Before I launch into the story of how Emmett decided to come out and play, I want to thank you all for your amazing outpouring of love and support and congratulations. Benjamin and I are so thrilled to have the little guy on the outside of my body rather than the inside, and it is incredible to know there were/are so many people thinking of our family during this exciting time.
So. The story.
Well you all know where we were the night before the due date. I was at the hospital NOT actually in labor, despite the contractions coming every 5 minutes. I was angry, frustrated, embarrassed and generally aggravated at the world when we were sent home in the wee hours of the morn on my baby’s due date. After a few hours of sleep I woke up and felt horrible. I was crampy and uncomfortable and my emotions were running high. I decided to take a much-needed sick day from work, which I almost never do. To get my mind off of the labor-that-wasn’t, Benjamin and I decided to head to Ikea to pick up the last few things that we needed for the basement renovation. I figured I could walk this baby out in the air conditioning, if nothing else.
All of a sudden, while walking through the kitchen and dining chair section, I felt a contraction that stopped me in my tracks. I had been feeling them all morning, but this one was pinchier and sharper and made me stop and hold my stomach. Ugh, these “false” contractions really suck, I thought, and carried on with my shopping. A few (short!) minutes later, another one. Worse. And I was pretty sure I had just wet my pants. Spoiler alert — it wasn’t pee.
My water had just broken in Ikea.
Thankfully not the waterfall I experienced with Owen, but just enough so that I was 100% sure that’s what it was without leaving a puddle on the concrete floor below. Benjamin was in a different department and there was no cell service, so I kept shopping, knowing that we’d meet up at checkout. Well, I kept shopping in about 3 minute segments, and then I’d try to play it cool while I breathed through a contraction. Once I started timing them I realized shit was getting real FAST. They were 3-4 minutes apart. I abandoned our cart and told Benjamin we had to leave. Like, RIGHT NOW. The only problem was that we needed to pick up an order from a nearby warehouse. It was the whole reason we had driven to Ikea, so we decided to do it as fast as possible while I timed contractions.
I think my contractions must have rattled Benjamin, because he got lost on the way to the warehouse. On some REALLY bumpy roads. I would grip the car door handles, breathe through a contraction, and then read the timing aloud (1 minute long, 3:30 since the last one). The distance between the contractions was shrinking, and they were definitely getting worse.
Thankfully we found the warehouse and I told Benjamin to RUN while I called the doctor. I actually had an office appointment scheduled in a few hours, so I called to ask them if I should go to the office or the hospital (like… is it real NOW?!). I must have sounded really under control, because they advised me to come to the office and they’d check me there. About 1 minute after leaving the warehouse with our furniture in the trunk, though, I KNEW we were not going to the doctor. We were heading straight to the hospital. And all of a sudden I was a little scared about even getting there in time. I was thankful I had thought to throw the labor bag in the car “just in case”.
We got to the hospital and when the midwife checked me, the contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and felt like they were coming on top of each other. 5cm dilated, 100% effaced and head ready. And changing FAST. I was already making noises I didn’t recognize and having an out-of-body experience due to the pain, so the nurse immediately set to work getting me fluids so I could get an epidural. It seemed to take forever to get the necessary bloodwork done and questions answered in the antenatal area. I felt like the baby was about to fall out on the floor and I could barely breathe before the next contraction started again. Benjamin was stuck answering while I nodded and shook my head and thought I was going to vomit. By the time they put me in a wheelchair to take me from antenatal to labor and delivery, I was a full blown caricature of what a woman in labor looks like in the movies.
Once we got to the labor & delivery room things are a bit of a blur to me. I was completely blinded by the pain and it took every fiber of my being to squeeze my eyes shut, breathe/scream and focus on not breaking into a million little tiny pieces. I heard voices and saw faces, but all I could really hear in my ears was my own breathing (and the strange wails that were apparently coming out of my mouth, though they sounded nothing like my voice). After what seemed like another eternity, I got the epidural. In the next few minutes while we waited for it to kick in, my body decided it was ready to push.
Apparently I was going to experience the joy/beauty/pain/agony/euphoria/horror of natural childbirth without necessarily intending.
Prior to this experience, I would have thought that pushing was the worst part of all. The climax. The big finale. But honestly once I started pushing I was immediately present again. Laser-focused. Eyes open. Breathing. Kicking labor’s ass. It felt weirdly good, after all of the drama of transition. And I don’t think that was the epidural speaking, since it really didn’t have a chance to kick in at all.
10 minutes later, Emmett Howell entered the world.
Very purple and quite stunned by the speed of his arrival, but perfect in every way. The midwife put him right on my chest and Benjamin and I laugh-cried and stared in awe at this beautiful little person.
Welcome, little one.