The end of my pregnancy with HB brought incredible pain in my lower back and hip. It was increasingly becoming worse. On the Monday before my due date, I directed my Plant Science class to the greenhouse to spend the class period maintaining hydroponic tomato plants. I trailed behind the students essentially “waddling” because walking was painful due to my hip and back pain. I knew by the end of the day that I couldn't teach any longer; my body had reached its breaking point. I let the school secretary know that my substitute teacher would be starting the next day. I spent the remainder of that week trying to sleep, tidy the house and pretty much anything to make time go by. I even washed Colby and JR in hopes it might help get the ball rolling. I didn't have any contractions or signs that labor was even close to starting so it was a very uneventful but relaxing week.
HB’s official due date was Friday, April 20, four days after my last day of teaching. I had a student whose birthday that same day so he was really hoping HB would come “on time.” My 40-week OB appointment was scheduled for Friday afternoon. I wasn't dilated at all so my OB suggested stripping my membrane as a possibility to start contractions. She said it would hurt a little but I wasn't prepared for truly how bad. I cried afterwardsL Thankfully it worked though and my contractions started almost exactly an hour later. I can’t remember how consistent they were, but enough that I was having several an hour. I made a green chile beef casserole for dinner and Dad and I headed to bed early. Finally around 4am Saturday morning, I told Dad I thought we should go in. I was fairly uncomfortable, although I didn't really know how much more intense my contractions could be since this was my first pregnancy. I was also really worried about missing the window for an epidural so I may have been a bit over eagerJ We arrived at Banner Estrella Hospital and after checking into triage, the nurse checked my cervix and I was only dilated a little (maybe 4cm). They told me I wasn't dilated enough so I needed to try walking. We headed outdoors – being the hungry pregnant person I was, I wanted McDonald’s before walking around the parking lot a few times. (I totally craved McDonald’s for breakfast during this pregnancy!) We went back around two hours later to get checked again and I wasn't dilated anymore. I was totally disappointed, and frustrated, and even felt like a failure a little bit. The nurse gave me a Percocet to help me get some rest. At the time I didn't think I’d take it but ended up doing so at home and was so glad. I was able to snooze on and off all day and not really even think about the contractions I was having. Sarah Schroder brought La Placita by for lunch. I think Dad and I both fell asleep in the living room watching TV that night; I remember waking him up to go to bed. I had a restless night as my contractions continued to get stronger. Around midnight on Sunday I was getting very uncomfortable with the contractions combined with my hip and lower back pain so we decided to go back to the hospital. Again, I was nervous about missing the “window” for my epidural and at this point I didn't think I could deliver HB without one.
After arriving at the hospital and checking into triage a second time, we found out I wasn't dilated anymore than I was before, almost 24 hours ago. When the nurse left so I could get dressed to walk the halls again I started crying and told Dad I didn't know if I could do this. My hip and lower back pain was so bad. I knew I had to try though because that was the only option I was given. The nurse said we couldn't be admitted without being in active labor since there were no beds available. (Who knew that would be the same problem we faced 2 ½ years later when we were ready with Richard? J) Walking up and down the hall was a bit of a stretch, it was more like trudging. I stopped every few feet to weather another contraction and the growing intensity of my hip pain. I hadn't even made a full circle yet when I saw a nurse coming to get us. She told us a bed had just opened up. I would have jumped up and down and hugged her if I could have. We picked up the pace a little and they showed us to our labor room.
Some of the next details are a bit fuzzy since I am writing this almost three years later. The nurse requested an epidural immediately and once it started taking effect, I could actually relax. I truly believe the epidural helped my body relax amidst the incredible pain I was feeling in my back and hip which helped me dilate further. Even this much later I still think the pain in my hip was far worse than the contractions I was experiencing. I think fell asleep between 4-5am and woke up around 7am when the nurses changed shifts. My nurse for the remainder of labor was a sweet black woman named Sherry. She was so kind and she told me to quit apologizing for asking for things. Kelly left a little after 7am to get breakfast in the cafeteria (yes, biscuits and gravy) and my water broke, of course, while he was gone. I dilated super quickly after that. We were both certain HB would be here by lunch time.
I think I started pushing around 11-11:30am. We didn't know it at the time but HB had a huge head for a newborn which made the whole process take a lot longer than this first time momma expected. It seemed I was not making any progress. I pushed and pushed and pushed, and the little guy did not seem to be getting any closer. Thankfully, HB showed no signs of stress throughout the entire active labor period. Just as we were nearing the end Sherry gave me a face mask with oxygen. It was the only thing throughout my entire labor that annoyed me – it kept all of my hot breath inside and made me feel really sweaty and gross and like I could not breathe. Kelly, being the sweet man he is, tried adjusting it to make it more comfortable and I remember snapping at him that I just didn't want to wear the mask. I literally felt like I couldn't push anymore, and just about voiced my concern when finally, a little after 1:30pm, our sweet first born arrived with a full head of hair and made the entire process worth it. My “official” OB Dr. Fernandez was not on call, so another doctor from the practice, Dr. Suarez, delivered HB and did a great job. I was so nervous throughout my entire pregnancy about having a male obstetrician deliver our baby but in the moment I didn't even give it a second thought.
It was all so surreal. Three years later, as I write this, it’s a little less surreal, but I still have to pinch myself. I got pregnant. I baked a baby for nine months. I had contractions for almost 48 hours. I delivered said baby. And then parenting began. At the time I almost felt like I should have completed some type of training course at the hospital before we were discharged but looking back I know there is no teacher like experience itself.