Tuesday, March 18, 2008 was my last day of work as a house-keeper, laundry-doer, domestic helper for the Irving family. Andrew was due on April 7, so I had planned to take a couple weeks to enjoy time to myself before I would never be without the responsibility of a child again. I should have known the baby was close because on Tuesday afternoon, and all day Wednesday I went into crazy nesting mode. I washed all my windows, washed curtains, cleaned all the baseboards in my house, put the finishing touches on Andrew’s nursery, organized closets and cabinets and cleaned or organized about anything else I could get my hands on. I figured my neighbors must have thought I was crazy because here I was, this very obviously pregnant woman outside the house on a step-ladder, washing my windows!
On Thursday, Alecia and I had made plans to go along with Sandy and Shelby Jackson to visit Tammy and Jami’s families and to see both of their new houses. We went to Tammy’s in Tampa first. On our way from Tampa to Brandon I was having some interesting stomach pains. I didn’t say anything because I didn’t think it could be for real. But I did have a game plan in my head that if I went into labor that I would have them drive down I-75 and simply drop me off at Manatee Memorial Hospital on the way into town, so that I could at least have one of my doctor’s there!
On Friday, March 21 I spent my last day as a mother-to-be. I finished my cleaning, went to the pool in the afternoon and then spent the evening with Spencer eating dinner at Mr.Tequila’s and shopping at Bealls. Little did we know that it would be our last night before Andrew arrived! But, for some reason, that night before we went to bed I took 2 towels and put them under the fitted sheet on my side of the bed thinking that in case my water would break sometime in the next couple of weeks that I could at least save our mattress!
At 1:30 in the morning on March 22 I woke up with stomach cramps. I figured it was the spicy dinner I had eaten that just wasn’t settling well. I was able to go back to sleep and didn’t think much about it. At 4:30 I woke up with severe pains (which I later figured out were contractions!) and I could not go back to sleep. After having 3 contractions that were about 15 minutes apart I woke Spencer up. I knew what was happening! I told him to start timing them so we could tell the doctor if needed, and Spencer, being a savvy technology guy, got out my iPod and used the stopwatch feature to time my contractions.
At about 6:30 AM I figured that this was definitely the real deal and I told Spencer to go ahead and call his parents to let them know that we were going to be having a baby. The next day was Easter Sunday and I knew that Alecia had peanut butter pies to make for lunch so I wanted her to have a head’s up before we went to the hospital so she could get the crusts made! Haha! Around the same time I called my mom. I can specifically remember sitting in the rocking chair in our living room and calling my mom thinking “It’s 6:30 in the morning, she’s going to know what I am calling for.” Tears were running down my face when she answered the phone in a sleepy voice and said “Hi Honey, what’s going on?” I don’t think I even had to tell her, “Mom, I’m having a baby today and you’re not here.” All I could think about was that this was one of the biggest days in my life and my mom wasn’t going to be there to share it with us. She re-assured me that I was going to be fine and Spencer sat and rubbed my hand while I talked with her, taking the phone when I needed him to talk because I was having another contraction. By this time it was about 7:00 AM and my mom suggested that I start getting around and get to the hospital since my contractions were around 8 minutes apart.
For the next 2 hours I took my time getting a shower, doing my hair, putting on my makeup, packing my hospital bag and breathing through contractions every 6-8 minutes. Spencer was busy packing video cameras, digital cameras, cords, memory cards, batteries and also managed to pack a change of clothes and a toothbrush for a stay at the hospital. Spencer had scheduled a fundraiser for the youth that day and he had called Mikey to let him know that he was not going to be able to make it and around 8:30 AM, Mikey stopped by to pick up stuff so that he could head-up the fundraiser and I can remember waving hello to him from the living room just before having a contraction.
In the birthing classes we had taken they told us that it would be time to head to the hospital after contractions were 5 minutes apart for an hour. We had been to the Emergency Room earlier in March because of some stomach pains that I had been having and the nurses made me feel like an idiot, so I was determined that I was not going to go to the hospital until I was sure that they were going to admit me! At 9:30 AM Spencer was just finishing packing the car and I said that I thought we had better get a move on. After a couple more minutes of waiting and another contraction I said something along the lines of, “We need to go NOW!” We left for the hospital at 9:45 AM and I soon found that contractions in a bumpy, moving car, were not fun. At one point on the car ride Spencer said, “Is there anything I can do to help you” and I replied, rather impatiently, “Get there!”
We arrived at the Emergency Room entrance and Spencer asked a gentleman at the front desk how to get up to Labor and Delivery, the man started to point us down the hall when I asked him, “Can I have a wheelchair?” To my question he responded, “Well I only have one down here, I will have to follow you up so I can bring it back down.” Who knew that a pregnant woman in labor was asking so much by not wanting to walk herself all the way up to the Maternity wing! Haha!
We arrived at the desk where the nurses went through the usual questions, and also requested a copy of a driver’s license and insurance card. One of the forms I filled out asked for the time and I remember looking and the clock and it was exactly 10:00 AM. After filling out a registration form the nurse said “Follow me down the hall, we will check you and see if we are going to keep you.” As I am walking down the hall I was freaking out thinking, “They don’t think I am in labor! If this isn’t real labor then I don’t think I can do this!” After changing into my super attractive hospital gown, the nurse proceeded to check my progress and to all our surprise said I was 9 centimeters! I looked at Spencer and all I could do was laugh, yet feel like I was going to be sick at the same time. I think it was at that point that I realized that there was no turning back!
As they were taking me out to a delivery room, Spencer was calling my mom to inform her of the news, and I saw Alecia, who had just arrived. I got excited and anxious all at the same time. The next 45 minutes were somewhat of a blur. It was filled with Spencer trying to tell me how to breath, getting hooked up to machines, being poked all over, signing about 20 more forms, and all I was worried about was asking the nurse if I had time for pain medication. She reassured me that the hard part was over and I would be fine. Just before the doctors came in Alecia whispered a short prayer in my ear and then stepped back out of the way of all the nurses. One of the nurses said that she was going to get the doctor to come break my water and the next thing I know, Dr. Lemay told me that the next time I had a contraction to push. With Spencer in one ear and a nurse named Leslie in the other all I could hear was their encouragement to keep going. At 10:54 AM, after about 7 minutes of pushing, I heard Spencer say “He’s here!” and I took the biggest breath of relief. I could hear Andrew crying and all I could say was “Oh my goodness, oh my goodness!” I could not believe what had just happened.
It was the longest 10 minutes of waiting while they cleaned him up and finished up with me, I could not wait to see his face! When they handed him to me and I looked at him for the first time I had so many things go through my head, “This is THE most beautiful baby! He’s mine! What am I supposed to do with him? I am responsible for this precious thing!” It was so weird to feel like I knew him so well, but at the same time he was a total stranger. It was something that could only be described as a perfect miracle. I would re-live that day over and over and I look forward to every additional miracle day that is to come!