There’s a lot you don’t know as a first time mom. Nothing showed how unprepared I was like my son Owen’s actual arrival. On New Year’s Eve in 2010, my husband and I met friends for a celebratory dinner. Along the way, I stopped at my mom’s house and accidentally mixed up my phone for hers — which will be relevant later.
At dinner I ate an entire appetizer, entree, and dessert — in retrospect this probably should have been indicative of impending labor since I typically struggled to finish half an entree. Early that morning I wandered out of bed to use the bathroom. I had become used to needing to pee at least three times a night, and right as I entered the bathroom I felt a gush of water exit. I looked down and thought, “Hmmm…”
I woke up my husband, Niles, who was sleepily bemused by the situation — until he realized that I was serious, and yes, my water had broken a month before my due date. He was too freaked out to to talk to the Labor and Delivery people when we called, so I told them calmly that my water had broken but I didn’t have contractions. I knew I had to deliver within the next 24 hours.
I went to call my mom and discovered I had her phone, so it took calling my sister to get the name of my mom’s friend who lived in her neighborhood, calling said friend who turned out to be out-of-state, and finally waking up another of my mom’s friends and convincing her to wake up and go to my mom’s house to let her know I was in labor.
Niles called his parents, and his father had exactly the same reaction that Niles had. My mother-in-law’s sleepy response was, “What do you mean Alyssa’s gone into labor? We’re in Delaware! If we had known she was going to be in labor, we would have never gone to Delaware!”
This is how the rest of the morning played out:
Approximately 6:30 am at our house
- Me:* Sweetheart, it’s been about two hours. We’ve showered, you started the laundry, picked up the living room, packed our bags… It’s probably time for us to get to the hospital.
- Niles:* I want to get a load of dishes in the dishwasher first.
Approximately 7:00 am at the hospital (finally)
- Intake staff member:* You’re the woman who called us at 4:30 this morning? When we said to take your time, we meant to not speed on the way here. We didn’t mean come in here two and a half hours later.
- Me:* My husband had a last minute nesting phase.
Approximately 7:15 am in the triage room
- Triage doctor:* On a scale of 1 to 10, what’s your pain level?
- Me:* Oh, I don’t know… a 2 maybe. I’m a bit uncomfortable.
(Triage doctor proceeds to check how far I’m dilated.)
- Triage doctor:* Well, you’re 5 centimeters. I can see the baby’s hair. You need to get into a room.
Approximately 9:00 am in my delivery room
- Me to the nurse:* I really need to use the bathroom.
- Nurse:* I don’t know… You really shouldn’t.
- Me (still without an epidural):* I REALLY NEED TO USE THE BATHROOM!!!
- Nurse:* Okay. Just let us know if you need help.
Approximately 9:15 am in the attached bathroom to my delivery room
- Nurse (from outside):* How are you doing?
- Me:* I’m fine.
Approximately 9:30 am still in the attached bathroom to my delivery room
- Nurse (from outside):* How are you doing?
- Me:* Still fine.
Approximately 9:35 am in my delivery room
- Anesthesiologist (to Niles):* Where is the patient? I’m here for the epidural.
- Niles:* She’s in the bathroom.
- Anesthesiologist:* No problem. I’ll be back in five minutes.
Approximately 9:40 am still in the attached bathroom to my delivery room
- Me (thinking):* Either that is a huge poop… or that’s the baby’s head. That burning sensation was exactly like what the book said it would feel like when the baby’s head…
- Niles (from outside):* Are you okay?
- Me:* Not okay this time.
Niles bursts in to see me standing above the toilet with a baby’s head fully clear out of me. He then shouts something unintelligible involving the words “baby” and “toilet.” The nurse runs in, pulls the emergency cord they keep in bathrooms for reasons exactly like this, and when I look up next, there’s an entire medical team. Luckily, it’s a large bathroom.
I took two steps and Owen literally falls out of me. Owen was born 3.5 weeks early, healthy, 6 lbs 1 oz and 19 inches long at 9:43 am on January 1, 2011 — 1/1/11. He was not the first baby for the New Year, but he was the only one to be delivered perilously close to the toilet.