Saturday night, I was having some cramps that weren't too painful or regular, just kind of vague and uncomfortable. I was having trouble sleeping in general by then, if not because of crazy pregnancy thoughts running circles in my head, then because of my restless legs or the baby's jazzercise routine or tossing and turning to get comfy. So I was awake at 5:15 AM when my water broke, and I jumped up and made it to the potty so quickly that I didn't lose a drop. That woke Garret up, and he was startled and asked what happened. I said, "I think my water just broke." As usual, he just had to check, "Are you serious?"
So we called the obstetrician on call, and she asked about contractions. I was still just having the vague cramps that didn't really start or stop markedly, so she said to give it a couple hours and recommended that I try to get some more rest. We texted our families and tried to go back to sleep. Yeah, right. Since the beef stew meat was already thawed in the fridge and I knew I would be in the hospital for several days and it would go bad before I could use it, I asked Garret if he was up for making some stew. So yes, we made beef stew at 6:00 AM on the day our daughter was born.
At around 8:00 AM, we left for the hospital. I had started to feel the beginnings and ends of contractions while we cooked, and they were lasting 1-2 minutes and coming about every 5 minutes from the first few that I could identify. On the way to the hospital, they were getting strong enough that I was using the Lamaze breathing techniques we had learned in our labor class. I was pretty sure I would end up with an epidural, but the plan was to play it by ear and see how I handled the pain. By the time we were in our room and I was all hooked up to my IV and monitors, I had a couple pretty bad contractions such that the breathing techniques were barely keeping me afloat, so we opted for the epidural pretty quickly. That was an excellent decision. Once the anesthesiologist started the meds around 11:00 AM, I was able to just relax and wait. I could feel the pressure of the stronger contractions but no discernible pain. I played Solitaire on my laptop. Garret stared at me. The nurse checked my progress every few hours, but not too often because my amniotic sac was ruptured already so they didn't want to introduce germs. We discussed baby names. We were thinking it would be Taya Malina. (Look for a future post with more details on our naming ritual.) Garret went down to the cafeteria and brought back a burger and tator tots, for himself, of course, as I was restricted to ice chips. Those tator tots never looked yummier!
Fast forward to about 5:30 PM when the nurse came in and said it was go-time. They got all set up and I started pushing around 6:00 PM. Nurse Lisa held my right leg and Garret held my left. They arranged a mirror so I could see the progress, which was apparently pretty fast. It was hard, but not painful. It felt kind of like trying to squat a huge Acme safe that wouldn't budge. Garret was great, so supportive and so fun to watch (between contractions) because he was so excited that we could see the top of her head. They sent for the doctor after the first few rounds of pushing because she was already pretty far down. For each contraction, they would have me do 3 rounds of pushing for a count of 10. Twice, the doctor was talking when she was supposed to start counting, so she started with 1 when I was already on 4 and I kind of panicked. The second time, I told her that wasn't fair and she promised not to let it happen again.
Baby Hamby was born at 7:03 PM. Right away we saw she had Garret's puffy eyes, my fat cheeks, and more hair than any baby in my family. Garret cut the cord, and remarked that it didn't look like he expected. About 6 people came rushing in and someone took the baby to put the antibiotic ointment in her eyes. Garret was so sweet, telling me I did a good job, but I told him to go be with her. They had him trim the cord after they clamped it, and then they started doing all the cleaning and measuring and whatever else they do to babies. I tried to watch them working on her while the doctor was delivering the placenta and suturing a superficial tear, but after several minutes -- maybe 5 or 10? It felt like hours! -- I started saying, "I want her. I just want to hold her. When can I hold her?" and I started crying. The doctor was like, "Come on, ladies, give the woman her baby!" and I finally got to hold my daughter.
Then they asked her name. Garret and I looked at each other. She didn't look like a Taya or a Malina or any of the names we had seriously considered. We didn't know her name, but she was beautiful and she was ours. <3 <3 <3