So you can imagine my shock when Rita decided to check me and told me with a surprised concern that I was well on my way... about a 3. A THREE! I instantly thought about how long it took me to get to a 3 when I was in labor with Eva -- all the tears shed and the coaxing from Travis and Mom to keep going, only to get from a 1 to a 2 and now here I was, being one of those people I complained about: someone just walking around Target that is already dilated to a 3. She then informed me that she thought this baby would be here by the end of the week.
When I made a comment about work, she frowned again and said, "Don't you just want to be done working already? You really shouldn't keep going."
"Well, my goal is to make it to next Wednesday," I replied, kind of embarrassed.
"That's not happening, Sara."
I gulped and nodded. The appointment wrapped up and it was around that time when it all started to sink in -- this baby was coming early. Just like her sister, she was not going to operate on my schedule or work with my plans.
Mom was distracting Evalee during my appointment by taking her window shopping across the street at Target (Of course window shopping with Grandma still lead to the toy aisle for a new ninja turtle and a giraffe for the baby). Wandering around Target trying to find the two of them, I could tell things were starting to stir. By the time I located them, I was starting to get emotional. But I couldn't stray from the focus -- I did have diapers to buy. So we got the diapers, checked out, and headed to the grocery store to get a couple of items. I was still quite uncomfortable walking through the store, but despite my mother's repeated suggestions to just go sit down while she took care of the shopping, I was determined for some reason to continue.
It was getting late by the time we left the grocery store, so I called Travis and asked him to grab some McDonalds for dinner. I shed a few unexpected tears that I couldn't give much of a reason for as I drove home, each bump in the road making things a little more uncomfortable. When I got out of the car, I looked at Travis and said, "If I make it to the morning and am still pregnant, I'll be shocked." He wasn't as convinced. As we sat around the table before our feast of fries and chicken nuggets (Eva was in heaven) I was overwhelmed with emotion. As stupid as I felt for admitting the reason behind it, I knew it was a plain and simple fact: I wasn't quite ready yet. I didn't want to surrender my classroom yet. I didn't have another load of laundry done. There was food in the fridge that needed to be thrown out. There were a million tiny little things that I wanted to get done before our lives changed forever. So, I did what any crazy pregnant person would do at that moment: I broke down into a sob. Travis was of course confused and tried to cheer me up by pointing out that all being at a 3 meant was a lot less work than the last time. I understood his logic, but there was no slowing down the crazy train of emotion that had already started its course.
"I'd feel a lot better if our bag was totally packed," I offered, trying to calm myself down. I think Travis was still pretty skeptical that I was actually in labor, but he was willing to do whatever to get me to stop crying and being crazy so off he went with my list of last minute things to pack from the fridge. Evalee and I curled up on the couch together to watch Dora become a big sister for the 500th time. The tears wouldn't stop.
"I don't know, I GUESS I'm having contractions," I kept saying with a shrug to Travis as he breezed in and out. I'm sure this was a frustrating thing to hear from his perspective. We continued on with our night as routine as possible -- skipping Eva's bath and getting her to bed at the usual time. I called Grandma and Grandpa to give them warning that we may be heading in to the hospital and we decided to rest for a while and time what I was still skeptical were contractions. Then at 9 p.m. I finally got a contraction that took my breath away and I knew it was happening. By then Grandma and Grandpa were on their way. By the time they got here, I had the shivers I forgot were a part of the whole process and started to get in the mindset I needed to get this thing done. Around 10 or so, I announced to Travis that we were going to the hospital at some point in the night.
It was at that point that I switched from weepy/panic mode into business mode. I started pacing around the house waiting for my parents, put my call into Rita, finished rounding things up, and continued pacing. The contractions actually lessened and started getting further apart, but I didn't let it sway me from my decision. As soon as Mom and Dad got here, my sleeping beauty was loaded into Dad's car and we were headed off to the hospital.
The drive there was again not the high-paced adventure in movies. I had one contraction on the drive and we mostly spent the time trying to find a good song to be stuck in our heads for the rest of the night (We settled on "Song From an American Movie" by Everclear, which I thought was poignant.) We got to the hospital around 11:30 and were lead to our room. I was checked by the world's most short-fingered and unenthusiastic nurse and found out I was still at a 3. I maintain that being checked early on in labor is the worst part of the entire experience -- far worse than the contractions and the pushing in my opinion. We were all sort of luke-warm as to whether or not I was in active labor and the nurse told us that Rita ordered a 2 hour observation and suggested that we rest. I elected to instead walk the halls for a half hour. I was not going to repeat the mistakes of the last labor and lie in bed for too long.
This hall walk with Travis on one side and my mother on the other was quite different than the one two years prior. The contractions were about the same intensity as they were the first time, I just handled myself better. I was determined to not lose my cool. One thing that made it all much easier was that I actually had a 30-60 second break in between contractions this time to catch my breath. I ordered that the two of them tell me stories and tried to joke around as much as possible to take my mind off the contractions. After 30 minutes of walking we stayed in the room where I found that leaning on the back of a chair brought on the same amount of contractions/intensity that walking did and required less work, so that's what we did for the next 15 minutes or so. After an hour of moving around I was checked again and declared to be at a 5. I was admitted into the hospital, I made clear my demands for my epidural so as to be sure not to miss my window for it, and a bit of chaos ensued.
It was here that the worst of it occurred. I had to get an entire bag of fluid in me before I could get my epidural, so that's where I started focusing. This wasn't the greatest idea since I know it took the nurse about 25 minutes to get the IV in my hand. That was 25 minutes of intense contractions that weren't contributing to my epidural countdown. I was not pleased. This was around the time Rita came in. She was a much friendlier and more welcomed face than Dr. Maurus's was. My epidural finally came - after a confusing back and forth with the anesthesiologist -- and we were able to fake rest for about 90 minutes before it was time for the big finale.
Finally, around 5 a.m., it was declared push time and the room readied itself. Although there were many differences between this birth and my first, it was here that the differences are most obvious to me. A bedside lamp was turned on. I didn't have to move at all, the bed wasn't changed into some crazy contraption, no lights fell from the ceiling, no stir-ups or other intimidating devices were brought up, and only 2 additional people entered the room. Rita stayed in her pajamas. My epidural had been turned off for about 30 minutes when I started pushing. Rita spoke in soft but commanding tones and told me exactly what I needed to know and do just when I needed to know it. And in just 4 contractions' worth of pushing, Isabel was born at 5:39 a.m.