I’m awake. I think I ate something bad at the Plevna Bar last night. Maybe chicken strips and sweet potato fries were a bad idea at 39 weeks pregnant. Regardless, I’m in the bathroom, and I think I’ll stay here for a while.
Stephan’s awake. He asked me if I’m ok. I told him I’m fine, I just can’t leave the bathroom. He’s worried.
Stephan is wide awake now. He tells me that he’s going give me until 5:15 to feel better before he drives us to Glendive. I insist it’s not necessary, this will all go away soon. He convinces me that, since we have a doctor appointment at 11am anyway, it wouldn’t be a waste of a drive, just a little safety net planning. I argue. Stephan stops listening.
Stephan has started packing the car. He drops the dogs off at Kodie & Clint’s house, gets my purse from Gary’s house, and makes himself espresso. Meanwhile, I have no idea this is going on. I’m trying to deal with the Toilet Pain. Stand up? No. Sit down? No. Lean over? No. My body tries to prove to me that it’s not what I think it is. I’m still not buying it.
Stephan drives the car around to the front door so I don’t have to deal with stairs. I’m wearing yoga pants & a green shirt with enormous SmartWool socks and too-small slip on shoes. Stephan’s rocking black sweat pants and a Jack Daniels t-shirt. It’s pitch dark and a light snow is starting to fall.
We pull into Baker to get gas. Gary’s there- a fun coincidence since he was also the only one at the gas station the night we first arrived here 3 years ago. He waves at me through the window and tells Stephan he hopes I’m not mad at him (Gary had been pushing for an October baby when I was insistent it would be November). Stephan eats a hot dog and drinks a Mountain Dew. I have a stopwatch in my hand to time the “gas pains”. This means nothing to me, as I still believe it’s just something I ate. I grab onto Stephan’s shoulder with my left hand every time I feel one, just to let him know I’m still in pain. The car ride isn’t fun.
We arrive in Wibaux, just over ½ way there. The snow is starting to slack off. I curse the car and try to figure out how to get back to Plevna without ever sitting in the car again. Is there a train? A bus? It’s not to far to walk…
I squeeze Stephan’s shoulder when I [finally] realize that I’m in labor, and that we’re probably going to have a baby today!
We’ve finally arrived in Glendive. Outside the off ramp is a gas station. Stephan stops there to use the bathroom and to get me something to eat. I ask for apple juice and a doughnut, “Let me tell you what I want in a doughnut…” I get specific. Glazed. Not doughy, as close to a Krispy Crème as you can. Stephan leaves me to time the contractions. If they’re 5 minutes apart or greater then we’ll get a hotel room. 3 minutes or less and we’re off to the hospital. He gets back from the bathroom and we take off for the hospital.
We walk into the ER, Stephan much faster than me. He’s got the paperwork we pre-signed a month ago, my purse and our overnight bag.
Katie is our nurse. She gives me a big pink gown that immediately reminds Stephan of a circus tent. We realize we haven’t called anyone to tell them we were at the hospital, so Stephan called his parents and mine to let them know today’s the day!
Doctor Stewart arrives and checks my ‘progress’. She has to see patients this morning and promises to return around 10:30.
I’ve moved back to the toilet. My brother had cautioned me not to poop on the baby. To avoid this I make the extra trip to the bathroom just to make sure nothing like that is going to happen. Once there, I wanna push. Stephan calls Katie to tell her about this new development. She rushes over and tells me NOT to push; she’s heard of people delivering babies on toilets and prefers not to do that today.
I’m back on the bed. Since Doc isn’t available, Katie checks my progress. She leaves to get Doc right away. I can still move freely so I try every position we can think of to get me more comfortable. I keep telling Stephan I want to push and he keeps reminding me not to. During one contraction my water breaks. Stephan, startled, says, “Did someone just throw a water balloon at you?” Stephan runs to get the nurse.
Doctor Stewart is back. She checks me again. People just keep telling me NOT to push. Doc’s next instructions were to give a little push, and then let it go right away. She puts her fingers in my hand and tells me to focus my energy into squeezing her fingers instead. All of this sounds ludicrous to me. I start to get discouraged, but I don’t say anything. I just keep concentrating.
Doc checks again. She gives me to go ahead to push. Doc puts on her working clothes: huge, blue boots, a gown, gloves and a hat. The bed transforms in seconds. This pushing is serious. Stephan keeps telling me to “ground out,” which means to push all the energy out the bottom of my body. I rest between contractions and lock eyes with Stephan so I remember to breath and enjoy the peace between pushing.
Part of a thought runs through my mind, a phrase I heard over and over again in a meditation I’d listened to during this pregnancy, “…ready to join all the women who have ever gone before you, and all those who will come after you…”
The baby’s head is out to the nose. Stephan tells me one more push and we’ll have a baby. I can see the exploding excitement on his face. There’s one push left, but I need a break. I take a quick deep inhale.
With one last set of 3 pushes the doctor tells me to reach down and pick up my baby. The baby is slippery, warm, wet, and soft. He is very dark purple, with a swollen head and lips. He’s moving, but slowly, and I don’t hear any crying, but that doesn’t bother me. I hear the doctor ask Stephan if he saw if it’s a boy or girl. He takes a second and says, “It’s a boy!!” I can’t believe it. A boy? Really? The nurses are on top of me rubbing the white coating into the baby’s skin. A boy? Sawyer’s here?