What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting
At 7:37 p.m. on Friday, January 19, I was sitting on my bed binge-watching “The Vampire Diaries” when I felt a flush of warm water release from my body. My water had broken. Before I could process what was happening, I looked down at my vibrating phone...my sister was calling.
In complete shock and with a racing mind, I answered the phone, “My water just broke!” Erica said, “I’m coming to get you,” and I replied, “No, you live too far away. Meet me at the hospital.”
I hung up and called my husband; Patrick was on a bachelor trip in Key West, Florida. A trip, which ironically, was planned early, so he could go without worrying about me and our baby. Patrick answered on the first ring and responded so calmly I couldn’t wrap my head around it. He said, “Okay, I’m coming home,” and moments later, I was on the phone with the hospital.
The woman I spoke with made sure, first, that I had a ride to the hospital, and then explained that once I arrived I’d be admitted and assigned a room - then, the doctors would try and slow down my labor. The goal was to delay Channing’s birth by 24 hours. This would give the medical staff an opportunity to administer two rounds of steroids, that would help strengthen Channing’s lungs, in addition to a magnesium supplement to boost neurological development.
Once I was finally off the phone, I ran around my room, tossing things into the canvas bin sitting outside my door. Over the past few weeks, that bin is where I’d begun stashing things I knew I’d one day need in my hospital bag. I grabbed slippers, my beautiful recovery room robe from Posh Peanut, my delivery gown (the posh pusher), my favorite pottery barn blanket, and a bottle of lavender.
I sat, waiting, on the kitchen floor for my friend Laura to arrive. I wish you could have seen our three concerned pups as they tried to understand what was going on. Twenty minutes later I was leaned back in Laura’s passenger seat, breathing through contractions. My older sis, who ran spastically out the door as soon as we hung up, Erica beat us to Northside and filled out my intake paperwork; unfortunately, our preliminary paperwork was not completed ahead of time - we never thought we’d need to fill it out almost nine weeks early.
The next few hours were simultaneously painfully slow and ridiculously fast. Honestly, labor and delivery was a blur.
Finally, it was my time to settle into the delivery room, and I was carted off in a wheelchair to the most enormous hospital room I’ve ever seen. I put on my posh pusher, sat down in the delivery bed and looked to the door, relieved to see our doula Pam Avery had arrived ! I was in pain, but it was tolerable. I have no idea how far I was dilated; Shanley, my delivery nurse, checked my cervix but didn’t want to give me a number in case she was wrong. Thirty minutes later I was begging for every drug offered. I was in so much pain, and it was only getting worse. I kept thinking, why are these contractions so long. I even turned to Shanley and said, “how much more painful are these going to get?” Between 10:30 and 11:30 p.m., I was in some sort of twilight zone, focusing entirely on my task at hand - breathing. You’d think all the yoga would have helped me with breath control, but my mouth was drier than it's ever been (Erica was spoon feeding me ice cubes), and my doula was trying everything she could to keep me from hyperventilating. I had a cool compress on my forehead and applied pressure on my feet. I didn’t realize how much the pressure points helped until my sister stepped away to help a nurse, and I started hollering, “Don’t let go of my feet!!”
Not long after that, Dr. Sugarman arrived. All I remember her saying is “Let me check your cervix,” and then “9 c.m.!! there's no time for an epidural.” I looked at the clock - 11:20 pm. The next time I had a contraction the sensation changed, and I felt the urge to push. This was the moment I realized most women have a bowel movement, the horror. While the pushing sensation was familiar, it was not the same and luckily I did not do the unmentionable.. I was about to push when Dr. Sugarman said, “don’t push.” Don’t push?? Later I learned the doctors have to check to make sure the umbilical cord is not wrapped around the baby’s neck before delivery. 11:29 pm, it was go-time.
With my legs in suptha baddha konasana, the delivery team yelled, “push!” I gave a little push and my doula started laughing; apparently a three-count push is not what they were looking for. She said, “this time we count to 10,” and the delivery team moved my legs into happy baby. Less than 10 counts later, Channing came flying into the world; in fact, she was moving so quickly, Erica called her a “hair rocket.” With a head full of hair, our 3 pound 6 ounce bundle of joy had arrived. I was relieved, disoriented, and exhausted. I could hear my husbands voice on the speaker phone next to my ear, and I trusted my older sister to remember everything the delivery team was telling us. . Channing and I had both survived childbirth, and all was right in the world.