On February 1st, I had an appointment to see Dr. Newland at 3:45 pm. I had been at work that day and had been having contractions for a couple of weeks, so I was hoping that things were progressing but I wasn't sure. I was 75-80% effaced and 2-3 centimeters dilated at the two previous weeks' appointments, so I knew something was happening!
When I was in the waiting room getting ready to see Dr. Newland that day, I remember the contractions getting stronger and when the nurse took my blood pressure, she asked me if I was okay. I told her I was having contractions and she said my blood pressure was pretty high - "that means you're in pain," she said with a smile. And I nodded my head - the contractions felt especially strong that day. Dr. Newland came in for my exam and said I was 100% effaced and told me right then and there to go home and get my bags and go to the hospital because I was in labor. I was shocked and asked him to come back into the room twice to make sure - "So I need to go to the hospital today?" I asked.
"To have my baby?"
"Yes," he said, "I'm calling the hospital right now to tell them that you're coming." So that was that. I left the doctor's office with a feeling of disbelief and called Bo at work right away. I told him to finish up whatever he was working on because this was it!
Only I decided at that point that I wasn't in much pain yet, so we went to get our car seats checked to see if they were installed properly at Saturn. They had a volunteer car seat safety check every month, and we wanted to make sure that our seats were safe, so we decided to go, even though I was in labor. They bumped us up to the front of the line, checked our car seats out and we got out of there as fast as we could. We went home, where I decided I still wasn't quite ready to go to the hosptial yet, so we ate dinner. I knew as soon as I got to the hospital, they wouldn't let me eat again until after the delivery, so I ate some cheese and crackers and fruit before we left. We stayed home until about 7:30 pm, then we packed up our bags into the car and headed towards Iowa Methodist Medical Center. We couldn't believe this was really it!
When we got there, we ran into a nurse in the skywalk who led us through an employee-only entrance to the maternity ward. She saw our bags and my big belly and could tell where we were going! They checked us in when we got there, and took us to the Triage area, where they evaluated how far I was along and monitored the baby's heart rate and my contractions. They decided that I was definitely in labor and that they weren't going to send us back home, much to my relief, so they took us to our room and let us get settled in there. I was about 5 centimeters dilated at this point.
My contractions had slowed down a little, so our nurse, Mandy, advised me to walk around for awhile. Bo's parents came to the hospital to see how we were doing, so they walked with us around the maternity ward. I wasn't in too much pain at this point, but that was about to change! After I got back in bed, the nurse told us that Dr. Osborn would be on call that night, and that he was coming in to break my water. I still couldn't believe that this was really happening! I knew there was no turning back now. Dr. Osborn came in to see us and jokingly said that I could either go home, or he could break my water to get things going. There was no way I was going home now! He broke my water, and that's when the contractions and pain intensified. Bo was right there holding my hand through everything. Before I knew it, I was 7 centimeters and that's when I decided to ask for an epidural. (this was around midnight) Our anesthesiologist came in and within a half hour, I had my epidural and was able to rest for a little while. Bo left the room while I got it, and went out into the waiting room to talk with his parents and my mom and aunt. I was much more comfortable by this point and couldn't feel the contractions, although the nurse said they were getting much stronger and closer together.
By 1:00 am, I was checked again and Mandy said I was 10 centimeters dilated and ready to start pushing. She started setting up all the equipment, and my mom came into the room for a minute (not knowing what was about to happen) - she and my aunt were going to go home for the night, but I told her I was ready to push, so they waited in the waiting room instead. Bo was right there by my side the whole time. The nurse instructed him to count to ten during pushes and to help hold my right leg, since the epidural had left it a little numb. He was great and supportive and offered encouragement, even though I got mad at him a couple of times and said he was counting too slow! I pushed for about an hour and a half, and my contractions were coming one on top of another, leaving me no time to catch my breath in between. Just when I thought I couldn't push any more, I heard Bo saying that Mandy was calling Dr. Osborn to come in, and the end was near. We were finally going to meet our little baby! Mandy said she could see that the baby had lots of hair, so that was all the encouragement I needed to keep going. The doctor and all sorts of other nursing staff/pediatricians rushed into the room to get ready for the birth. I pushed and pushed and suddenly, I looked down and saw a beautiful wet little baby with dark hair, crying and crying. Lotus was here! Mandy lifted the little baby girl up onto my chest and I couldn't stop crying happy tears. When I held Lotus, she stopped crying and we looked at eachother for the first time. (Daddy was right there and even got a picture of our first eye contact!) It was beautiful and awesome and a moment I'll never forget.
The nurses took Lotus to check her over and do her Apgar tests, and Bo cut the umbilical cord - which surprised us both, since things like that generally make him feel like he might pass out. The nurses gave baby girl her first bath, dried her all up and wrapped her in blankets and put on a little hat. They took her footprints and weighed her on the scale and Bo and I were just amazed that our new baby girl was here, healthy and perfect and beautiful!
All in all, labor went really well and without complications - just like I had hoped! It was an amazing, intense and empowering experience. And well worth it in the end.