#51: Have a baby (part 1)

Oh man. When I first made my 100 List, having a baby seemed SO far away. And I wanted it that way.

But now I can't imagine our life without this little guy!

Brendan Abbett Seymour
The day before Brendan's birth, a Saturday, was what every Saturday should be. I started out the day with breakfast with my friend Jessica at the Hi-Life in Ballard. If you haven't been there for breakfast, you're missing out on the most wonderful smashed potatoes that are fried to golden perfection. Kind of like tater tots, but better! Then Mark and I took books to one of our favorite parks in Seattle, Carkeek Park, and read on the beach. I had a feeling that this day may be the last day we could do that, whether because of the arrival of baby or the arrival of terrible weather. After the beach, Mark and I got takeout from our new favorite Thai restaurant in north Seattle, Chada Thai, and chowed down at home. I hear spicy food sends people into labor so I thought I'd take that for a test drive. The spicy food was a backup measure though because by 3 p.m. I started experiencing my first real contractions, which were very different than the small contractions I'd had in the previous weeks. They were manageable though and about 20 minutes apart. Manageable enough where I thought, hey, this isn't so bad! By the time dinner rolled around, the contractions had become even farther apart so it didn't look like we were going to the hospital just yet. Even so, I started tracking when they occurred and their duration so I had a record of the pattern.

Carkeek Park
I had irregular contractions for several hours after dinner but they still weren't getting closer together so we headed to bed. They woke me up about every hour but I could still sleep in between them until 3 a.m. when they took a turn for the worse. I knew I was progressing when breathing through them started to get harder (my natural inclination was to hold my breath through the pain). When one particularly painful contraction hit I shut my eyes to concentrate on breathing through it but I had to let out a few tears into my pillow. You should know that I approach most situations anticipating the worst but hoping for the best. I thought of labor the same way: I knew it could be really painful and intense but I truly hoped I would be one of those exceptions who would turn out to have an incredible pain tolerance or something. In that moment though, I realized that if I was only in the early stages, this was going to be bad.

I kept noting when the contractions hit and watched them come 20 minutes apart, then 18 minutes apart, then 15 minutes apart, then 12 minutes apart. By that time 5 a.m. had rolled around and I hadn't slept a wink since the contractions started getting closer together. I told Mark I was getting in the shower and to get his bag together! The hot water helped immensely, as did standing up as opposed to laying down, and my contractions became eight minutes apart, then six minutes. At 6 a.m. we left for the hospital. My water still hadn't broken but in the absence of that occurrence, my doctor told me to head to the hospital when contractions were five minutes apart and about a minute long. It seemed to me that I was progressing rather quickly, and I was so thankful that we were making the hospital drive early on a Sunday morning instead of in rush hour! The drive only took about 10 minutes. Thanks to the hospital tour, we knew exactly where to park and what elevators to take. Seriously, TAKE THE HOSPITAL TOUR - at 6:15 a.m., the lobby of the hospital was a ghost town. We would have had to call labor and delivery to figure out where to go since there was no one to ask. As we made our way slowly toward labor and delivery, I kept stopping to grab anything I could - a wheelchair, a guardrail - to support myself through another contraction. Mark asked if I wanted to take the wheelchair and for some reason I said no. If you find yourself in a similar position, just take the darn wheelchair.

Once at labor and delivery, we were shown into a triage room and I was attended to by a truly wonderful nurse. At this point the pain was reaching considerable proportions and I was also getting hit by waves of nausea. All advice I had read said to eat before you get to the hospital but I'm so thankful I didn't. I'm sure I would've thrown it all up! The contractions seemed to be coming every three minutes but no doctors were available to check how dilated I was; the nurse told me that despite the quiet of the floor, there were actually several other women readying for birth and the doctors were swamped. I said I had to go to the bathroom. She helped me into the adjoining bathroom and my body started to shake uncontrollably. It was the weirdest thing to watch - I felt like my body was freaking out and I couldn't do anything about it. I didn't even feel that bad when I wasn't going through a contraction but my body shook just the same. The shaking seemed to be a turning point because the nurse left again and returned with one of the residents. The resident checked my cervix and informed me that my water was still intact and I was six centimeters dilated. Six! We were over halfway to pushing time. The resident left and I asked the nurse at what point people normally get an epidural if they want one. She said I could get it at any time. I said oh good, I'll take it right now, please!

Tomorrow: part 2

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