My daughter, Suni, just turned 1-year-old, and I can’t believe an entire year has went by since she was born. That day is a day I won’t soon forget and haven’t done so yet. I had her without an epidural, which was the exact opposite of what I wanted. I wanted what I knew, a blissful birth with an epidural and easy recovery period, which is what I was blessed with in giving birth to Suni’s older brother Donovan.
Needless to say, I didn’t exactly get my beautiful, brilliant Suni bear quite the way I wanted.
The morning before her birth I started experiencing slight cramping that lasted through the afternoon. I remember having the thought that I may be in the early stages of labor, but it was much too early to go to the hospital. So I went about my day normally. I took my mom to get a COVID-19 test being that she had traveled via plane from Chicago to be on call for Suni’s birth. We had steak tacos for lunch, and as the morning turned to afternoon, and the afternoon to night, my cramps intensified. My suspicion that I was in labor became a certainty, but my contractions weren’t close enough to rush to the hospital. Plus, my husband was at work. So my mom and I did what any logical forward-thinking, nesting mom might do in this scenario, we went to Ikea. I slowed occasionally to let each contraction pass, but otherwise we made out way to the framing section successfully with my then 2-year-old son. We were working on a collage of framed photos for his room, which I wanted to give a facelift so he didn’t feel overlooked with the new baby’s eclectic retreat.
We made our final selection, headed to the checkout line, and made our way back home no problem. But as the hours went by, my contractions got more and more intense and closer and closer together. By midnight, it was clear I should’ve been making my way to the hospital, but my husband hadn’t gotten off work yet. He was so close to finishing up, and we didn’t want to drag Donovan out of bed to go to a hospital with us in the middle of the night for what amounted to one extra hour of waiting. So we waited. By the time my husband got home, I was in excruciating pain. We hurried to the car, of course forgetting my overnight bag. So. we hurried back home to get it then back on the 20-minute journey to the hospital. I remember putting my feet on the dashboard. I remember raising down the window and raising it back up, and I remember the moment we arrived at the hospital.
My husband parked the car and we made our way to the labor and delivery floor to check-in. The hospital has a policy of having the expecting mom go back to the delivery room first to consent to her partner joining her. It’s a policy I support but in my case didn’t serve me much. In between begging for an epidural, another contraction came, and I may have said something like f–k, to which the nurse responded with asking me not to use that language around her. If I had been in my right mind, I would have told her to get out then, but I was so focused on trying to convince her to provide an epidural that I simply said OK. Oh how I wish my husband or even my doctor were in the room with me at that point. I’m pretty confident either one of them would’ve given her the business, but I was alone with this nurse. So I let her prick me time after time struggling to insert my IV, and before long she was thankfully gone to run blookdwork needed to give me an epidural. When she left, another team of medical professionals arrived with my husband. My water broke then and there. One of the workers informed me I would not be getting an epidural. It was too late.
I couldn’t avoid the pain. I had to push through it. So that’s what I did. I beared down and pushed repeatedly, each time feeling like I had gotten nowhere, but my doctor and husband assured me I was making progress. I couldn’t feel anything but pain. Even after I pushed my daughter out and saw my husband crying uncontrollably, even when one of the workers asked if I wanted to hold my baby girl. I was still in such immense pain, I could only respond that my husband could hold her. He did, and I’m eternally grateful to him for being the first smiling parent my baby could see. I just couldn’t at that point, but a few minutes later, he placed my baby girl in my arms. To be honest, I can’t remember if I smiled, but I remember one of the first feelings I had other than pain was pride. I was so proud of the brilliant baby we had produced. She latched immediately and was an oddly alert newborn turning and lifting her little head to take in the new sights.
I loved her instantly, and I’ll love her eternally.