Or so I thought.
Around midnight on March 14th I woke up to put Brown-Eyed Boy back to bed. As he wiggled and jabbered and refused to sleep, strong contractions started washing over me. It's not labor, I told myself because I had gotten my hopes up too many times before.
When Brown-Eyed Boy finally fell asleep, I returned to my bed and started to time the contractions. There was no pattern to them. The strong ones came 10, 15, even 20 minutes apart, with some piddly little contractions in between.
Mr. Brown Eyes was snoozing peacefully next to me all this time, but as I leapt out of bed to struggle through another strong contraction, he woke up and asked me what I was doing. "Having a contraction," I said breathlessly, crawling back into bed next to him. As I explained how inconsistent they were, he agreed that it probably wasn't time to go to the hospital yet. So we laid together in the dark, timing my contractions, sleep far from our minds even though it was two-thirty in the morning.
We had just called my midwife and decided maybe we should go to the hospital just to see what was going on, when the most intense contraction yet drove me out of bed, struggling to find a relaxing position. Kneeling beside the bed, my water broke with a warm gush and I exclaimed to my husband, "My water broke! Crap, we waited too long!"
Mr. Brown Eyes jumped out of bed then and I called the hospital to let them know I was coming. But when I got off the phone my darling husband was still in the closet. "What are you doing?" I snapped. "We need to go!"
"Don't you want to get changed?" he asked.
"No," I replied, grabbing my hospital bag and marching out to the truck. I didn't care how much I looked like I had peed my pants. I had bigger worries on my mind right then. Like how exactly one gives birth to a baby on the side of the road.
I got into the truck while Mr. Brown Eyes woke up Brown-Eyed Boy, who was surprisingly wide-awake and cheerful for the early hour. The plan was to take him to my parents' house before driving to the hospital, but my midwife, familiar with my speedy labors, called and told us to just bring him with us and have someone pick him up there. So we sped down the freeway, Brown-Eyed Boy occasionally stroking my arm and saying, "Mommy owie?", me telling Mr. Brown Eyes to drive faster, faster, faster. With each contraction I was sure I was going to die, and my breath came in short, rapid gasps. Then I experienced a new sensation:
"My arms are tingling," I gasped to my husband.
"That's because you're hyperventillating," explained my calm medic husband. "You're not getting enough oxygen. Take deeper breaths."
He coached me through my breathing, and then we finally arrived at the hospital. I dashed out of the truck as fast as a woman in labor can, was promptly shoved into a wheelchair, and was wheeled upstairs with my husband and son trailing behind. Thinking I was just a few minutes away from jumping into that blessed delivery bed and finally being able to push filled me with incredible relief. It will be over soon, I told myself.
When we arrived at the delivery room, Brown-Eyed Boy played happily with his toys while Mr. Brown Eyes stood at my bedside and squeezed my hand. "This baby is coming!" the head nurse announced as everyone rushed around. Thank goodness, I thought as she helped me get into a pushing position.
Then came the words that changed everything: "That's not a head," the nurse exclaimed. "That's a foot!"
At no time during my pregnancy had there been any indication that my baby was anything but head-down. As the room broke into barely-controlled chaos, I looked up at my husband. "She's breech," I gasped in panic. "No one ever said anything about her being breech."
Mr. Brown Eyes calmed me while the nurses tipped me upside down, stuck me with a drug to slow my contractions, and diligently held that dangling foot inside me. The snatches of conversation I heard included the words "OR", "OB Surgeon," and c-section. My heart sank.
"Are they goimg to do a c-section?" I asked my midwife.
"No," she said decidedly, but as Brown-Eyed Boy retreated down the hallway with my mom, they wheeled me into the operating room and ordered me not to push as we waited for the OB surgeon. I resigned myself to the c-section. As long as they got my baby out of me, I no longer cared how. Through the agony of not being able to push I looked up into my husband's eyes and felt peace and strength.
Finally the OB surgeon, Dr. Grabowski, entered the room. The first words out of his mouth were "C-section?"
"No, we want to try a natural delivery first," my midwife replied. "She can do it. She'll do anything you ask. Just let her try."
Have I mentioned I love my midwife?
Dr. Grabowski seemed unconvinced, but after ordering a quick ultrasound and explaining to me that he might have to use forceps, he agreed to deliver my baby breech.
I was finally allowed to push, and my husband explained to me later how they carefully manuevered our baby's body so she could be born feet-first. I didn't feel like anything was happening as I pushed, and when everyone--doctors, nurses, midwife--told me to push again I snapped, "I am pushing!" Then I felt her head, and with one final push and a scream of pain my baby girl entered the world. Relief literally flooded over me and I just cried. She was here. She was here and she was healthy and it was finally over.
I know everyone says this, but a moment later they laid my newborn baby on my chest--my grayish-white, slippery, warm newborn baby girl--and I forgot all about the agony and fear and chaos of the last hour. It was all for her. And it was all worth it.
P.S. She has the most beautiful feet.
Mother of Two,
The Brown-Eyed Girl