As my due date drew nearer and my waddle grew wider, I became more and more ready to meet my little man and not to be pregnant anymore. The labor thing loomed in the back of my mind. How long it would last? Could I stand the pain? Would everything go okay? One thing about pregnancy is that you are constantly bombarded with information and advice from other people, and other women especially like to tell you their birth stories. While it was great to hear people’s stories and advice, it was overwhelming at times.
Despite the information overload, I had decided to approach my birth with an open mind, a positive attitude, and made a pact with myself not to worry about the pain or fear labor complications. After all, when and how my labor developed was pretty much out of my hands.
By 37 weeks, my husband and I were eager for the arrival of our son. We had finished putting the nursery together, gotten our hospital bag packed, and our baby car seat installed. I personally felt like a beached whale, having grown bigger and bigger each day of my final month. We couldn’t wait to meet the little guy that did football kicks in my belly each night.
Most of what I had read about labor and learned in childbirth classes is that it’s not like the movies. For most people, it’s not a 2–3 hour scene where you contract and scream and push out the baby. In fact, I was surprised to learn that there are three stages of labor; and early labor, with sporadic contractions, can last up to 20 hours. However, a longer labor is usually more common for a first delivery. Thus, I had prepared myself for a lengthy build-up and Stage 1 labor, where I would patiently gather my things and mentally prepare myself for the hours to come.
But my labor didn’t happen like that. After working a long day at school, I noticed a long contraction that didn’t seem to subside. So, I decided to go home and take a nap. That’s when it happened, my water broke in bed. I was so shocked. All the information I had read said that only 10–12% of women actually have a noticeable gush when their water breaks. My husband was still at work, so I called the doctor and gathered my things, as the contractions began to hit hard and fast. Aren’t the contractions supposed to start before the water breaks, I thought?
My husband returned home from work minutes later to find me pacing the living room with my hospital bag at the door. His eyes grew wide, “It’s time.” I said.
He hastily threw his night bag together, and we hopped in the car. I huffed and puffed through contractions all the way down the interstate, praying I didn’t deliver this baby in the car. Our doula, birth coach, met us at the hospital, and they quickly admitted me.
Though my water had broken and my contractions were 3–4 minutes apart, I found out I still had a ways to go when the doctor examined me. I proceeded to labor naturally for five more hours with the incredible support of my doula and my husband, even though my body felt like it was ripping in two. Finally, I decided I needed some drugs. “I want an epidural,” I moaned through a contraction. For me, this was the right decision. It allowed me to rest and get ready to push.
Five hours later, and after an hour and half of pushing, my little man emerged screaming at the top of his lungs. My heart leapt at that joyous sound as he burst into the world. My husband drew beside me as we stared adoringly at our son, tears of joy welled in my eyes. That moment can only be described as a God moment, this miracle of life permeating a hushed room.
The rest of our hospital stay was a blur of check-ins, information, family and friends. My body ached with exhaustion, but just looking on my son beside me made it all worth it.
It really hit us both, my husband and me, as we turned out of the hospital drive and onto the highway. I burst into tears…the immense responsibility, the unconditional love, the life I was now responsible for. This precious little man placed into our care. And this journey, this first trip to our home, was only just the beginning.
Dear Little Lucas,
Welcome to the world outside my tummy! My heart sang with jubilee to hear your first shouts as you entered the world. I am completely smitten with you. A wave of relief, gratitude and immense love poured over me as they laid you on my chest. I have prayed for you for so long, and it seems unbelievable that you have finally arrived, and I can hold you in my arms.
I am utterly and completely in love with you, all of you, your tiny fingers and toes, your angelic face, your coos and cat sounds. I pinch myself constantly, asking if this is real.
Please know I will work very hard to be the best mom I can be. I will give you my everything and more. I am so excited to watch you grow, learn your personality, and have adventures with you.
Continue to grow in love, health, peace and strength.
Your adoring mom, Emily