I look at the clock for what had to have been the hundredth time that day... 5:30pm...Chris was leaving work... a whole day of nothing but contractions spaced by 20-25 minutes. No progress. I couldn't help but be disappointed. At least they were manageable... intense, but not painful. Not at all what I thought true labor would be like... so maybe it wasn't? But, I had something to be excited about! I grabbed the keys and jumped in my car.
A date night... it was Valentine's after all! Little did we know this would be our very last date before our sweet baby came! I pulled in the parking lot. Provino's. I sat in the car through a mild contraction. I didn't want to walk in before Chris got there but we knew it would probably be crowded and we didn't want to wait long. For the first time in my pregnancy I felt like all eyes were on me... maybe it was my huge belly. Maybe it was my countenance... frustrated? Or maybe because they all had suspicions of what I had come for. They were right. I had never eaten eggplant parmesan before... so I wasn't sure I should be excited about it, but I was... I was hungry. Nothing new there. The hostess hands me a pink carnation, a buzzer alarm thingy, and the wish of a happy valentine's day. I smile. Maybe for the first time all day! I find a place in the waiting area to rest my slightly wider backside and can hear the rumbling of my very large, loud belly. "Eggplant parm?" the older woman next to me muses. I smile and nod. "Yes Ma'am". She smiles wide. "Good luck". I think about all the strange things people have said to me since the news of the baby growing inside me was public information. Something about pregnancy makes people comfortable with saying things they wouldn't normally say, especially to a stranger. What's that about? My thoughts are interrupted when I see the door swing open ushering in the most attractive man. My man. He changes my mood with his smile. I missed him on this very disappointing day! The next few minutes were filled with talk of the day and wondering what these very regular but non-progressive contractions could be... false labor? Not sure what that looks like. The buzzer goes off. Good thing, cause I might have eaten that sweet hostess if it had been a moment later. We're seated in a booth (my favorite) in a quiet section of the restaurant. I can't help but be kind of sad when I stare across the table at my love. Life was about to change. We wanted it. Dreamed about it. Have prepared and read and talked and talked and thought about it for so long now. But, everything would be different. No denying that. I'm about to speak these thoughts aloud when my stomach squeezes into a ball. A bit stronger than most today. Hope rises. I squash it. It's been 30 minutes since the last one. Labor doesn't look like this right? Chris notices the change on my face and I confirm his suspicion with a nod. We smile cautiously. Our server rounds the corner and I see him smile down at my belly before he even reaches our table. First words out of his mouth after his introduction were "Eggplant Parmesan I'm guessing?". I was completely obvious it seemed! I laughed (which felt good) and told him he guessed correctly! The food arrives swiftly after we enjoyed some gooey garlic rolls and I was pleasantly surprised by the dish. Touche eggplant! I snap a photo... a souvenir of sorts. A record of this moment that could mean nothing... or everything. Or everything.
Whoa! I fly out of bed before even thinking about what I was doing... I didn't know why, I just had to stand. I was rocking my hips before my mind caught up to the fact that I was having a contraction... this had to be a real contraction... a doing something contraction. It still didn't really hurt... maybe a 4 on the pain scale... but it was working, that I knew. I grab my phone. 1:00am. Naturally. It couldn't start at like maybe 7am? Even 6 would have been acceptable. I smiled to myself as I thought about the fact that this could really be it. IT! I knew I couldn't sleep... I couldn't even lay down apparently. I was frenzied. I don't really know what my thought process was but I had to be doing something and I didn't want to wake up Chris since I wasn't positive this was labor, and I didn't need help through these contractions yet. I quietly grab the nail polish remover, cotton balls, and a new color. What was I doing? I record another contraction on my phone as I finish my toenails. A little messy, but done. I leave the tea I just made untouched and head back upstairs to the laundry room and start folding the load dried earlier that evening. Seriously? Was this normal? I had to laugh when Chris came stumbling out, eyes barely open, to find me folding towels at 2:30 in the morning. "What in the world are you doing?" he managed to mumble. "I think I'm in labor!". His eyes grew a little wider, but then I told him I wasn't entirely sure and was ok on my own at the moment and he could go back to sleep. I wanted at least one of us to be fresh if this was really it.
After a long night of crazy behavior, my contractions are still only about 10 minutes apart. I decide to try and rest. My side was the most comfortable and oh the pillow felt so good. It wasn't hard to close my eyes, but it wasn't long before the next contraction and it's unbearable in this position, but I can't move... I breathe and try to focus on everything I learned during pregnancy. Relax... oh but my body was tight and shaking... think open... oh but I might throw up. All I could think about was how bad I wished I was standing! I can feel it on its way out and I thank God... not doing that again.
Chris wakes to find me sitting cross-legged on my pillow leaning back against the headboard with my head bobbing in between contractions. I wake with another, have to breathe through this one a little, but still not bad at all. Nothing like when I was on my side. I wasn't sure what to do. I knew I couldn't go to work again, but it was so important for Chris to be there as much as possible. Not only because if he's not there he doesn't sell anything, but because he only had 5 days to take for our Eli, and I would hate to think of him using one unnecessarily! Maybe I was just a big baby... maybe these were just practice contractions and I had no idea what I was in for. I let those kind of thoughts invade my mind all morning. Contractions are about 8-9 minutes apart now and I am getting discouraged. Not much progress for such a long night, especially considering my mother had 6 hour (or less) births... sigh. Chris had been gone for about an hour. I need a change, so I decide to jump in the shower. I always heard if you aren't in real labor a shower would slow or stop the contractions. I take a long, wonderfully hot one. It soothes, but they don't slow down. It was encouraging, but they didn't speed up either. Discouraging. I look in the mirror, the towel wrapped around me barely covering my round body. Full of life... a life I hoped was ready to join the rest of us out here! I thought about him while I was brushing my wet hair and how this could be the very last day before he's here with us. I hoped so. Oh I hoped so. The next couple of contractions I have to brace the edge of the counter and sway through. I was on the verge of tears wondering if this was not really it, how awful would real labor be. It was 10:00 now, I called Chris. I needed him.
I hear the garage door and in an instant I feel I can do this. He meets me in our room with a huge hug, some power bars, and my favorite blue gatorade. I love him. He knows me. I lean on him through a contraction as he soothes my spirit with his encouraging words. This is more like it. This is how I imagined this day (days?). We pray. He gets out the computer and I wonder what he could be doing... I bend in a contraction and he's right there to hold me without a word. Seconds into swaying I hear the sweet sound of worship... ahhh... our labor playlist we carefully created. I need this man. He makes sense of my life. I lose myself in the words... "how could I expect to walk without You, when every move that Jesus made, was in surrender. I could not begin to walk without You. For You alone are worthy, You were always good". I can do this. I can do ALL things with Him (phil 4:13). We both feel the weight of this song and how it moves me through the pain and we quickly dub it our "theme song". It was played countless times that day, and the CD of those songs stayed faithfully on repeat in my car for a good 5 months post delivery. No kidding. Amazing how music - especially this music - can motivate. It did. I was different from that moment on. Each contraction moved me closer. Closer to E. Closer to the moment I would be forever changed. The moment the world would stop. The moment I would see his face. I closed my eyes, breathed deeply and let another contraction course through me. I was tiring... not being able to lay down was getting hard. I was texting all the while with my dear friend Lindsey (confusing right?) who would act as a doula during the hospital portion of our labor. She cautioned me to prepare for a long labor (since it was already half way through wednesday and I had been in labor for almost 12 hours with 8 minutes still separating my contractions) by resting as much as I could, but at the same time, we wanted to make sure we weren't slowing things down by doing the same thing for too long. She encouraged us to go for a walk. Beautiful idea.
It was perfect. A sort of warm day for February. The sky, cobalt blue. Big marshmallow clouds. The sun beaming, and the breeze brisk. We walked, we sang, we swayed. Talked, and laughed, and swayed. I was overwhelmed with the emotion of it all. I drank it in. The scent of my husband, my face pressed in his chest. His strong, supportive arms around my bulging belly. The sound of his breath matching mine. We were one in those moments. I needed him, and he was everything. I was amazed by the way I felt in between contractions. Tired, but so excited. No pain... in fact, I forgot the pain completely until another one came. I was in awe of our Creator and felt so much love. That was the only thing making the time bearable.
It was 5:30pm. As we pull out of the driveway, "theme song" playing I dream of what's ahead and meeting our little man.