At 4:30 am on a freezing Wednesday morning, I woke up with my family of 3 for the very last time. I’d slept like a rock the night before, even though I knew what lie ahead of me, and even though I hadn’t had a decent night’s sleep in weeks. I walked around in the semi-darkness of our bedroom, careful not to wake Lily before I had to, and I dressed my giant stomach for the last time, and I took an extra minute to look at myself in the mirror. After everything the last year had handed us, we’d made it to the end. I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t: there was just too much happiness flowing through me.
We made the 5 minute drive to the hospital for our 5:30 a.m. check-in time- they were expecting us. We talked with Lily the entire ride over, and she was excited to know the day had finally come that she was going to meet Little Brother. Everyone was so calm, and unlike the last drive I’d made to labor and delivery, there were no tears.
Once we got settled into our room, I answered a million questions and filled out a million sheets of paper. We waited and waited and finally, the doc came in to break my water. We had known for a few weeks that induction was probably going to be the route we had to take. Drew was on track to be bigger than Lily, who was 9 pounds and 6 ounces, and if I wanted to avoid the scary birth I had with Lily, as well as the brutal recovery, an induction would be the best option. Yes, I wanted my baby here safely, and yes, I wanted to be able to walk and take care of my 2 kids in the days after delivery. Induction it was.
After she broke my water, the heavy contractions started within minutes. They were manageable, though, and I figured that if that was it, I could make it all natural. Until the nurse told me that the doctor put in an order for pitocin. As soon as I heard that, I signed up for an epidural as fast as possible. Pitocin contractions are about 5 times worse than normal contractions, and there was no way I was going to put myself through that hell again.
It must have been around 10 by the time I got the epidural, and once it was in, I expected immediate relief like I had with Lily. My legs started feeling a little fuzzy, but it just didn’t seem to set in as quickly as I remembered. As soon as the epidural was in, the pitocin started pumping. But I still wasn’t getting much pain relief, only a little numbness in my legs. My wonderful, wonderful nurse kept trying to reassure me that it might take as much as an hour for the pain relief to kick in. Not what happened with Lily, at all.
This is where things got crazy. The pitocin worked almost instantly, and I felt so much pressure and such an intense pain to push that I thought i was going to have a panic attack. At this point my mom and sister took Lily on a stroll to the cafeteria and the gift shop, so we had to say goodbye to her for a few minutes. Little did she know what she was going to come back to :)
The urge to push kept coming, and the nurse finally checked my progress. I went from a 4 to an 8 in about 15 minutes. The pitocin was doing what it was supposed to, but unfortunately, the epidural was not. “We’re going to have a baby in the next 30 minutes,” the nurse told me. What?? Come again?? Can we give the epidural a little more time to actually work?? I’d only been at it for 3 hours, but I didn’t have time to question her because I was slammed with such an urgency to push that I knew baby was right there. He was coming, and I was the one who had to get him here. It felt like I was hooked up to an electric shock every 20 seconds. My body took over and I couldn’t even speak a word. All I could do was ride out the wave of pain and anticipate what was coming next.
I was so focused on getting through the pain that I barely noticed the doc walk in in her scrubs. It was only 10:50, and the nurse said it was go time. I’ll never forget the look Tim gave me: disbelief, shock, excitement, fear. I’d spent a full day in labor with Lily, and I was about to have this one in less than 4 hours. Ok.
They propped me up in the bed, and I pushed with everything inside of me because I remembered how I felt so defeated when I couldn’t push Lily out on my own. I was determined to bring Drew into this world my way, and the memories of Lily’s birth gave me strength. So I pushed and it burned like nothing I’ve ever felt. Searing pain that I can’t even describe. A contraction is nothing compared to the end- nothing. It burned and I screamed and I pushed and I let go of everything I was holding back, and I worked hard.
On the 12th push, the nurse yelled out, “Look down, Mom. Grab your baby. Here he is.” And I was able to pull him the rest of the way out of me and bring him onto my chest. I was in pure disbelief, and there was Tim with tears in his eyes, and there was our son new to this world and lying on my chest. All I wanted was Lily, and my heart would be overflowing. Tim cut the cord, and they took Drew and weighed, measured, and cleaned him.
When they brought him back to me, he was bright eyed and looking me right in the face. After we had a few minutes alone, Tim went and got Lily to join us, and we had our first moments as a family of 4. It was perfect from beginning to end: the kind of birth I could have only dreamed of. There were 3 people in the room with Tim and I. No, NICU nurses. No chaos. No secret whispers and sideways glances that filled us with fear for our unborn child. It was peaceful, and it was a lot like being in a dream.
It was the first day of spring and we’d brought a new life into this world. Our little boy- the little miracle I’d dreamed of for the last year. I’d spent so much time wondering where I’d find room in my heart to love someone else the way I love Lily, and I finally had my answer:
I didn’t have to make room in my heart for him because my heart had been growing with him all along. He already had a place all his own.