(Ok, this took a lot longer to tell than I expected, so Evenshine, I completely understand if you don’t read it. I just remember all the details so well. And it has humor.)
Come here, and I’ll tell you a story. It’s been two years, but I can remember every detail like it was a week ago. You better believe that you’ll have this story memorize one day.
It started at 2:30 in the morning as your brother hollered and hollered to get out of his crib, and I believed I had to check on him every 15 minutes in case he believed I would abandoned him. Finally I sat in the rocking chair in the corner of the room as he called for me to take him out of the crib. I must have dozed off for a little while because I woke up to a pain. Not to worry, it was a Braxton Hicks. It had to be. You were due in 11 days. I had been having these cramps on and off for the last few days.
I must have dozed off because your brother was quiet, and I went back to my bed. I looked at the clock, and it read 3:30. Your father was snoring, and I rolled into bed, snuggling up to my giant body pillow shaped like a dolphin, left over from my wacky college days. Another cramp. I wrapped myself around the pillow, willing myself to sleep before-
Too late. Where did the 15 minutes go? I heaved myself out of bed to waddle down to the nursery. “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!” Evan cried as I gripped the door allowing another cramp to go through my body. Stupid Braxton Hicks! I laid a crying Evan down, stuffed the binkie into his mouth, and made soothing noises. What idiot gets pregnant when her oldest can’t even sleep through the night? I wanted to cry as another pain shot through my body.
Wait. Was that more intense? Was that closer together? Oh no! Oh no! I can’t! You can’t!
“Not today! Not tonight! I haven’t had any sleep!” I whispered harshly to the giant bulge. You kicked in response. “Don’t you take that tone with me. I’ll grab that foot.” I waddled back to the bedroom as Evan called and called.
I moaned as another cramp shot through me.
The husband: What? Huh? Evan! I’ll get him.
He stumbled out of the room. I bit my pillow. You’re a little too late, I thought at your dad. The crying stopped. But I heard giggling outside the bedroom.
So this was why he doesn’t sleep through the night.
Your father was pleased as he tried to snuggle back into bed, back to sleep, like he usually did, even with a toddler jumping on the bed.
The husband: What’s wrong?
Me: I’m having cramps.
Evan jumped around the bed.
The husband: What?! How far apart are they?!
Me: How the hell should I know? Sorry, Evan. I can’t tell. Evan, calm down. Owww.
The husband: You’re in labor.
Me: No. I’m. Not. They’re fake.
Your father did not believe me. Which he shouldn’t. I did the same thing at your brother’s birth day.
But you. You were eleven days early. The bunk beds were coming on Tuesday, five more days away. Your grandma was coming on Monday, four days away. Your father and I had finally found some time to go on a date night with a sitter lined up for the night, that night. I was supposed to go buy your coming home outfit today, make a real effort because I hadn’t found anything. Evan’s laundry was in the dryer. Who would we call to watch Evan?
It should be stated that three women were on stand by waiting for the call. I just didn’t know what good friends I had.
The husband: Fine. We’ll wait and see. What do we do with Evan?
Me: I. Don’t. Know. (I breathed through my teeth.)
The husband: You just had another one. How long has this been going on?
Me: Since 2:30.
The husband: That was two hours ago.
Me: I need sleep. I can’t do this without sleep. Evan, lay down.
The husband: Let’s just turn on the cartoons.
Me: It’s 4:30!
The husband: We aren’t going back to sleep.
For the next half hour, Evan jumped around the bed, and I curled up in fetus position.
Me: I’m calling my mom.
Mom! I need you! All of the sudden I remembered the pain from the last delivery! I can’t do this again!
I dialed. I knew Papi was finally up, getting ready for work, when he was a detective, a police man.
Papi: What’s wrong, sweetie?
Me: I think I’m in labor.
Papi: Oh. Here’s your mother. (murmering) It’s Fae. She thinks she’s in labor.
Grandma: (murmuring) Tell her to call back in an hour when she’s sure.
Papi: Just breathe. You’ll be ok. Here’s your mom.
Grandma: (groggy) Hello?
Grandma: Calm down. Take a deep breath. Ok. Call me in an hour when you’re sure.
Did I ever mention your Grandma does not handle crises well if she’s awoken from her sleep? If she’s awake, she’s awesome. Not so much if she’s awoken, your grandfather on the other hand. He casually mentioned that if I was in labor, maybe she might want to catch the early flight to LA, which sunk in ten minutes later.
I don’t remember what that hour was like. I just know that by six, you and your dad had convinced me that I was indeed in labor. The increasing pain and number of cramps really made things more clear. I called your grandma back.
Me: Mom. I’m in labor.
Grandma: If I had gotten up when you called I would have made the 6:20 flight. I’ll have to wait for the 8:30 flight. I’ve already booked it. Can The Husband get me picked up by someone?
Me: (To The husband) Can you get my mom picked up from LAX at 9:30?
The husband: No problem.
Grandma: Don’t worry. I’ll be there before you even deliver. You were in labor with even for what? 12 hours?
Me: 15 and a half.
Grandma: Plenty of time. Are you going to the hospital now?
The husband: Yes! (Because apparently he was freaked out enough to call our friend, the nurse, who worked for my OB-GYN. She was telling him that she was on her way.)
Grandma: Breathe. Breathe.
Grandma: Get to the hospital, Faemom Middle Name LAST NAME!
Me: Hurry! (I hung up. I growled.)
The husband: Ok, D. Is on her way? What do we need?
Me: My bag is already packed.
The husband: Ok, let me find my lucky shirt. Where’s my lucky shirt.
Me: WHAT (suck in breath)! Lucky. Shirt?
The husband: The Star Wars one. The one I wore for Evan’s birth. It’s my lucky shirt.
Evan: Mommy? You ok?
Me: Mommy hurts a little bit. You’re going to have a baby brother today.
The husband: Where’s my lucky shirt?
Me: I. Don’t. Know. I. Don’t. Care!
He found it in a pile of dirty clothes. He actually smelled it before putting it on. I reminded him that the truck was parked behind the car. I took Evan down stairs with the bags. I toasted a frozen waffle for him. I wondered if I had enough time to take out the laun-
It ripped through me, bringing me down on my knees, forcing me to curl over the stairs out of the -sunken living room. The f-word burst out of my lips, screaming into the air, sending Evan crying. As the cramp shook off me, I went to Evan, comforting him. Another one sent me back into fetus position, and that was where our friend found me.
D: Go! THE HUSBAND! Get your wife to the hospital NOW!
Your father ran back into the house.
D: Grab the bags! Go! Don’t stop for anything!
I waddled out to the car, feeling the cool cement under my feet.
Me: I love you, Evan. I’ll be back. Be good. He’s lunch is at-
D: I know. I know. Just go. Evan, wave to Mommy.
Your dad pulled out and sped as I cowered in pain. We got to the hospital, pulling up to the emergency side. I heard your father ask the attendant if we can leave the car there. The attendant’s eyes bulged as he saw me get out. He told him yes as he helped me up the curb as my husband grabbed my bags as another attendant brought out a wheel chair. I hate wheel chairs.
Your father pushed the wheel chair as fast as he could, squeezing us into an elevator with another in labor couple and two nurses. I moaned. They let us out first, and I had enough composure to demand a single room, the last single room. The woman told us rates had increased. I said I didn’t f-ing care, pay the woman. They wheeled me into a room, and I walked into the bathroom, tried one last time and got my gown on. Then I remembered.
Me: (bursting out of the bathroom. To the nurse) I want to donate my cord blood. I meant to call today. He wasn’t suppose to be due for another week and a half. I want to-
The nurse: Shh. I’ll call. Calm down. They’re just across the street. They have time. Let’s get you up and see how far along you are. So this is your second? How long have you been- Seven centimeters! Darling, you should have been here sooner. I don’t know if we can get you that epidural.
Me: WHAT!!!!!???? I need it. (I start to cry.) I don’t know if I can do this without it. I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I can’t-
The nurse: Shhh. You’ll be fine. Just breathe. I’ll see what we can do.
Your father was ready to tear someone’s head off. But luckily the anesthesiologist was in the building and ran to my aid. Ah, drugs.
Then time slipped from me again. The husband was calling his partner, asking him to make sure your grandma was picked up at LAX. The nurse went on her break, and another nurse checked on me. And then I KNEW YOU WERE READY. I couldn’t look anywhere but up or I would have started pushing.
Me: He’s here! He’s here! Oh, God, he’s ready!
The new nurse: No, no. That’s impossible. Your water isn’t even broken. You haven’t been here more than a couple hours.
Me: HE. IS. REA-DE-Y! (In that moment, I hurled thousands of curses at this nurse as she left the room, all in my head.)
My nurse popped in a minute later. She checked me.
The nurse: Oh my! He’s already there. And your water isn’t broken yet. Let me call the doctor.
She was on the phone as I labored with my breathing, always looking up. The feeling to push was intense as I gripped your father’s hand. Apparently the anesthesiologist for the C-Section my doctor was attending could hear me breathe and told my doctor that he better run and that he’ll be back before that woman was ready.
The nurse got off the phone and smiled. The cord blood people ran in and set up.
The nurse: He’s coming. Don’t push. Let’s get you already, so that when the doctor comes, we’ll be all set.
Me: (to the husband) Don’t forget to call the babysitter to cancel. Tell D that Evan’s clothes are in the dryer.
Legs in stirrups, hands gripping, my breathing labored, I looked up and prayed to the Holy Mother. She would understand. My doctor slid into the room with the energy of a twenty year-old, which kind of surprised me because he had been delivering babies longer than I had been on this planet.
The doctor: What do we got here, Fae? Wasn’t I suppose to see you on Monday? The Husband, how are you? Ready for a baby?
He said all this as he put on gloves and sat down ready to play catcher. He broke my water, murmuring something about how it had kept you in.
I looked down at him between my legs, which is really weird to write or say or think about it. We all waited for the next contraction to crash over me like the tidal wave force that it was. Then it came, and it was a tiny breaker. We all looked at each other. The next one came, and it licked at my toes. So did the next two. It was a WTF moment. I released my grip of your father and the rail, pursing my lips in concentration.
The doctor: Well, that’s a little odd. (just as another tiny contraction hit me, smaller than the ones in the nursery.)
Me: You’re telling me.
The doctor: Ok. We have two options. We can wait to see if the contractions pick up again and do this later. I promise I’ll be back for that. Or we can try to do it without contractions.
I believed that if he left, I would have you without him. I knew the moment he walked out that door you would come. I knew he could not leave that room.
Me: Let’s give it the old college try. If it doesn’t work, we can try again later.
The doctor: Thata girl! Ok. We’ll wait for the next contraction. Ok. Here it comes. Push! Push! You can do it! Push! Good! Good! Ok. Take a breathe. Good job. You’re doing great. Here comes another one. Ok. Push!
It was like swimming against the tide. But I did it. You were ready. You wanted to come. With your Grandma somewhere between Tucson and LAX, you came out, pushed by your Mama’s determination and your will. You gave a lusty cry, and I began to cry when the doctor placed you warm and slimy on my belly. I pushed one more time as we stared into each other’s eyes. When the nurse took you to clean you up, you cried like you were saying, “Mama. That’s my Mama. I want my Mama. I’m hungry!” When she handed you back, you went straight for the breast, starving. And it was 9:20.
Wait. Where are my sandals?