It was my sons’ second birthday on Tuesday and I cannot even fathom how two years have gone by in a blink of an eye! It feels like just yesterday I was cradling his warm soft body as he slept peacefully in my arms for the first time. My whole life changed the day I became a mother. I never fell into this role of motherhood, I was created for it. I have been reflecting back on that fateful, life-changing day recently and I’d love to share with you how our beloved son entered the world.
This story starts on a normal Saturday afternoon. Taylor and I were anxiously awaiting any signs of labor, because Saturday, December 2nd was the original predicted due date. We did our monthly Costco shopping trip and headed home… joking all along the way. We got ready for small group later that afternoon. Everyone there was anxious and excited to hear if we had any news. Unfortunately I had no signs of labor any time soon, so we left small group making plans to see friends at church the next day.
The rest of the night before bed was like any normal evening. I can’t remember what we had for dinner, or if we watched a movie or something before going to bed. But one way or another, when it was bedtime I retreated to the couch. My last two months of pregnancy proved to be very uncomfortable, sleeping in the bed was not an option. In fact, I was so uncomfortable and desperate for sleep, that some nights I slept on the floor in the bathroom… really!
Each night of sleep, I became more restless and restless. When I woke up at 2:30 in the morning to go to the bathroom, it wasn’t out of the ordinary. I went to the bathroom, fully emptied my bean-sized pressurized bladder, and went back to the couch. I laid down, turned my body once, and… POP! It literally felt like a water balloon popped inside of me. I knew for a fact that I didn’t accidentally pee myself because I *just* emptied my bladder. I froze… did my water actually break? I think my water broke. What do I do? This is it!
I tried to keep my cool. Ok Rachel, go change your clothes and let Taylor know what happend. You got this. I told Taylor that my water broke and he looked so confused. It took him a minute to fully understand that no, he is not dreaming, and yes, this is real life and we are about to have a baby. In his defense, I didn’t fully understand it either. I don’t remember exactly when my contractions started, but at some point they became noticeable. I decided to snack on a few carrots for a little bit of energy, I didn’t know how long this was going to be.
I was too uncomfortable to sit, stand, walk, lie down, or do anything, so I spent a few minutes bouncing on my exercise ball while Taylor called the hospital. At this point I started to time the contractions so the nurse that Taylor was on the phone with said that we should come in. He got the bag in the car and brought the car around to the entrance of our apartment so I could easily get in. I felt strangely calm as I waddled my way slowly up the stairs… it truly felt like a significant moment and I wanted to make sure I remember it all.
The drive to the hospital felt long and short at the same time. Given that it was 3 in the morning, there were no cars on the road, we practically had the freeway to ourselves. I could feel my contractions getting more intense, more frequent, and increasingly more uncomfortable on the car ride. We pulled into the emergency parking and got admitted right away. In triage they told me to change into a hospital gown and then they measured me. I was 8 or 9 centimeters dilated, good thing we came in when we did!
I got a sweet ride to the labor and delivery wing in a wheelchair. There, the nurses prepped me with a wristband and a monitor to check on my contractions. By this time my parents had arrived. My sister and dad were in the waiting room, and my mom came to the labor and delivery room to accompany Taylor and I. I don’t remember exactly what time our other guests arrived. My grandparents came to wait, and of course Taylor’s side of the family: his mom, sister, and grandma. We had a big party waiting for this new member of the family!
My contractions escalated in severity and frequency, but I pushed on. I felt relief from the labor tub the hospital had in the room… filled with nice warm water! I started to experience back labor (which is *super* not fun) so Taylor and my mom helped with relieving that pain. My body was in a lot of stress, I started to shake uncontrollably. About half an hour went by of laboring in the tub, then I was ready to get out. I tried lying on a hospital bed, and before I knew it, my body told me I was ready to push. I knew I only wanted my husband in the room with me when I was actually going to be delivering our baby for the first time, so I sadly had my mom leave the room (I’m sorry mom, I know you were bummed about that, but thank you for respecting our privacy… I love you!).
Looking back on this life-altering moment in my life, it brings back strange memories. On one hand, it went by in such a blur… I feel like I was going through the motions. On the other hand, I can remember the most mundane details about this whole experience. Although I can hardly remember the pain of labor now. I am so thankful that my body knew what it was doing. I really tried to prepare myself mentally by not freaking out, and not tensing up during the contractions. When they came like waves, I let myself ride the wave- I didn’t try to fight it. My body was relaxed and I worked with each contraction. I think that was the key in my not needing an epidural or any pain relievers. I labored unmedicated for just over four hours before it was time to push.
This part of the story I don’t remember as clearly, so I will hand it off to Taylor so we can hear his perspective. “It’s hard to remember too many details about the 3-4 hours as it was, after all, very early in the morning and the events later in the day when I was more awake overshadowed the early morning labor hours. But one thing was clear: Rachel was focused and in control. It was incredible to see her work through one of the hardest physical acts as a human can do in delivering a baby. She had no epidural and worked through each step with grace and strength. She loved the challenge because she knew the reward was just around the corner.
“Seeing her communicate so well and work through the pain made it all the more special to see her bond with Calvin the minute he was born. She was bold enough to look in a mirror to see what was going on as Calvin came out of her. I don’t think I would have been as bold! (editors note: Rachel here, to explain what Taylor is saying about the mirror because it gives a weird visual. I was feeling overwhelmed by the work that I was doing and wanted to take a break from pushing. The nurses, as a way to encourage me to keep going, offered a mirror so I could see how far my efforts had got me).
“Of course, hearing Rachel struggle and yell through the actual pushing was tough. I could see her in pain but not take any of it for her. She’s never gripped my hand harder than she did in that moment, but I wasn’t about to complain about a bruised hand. She had fought the battle, and just before 7 am, Calvin was born happy and healthy! He laid down on Rachel’s chest and was instantly comforted. The rest of the day was a whirlwind of joy as family and friends cycled through to give gifts and congratulations. What a glorious day it was two years ago when we met our baby boy!”
Like I said, it still feels like yesterday that this all happened. Yet when I look at my son, I can’t even understand how time got away from me so quickly. He used to be so small… 8 pounds, 7 ounces. I can still remember holding him on my chest for the very first time. I just touched him and kept looking at him and smelling him. Is this real? The event I’ve been anxiously awaiting for nine months just took place, and here is the reward: my child!
At that moment I was looking forward to getting to know this human. What would he be like when he gets older? What’s his favorite color going to be? Or his favorite food? Most of all, I was looking forward to what kind of boy, and someday man, he would grow up to be. Would he be academic like his father? Would he be a social butterfly like me? I didn’t know that two years later, he would be silly and goofy, caring, smart, gentle, and observant. I didn’t know that he would like fire trucks and garbage trucks and school buses, or turn to the sound of an airplane flying in the sky miles away.
I really enjoyed thinking back to this fateful day with you. It brings back so many memories! I know it was only two years ago, but now I can’t imagine what life was like before he came into our lives. He has certainly changed me for the better. He makes me a better mom and challenges me to be a better person. I’ll never forget how he came into this world.