So I found out baby Jack had grown to 8lbs 9oz the week before this Christmas. I started to experience signs of labor that week as well, but I couldn't really say for sure that that's what I was experiencing. My doctor did not seem concerned about him coming early. In fact, he had me all stressed out about whether or not I should have an elective c-section since Jack was already so big at 37 weeks. the average newborn is 7-1/2 lbs and my baby had 3 more weeks of cooking to do! I won't go in to all of the conversation about why I might have needed a c-section, since it is now a moot point.
We went to John's dad's house in Bellingham for breakfast Christmas morning and drove back down to Edmonds to John's mom's for a very casual evening. I had Braxton Hicks contractions all day but thought nothing of it. We returned home around 10 that night and I was exhausted (as usual) so I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. John said I was asleep for about 15 minutes before I was awakened by my water breaking. This was a shock because our birth class teacher told us that your bag of waters breaking doesn't usually happen first like it does in the movies and on tv. I was stressing out for weeks about whether I'd be able to tell when my contractions were close enough to go to the hospital, and I never even had to count. I had about an hour and half after my water broke where I had no pain to speak of.
We finished packing our hospital bag, lined the passenger seat of John's car with towels ( you would not believe how much amniotic fluid there was), and headed off to Swedish Edmonds.
We got to the hospital around midnight and once they confirmed that my water had broken I was moved into my room and able to start laboring in the nice deep tub they had in the bathroom.
My wonderful saint of a friend, Caroline, came at 2am to help me cope with labor. I sent her home around 6 or 7 when I had hit 8cm and also my mental limit. I couldn't concentrate to breathe anymore and I didn't feel able to continue with the pain being what it was so I got the epidural. This wasn't totally devastating because my plan had always been to do what I could, see what I could do, and utilize my resources if I didn't feel able. Unfortunately, what I knew about epidurals turned out to be true in my case and I stayed at 8cm for the next two hours. So out came the pitocin which stressed me out because I did not want to get on the epidural-pitocin roller coaster that eventually leads to c-section. My epidural, however, was controlled by a button that I wasn't sure if I was allowed to push-so I didn't push it. I also had a window on my right side that wasn't effected by the epidural. I was grateful for this because I was still connected to what was going on in my body, but the pain wasn't completely overwhelming. It felt like a really great compromise.
The clock was ticking away, and one troublesome thing about your water breaking at the beginning of labor instead of in the middle of it, is that you and the baby are increasingly susceptible to infection as time goes on. My doctor wanted Jack to be delivered within 12 hours so I was constantly aware that I had a time limit. I was able to start pushing at about 12 hours and they had to keep an eye on my temperature to be sure that I wasn't getting sick and that Jack wasn't either. My sister had left work after an hour, taken the bus and then walked several miles to the hospital to be with me for the birth. She and John held my legs and counted for me while I pushed for 2 and a half hours. I was very frustrated and intentionally did not utilize my epidural button because I was having so much trouble effectively pushing him out. I couldn't feel enough initially to focus my pushing where it needed to go. Finally with the help of Dr. Rogers I successfully pushed baby Jack out and I cried and John cried (even though he swore he wasn't going to). It was a beautiful experience. It was the fastest 14-1/2 hours of my life. I ended up with an absolutely adorable 8lb 9oz baby boy.
Now the work has begun. John and I have been overwhelmed both by the amount of love we have for our child, as well as the amount of work that goes into caring for him. This was especially true in the first week when we barely slept. Now that we've got a rhythm going things are a bit easier.
All in all the birth of my child has been a day anticipated with the same fervor I once had approaching Christmas day. Baby Jack is the most extravagant Christmas gift I've received in my life. It reminds me of Matthew 7:11 Just as my mother was able to give good gifts when I was a child, how much more has my Father in heaven been able to give good gifts?