I had pretty typical births with both Griffin and Louise. With Griffin, my water broke in the early morning and with Louise, my water broke but very slowly so I had to be induced. I had epidurals for both, although I wasn't sure they were working because I could still feel a lot. Little did I know what labor pain really felt like until this third birth.
I woke up at 2am on Father's Day to some pretty strong abdominal pains and in my dreamlike state, I thought if I turned over, maybe they'd go away. For the next three hours, I dreamt of being in pain. I woke up again at 5am to another jolt of pain and thought, Ohhh, this might be it. I laid in bed for a while, then got up and showered. The whole time I'm thinking, Could this be it? Am I having a baby today? So much of my life is scheduled - especially big events like this. But this was meant to be a surprise, and I was excited at the idea that today could be the day we welcome our third child. I woke up John and told him I'd been having contractions since 2am. He immediately perked up (not an easy feat for this night owl), eyes open wide. Griffin was in our bed at this point. "You're having the baby today Mommy?!" I called my doctor. Because my contractions weren't yet that strong or consistent, she said to call back in an hour with an update. John downloaded a contraction timer app, which was so handy to have as a reference once we talked to her again. My contractions were steady and increasingly painful, so having that app took the guesswork out of timing them myself. At around 7:30am we decided to make our way to the hospital. The contractions were pretty painful at this point, and I didn't want to wait any longer.
John took this photo of me and the kids before we left. (In between contractions, obviously.) I couldn't believe we were about to have another child! These two were all I knew. I could only imagine what adding another would be like. We exchanged lots of hugs and kisses, and John and I headed out.
We got in the car and as we pulled out, the first song that played off of our iTunes (out of hundreds of songs) was a song my dad used to always sing. I burst into tears. It was my fourth Father's Day without him. In a few hours, I'd have a baby boy and name him after him. The rest of the drive to the hospital was surreal, super exciting, and pretty painful. Luckily it was Sunday morning, so there was no traffic. As we sped along, we went over our boy and girl names again. Are we sure? Yes. I remember the Grateful Dead song that was playing as we approached the hospital entrance. I've heard it a couple times since then and it puts me right back in that car, with that big belly, driving up York Ave, with a heart about to burst with excitement for what was about to happen.
We got to the hospital, checked in and went right into triage where my contractions continued to intensify. I was nearly 4cm dilated and soon ready for the epidural. They moved quickly and got me to the delivery room. Getting the epidural is always the part I dislike the most. I'm just totally freaked out by it. But just as before, it was smooth and over quickly. The pain subsided, and John and I were able to relax and hang out. We texted with family and friends, talked to the kids from the zoo ("we pet a peacock!") and waited for things to progress. After a couple hours of what was definitely the calm before the storm, I could feel pain on the left side of my abdomen during contractions - what my doctor referred to as a "hot spot" - an area that wasn't affected by the epidural. As the contractions intensified even more, that hot spot got lower and lower and became excruciating. And it happened quickly. By the time I was 7cm dilated, I was holding onto the bed rail in complete agony, tears running down my face. I didn't get the epidural to feel this much pain, and it was a total surprise. My doctor had the anesthesiologist administer more pain medication, but things moved so fast. Exactly 12 minutes later, after just a few big pushes, the baby was out! Oh thank goodness!
I heard someone say "it's a boy!" and then someone asked me if I wanted to hold him. Yes! Of course! Give me that messy blue baby! I remember telling him, "We waited so long for you." I stroked and kissed his little head, in disbelief that it was him the whole time - the little guy who'd had me sick in the beginning of pregnancy, who hiccupped every day, who liked to toss and turn in my belly early in the morning. He was a he, and he was here, beautiful & perfect in my arms - our little baby James. It's a feeling I want to bottle up and save forever and ever.
Several hours later, after I'd gotten settled in my room, John went home to get the kids and bring them to the hospital. They came into the room and were so excited, sweet and super gentle. My heart burst into a million pieces seeing them be so loving towards their new baby brother. It was one of those fully present moments that doesn't happen to me too often - when there's crystal clear awareness: this is one of the best moments of my life, I thought. I will carry that moment with me forever.