Then 2 became 3

April 20th.  Holy Saturday.

I'm ready to not be pregnant anymore.  I loved being able to experience the wonder and beauty of feeling my baby girl hiccup and getting to know her personality in the womb, but I was not one to flaunt my pregnant glow (which to me felt and looked like straight up sweat).  (And to all of you who feel the same way, that's okay.)  It's Saturday, April 20th, the eviction notice was sent out yesterday.

With my due date falling on the day before Easter, Tim and I had not made plans for the Sunday celebration. We thought Easter was going to look very different for us this year, celebrating in the hospital with our sweet baby girl.  Our little alien had other plans for us, so we thought.

Easter morning.  3AM.

Contraction.  Nothing too serious.  What I had read about early labor during pregnancy turned out to be true.  It was a period-like cramp only with a lot more pressure on my lower back.

Back to sleep.


Another contraction.  I check the time and note the hour difference.  We've got plenty of time.  Back to sleep.


I get up and get ready for the 7:15AM Easter Mass.  Wake up, shower, get dressed.

Contraction.  Pause.  Breathe a little heavier.  The bathroom counter becomes my support.

At this point, I alert Tim of my contractions.  Not too concerned, we go about our simple Sunday morning.

Put makeup on.  Drive to Mass.  Get a seat.

Another contraction, and another.

I break some Mass etiquette and get out my phone to start timing the them.  15 minutes apart.  Then 20. Then 7.  Then back to 15.

We've still got a while.

Since we had planned a day full of nothing, we stopped by our favorite cafe in San Diego for a little Easter brunch.

Still no baby? Asks one of the many familiar faces.


Pause.  Not yet.

While I was pregnant, I read a lot about early labor and what labor with your first is like, so I was expecting maybe a couple days of this on-off contraction routine.

I questioned whether or not I should have caffeine, ordered coffee anyway, and we went home to relax. Nothing out of the ordinary for a Sunday.

I opened our futon into a day bed and watched Scandal episode after Scandal episode.  Maybe not the best way to celebrate Easter, but Olivia Pope seemed to be the only thing that distracted me from what obviously was turning into back labor.

I had been advised (by the internet and friends) to stay at home as long as I could before going to the hospital.  So we continued to persevere through the on-off contraction dance.

Hours pass.


They hurt.  I start to become discouraged as I had read early labor was no big deal.  If you experience pain during your period, you're fine.  I also read, though, that contractions are felt in your lower stomach, I felt mine in my lower back, and they were killer.  Tim and I hadn't taken any childbirth prep classes.   To be honest, the whole idea didn't make sense to me.  I'm going to be in pain no matter what I thought, why am I going to pay someone to teach me how to breathe?  (A little snooty?  Maybe, but in retrospect I'm glad I didn't.)

It was around this time that I 'googled' "how to breathe through contractions."  One simple breathing technique saw me through the next 7 hours.  It was also around this time that the contractions came every 6-7 minutes, just a minute or 2 shy of when we were supposed to head to the hospital.  They were lasting a good minute or longer.

From this moment on I needed to concentrate every time a contraction hit.  I retreated into myself and focused on the one breathing technique.

In through the nose: 1,2, 3.
Out through the mouth: 1,2,3.

Every now and then I grabbed Tim's hand and squeezed.  He took it and reassured me everything was going to be okay.

With the 6 o'clock hour, the 5 minute milestone came.  Every 5-5:30 minutes a contraction would come and go.

It's time.

We turn off Scandal, we grab the bags.  There's a moment as we lock the door and walk away as a family of 2 for the last time.

It's a 45 minute drive to the hospital, a reality I'd been slightly worried about leading up the due date. Will the baby be born on the freeway?  Will I be able to handle contractions in the car?  I again retreat into myself.

In through the nose: 1,2,3.
Out through the mouth: 1, 2, 3.

Jason DeRulo's Talk Dirty to Me provides just enough of a distraction as we sail over bumps in the road.

Pull up to the hospital.  Walk to the check-in.

What can I help you with?

I'm having contractions 5 minutes apart.

(Hurriedly) Let me call someone to help you.  Here's a wheelchair.

I'm placed next to a section of chairs occupied by people who are now staring at the pregnant lady in the room.

In through the nose: 1, 2, 3.
Out through the mouth: 1, 2, 3.

A chipper, blonde nurse wheels me down to the maternity ward.

Is this your first?


She tells me we have plenty of time.

A little fearful of the possibility of being sent home, I get changed into my glam hospital gown.  Tim sits in the chair.  We chat.  Nurses come and go, hooking me up to monitors, attempting to insert IVs, and asking me a slew of questions.

I'm admitted.

I try to answer the questions with a straight face.


Pause.  Yeah.

In through the nose: 1, 2, 3.
Out through the mouth: 1, 2, 3.


Epidural or no epidural?  At this point I've been dealing with contractions for 20 hours.  I try to hold out a little longer.

4-5 centimeters dilated.

The pain is manageable, but the pressure on my lower back is becoming unbearable.  I lie in bed trying to focus on the latest Don Draper drama and continue to breathe.

I'll take the epidural.

The nurses can see the intensity of my contractions rising and offer me a pain killer.  The anesthesiologist wouldn't be able to come by until after 11.

I'll wait for the epidural.

In through the nose: 1, 2, 3.
Out through the mouth: 1, 2, 3.

Tim, get the nurse.

I'll take the pain killer.

Relief, but only a little.


Lights are turned on.  Nurses file in.

The epidural is administered.  My legs are heavy.  I'm a little cold.  The pressure of my contractions has not gone away.  I question how I'm going to do this.  The nurse instructs Tim how to put counter-pressure on my lower back.  I'm laying on my side, oxygen mask on.


That isn't the right spot.



This is the ultimate worst time to miscommunicate.

My trusty breathing technique is starting to fail me.  The pressure was increasing becoming more intense with each contraction.  Tim and the nurse named Rhonda work with me to turn me from side to side, trying to get baby girl to move away from my back.  I question how I'm going to get through these next hours.

In through the nose: 1, 2, 3.
Out through the mouth: 1, 2, 3.


The nurse notices the rising intensity of each contraction.

I'm going to check you...


9 and half centimeters.  Wow.  We can start pushing soon.

Thank God.

Somewhere around 2AM (Time begins to blend together)

This is where all modesty is thrown out the window.  Rhonda has one leg, Tim has the other.  Rhonda tells me how to breathe and we begin.  Thankfully, the epidural worked just as I prayed it would.  I could feel the pressure of each contraction which helped me to push effectively.  After minutes of pushing, Rhonda has a sense of urgency in her voice.

Stop pushing.


I'm going to need you to keep your oxygen mask on.

The other nurse enters the room, Rhonda informs her to get the doctor to the hospital.

I'm scared.  Probably more in that moment than I've ever been.  I can't see what's going on.  I feel lightheaded.  The crew smiles at me, but the smiles quickly fade once we lose eye contact.

Dr. enters.

How we doing?

The nurse points.

The Dr. doesn't seem too concerned, and she walks me through the rest of the pushing process.


The moment.


I see the very pink, very loud, very tiny human who has just changed our lives forever. Exhausted, I don't remember much from that moment, except Tim's face.  And I'm so happy that's the one aspect of the moment I distinctly remember.

I hold her and I'm in awe.

Look at that head!  It's perfectly shaped!

She's beautiful!  That color.  So pink.  Perfect.

You did great.



Thank you.  

Ms. Ella James.  Born April 21, 2014 at 3:22AM. 

Photo by Jamie Brock


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