Then came the fun part...
We left Abby at home with Wes and headed to the hospital. The contractions were coming closer and closer together as Josh sped there (***disclaimer*** if you know Josh, you know his version of speeding is like, 5 miles over the speed limit). We got to the parking deck outside the entrance and found a spot. I waited until the next contraction passed before trying to walk inside. Another bad idea. I got about two steps away from the car when I nearly doubled over in pain as the next contraction took over my body.
"I can't walk that far!"
"What should we do?!"
"Take me to the ER entrance and get a wheelchair!"
That's when Josh got all flustered and tried to go the wrong way out of the deck and I had to direct him to the appropriate exit. Classic nervous dad-to-be behavior and despite the ridiculous amount of pain I was in, I still remember smiling and thinking it was cute --- just like in the movies.
When we reached the ER, Josh ran in and brought an attendant out with a wheelchair for me. Josh still had to park the car and the attendant asked if I wanted to wait for Josh to get back before he took me up to labor and delivery. I said I did and we waited for about two minutes until the next contraction hit and he had to witness me writhing around in the chair.
"Uhhh, I think I need to take you up now. We'll have somebody else bring your husband up when he gets back."
I could barely follow what he was saying and tried with all my might to remember what exactly I had learned in class that was supposed to be helping here. (FYI - It's really hard to go into a hypnotic state when you have a nervous attendant chattering questions at you and constantly asking if you're okay. By the way - No, I'm not okay. I have a child trying to COME OUT OF MY BODY).
When we finally made it to L&D he wheeled me over to triage so they could assess the situation and determine if I was in "real" labor yet. I know it's standard procedure, but give me a break, I think it was pretty obvious. Anyway, a nurse led me to a room and asked me to change into a gown so she could check to see if I was dilated. As soon as I changed another huge gush of fluid hit the deck. I guess I should have been embarrassed, but at that point I couldn't have cared less. And even though I couldn't exactly speak at that particular moment, inside I was all, Are you convinced I'm in labor now, you animals?! I don't make a habit out of smuggling water balloons between by legs! What exactly do you think is going on over here? Was this enough to convince them I was in labor? No, they had to take a sample and review it under a microscope to confirm it was actually amniotic fluid. (Could someone please tell me what else it could be? I mean, there aren't a whole lot of options, am I right?) In the mean time, Josh showed up and the nurse confirmed I was 4 centimeters dilated. As we waited for the okay to be admitted more contractions were coming, all the while getting more and more intense. Another gush of fluid, but this time something was definitely wrong. The nurse noticed right away and broke the bad news.
"There's meconium in the fluid. Do you know what that is?"
"Yes," I replied, afraid of what she would say next.
"Do you know how that changes the plan now?"
And with that one little question my hopes for the birth experience I had been dreaming of were already out the window and I hadn't even been admitted yet. She explained how there would have to be a team of neonatal nurses on standby in the room to examine the baby immediately after birth and suction out the baby's nose and mouth to make sure he or she didn't inhale any of the fluid. I knew it was for the best, but I was devastated.
When Wes was born he had the cord wrapped around his neck so tightly that it had to be cut before he was even delivered and he was immediately whisked away to be given oxygen. I didn't get to see or hold him for about 20 minutes while they checked him over and made sure he was breathing and everything was alright. I was not prepared for that. I never imagined they would take my baby away before I even got to see him. And while I knew it was what had to be done, the memories of that disappointment still nag at me to this day. This time I had really wanted it to be different. After nine long months of pregnancy and all the hard work of labor, all I wanted was that one magical moment where with that final push you bring your baby into the world and they lay him on your chest and you get the see and hold this new little person you have been waiting so long to meet.
I started to cry. This was all wrong. They were going to take my baby away from me again. I had diligently crafted a birth plan to be handed out to everyone involved in the delivery. It had instructions for when we wanted to cut the cord, how we wanted to delay weighing and measuring the baby for up to two hours so I could immediately nurse and we could begin to bond. All of that planning was in vain and I was loosing control of my birth experience yet again. I turned to Josh, tears welling up in my eyes and he knew exactly what was going through my head.
He tried to reassure me, "It will all be okay. It's just what has to happen. A healthy baby is the most important thing."
Of course I knew he was right, so I tried to focus on what he was saying, tried to remain calm and relaxed. But all the while my heart was breaking. Why was this happening to me again?
What happened after that is all a bit of blur. They admitted me finally (FINALLY) and I was given a room. The contractions were literally on top of each other at this point and all I wanted to do was get settled in and start putting to use all the relaxation techniques we had learned for labor. I also wanted in the birthing tub as soon as possible. Of course, nothing is as easy as it seems. Once I was in my room they started asking me to fill out paperwork and they had to draw blood and prep me in case I should need an IV. Now my contractions were coming back to back, no break between them at all. I could barely breath, I couldn't focus on what they were saying to me. I was trying to sign my name and answer their questions and all the while I felt like my insides were about to burst open.
I needed in that tub.
Thank god for Josh, he was doing what he could to manage the situation for me given our circumstances. He asked the nurses to hold their questions and stop working on getting me set up when I was having a hard contraction. He asked them to quickly start filling the tub so I could get in as soon as they were done prepping me. Later, he told me he had even put on a relaxation cd that we had brought with us, but I never even noticed it was playing.
He was my advocate. He was my support. He was amazing. And there's no way I could have gotten through it without him by my side. Total gorilla dad.
When the last of the forms were signed and my midwife had arrived I was finally allowed in the tub. It had only been about 20 minutes but it felt like an eternity. I could hardly stand the pain anymore and I was desperate for the water to ease it in some way.
It didn't. Not. Even. Close.
I reached out for Josh and clung to him, my arms draped around his neck, my face buried in his chest.
I couldn't do this. If I was only 4 centimeters dilated, there was no way I was going to make it through the other 6 without any pain relief. I had planned to have a natural childbirth without any drugs, but the rest of my birth plan was already shot anyway, so I asked for an epidural. I had only been in the tub 5 minutes.
Josh and my midwife helped to get me out of the tub and back to the bed while they sent for the anesthesiologist. The pain was incomprehensible, it felt as big as the room. There was nowhere I could turn to escape it. And that's when I felt an uncontrollable urge to push --- I began to moan.
My midwife looked at me bewildered, "Are you feeling like you have to push already?"
"Yes! What do I do? I'm only 4 centimeters?!"
"Do whatever your body is telling you to do."
She checked me, "The baby is right here, you're fully dilated!"
I couldn't believe it. I hadn't even been in my room a half an hour.
"Emily, I don't think you're going to have time to get an epidural" she warned.
"Okay, that's fine, as long as the baby is coming now!"
And with that, I began to push. It was unlike anything I have ever experienced. I was no longer in control of my body. The contractions took over, my every muscle responding. Nothing eased the pain, there was no relief. I cried out, "I can't do this!"
"You are doing it!" Josh smiled down at me, holding my hand.
I don't know how many pushes it was or exactly how long it took, but I powered through the most magnificent and ferocious pain imaginable and finally, with every ounce of strength I could muster, I delivered my new baby into the world.
"It's a boy, we have another boy!" Josh told me, choking back tears.
I closed my eyes and collapsed back into the bed smiling, "I did it."