I jumped out of bed and made a mad dash to the toilet as I heard Mike yell from the bed, "What happened?!"
"My water broke!" I exclaimed.
He came running to the bathroom, grinning from ear to ear.
"Sweetheart, this is it! This is what we've been waiting for!"
It was 10:50 pm, we had just said our goodnights, prayed labor would come on its own and drifted off to sleep. I was 41.5 weeks and frankly, in bit of denial. I'd been waiting for this moment for weeks, but began to think it wasn't going to happen on its own.
My contractions were instantly 1-2 minutes apart, at least it felt that way. While my water leaked out, they only intensified. There was no turning back, this is what I had prayed for!
I had an idea of what I wanted for labor. My mom, sister and many cousins had relatively fast (6-8 hour) labors, so I had that in mind. I thought I would labor at home for a while. You know, do dishes and clean, sit on the birthing ball, take a shower, take a bath, have Mike rub my back, take a walk outside. I even made Mike a list of things he could do for me or offer me during labor.
With contractions so close, I wanted nothing else than to sit on the toilet. Every time I tried to get up, another contraction would come and I would run back to the toilet! Mike tried to encourage me and offer help, but I 'shushed' him every time! (Sorry babe) He did eventually get me out to the living room to sit on the birthing ball, but after one contraction I made a dash back to the bathroom!
I knew in my head all the things I needed Mike to do to help me, but found it difficult to speak. Finally I had about a three minute break between contractions and said, "Text Terry and Kari." That's about all I could say. I wanted my midwife and birth photographer to know labor had begun!
Quickly, Mike knew he needed to get me to the hospital. Thankfully I had made a list of items that he needed to load into the car. Mike started packing the car, while I sat...on the toilet of course! (I've never loved the toilet more...ok, except maybe when I returned home from Haiti, but almost just as much!)
I heard Mike shuffling around the house and garage, and all I could think about was how insanely close these contractions were!
Mike eventually came back to the bathroom and asked, "When do we go to the hospital?"
I replied, "Now."
As he tried to get me moving, I didn't want to budge. Everything inside of me just wanted to roll into the tub next to me and deliver there! Mike finally corralled me to the garage.
I just stood there, staring at the car.
"I can't do it. I can't get in. I can't go to the hospital!"
Mike was CERTAIN I was going to get in the car. He laid my seat back and assured me that I could do it. As we started driving down the gravel road (we only have 3/4 mile), I kept telling Mike to slow down. I got SO angry that he was going so fast!
"You better slow down RIGHT NOW!" My teeth clenched. "Oh oh oh..." Another contraction began and took my breath away.
What I later learned is that Mike was going 3 miles/hour at that point! I swore he was going 30! He quickly sped up, knowing if we crept along at that speed, we were going to have a baby on the side of the road.
Mike called the labor and delivery coordinator on our drive in to let them know I was in labor. We arrived at the hospital shortly after 12:30 am and were quickly escorted up to my room. I felt a safety and assurance, as I was greeted by my co-workers. Coordinator Jaci met me in the hallway, while my nurse April met me in my room.
The monitors were placed to check on baby and my cervix checked.
"Heidi, wow, you are 9 centimeters!" exclaimed April.
I was so thankful she didn't say 3 centimeters! I thought I was either close to delivering or needing an epidural! All I could think of at that point was getting up to that toilet. April and Mike escorted me to the bathroom and coached me along. I remember asking for an epidural. I knew in my head it was too late for one, but I wanted them to know that the contractions were bad enough that I wanted one!
Everyone in the room assured me that I could do this, that I was doing a good job and that my body was made for this! I remember saying lots of "Oh no's," "Ooooo Ooooo OOOOO's," "You guys, I can't do this," and "Jesus, help me!"
I didn't want to be touched or talked to. I didn't want massage. I didn't want to be fanned. I didn't want Mike even touching my bed! I laugh at it now (and feel a bit sorry for everyone in the room!) but I was in a zone.
There was one thing I wanted: water! Mike became my water boy and jumped on the opportunity to help me.
I started to grunt on the toilet and was escorted back to bed to try a new position. My midwife arrived as I started to push. I felt like I was vomiting out of my bottom. You know, that irresistible urge that everything in your abdomen wants to be out!?
The pressure soon became increasingly unbearable as I pushed. Most women say it feels like your having a bowel movement. That was not the case for me. I felt like my front lower pelvis was breaking in two! I even remember opening my eyes at one point, staring straight at my midwife and saying "I'm tearing!"
I had so many thoughts and yet none at all while I pushed. Thoughts that I could do this, followed by thoughts of doubt and exhaustion, followed by thoughts of the next contraction.
I continued to be encouraged by everyone in the room and soon heard:
"Heidi, good job, we can see the forehead."
After being a labor and delivery nurse for 7 and a half years, I knew this was it! I was close to delivery, actually closer than it even felt to me. I pushed maybe one or two more times and then out came baby!
Our daughter, Madeline, was born at 2:18 am. As she made her arrival into the world, I was the first to see that it was a girl! I couldn't say anything though, as I was in a bit of shock. Even though I've always wanted a girl first, I had many thoughts throughout my pregnancy (and so did many others) that it was going to be a boy. I couldn't believe my eyes!
I waited for Mike to make the big announcement.
"It's a girl! It's Madeline!"
As they placed her on my chest, I kept announcing over and over that we had a girl!
"Mike, you have a daughter!"
He smiled ear to ear, "Yes, sweetheart, we have a daughter."
Our 8 pound blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl captured our hearts right at the start.
A lot of the remaining details seem more of a blur to me. It turns out Madeline tore me up quite a bit on her way out! My midwife called in the OBGYN to help with the repair. I had a 3rd degree, bilateral periurethrals, many other vaginal tears and tore my cervix too! After trying to hold still for a while, I was taken to the operating room to be put under general anesthesia for the cervical repair.
While this wasn't the ideal situation (some would call it the nurse curse!), I look back on everything with great faith that the Lord knew what he was doing.
1. I was able to do skin to skin and nurse Madeline before I had to go to the operating room.
2. Mike was able to do skin to skin and spend time alone with his new daughter for about an hour while I was gone. Mike says that moment when his daughter was on his chest and everyone in the room had cleared out was one of the most amazing moments of his life! God knew what he was doing to solidify their bond! (If I hadn't left, I'm sure I would have hogged her the whole time!)
3. I had the best staff on that night. Everyone took amazing care of me and my family. April coached me in such a gentle and kind way. She gave me autonomy and showered me with compassion through it all. I had a room full of prayer warriors: my husband, nurses, midwife, photographer/friend, and other staff!
God is so good. Praise Jesus for His indescribable gifts! He has blessed me with an incredible husband and now beautiful daughter. The miracle of birth is truly just that.