It was Saturday and the weekend before Christmas 2003. I still had to finish buying Christmas presents for my husband as it was nearing my due date and he was about to take his vacation from work.
I had seen my doctor the previous Monday, and at the time I'd only been 2 cm. dilated. In fact, the prior week I'd also been 2 cm. dilated so things were at a status quo. I was due for another visit two days later.
We were about to move into a new apartment, so I bought some gifts for my husband and got a bin so my older child could put some of his things in it. He picked it out off the shelf while I went to get another shopping cart. After that I bought some groceries and headed home as I was getting tired. When I got home, I felt like organizing the baby clothes that our baby would be wearing over the few days before our move. I hadn't prepared my suitcase before, but now felt like doing it.
That night, I was so tired I didn't want to get off the couch. I wasn't hungry and didn't feel like getting dinner ready but my son had to eat so I put on something for him. When my husband came home from work that night, he turned on the football game and I went to the bedroom. I laid down at the foot of the bed so I could lay on my left side and still see the TV screen. At 1:00 a.m. when my husband went to bed he woke me up; I went to the bathroom and couldn't go back to sleep so I went to the living room to watch TV again. I felt OK for about ten minutes. Then I started feeling contractions so I went to the rocking chair; I had been getting these for the past week and they had always gone away, but not this time. I rocked and stared at a Christmas decoration: my "focal point".
My husband came out of the bedroom an hour later. The door had been shut and I hadn't been making any noise. I didn't think I was in labor yet and didn't want to go to the hospital until it was absolutely time. With my son I'd had premature labor twice and had to go to the hospital each time for about a week. I also didn't want to go and have them say I wasn't dilated enough and send me back home. I thought I'd know when it would be time to go.
By the time my husband joined me I was starting to feel pain but didn't want to go. He called my doctor's answering service and we learned that my doctor wasn't on call. Another doctor whom I don't like at all was. Then I really didn't want to go!
My husband then called my sister to watch my son. My sister and I had just talked about that that afternoon; she'd said for me to call her when it was time to go to the hospital, but we both thought we had at least another week.
My sister didn't get to my house until nearly 3:00 a.m. By then I was feeling continuous pain and screaming. She was upset that I still hadn't left but I hadn't wanted to leave my twelve-year-old son alone. My husband had trouble getting me to the car. I'd wrapped my arms around the light pole outside and wanted to be left alone. He finally got me in the car and we went to the hospital, which was only ten minutes away. There was no traffic and the few lights we had to go through were with us. When we got there the main door was locked--I didn't know we had to go to the ER, but there was a security guard who opened the door for me while my husband parked the car. I literally fell to my knees when I got out of the car--I couldn't stand, let alone walk. He wheeled me to the maternity floor.
Once there, they checked me out in the L&D room. I was fully dilated and fully effaced. They couldn't give me anything for the pain; I wouldn't have wanted an epidural and was going to try for an unmedicated birth anyway. They didn't have time to wheel me to a regular room to labor and give birth like they normally do. I was also in too much pain to change into a hospital gown so I kept my shirt on.
Even though I was fully dilated and effaced and felt like pushing, they wouldn't let me push. The emergency room OB was there, but the on-call OB hadn't arrived yet. When he did get there he didn't talk to either my husband or me. My husband said the doctor gave him a feeling that we were bothering him.
Finally, a little after 3:30 a.m. they said I could push. It felt so good!
On Sunday morning December 21 2003, my daughter Danielle Nicole was born weighing six pounds, thirteen and a quarter ounces and measuring nineteen inches long! Initially I was so tired, but I couldn't wait to hold her, which was not until nearly 5 a.m. because they had to wait for her temperature to regulate.
It was a very different birth than my son's. In his case I'd had premature labor twice and he had to be given oxygen when he was born because he wasn't breathing. My daughter came out screaming before the cord was even cut!