We lived in VA, and my mom had driven down from WV for the long weekend hoping I’d conveniently have a baby while she was there. That Friday morning, my husband made his 30-minute commute to work. My mom and I were taking care of my three little ones and cleaning the house. Nesting.
I felt some contractions. But that was nothing new because I had contractions for a couple weeks with all my babies. My body liked to start the first half of labor around week 36 and drag it out for a while.
As the morning went on, my contractions got stronger. I wondered if this could be the real deal. Knowing my doctor spent Friday afternoons in surgery, I called to ask what he wanted the plan to be. He told me to call back and come in if the contractions got to be 10 minutes apart.
That was very convenient because I lived 10 minutes away from the hospital. I didn’t want my mom to have to load up all three of the other littles ones -ages 4, almost-3 and 17 months- to drive me to the hospital. So when my contractions were 10 minutes apart, she helped me load the little suitcase into the car. I hugged and kissed my kiddos goodbye and said we might have a new baby the next time they saw me.
Then I called my husband and told him to meet me at the hospital. I sat in the driver’s seat until the next contraction ended, knowing I’d have exactly 10 minutes to get to the hospital before another one came. I sped to the hospital and got just into the parking lot when the next one started. I stopped and breathed and waited for it to pass, then I found a parking spot and made my way into labor and delivery.
After pausing in the hall for another contraction, I got to the check-in desk, where my OB was waiting for me. Laughing at the story of my drive to the hospital, he rolled his eyes and said they usually recommend women NOT drive themselves to the hospital while they are in labor. Yeah, well, not everyone tried to coordinate labor around a husband’s work schedule, a mom’s visit, a toddler’s snack and nap schedule and a doctor’s operating room schedule.
The entire labor was odd. Either my labor needed to hurry and happen so my doctor could perform surgeries, or the baby needed to wait until he was finished with all his afternoon procedures. At first, labor slowed down. It seemed ThingFour was going to wait until late afternoon. Then the OR called to say my OB’s surgeries had been postponed. An emergency surgery had taken one of the operating rooms.
The pain of back labor started, and I asked for an epidural. The anesthesiologist came right away, but he gave me a very low dose of the medicine. As my pain worsened, the epidural barely dulled the searing in my tailbone. I called my doctor in and half-jokingly told him I wasn’t going to pay for the epidural if I hurt that much. He called the anesthesiologist back to adjust the dose.
Then, because he didn’t have any patients in the office or any other moms in labor and because the afternoon procedures were delayed, my OB just hung out in my room. He and my labor and delivery nurse sat on the couch by the window; my husband sat in the chair beside my bed; and -of course- I was hooked up to the monitors and the epidural IV. We talked and laughed. My doctor told us about the memoir of a midwife that he’d been reading.
Suddenly, I was fully dilated and ThingFour was ready to be born. Thanks to the epidural and the distracting conversation, I’d easily gone through most of labor. Because everything started happening so quickly, in sharp contrast to the couple hours we’d spent chatting and waiting, I think my husband, Patrick, and I were sort of not ready – we didn’t quite have our heads in the game at first. All of a sudden, it was time to push. My husband did not start counting to 10. My OB looked up with a grin and said, “Dad, it’s your job to count. If I have to do the counting, I charge extra.” We all laughed.
Then, I panicked. I couldn’t remember how to push. I felt a lot of pressure, and my body was probably involuntarily pushing; but my brain went blank. I started to laugh. “This is my fourth baby in just over four years, and I forget what to do!” The nurse started laughing. It was absurd. We were what the nurses call frequent fliers in labor and delivery, yet Patrick forgot how to count and I forgot how to push.
From behind the mask he’d just positioned over his mouth, my doctor said, “You can push or you can keep laughing — either way he’s coming out. Right now, you’re laughing him out.” I laughed a little harder, then gave a couple good pushes and out he came!
We’d already chosen a name, but I told Patrick we should have named him Isaac because Isaac means laughter.
Ten years later, this kid still makes me laugh. I’m so thankful I get to be his momma.