Life has changed quite drastically for the Gunnels in the last week! Last Thursday, our daughter Claire was born. When I woke up Thursday morning at 12:30am with what I thought was mild cramping, I didn’t think much of it. Last Thursday was a week earlier than Claire’s expected arrival date (8/23) and we both were certain she was going to arrive late. Everyone had also been telling me I would definitely know if it was contractions and since the cramping was not bad at all, I decided to surf the internet and wait for the cramping to subside. After a couple hours of the cramping being consistently 15-20 minutes apart, I decided to use the cool I-touch app I downloaded to time contractions. I was curious to see if there was any sort of pattern. I am glad I did that because I started to notice that timing between the cramps was getting shorter. They were about 11-12 minutes apart when I woke up Cameron. I told him I thought it was false labor because the pain level was not bad at all, but that I wasn’t sure because of the consistency of them. Cameron suggested that we start getting our hospital bags together and if the cramps subsided in the meantime, then we didn’t have to go. As we got showered and packed some things, the cramps became more uncomfortable and came about 8 minutes apart. I still thought I was just being a weeny, so I told Cameron to leave the car seat and stuff for the baby behind. I didn’t want to be too embarrassed when they turned us away at the hospital. The picture below is clearly after the epidural, but before the baby.
When we left our apartment, it was 5:00am in the morning and already light outside. We walked a couple minutes to the big intersection next to our building to flag a taxi. The cramping was getting pretty uncomfortable by that time so I took a seat on the curb. I could tell Cameron was getting a little anxious at the sight of his pregnant wife sitting on a dirty curb having a contraction because he proceeded to stand in the middle of the intersection ready to grab any taxi that came along. As I sat on the curb in pain and stared down into a sewer hoping not to see any rats, I definitely had what I call a China moment. Thankfully, a taxi arrived after about 5 minutes. As we rode to the hospital, I listened as the taxi driver talked Cameron’s ear off. I thought the taxi driver was talking about the usual stuff like where we were from, what did we do, etc., but then he became rather loud and excited about something. Cameron later told me that the driver was Muslim and that he was talking about his disdain for George Bush and his decision to invade Afghanastan. Poor Cameron was trying to politely change the subject while also making sure I was ok.
When we arrived at the hospital, the contractions were about 5 minutes apart and I was having trouble walking. When I made it to the hospital bed, I climbed right in and curled up in a ball. The doctor came in shortly after and told me I was 5 cm dilated and that I was, in fact, having the baby that morning. I was relieved to know that I wasn’t just the world’s biggest baby and I was actually having contractions. From about 5:30am to 7:15am, I laid in the bed dreading the next contraction. Cameron had the difficult job of trying to encourage me through the next contraction, bring me things I asked for, make calls to our parents, and take some pictures. He did a great job of managing it all. I couldn’t have been happier when the doctor gave me the epidural around 7:15am. It only took a few minutes for the pain to subside. I was exhausted at that point and decided to take a nap since the doctor said the baby probably wouldn’t arrive until noon.
After things being really calm for a couple of hours, we were both shocked when the doctor came rushing in and said that the baby’s heart rate was dropping. Following him were about 7 or 8 more nurses and doctors. I forced myself not to process what was going on and just focus on Cameron’s face instead. The doctor started barking orders at people in Chinese and then giving me instructions in English. He told me I needed to push this baby out in just a couple pushes or he was going to do an emergency c-section. Thankfully, as everyone was getting ready to go, the baby’s heart rate started going up again. This bought me a little more time, but the doctor still wanted to get the baby out in a hurry since he didn’t know if it was going to happen again. I didn’t exactly know how I was going to push out the baby since I couldn’t feel much from the waist down and I wasn’t exactly sure what muscles you squeeze to push out a baby. Regardless, I gave it all I got and within about 15 pushes she came out.
I never turned a birth plan into the hospital, but one thing I had thought about putting on there was to be able to hold the baby right away. I imagined a sweet mother-daughter bonding moment as they handed me my newborn child. However, as soon as she came out she was tossed up on my belly like a fish that had just been pulled out of water. I was so shocked by the sight of her that I didn’t even touch her. Cameron had to reach out to keep her from falling off my stomach. I was relieved when the nurse took her away to get her washed which gave me a moment to regain my sanity. Of course, when they brought her back washed and calm, I gladly took her in my arms.
We are now at home with little Claire and are definitely experiencing sleep deprivation. I always wondered why new parents complained of not having enough time to even shower, but I know why now. I am thankful that Cameron is able to be around a lot. If only he could breastfeed!