My husband’s friends began calling us on Saturday to ask if there was a baby yet.
“Sorry,” we said. “I guess we forgot to tell the baby that today was the due date.”
We were out browsing baby stores, comparing prices and thinking about what we’d need in the next few months. Baby was being shy, my husband said.
Early the next morning, I woke up with a burning backache, and fumbled for my body pillow before falling back asleep. In a few minutes, the backache returned, and I adjusted the pillow and drifted back to sleep. When it returned for the third time, it finally occurred to me that maybe this was labour. With the fourth contraction, I thought to start timing them. Seven minutes apart.
I was debating how soon to wake my husband and head for the hospital when the next one came and he woke up to ask what was wrong.
“I think the baby’s coming,” I said.
He rolled over to hold me, and the warmth of his body helped ease the pain. He asked how far apart they were, and then sprang into action.
While he gathered the things we needed for the hospital, I managed to dress and tried to deal with each contraction. They were definitely strong and five minutes apart when we got into the car. My husband called our parents on the way, and just before 8:00 on Sunday morning, we were signed into the hospital.
The nurse checked on me and the baby and then mostly left us to ourselves. I moved from the shower to the tub to pacing around to the room to back to the shower, while my husband coached me through the pain and reminded me to drink lots. Most of what I ate or drank, I threw up with the stronger contractions. By noon, I was tired and just wanted to curl up in the bed, but the pain wouldn’t let me.
When the nurse came in to check on us once, and asked how far apart the contractions were, my husband started timing them again. They were two minutes apart while I was in the shower, but to his great alarm, slowed when I moved back into the tub. He’d stare at the clock, muttering, “There should be one coming soon,” and when another minute passed before I sat up and began rocking with the pain, he’d get anxious. Labour wasn’t supposed to slow down, he thought.
I knew the tub was relaxing me and slowing things, but I was also tired. However, when the pain wasn’t helped by the warm water, I got out and began pacing, and transition (the hardest part of labour) hit. I moaned and said I couldn’t do it anymore, while my husband and the nurse kept telling me I was doing great. I knew we’d agreed we weren’t going to use pain medication, and so there was nothing to do but keep going and focus on the thought of the baby being here soon.
The midwife arrived as I began pushing, crouched on the bed with my head buried against a pillow, while I fought the pain and the exhaustion. At first, each push hurt, but then I just wanted the baby there. I could feel the baby moving through my body with each push, but it seemed agonizingly slow. The midwife offered gentle suggestions, watching and guiding, while the nurse and my husband stood by to help.
When the baby crowned, my husband let me know, adding, “And has lots of hair!” I was in “labourland,” my eyes closed, just focused on getting that baby out. Just get past the head, I thought, push, push, push. And then finally I felt the baby slither out and the midwife caught her and put her on my chest – slimy, wet, bloody, but beautiful.
My husband and I stroked her while she wailed her protests at this strange new world. It may be cliché, but it was true that right then nothing else mattered. She was there and the pain was worth it. I held her until the placenta came, and then my husband watched while the nurse cleaned her up. The midwife took care of me, and helped me try breastfeeding my little daughter, who had finally calmed down. Then her daddy got a chance to hold her while I hobbled into the shower to clean up.
We stayed in the hospital overnight and came home Monday afternoon. Now, she’s sleeping in my arms as I type, for she likes being held. She’s strong and healthy, with a good set of lungs, but generally fusses only when she wants something. We’re still figuring out breastfeeding together, and my husband’s reading all the info we’ve been given and coaching us. She won’t fit her newborn sleepers for very long, for she’s got my height already. She smiles and purses her lips and gives us dubious, one-eyed looks. My husband is proudly calling us “his girls” as he shares the news with our friends. Baby is finally here.