I woke up early Tuesday morning feeling irregular contractions. Or at least I thought they could be contractions. Maybe. Really I had no idea. I puttered through my day, taking it easy and noting the continued irregularity of those deep, low cramps. Later in the afternoon I called Josh to let him know that I was pretty sure I was in early labor, but that nothing was consistent and that it wasn't even near time to head to the hospital. I hadn't even called the doctor yet.
We didn't even know if we could get pregnant. When I had surgery three years ago to remove an ovarian cyst, the doctors found a bad case of endometriosis, and while we treated it aggressively, its effect on my fertility was unknown. Josh and I knew conceiving at all might be difficult. We tried not to dwell on it, but the threat that endometriosis left behind loomed over us.
Evening arrived, and the contractions fell into a more predictable pattern. We spent our night hours watching episodes of Gilmore Girls and half of Thor all the while timing contractions. Sleep was out of the question, so I tried to take it as easy as I could. A little after 1:00 in the morning, I knew that soon I'd want to be at the hospital. After getting the go-ahead from the doctor, I finished packing my bag, and we made the quintessential middle-of-the-night run to the hospital.
Excepting a couple of close friends, we didn't tell anyone of our wishes for a baby--especially our families. We didn't want our loved ones to worry or fret. We didn't want to field overly polite inquiries for updates or cautious, sympathetic well-wishes. Our desire for a pregnancy was our secret, and we thought about it all the time.
Throughout this whole evening I felt focused and calm. This baby was coming--finally coming. After months of waiting, preparing, and imagining, we were finally going to meet our babe. I felt so ready. I trusted my preparation; I trusted my husband; I trusted my body.
Despite my contractions being strong enough to render me motionless and speechless, I wasn't as progressed in my labor as I had hoped. Thankfully, however, the nurses admitted me, and Josh and I settled into our hospital suite. I changed into my handmade hospital gown (which my mother made for me despite her being in the middle of moving) and labored throughout the night.
Four hours after our admittance, I decided that soon the contractions would be too much for me, so I asked the nurse to get the epidural process started, even though my body wasn't as far along as I thought it would be. (Asher's head was down so low as to slow the labor's progress.) As we waited for the anesthesiologist to arrive, I made it through contractions by holding on to Josh and trying to remember to breathe. Relaxing my body consumed my focus; between contractions I'd think about how I couldn't have managed the pain without Josh. He was then and is still my hero.
I didn't know what to expect from my body after discontinuing the endometriosis treatments. I noticed every twinge of pain, however inconsequential, hoping and praying that it wasn't the endometriosis returning. I tracked everything in a calendar--every test, every result. If we would need to seek fertility treatments, I wanted to provide as much information to my doctors as possible. We wanted a baby so badly.
I could have kissed the anesthesiologist on his arrival. He was friendly, straightforward, and willing to answer all our questions. I've heard some women say that getting the epidural was as bad as the rest of labor, but I do not share that assessment. I chose not to look at any of his tools and held Josh's hand as I held still despite the rising swells of contractions.
I had never felt so good as I did after the epidural kicked in. Though I was confined to bed, I could finally sleep. I was exhausted already and needed rest. While some women lament the continuous fetal montioring required with an epidural, I didn't. I loved drifting in and out of sleep listening to the steady beat of my baby's little heart.
Because of my condition, the doctor told us to seek fertility treatment if we went for six months without conception. That seemed like a long time to me. Every negative pregnancy test weighed on my heart and filled me with renewed anxiety. We prayed hard and fasted fervently, willing our faith in God's plan for our family to deepen and grow.
Once I couldn't feel the increasingly intense swells and ebbs of the contractions, the waiting game began. The nurses came in to check me every couple of hours, and I spent my time reading, sleeping, and sucking on popsicles. The doctor checked in at lunchtime and broke my water. After eight hours of this, impatience crept up on me. I was through waiting. I wanted my babe.
Finally around 3:00 in the afternoon, the nurses said that soon I'd be ready to push. I was thrilled--I wanted to be doing something, and pushing would certainly be doing something. Yet, my body still took its time with the labor, and I wasn't ready to push for another hour.
The doctor came in and set up the delivery table and tools. Josh woke up and joined me at the head of the bed. My body started telling me that delivery was imminent. The epidural had started to wear off a little, and it was invigorating to feel those urges to push. I didn't feel pain, just pressure. Even though my body had been working harder than it ever had before, I felt determination and renewed energy.
It hadn't been long since we had decided we wanted a baby. Josh and I were in the bathroom together getting ready for our day. I had taken a test just a couple of days previous, so neither of us dared to expect a positive reading this time around. I took the test, and rested it on the counter while I washed my face. As I hung up my washcloth, Josh went silent. He looked me in the eyes and without a word handed me the test. I took a deep breath and looked down: pregnant.
A glorious wail pierced the room, and heaven sang its joy, angels and mortals rejoicing together. The nurse placed Asher on my chest, and as I saw his face, I felt reunited. This babe was no stranger to me. I had never felt such a rush of immediate, intense love as I did then. Tears wet my cheeks and laughter filled my heart as I listened to my son's life-bearing cry. I looked in Josh's eyes and felt complete. This was our babe, our child, our son. He was here, and we, with God, had created him.