I got up to go to work that morning, feeling as I had been, ready and waiting for your arrival, but not sensing anything different. The lunch bell rang and I walked a couple blocks to a store to buy some lunch: a package of California rolls and a candy bar. On the walk both to and from the store, I did notice I was feeling more tightening of my belly, but I’d assumed it was another round of Braxton Hicks contractions – practice for the real deal. Lunch was as lunch always was, sitting in the PD room with my colleagues, chatting about everything and nothing. When the bell rang to begin fourth period, I got up and immediately sensed something. I went to the restroom and saw I had flooded myself. I wasn't sure if I’d peed myself or if my water had broken and what I was looking at was amniotic fluid, so – I went about my business and started class.
And then things changed.
Every time I stood up from my desk, my body, well, leaked. At that point I was starting to believe that this wasn't pregnancy induced incontinence, but something more. I excused myself from my students and went back to the restroom, and that’s when I confirmed my water broke. Instead of going back into my room, I walked downstairs to the office and let the secretary know that I’d need someone to cover my class as my water had just broken. She got very excited. I just stood there. Leaking.
I went back up to my room to collect my belongings, and within minutes the nurse and two teachers showed up. It didn't take long for my students to figure out what was going on. Their excitement was endearing. I went to the nurse’s office, called the Midwife and let her know what was going on. They suggested I go to Triage and get assessed since I wasn't, at the moment, having contractions. I called Big Red and let him know that my water had broken, and for him to make his way home and wait for my next call. There was no pain, no sense of urgency at that point, so I drove myself to the hosptial.
After being admitted into Triage, it was determined that my water had in fact broken and that I was 3-4 cm dilated. At that point it was around noon, and I called Big Red to tell him to bring the bag, this was the real deal.
Within an hour, we were shown to our Labor & Delivery room. We set up camp, and quickly thereafter the contractions showed up with a vengeance. There was no getting used to a gradual increase in pain as the pain went from virtually nothing at all to a screaming yawp of fire. I was dilating quickly, and the contractions were coming one on top of the other with little rest in between. Big Red would look at the monitor and tell me that the graph of the contractions was not the nice bell curve that we thought it would be, but rather sharp steep peaks. Out the door flew my birth plan, and intentions of a natural childbirth without the aid of anesthesia. I looked at Big Red, said our code word phrase: “Chocolate: I want an epidural.”
The resident anesthesiologist showed up within minutes, an angel in my book, and proceeded to administer the epidural. It took some time as the contractions did not allow much time in between to insert the needle into my back, but eventually he was able to get it in. And then the relief. Sweet, sweet relief from the intolerable pain – pain so venomous, I was certain that each time a contraction wrapped its gnarly arms around my pelvis, I left my body. And then I was relaxed. And we watched some TV, and we chatted. But it wasn’t long before I was beginning to feel an odd pressure in my bottom. We alerted the nurse and I asked to be checked. I was complete. 10 cm. The midwife assessed that I should “labor down;” resist the urge to push and allow my body to bring the baby down lower into the birth canal. That way, when I did begin to push, it wouldn’t take as long. I was game. That lasted maybe half an hour, because at some point, my body just started pushing against the pressure without my permission. It was show time.
Big Red held my right leg, and the nurse held my left. Pushing seemed to come easily enough for me and I was able to work with each contraction and bring the baby down further and further. The mirror above my head on the ceiling showed the entire scene, and when I did have my eyes open (for some reason it was more comfortable to push with them closed), I could see peeks of the baby’s head.
Lucille Katherine Marshall was born at 9:40 pm, on Wednesday, October 9, 2013. The entire labor and delivery process was roughly nine hours in length. Her APGAR scores were 9 and 9 (the first given at one minute and the second give at 5 minutes, each after birth respectively). Because it was determined earlier on that there was some meconium in the amniotic fluid, Big Red was not able to cut the cord and she was not placed directly on my chest after birth. That did not deter from anything. It was only a handful of minutes before the nurse brought my daughter over to me. She lay on my chest, her skin to my skin, a head full of dark hair, steel gray eyes, the longest feet and toes I’d ever seen. I marveled that this little creature was something that, minutes ago, was living inside of me.
Big Red made phone calls to our parents and announced her name. It had been a secret, her name. It was the last surprise we could hold onto, and we did, successfully, for the duration of my pregnancy. He was, so incredibly amazing during the entire process. He knew when to touch and comfort me, and when to leave me alone in my pain. He has, without skipping a single beat, slipped so eloquently into fatherhood, it is a travesty to think he once doubted his abilities. Big Red changed the first diaper, and he is so gentle with her, you'd think he was holding a gossamer winged butterfly.
Everything about Lucy’s birth was amazing, surprising, life-changing, and humbling. I am forever a woman transformed. I do not have super powers, and I’m not in any way smarter than I was before my daughter’s birth. What I am is a woman who was lucky enough to bring a life into this world. I have been charged with the care of this sweet little girl; a responsibility so awesome, I cannot look directly into its depths. Instead, I will allow the love – inexplicable, instantaneous love—springing up from a well somewhere hidden I did not know existed within me, to wrap its light around her life.
Today, my daughter is a week old and I can hardly believe such a swath of time has already slipped between my grasp. Every snuggle, every kiss of her cherubic cheeks, every gurgle and squeak - I am savoring every moment I can.