Gage was due Monday, February 21st. We all eagerly anticipated the date… which came and went with little fanfare. Tuesday morning, I was still pregnant. I had everything on my “to do” list done and then some. I had been enjoying the relative quiet before the storm of life with a new baby – relaxing, playing with Jack, etcetera – but now I was starting to get impatient and so were Jason and Jack. I was very uncomfortable with back aches, sciatica, and extreme fatigue. I was tired of feeling so tired all the time. Every time I’d call Jason at work, he’d answer with anticipation in his voice only to be disappointed when I was only asking what time he’d be home. Jack asked every day, hands on hips, “when is that baby gonna come out?” I had several instances where I began to have contractions and got excited only for them to stop after two or three.
Then, I awoke at 2:45AM on Thursday the 24th with a dull cramp in my abdomen. As I lie there awake in the dark next to slumbering Jack and Jason, the cramp began a gentle crescendo into a real contraction. “Hmm, curious,” I thought, not getting too worked up as this had happened before. Then I had another contraction ten minutes later and then another. I decided to get out of bed and walk around. I paced the bathroom floor slowly and then did some stretches on the floor. The contractions continued, very bearable at around ten minutes apart. I decided this was most likely the real deal, so I went downstairs and had peanut butter toast and milk, knowing I’d not have anything else for hours. I went back upstairs, got out a pad of paper and started recording the contractions. I sat on the couch and waited. They were irregular, varying from three to twelve minutes apart and lasting around a minute each. I went to Jack’s room, got out his “big brother” t-shirt and set it on top of his dresser, certain he would need it later that day. Around 3:45AM, I went to the bathroom and noticed a small amount of bleeding. I washed my face, brushed my teeth, recorded some more contractions, and then at 5:00AM, when I noticed more blood and the contractions were stronger, I woke Jason up.
I shook him gently and whispered, “Hey, we’re going to have a baby today.” He woke with a start. “What?! Why?” he asked, alarmed but still in a sleep haze. “I’m having contractions,” I said, “Come see my notes.” Jason jumped out of bed and hustled to the bathroom, turning on the shower on the way. He was all of a sudden going a mile a minute: “Why didn’t you wake me up??” (my reply: “I did, just now”) He went on, “Did you call your parents? Did you call the doctor? How far apart are they?”
I called my parents. Mom was already up, getting ready for work. I said, “Mom, we need you to come over.” She knew what was up, so all she said was, “Okay, be there soon.” I could hear her yelling at my dad before she hung up, “Pat! We gotta go!” I called the doctor. My ob was not on call that early AM, but his partner sounded like a calm, nice guy. After a few questions, he said, “yeah, you probably want to head on in to the hospital.” By 5:30AM, Mom and Dad were at our house, Jack was still asleep in our bed, and Jason and I were ready to go. We’d had the hospital bag packed and in the van for weeks. My contractions were still varying from three to ten minutes apart but were getting stronger. Jason was in a big hurry to get to the hospital, all the stories of dads delivering their own children on the side of the highway flashing through his mind. I was calm, convinced based on the way I felt, we still had plenty of time. As we pulled out of our driveway in the van, I started, “Jason…” “What?” he said, “drive fast?” “No,” I replied, “Don’t drive too fast and get pulled over. I don’t have time for that shit.”
We easily made our way to the hospital – no traffic at that early hour. When Jason dropped me off at the entrance, according to him, there was an injured convict in shackles getting out of a white van who walked in right next to me. I didn’t notice. I was clutching my pillow, keeping a keen eye out for the elevators to the second floor maternity ward. They remodeled the hospital after we had Jack there, so I actually had to pause at a sign to find the elevators. A country-esque dude saw me looking at the sign and asked, “Whatcha lookin for, darling?” My one word reply, “elevators.” I was trying to get to a bed before I had another contraction.
When I got to the second floor, they checked me in quickly and a nurse took me to an LDR room. I got dressed in the typical, open down the back, ass hanging out hospital gown. Just as I was situating myself on the bed at 5:50AM, my water broke in the best example of good timing ever. Jason showed up about five minutes later, to my relief, and I informed the nurse that I’d decided on the way to the hospital, I wanted an epidural… as soon as possible, if not sooner.
My labor nurse’s name was Kathy. She was down-to-earth, relaxed, friendly and funny – perfect. There was also a nursing student present. I don’t remember her name, but she was enjoyable company as well. When the anesthesiologist came in, much to my relief, I gave him a second look. He was hunched over, around seventy and had a lazy eye. I told myself not to be judgmental. As I curled over on the side of the bed with Kathy standing in front of me holding me, he inserted the epidural, and I felt a zap! down the left side of my body. I flinched – not what they want you to do while placing a needle in your spine – but everything was okay after that. I lay back down and was comfortable within minutes. I was so comfortable, I almost fell asleep while the nursing student placed my catheter, despite the fact that she and her instructor had several tries at it before it was correct.
With the epidural in place, Jason and I were both able to doze a little bit. I don’t think either one of us actually went to sleep, though. We were too excited. As the hours went on, I started feeling the contractions again. I could feel them in the right side of my back as well. My left side felt pretty numb. They were only uncomfortable, though, not excruciating. Dr. Sweeney, another partner of my ob, was on call that day, and she popped in and out, checking my dilation and effacement periodically. Somewhere in there, Jason’s parents arrived at the hospital from League City, and mine showed up with Jack. Finally, it was time to push. As the staff gathered equipment and Dr. Sweeney got into place, I started to feel really nauseated and just managed to mutter, “I’m gonna throw up,” in time for Jason to get a trash can to me. At that point, I retched and mostly dry heaved as my stomach was all but empty. I felt better afterward, though.
So around 12:30PM the legs went up, Dr S. gave me the final instructions on how to push and listen to Jason’s and the nurse’s counting, and we gave it a go. I pushed much harder than I remember having to push with Jack. After several pushes, the baby crowned, and Dr. S. said with emphasis, “This one’s definitely bigger than your first.”
We (Jason, me, doctors and nurses) had all done a lot of speculation as to the sex and weight of the impending baby. My guess for weight was seven and a half pounds. Jason guessed eight. Kathy calculated, based on my last ultrasound measurements, the baby should weigh around nine pounds, which couldn’t be right, could it?? When Jason looked and saw the how big the baby’s head was, he got worried about the baby’s exit strategy. Several (I have no idea how many) pushes and a second-degree episiotomy later, the head came out. Jason unabashedly snapped pictures of my crotch. After the fact, I kind of like those pictures, but no one else is going to see them! Then, Dr. S. called in extra staff to help, concerned the shoulders were going to have trouble exiting. They came out pretty smoothly, though to the nurses’ calls of, “it’s a boy!” Dr. Sweeney said as she held Gage in her hands, “Feels like nine pounds, one ounce.” She’s pretty good – the scale read “9 lbs, 1.7 oz.” They lay Gage on my belly. I was amazed that there really had been a baby in there. This was the little man who’d been rolling and kicking in there all this time, and now he was out. He was real. Tears came to my eyes as I held him. Jason cut the cord, and they did the whole, weigh, measure, footprints, APGAR whathaveyou routine. Gage Patrick Garner was born at 1:14PM on Thursday, February 24th, 2011. We had another healthy baby boy. My heart could have exploded with joy. A short while later, Jason, Jack, Gage and I were all in the LDR room alone, everyone huddled around the bed, Gage in my arms. Jack pointed to each of us and counted, “one, two, three, four. Now our family is four!” he grinned. Jason and I grinned at Jack and at each other, our happiness so succinctly expressed by a three-year-old.