The daughter was born on March 29th at 3:57pm, after nearly 24 hours of labor for mom. Although, to be honest, I’m not sure if you can count labor as having been a true 24 hours, as mom insisted that she was only suffering from strong cramps for nearly 8 hours before finally acquiescing to her bodies need to get baby out.
Early labor began at Ruby Tuesdays, when mom went out to have dinner with one of her oldest friends. The only logical conclusion could be that baby thought: “if you’re going to feed me this shit, I’m done – get me out of here.” As mom stopped mid-conversation to grimace and grab the table, her friend asked repeatedly: “are you sure you aren’t in labor?,”to which mom flippantly cast aside the friend’s concern.
When mom arrived at home, dad met her at the door and seeing mom’s distress, only half-seriously asked “are you you in labor?”
“No, just some cramps from my exam this afternoon” (mom’s “cramping” had begun almost immediately following her 39 week exam earlier that afternoon).
This justification was reiterated as mom doubled over the birthing ball in the living room to ease the pain from the cramps, and again as mom woke up every 4 minutes from the “waves of cramping” while attempting to sleep. Dad began to watch the clock as mom slept. If she woke up to yelp at 10:59, he knew he’d surely hear from her again at 11:03 and again at 11:07. As the evening wore on, mom’s cramps neither intensified nor subsided but continued rhythmically on for several hours
Around 1am, after several google searches to try to play in-home doctor, Mom and Dad agreed that they should call the hospital just in case the cramping was indicative of something more serious. When the doctor returned their call, she advised Mom and Dad to go into the hospital because it might be labor, which Mom and Dad thought was silly but agreed to go in anyway to assuage her concern.
Since this wasn’t labor, mom and dad grabbed only the pre-packed clothes bag (for mom and potential baby) but chose not to bring the bag of snacks or a change of clothes for dad since they’d almost assuredly be back by morning- a decision that would prove to be regretful over the next 24 hours when mom and dad were left to snack only on hospital-issued saltines.
As they drove to the hospital, dad watched mom tense and relax in four minute increments through the rearview mirror, and he realized that mom was in fact in labor. That drive to the hospital at 1:30am was like every labor cliche, mom screaming every few minutes followed by only breathing, the car radio and the Minneapolis evening skyline.
When they arrived at the hospital, the receiving nurse concretely told mom and dad, “you are in a labor and will be having this baby tonight.” Although her timeline was very off, she was right and baby was born 14 and half hours later.
Labor was complicated mess, but a story that does not warrant retelling except to say that it seems unduly cruel. Labor is everything you’ve always read and heard it is, but different altogether. The whole process seems to take place in waves of extreme highs and the lowest lows. Every change is exciting because it means baby is on the way (and you are that much closer to being done with the ordeal that is labor), but also brings with it intensified pain for mom. The only thing worse than an intensification in the pain (and the volume of mothers screams) is no change at all, which leads to hours and hours of prolonged, seemingly purposeless pain. They say that the most humane thing that a highly skilled prizefighter can due to his outmatched opponent is to knock him out on the first punch and save him the prolonged, dangerous beating. When mom is in labor, you are constantly hoping for that one punch but the relief seemingly never comes. It is “worth it” but the process as a whole still seems altogether cruel and unfair.
The hero of the story certainly is the mother, who labored without medication for 24 hours, 15 of which was at the hospital. Initial projections had the baby in her arms by 7:00am, but when the baby didn’t come, mothered powered on. When projections of 8:00am, and noon, 2:30pm and 3:30pm failed to yield baby, mother powered on. Her strength was truly one of the most moving things that dad had ever seen, and something he’ll carry with him his whole life.
Finally, at 3:57pm, after some medical drama, baby utters her first cry, followed quickly by dad’s sobs. At that moment, the previous 24 hours of labor and 10 months of pregnancy are all worth it. That moment greatly exceeds any expectation one can have for it and truly cannot be adequately conveyed with the written word.
Baby is here, mom is well, both are a amazing and I love them both to death.