At 3:00 am, I woke up to go pee.  I was peeing like 10 times a night; this was nothing unusual.  When I stood up, I felt a heavy trickle down my leg.  I called, “Chris, I think my water may have just broken.”  He called back sleepily from bed, “Are you sure, Babe?” meaning I’m hoping you’re mistaken so we can get more sleep.

I wasn’t sure, but then a heavier trickle came down and I was sure.  I said “This is really happening.”

Suddenly everything I’d seen in the childbirth videos went out the window.  I know I was supposed to follow a series of steps if my water broke, the first being sit down.  The only other step Chris and I remembered was “green means go.”  I examined the liquid on the tile floor.  Nope, totally clear and also oderless, so it wasn’t meconium or my own pee.  So I sat on the toilet and called the doctor.  “Dr. Bills?  I’m so sorry, did I wake you?”  “Yes, it’s three am, of course you woke me but its okay.  Just go to the hospital.” “I need to go to the hospital?” “Yes.  I will meet you there.”  “Okay!”

Chris got up and got in the shower and I got in the tub and started shaving my legs.  Luckily, I’d just gotten a manicure that day.  The color was baby’s breath.

Though we were taking the time to get ourselves presentable, I knew we didn’t have a lot of time.  As you know, I was at least 4 cm dilated and fully effaced so I was told I’d have a short labor.  Short labor meant less window for an epidural and contractions that would build quickly.  And they did.

As we headed to the hospital I put on my makeup in the dark, pausing to brace myself against each contraction.  The pain was completely tolerable though intense, but by the time we got to the delivery room the contractions were getting pretty intense.  (There was still paperwork to fill out, though.)

Somehow – and I know this will make sense to some people – I enjoyed the pain.  It meant my baby was coming soon. (This is me having – YES – a contraction. Chris took a picture of me having a contraction. Which made me laugh during the contraction. But this was before they started getting really bad).

It was also such a privilege to experience something so natural happening to me, just the way it was supposed to.

So when they came with the epidural, my contractions having gotten yell-worthy, I was torn between desperately wanting that relief, and reluctance to stop feeling every drop of the amazing thing that was happening to me.

The anesthesiologist gave me my epidural between contractions.  It was painful, but not near as painful as the contractions, which had gotten very close together too so there wasn’t much break between them.  With the epidural, I felt a little giddy and began making silly jokes to Chris.  I was also able to lie down and have Chris bring me my mirror and my mascara, which I began to apply while lying down, giving the nurse something to laugh about with the other nurses as I later heard.  But why wouldn’t I want to look my best when I was about to meet my daughter for the first time???

While we relaxed and I contracted and dilated, Chris and I talked about what was about to happen. We discussed her name, what would it be? We were still undecided.  We texted our family, who had grabbed their own bags and were on their way.  Time flew.  At nine am, I felt something heavy between my legs and I called the nurse (Chris and I were alone in the room) and told her it was time to start pushing.  My nurse had stepped away, so another nurse popped in, glanced between my legs, and said “No, it isn’t time.”  But I begged to differ.  When my nurse came back I told her it was time, she glanced, and said “yep, time to push!”

Then I got a little scared.

Letting contractions happen to me was one thing.  Being responsible for pushing my baby out was another.  But it was nine am, and time to push.

Stay tuned for Part II: Pushing.

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