“Are you sure that the first available Wednesday you can take a tour of the hospital is June 3rd?” I pleaded with Dan. “I’ll be almost 38 weeks then!”
“Yes, it’s all I can do. I’m sorry.”
“Okay, I’ll schedule it.”
I went into labor with Dax when I was 38 weeks and 6 days, so I really wasn’t super thrilled about having to wait until I was full term to tour The Birth Place, but it was silly to do it without Dan so I made the appointment and said some prayers.
June 3rd came and went with only a few Braxton Hicks contractions here and there, so we were able to enjoy our hospital tour no sweat.
The next day, however, was June 4th and I was officially 38 weeks. When I got out of bed to use the bathroom I saw something pretty gross that I didn’t have the pleasure of seeing while pregnant with Dax: I’d lost my mucous plug.
I texted a bunch of my mom-friends the news and most of them bet I would be going into labor soon, even as soon as that day. A few hours later I started having contractions, and I got really excited.
They weren’t terribly strong, but they were consistent and wouldn’t go away if I got up and walked or drank water. I had a lot of work to do that day, so I just downloaded a contraction timer app and kept plugging away. My contractions didn’t stop even at noon when I had to leave the house for a meeting, and they continued a few hours later when I was doing work at the library. I brought my phone with me to the bathroom to continue monitoring my contractions, and a big one came just as I was walking into the stall. I tried to get my phone out of my pocket fast enough to log the contraction, and it slipped out of my hand and PLOP, into the toilet it went.
My contractions persisted even through panicking, grabbing my phone out of the toilet, running out of the library, jumping into my car, driving to Publix, frantically purchasing a bag of rice and tupperware, and throwing my phone into said tupperware with said rice. After all that, I was pretty much just done for the day, so I went to the church to wait until Dan was done with work.
Contractions continued while I sat and waited for Dan.
Once he was done with work, I told him that it was probably best to take Dax over to a friend’s house and go to the hospital. Just to check. It was weird that my contractions weren’t going away despite everything going on, and they were even starting to become painful.
There was a full moon (the strawberry moon, actually) just two days prior, and consistent with lots of old wives’ tales, The Birth Place waiting room, where we’d been on a tour only a day earlier, was packed with pregnant women waiting to be seen. After waiting about an hour and a half, we were finally brought back to triage.
They hooked me up to the monitor to show that, yes, I was having pretty strong contractions (one even lasted four and a half minutes and I thought I was dying), but they weren’t as regular as the nursing staff would like. They checked my cervix and I was only 1.5 cm dilated. They had me walk around the hospital for an hour and checked me again. Still 1.5 cm. They called my OB to tell her, and she sent me home, but told them that she would be surprised if I made it through the weekend (which made me really sad because I knew my OB wasn’t on call that weekend, and I really wanted her to deliver Case).
I went home and took some Benadryl (per Dr. Kara’s orders) to help me sleep, and when I woke up, my contractions were gone.
The next day was Friday, and I went the whole day without even a single Braxton Hicks contraction. It was as if my body had no recollection of the day before, and I was really frustrated. After experiencing such an active day, I was mentally ready to get the show on the road.
Around 2:00am Saturday morning, I woke up with pretty strong contractions. But I didn’t wake Dan right away. I just walked around the apartment and drank water, hoping they would subside. After an hour they hadn’t, so I woke Dan up and asked him to draw me a bath. We timed my contractions and noticed they went away once I got in the bath. So we figured that it was yet again another false alarm. Dan made me some ramen and then we went back to sleep.
At about 9:00am, we awoke to hear Dax singing to himself in his crib. Since it was the day after National Donut Day, we had planned to go out as a family to get donuts for breakfast. I got up to use the bathroom, and once I was done, I noticed a large amount of blood in the toilet.
And I was terrified.
I started shaking violently, and told Dan, and told him to take Dax to our friend’s house again and I threw some clothes on and ran downstairs, jumped in one of our cars, and began to drive myself to the hospital. I held back tears as I called The Birth Place and explained what I was experiencing and they demanded I come in to be seen right away (which was obviously not really comforting).
I texted a handful of good friends (especially the ones after whom Case is named) and let them know what was going on and asked for prayers. Some people mentioned it was probably bloody show, but that the amount of blood was certainly concerning. And on top of all that, Case, who was also constantly moving throughout my entire pregnancy, was extremely still in my belly. And my heart was pounding because, thanks to our miscarriage, I know first hand that a pregnancy isn’t over until it’s over and you’re holding the baby. Anything can happen until that moment. Life is precious and precarious and at that moment, when I was alone in my car driving myself to the hospital, no one knew it more than me.
I grabbed my belly hard and shook it and sobbed and cried out to my belly, “PLEASE move Case! Please move baby boy!” And then cried out to God. “PLEASE let this baby be okay. PLEASE let this baby be okay.” (Just retyping it is bringing these memories back in a painful surge.)
When I arrived at the hospital, after the longest 20-minute drive of my life, I only had to wait a few minutes before being called back to triage. They hooked me up to monitors and basically as soon as the doppler touched my belly I heard the woosh-woosh-woosh of my little one’s heart. And the tears stung in my eyes as I picked up my phone and just texted the word, “HEARTBEAT!” over and over and over.
I was having contractions that were registering up on the monitor, but I was too worked up to feel them. They asked me what my pain was on a scale of 1-10 and, at that point, it was a 0 despite having really regular contractions. They checked my cervix: 3 cm!
After a while, Dan joined me (with donuts, thank God) and sat with me while I calmed down and started feeling the contractions. Then, the nurses had us walk the halls for an hour to see if it would move labor along.
Dan timed my contractions while we walked. They were about 2-3 minutes apart and getting really strong. Every time one would come along, I would stop, brace myself on the wall, and breathe through my labor mantra: “females are strong as hell”.
After an hour, it was about 12:45pm, and they checked my cervix again: 5 cm! We were in labor! For real! We were having this baby! And at that point, our dear friend Corri showed up with Jimmy John’s, but because I’d JUST been admitted, I couldn’t eat it. So I was going to have to go through this whole labor after only eating one donut.
They moved me to my labor room, got me all set up on the monitors, and then Dan turned on the TV. My contractions were pretty strong at this point, so it took me a while before I realized that “Walker, Texas Ranger” was on, and I demanded it get turned off. Dan sat next to my left and rubbed my head and helped me breathe through contractions while Corri rubbed my feet.
Then, the worst part of the whole thing: the IV. They tried twice on my left arm, leaving me severely bruised and in pain. When they switched to my right arm, they had worse luck, but were out of options, so they jabbed me with the giant needle over and over and the pain of that, coupled with the contractions, was too much. I burst into tears and started to scream. It was the worst pain I’d ever felt in my life, I’m pretty sure.
Finally the IV was in and labor was moving right along. I was progressing nicely, and then everything became a blur.
They checked me again. 8cm.
Then again. 9cm.
Then I had the urge to push. Still only 9cm. I pleaded with the nurses through closed eyes to let me push. They couldn’t.
“They’re bringing in the delivery table! You’re almost done!”
“CHECK ME AGAIN, I REALLY THINK I NEED TO PUSH.”
“Nope, still just 9cm.”
My body shivered and I was instantly covered in a cold sweat and the urge to vomit became very real.
“Something just happened. I’m in transition. I know it. It’s time to have this baby.”
Then Dr. Bevins came in (again, not my OB, but super nice and wonderful anyway) and told me to push at my next contraction. I did, and my cervix that was at 9cm gladly moved out of the way.
Four or so pushes and the worst pain of my life (since the IV) later, and he was against my skin. And I marveled at how he reminded me of his big brother in some ways, but was so very different. He let out the littlest cry, which sounded like a baby mandrake from Harry Potter, and I was in love. Just like Dax, he was perfect and I couldn’t believe he was mine.
Case Daniel Durrenberger, born June 6, 2015, at 4:12pm. 8 lbs, 1 oz, 20 inches.