One day in early January, I thought I had cracked a rib and went to the Urgent Care to request an x-ray. For some reason, as soon as I walked into the x-ray room my eyes bolted to a small little sign that was obscurely tucked into a corner behind the machine, that had a pregnancy warning. I turned on my heels and walked right back out of that room and requested a pregnancy test. As the tech balked at my request, you could see he seemed a bit annoyed asking “Well are you pregnant? Do you think you’re pregnant?” Truth be told, I didn’t think I was. I had already taken a pregnancy test at home that came out negative. Why would this one be any different? But I wasn’t going to risk an x-ray if I might be; I just felt compelled to take another test. To my surprise, wouldn’t you know the doctor came back in the room, equally stunned that I was just 4 weeks pregnant as was evidenced by a faint little line and some slightly elevated HCG levels she held before me. It all happened so fast, from the moment I walked in there I felt like they were rushing me out until they realized what little miracle was on its way. Looking back now, in a way this was sort of foretelling how the rest of my pregnancy and delivery would go - lightning fast.
I feel like I just blinked, and pages from the calendar flew by, dotted by sporadic bump selfies - partially feeling guilty that I hadn’t been as on top of them as I had been with my son. At exactly 41 weeks, Penelope Rose was born at 3:25pm on September 28th, weighing a healthy 8lbs 15oz, and 21 inches long. I started my day like normal, made breakfast (with my new favorite habanero hot sauce that I was shaking on everything - because oh yeah! Little girl was already a week overdue and my doctor warned me that I would be induced if she didn’t come on her own) and I had music on while danced around the kitchen. Shortly after I thought maybe it wasn’t the best idea, because I wasn’t sure if the hot sauce was getting back at me or if I had started contracting. It progressed ridiiiiiculously fast!
One moment I’m joking on the phone with my husband who was over an hour away and had just arrived at work, the next I called him back confirming that it wasn’t the hot sauce. I had just timed my contractions - over a minute long, and only 3 minutes apart. Within an hour I had gone from a 1 to an 8cm. A normal 45min+ drive back home only took him 20 minutes.
My labor coach/best friend was admitted the night before to the ER because she came down with UC and the poor thing was worried about me! So picture this - she’s FaceTime-ing with me from her hospital bed, and I’m downward dogging into a pillow from my bed as she’s coaching me and telling me how to check while I’m laboring at home. I was half laughing because I couldn’t believe it was happening, let alone like this. Contractions were nothing like this with my first, slow and steady. It was all happening SO FAST!
I’m home alone with my 2 year old (who was a CHAMP, by the way! I don’t know how he was so calm while I’m contracting for my life and trying to reassure him that “Mommy’s OK” as I’m hulk gripping whatever I could to endure the stabbing pain.) My tush is in the air, hoping gravity will keep her in there long enough for help to arrive because I’m already to the point where I feel like pushing, and I’m eyeballing the aspirator bulb on my dresser debating whether or not to climb into the tub with it in case I end up catching her alone.
Somewhere in that time space continuum, my husband arrived home from work and walked into our room to behold the spectacle that was me - he didn’t yet understand how quickly things were moving. As he got changed and threw a bag together, I’m beseeching him to call 911 because I wasn’t able to make it to the car, much less last the drive down to our original hospital without delivering on the side of the road, so an ambulance was called while I was laboring in bed. They drove us to the nearest hospital, and apparently my expressions during contractions were cracking everyone up because I was convinced “if we hit another speed bump that someone was going to need to catch the baby that was going to come flying out of me”.
Now, here’s where things stopped being funny for a beat. As soon as they rolled me into the ER, the head nurse was a total nightmare. She kept telling me that I “needed to be quiet because there were other patients that could hear me laboring” and that I “wasn’t the only patient in there” and “did I need to be reminded AGAIN to just breathe and stop fussing”… Well duh. OBVIOUSLY, we were separated by a curtain, I wasn’t totally blind. I was in more pain because I was stuck lying on my back (she refused to elevate the gurney so that I could sit up, despite someone else checking me and confirming I was at around an 8). My husband wasn’t allowed into the ER because he had our toddler, so I was back there ALONE tucked behind some shallow space with curtains.
No one stayed with me, rather the head nurse kept flashing the curtains open and close to either shush me “again” or push a clip board with a bunch of forms to fill out in my face. Ha, yeah…. they had ME call my OB’s office while contracting and yell at the receptionist over there that “NO! I will not hold!” (As was her normal practice whenever she picked up calls.) “You need to fax or email my file over RIGHT NOW to this hospital!” You see, my normal prenatal care OB office didn’t want to send my records to this hospital because “the practice didn’t have privileges there” SO I was stuck filling out paperwork in between contractions while simultaneously having requisite lab work done, to fill in me and baby’s medical and prenatal history. My husband was stuck out in the waiting hall because he had Baby G and they wouldn’t let him in. So I was left to labor to 9.5 and started pushing *by myself* in ER until the same nurse who kept telling me to be quiet “couldn’t take my screaming anymore”. I was begging her to just raise the rail on the side of the gurney that had been left down when they transferred me upon arrival, and I was sure that I was going to roll onto the floor as I was white knuckling the clipboard in pain. It did occur to me to also beg for an epidural at one point, but that wasn’t an option.
THIS was the other part that was blowing my mind - I was told by her that “There was NO doctor available, and the on call doctor wasn’t returning phone calls, so they can’t give me an epidural or do ANYTHING until he calls back…”
I’m in a big, new hospital - I have NO idea HOW that was possible.
They quickly transferred me upstairs to Labor & Delivery where my husband and son were finally able to join me, and I swear to God they pulled a random doctor in from the hall to the room who wasn’t even on to deliver the baby, but he was great! She came out in 5 pushes, all of 8 lbs 15 oz of her. The umbilical chord had been wrapped around her neck twice, (torso and shoulders) which is why pushing was so miserable, but thankfully no fetal distress. We made it through it all, together. She’s here and she’s beautiful, super healthy and so peaceful. My little girl who is full of surprises, Penelope Rose.