My office hosted a baby shower for me when I was 38 weeks + 1 day pregnant. It was a Wednesday and when I arrived that morning, everyone was already busy setting up the tables and decorations. A few minutes into my morning routine of responding to e-mails, I realized I wasn’t feeling well. I wondered to myself if I had food poisoning, or if perhaps I was going into labor. Regardless, I decided to suck it up and power through the day. Going home did not feel like a legitimate option, given all the time and effort that was going into the prep for my party throughout the day. Half an hour before the celebration was scheduled to start, I felt queasy and began feeling intense back pain. I called Joe and asked him to come by my office (something I have never done, despite the fact we’ve worked for the same university for more than 5 years). Joe found me bent over my desk in pain when he arrived. He gave me a pep talk, rubbed my back, and sent me out to enjoy the festivities. The shower was perfect — the ladies in my office mimicked the antique lace theme I had selected for our nursery and around 40 colleagues came to celebrate. The party lasted until the end of the day and Joe made it back over at the tail end to help me load up all of the gifts.
As soon as we got home, I got into bed and where I proceeded to vomit and writhe in pain for several hours. Around 8 pm, I told Joe that I didn’t think I was in labor, but that I needed to go to the ER. We headed to the hospital, which is only about 5 minutes from our house. As we pulled up to the ER, I said to Joe, “This might sound ridiculous, but I want you to take me back home”. The heated seat in our SUV had taken away most of my pain. We headed back to our house where called my Mom and sister from the bathtub. Both of them reassured me I was most likely in the early stages of labor. I e-mailed my boss and let her know I wasn’t going to make it in the next day. I crawled into bed and slept incredibly hard all night without any pain.
The next day, I felt tired, but all the pain and nausea was gone. I felt disappointed that things weren’t progressing. My cleaning lady came and told me that she had felt sick the day before as well. With that, I convinced myself that I had just experienced a 24-hour flu bug. That night, I e-mailed my boss again and said that I was feeling better and planned to return to work the next day. I went to bed around 8 pm. After sleeping for about an hour, I woke up in pain that seemed to localize in my upper right chest cavity. After consulting Dr. Google, I wondered if I might have gall stones. After a few hours of sitting on all fours in bed, which for whatever reason, felt somewhat comfortable, I told Joe that I needed to go to the ER.
We checked in at midnight and the doctor agreed that it sounded like I might be having gall bladder issues. After running a battery of tests, they confirmed that my liver enzymes were off, my kidneys were engorged, and they had ordered an ultrasound to further examine my gall bladder. All the while, I was hooked up to monitors that were tracking fetal heart rate and contractions. I was having contractions about every 5 minutes, but I couldn’t even feel them. I was only dilated to half a centimeter, so no one seemed to feel that I was in active labor. Hours crawled by as we waited for the ultrasound tech. Right around 4 am, Joe climbed up on the ER cot with me and we started to discuss his plans to go to work in the morning. Nurses peeked into our room to comment “how cute” we looked cuddled up in the ER. At 5am, I felt a pop. I stood up and felt a huge gush — my water broke! Joe woke up and went out into the hall to tell the nurses. I would guess waters don’t break in the ER very often because suddenly, there were a lot of excited people rushing into the room.
My ER nurse wheeled me onto the elevator and checked in on the OB floor right away. Joe went home to get our suitcases. I was in so much pain when we left our house, I refused to wait while Joe loaded them. Oddly enough, my first OB nurse was a student that I knew from my days working in student conduct at the university — I always encounter these folks at the most unexpected times! We weren’t together very long since the shift changed at 7 am. I had hoped for a natural delivery, but without having any sort of birth plan ready, my wishes weren’t really made known. I sensed that natural childbirth wasn’t really preferable to the hospital staff. I was offered the epidural several times before Joe had even made it back with our stuff. I was also confined to the bed in a certain position that allowed the fetal heart monitor to function correctly. I asked to switch to a different monitor so that I could walk the halls. But for whatever reason, that monitor never came. They installed an internal monitor since I was having so much trouble keeping still during the contractions. After being up all night, and facing 4 hours of severe pain, I decided to go ahead with the much-encouraged epidural around 9 am. While it was administered, I was allowed to sit up, which actually felt a lot better. While not what I had planned or expected, the epidural was very helpful and I would do it again. My pain was gone, and I was still able to move my legs and toes. By 10 am, I had dilated to 9 cm. I was elated by how quickly things were progressing. The next few hours were a blissful blur. I texted friends and chatted with Joe. I even took a short nap. Noon rolled around, and we deduced that the hospital staff might have had headed out to lunch. Neither of us were really bothered by this — we were both exhausted and not exactly feeling any need to hurry towards delivery. My nurse checked me again around 2 pm and said that I could get ready to push. A half hour later, we were greeted by a child who was purple and screaming the joyous sound of a healthy and beautiful baby girl.