At this moment I couldn’t have been more grateful that we’d already packed our hospital bags. It was hard enough for me to focus and tell Tim to grab our toothbrushes and my toiletries bag. I can’t imagine if I was also trying to make sure I packed clothes, snacks, our camera bag, and baby’s car seat as well.
Tim loaded up the car, we gave our puppies a little love (Bentley was clearly freaked out at my distress) and told them we might bring them a new brother or sister soon, and hopped in the car to head to the hospital.
I remember shuffling across our front yard in the dark, the wet grass under my feet, the thunder still rumbling in the distance, and looking back at our house with an intense feeling of change and transition ahead of us. It was sort of a bizarre feeling, looking back at the house I grew up in – the one my husband and I now rent – thinking that this might be the last time I step out that front door before becoming a mom.
Now, the doctors office we’d been visiting throughout our pregnancy is in the same hospital building as the Labor and Delivery wing where we planned to have our baby, so we had practiced the drive to the hospital dozens of times. We had assessed the traffic situation at different times throughout the day and we knew detour routes if it became necessary for us to go a different way. The one scenario I hadn’t imagined was driving to the hospital at night, on empty streets, in a lightning storm.
The rain had all passed by, but the roads were still wet, the power was out in many of the buildings we passed by, some of the stop lights were also out, and there was lightning in the distance all around us as we got on the road and drove the 35-40 minutes to our hospital. It was a surreal and beautiful experience.
As we got on the highway, Tim commented on how extraordinary it was that the same God who was responsible for the powerful lightning storm has also been knitting together the tiny life in my belly. Again, one of those moments that’s always going to stick with me.
When we arrived at the hospital we entered through the emergency entrance and the lady behind the desk already knew my name when we walked up. She got on the phone to call transport and announced to them “We’ve got another one!” Apparently we were the third couple in a row that had checked into labor and delivery that night.
I settled into a wheelchair and was taken up to the second floor, given a room and a hospital gown, and hooked up to monitors and an IV with fluids. I remember feeling pretty uncomfortable when we arrived and I was made to sit in the bed for quite a while before I could move around. I was 2.5 cm dilated when we arrived and that’s when we realized we were definitely staying the night at the hospital and likely having a baby the next day.
I hadn’t come up with an official birth plan, or even written anything down. If I had, it would’ve said something like “I want to participate in labor as long as possible. If I can deliver my baby without medication or an epidural, that would be wonderful. Epidurals freak me out. However, I want to leave the door open for that if I decide later that I have to have one. And if the baby is in danger, do whatever it takes to keep him or her safe.”
That’s pretty much what I told my nurse, and when I shared this with her, she looked a little nervous. Maybe that was just my interpretation of the look she gave me, but she did tell me that 98% of women get epidurals. Or maybe she said that only 2% of women deliver naturally. I forget the details. Either way, her lack of enthusiasm for my “birth plan” was not terribly encouraging. If she was trying to convince me to not go “all natural,” it didn’t work. I was even more determined to try and work with my body, focus on my breathing, and to “participate as long as possible” in my own labor and delivery of our baby.
Read the next part of the story here.