A few friends have asked that I share our birth story. I have also heard from other women that it is worth writing down the memories I have, while I still have them, even though they most likely have been slipping away already. It is a long one, here goes…
On Sunday, December 21st, we had a little dinner party with friends from work. It was an unseasonably warm night and after dinner we took a stroll down Peacock Lane, a popular street in our area that gets decked out for Christmas. It was about 11:30pm when I got into bed after everyone left. I remember feeling a really tense and strong movement from the baby. I assumed that he was running out of space and that’s why the kick felt so hard and slow. I got up to go to the bathroom and when I wiped I noticed some blood on the toilet paper but I didn’t really think anything of it. I returned to bed and throughout the course of the night I got up to go to the bathroom. Each time I was left with the blood on the toilet paper. No blood dripping out of me and no mess in my undies, just smears of it on the toilet paper.
When I finally awoke the next morning around 8:30, I didn’t remember the baby moving at all throughout the night so I drank some juice and laid down on my side hoping that the sugar would make the baby move. I then called my doctor to give them my updates and determine what was going on. The on-call nurse asked if I had felt the baby move- since drinking the juice I had. I learned that the discharge meant I was in early labor but without my water breaking yet there was really no reason to come in. The nurse preceded to tell me that early labor can last anywhere from one day to one week. With this info, I went about my day.
It was the Monday before Christmas and I had some last-minute shopping and errands to take care of. I went to lunch, stopped by my mother’s house, did some shopping at the mall and for myself at Nordstrom and then finally came home around 6 p.m. Mike was meeting up with my cousin Joaquin to watch the Blazer game and I decided to stay home and rest after what I figured was just a bad case of cramps all day. Throughout the day, I did feel cramps every so often. I started to pay attention when they were hitting me every hour. I remember being in the car on the way to the mall and taking note of the time. It was 3pm. Then in the fitting room at Nordstrom I had another episode of said cramps right at 4pm. I was not in tune or smart enough to realize that these were contractions- I was 12 days out from my due date. Everyone had told me that I looked like I was 7 months pregnant, not 9, so I figured that this baby would be coming late.
I started to take note and record my contractions at around 7pm to see if they were progressing and if there was a pattern to them. Then around 8pm I sent Mike a text with my status, at this point contractions were five minutes apart or so. I was still not expecting these to be contractions and was sure it was all just false alarms. I was googling like crazy and referencing the handouts from our birthing class trying to make sense of my state. When Mike got home around 9pm and I made him go for a walk with me. I had read that this could slow down the contractions in the event it was a false alarm. It did not really work.
Around 11pm, they were starting to become closer together and painful. I would lose my breath, squirm and then freeze my body to make myself feel better. Mike was in denial that we could be having this baby already while I was thinking it might actually be happening. We called the hospital to get their advice, they told us we could come in but did not tell us we had to. My water after all had not broken yet and without that indicator it was still likely that it was not the real deal. Mike suggested we try to go to bed and rest. I tried but had to get up every few minutes to get myself through a contraction. Finally at 12:30am, I told Mike I wanted to go to the hospital. We were both anxious but concerned that all of this had been a false alarm. The main takeaway we got from our birthing class was that too often first-time parents get to the hospital thinking they are in labor only to get sent home. We had too much pride for that to happen to us, on the drive over we joked about how embarrassed & what a disappointment it would be if they sent us home.
We arrived at the hospital at 1am. After checking in at the front desk, they brought a wheelchair for me to be rolled up to labor and delivery. I didn’t think, and still don’t think, I needed a wheelchair and asked if I had to use it. They said I had to. Once up on the fifth floor they checked us in and our nurse checked my cervix. She told me I was two centimeters, which I had been the week prior at my check up, so I figured they would tell us to go home. But then she told me that the baby was fully effaced and that we would be staying until we deliver, phew!
About 30 minutes later I was already at eight centimeters and they called in the anesthesiologist to get my IV in and have me prepped for my epidural. After receiving the epidural, we chilled out- for real. The contractions became much easier to handle, I could feel the pressure of my stomach contracting but no pain. At around 3am the doctor arrived. She checked me out and then decided at 3:30am that I should start pushing. I remember after my first push being frustrated that nothing seemed to be happening. I asked the nurse and doctor to coach me better. I did not like not knowing how to perform. After what I remember as five minutes of pushing, but was accurately 35 minutes, Mario Joaquin arrived at 4:05am on Tuesday December 23rd, 2014.
By the time he arrived, we realized that we had not told anyone we were even at the hospital. We certainly hadn’t expected him to come eleven days early. Mike quickly texted my mom. After admiring him in the early morning hours, we did our best to rest and sleep but by 8am I was back up for the day, excited to share our news with our family and friends.
Soon after giving birth and sharing our story I learned that this was a very quick birth. We are lucky we made it to the hospital and that our boy arrived safe and sound. We brought him home on Christmas Eve and celebrated his arrival at our annual Christmas Eve dinner at my aunt & uncle’s house surrounded by family. You can read more about that here.