wore off, Pitocin kicked in and family arrived. Perfectly, imperfect timing. I was hurled over crying and hanging onto Spencer for dear life with each contraction. Oh, and did I mention throwing up? Birth is quite possibly the most beautiful mess in so many ways.
I was grateful for each contraction, for each contraction was bringing me one painful step closer to holding my baby in my arms. I didn't have to repeat that in my head for too terribly long. Before I knew it, I was 4cm dilated and Dr. God AKA the anesthesiologist was finally able to administer my epidural. Within minutes, I could breathe again. I could wrap my head around what was going on. I was able to be present. It was 10am and at the pace of my progression, the nurse predicted she wouldn't be seeing this baby until her following shift. Luckily, her next dilation check surprised us all by my being 7cm dilated... it was almost go time! She went to retrieve the doctor on call to break my water. When he arrived to break my water and was about to get down to business, with a very surprised look, said, "Uh, baby is right here, you're at a 10, it's time to push. They immediately called my doctor and had me wait until her arrival.
She arrived at 12:45pm. 20 minutes of pushing and I was easily, safely, painlessly united with my girl.
She aggressively plopped Harper on my stomach and the tears flowed down my cheeks. I waited 9 months, 39 weeks, 278 days, 6,672 hours, 400,320 minutes for this beautiful, life-changing moment. I would do it again, and again and again. I'd endure it all, give it all up, embrace every minute of it to become Harper's mom.
I've changed more in the past 9 days of Harper's life than I have throughout my entire life. I've searched high and low for my calling, for what I wanted to do with life, for the perfect career and it took one look at my baby to find it. I'm home. This is my calling. This is my career. I am so extremely blessed for my amazing husband, beautiful daughter and this incredible life we're creating that just keeps getting better.