Luke, you were born in the last hour of a Monday night on May 16, 2011. The days leading up to your birth were filled with excitement and most of all anticipation. You were due on May 12th so I took the whole week off of work. Every night I would go to bed just sure that “tonight will be the night”. It is a weird thing waiting for labor to start when you are pregnant for the first time because you have no idea what to expect, except I suppose if your water breaks. Other moms tell you that you will just know when it starts but without ever experiencing it, it is so hard to imagine what you are waiting to feel.
Just two days before you were born our sweet two year old puppy Ponzo was hit by a car outside of our house. It was a typical Saturday morning and your Dad and I had plans to fill the day with activities to distract us from waiting. First stop was going to Starbucks and then to the dog park with Ponzo. It was a routine weekend activity for us but this day was different. I was inside getting my things together, Dad was outside getting Ponzo ready and into the car. The street was uncharacteristically busy that morning and there were a lot of cars around because of a neighbors yard sale. Ponzo saw a lady get out of the car on the other side of the street and decided he needed to go say hi to her. He darted over which is unusual for him to do, I heard your dad saying “Ponzo, no” very stern but the next “Ponzo NO” was with fear in his voice and I knew something was wrong. I heard a loud noise, your Dad yell, neighbors yelling, and I dropped my bag and ran out as fast as my overdue pregnant belly would let me. I ran across the street to see Ponzo curled up on the sidewalk shaking. He was incredibly scared and hurt but he had no visible injuries. I just got down and held him while your Dad was talking to the driver. We were soon able to get Ponzo to walk back over to our house and he had a little blood in his urine. We rushed him to the Vet and they kept him and watched him for half the day on pain medication. Now that our plans for distraction were derailed we didn’t know what to do with ourselves. On a random whim we decided to get breakfast and walk around Ikea. We couldn’t get Ponzo back home fast enough and he was home safe and sound sleeping away the pain just a few hours later.
With taking care of Ponzo and the craziness of the day before I can’t remember what we did on Sunday but I do remember both your Dad and I wishing that you would come in the middle of the night so your Dad wouldn’t have to go to work on Monday morning. Again, I went to bed thinking maybe tonight would be the night and hoped and prayed we would finally get to meet you. Sure enough around 4:30 am I started to feel contractions that surprisingly felt different and I finally understood what mom’s would say when they claim “you just know”. These contractions were different. They were longer, more intense than other Braxton Hicks I felt, and I could really feel them down in my core. They almost take your breath away for a moment. At this point they weren’t very painful, it was just exciting that it was starting. I waited for an hour timing them on my Blackberry app. to make sure they were consistent and at 5:30 am I told your Dad he didn’t have to go to work, we were going to have this baby today! We got up, made some phone calls to our parents, took a shower, ate cereal for breakfast, packed more than we needed, and waited. The one thing I was most afraid of was getting to the hospital in Roseville, a 30 minute drive from our house, and being turned away and sent back home because I wasn’t ready. Of course both sets of our parents were so excited and anxious to be with us that we had to continue to tell them to just wait and hold on until we know we are checked into the hospital. We hung around the house and took a walk until about 9:30 am. At that point the contractions were coming closer together but I was still able to walk and talk and breathe ok so they didn’t hurt too bad yet. Because of the time between, we decided it was time to go to the hospital. We told our parents we were headed there and of course, they were so anxious to be there too. With women and labor, you really never know how long one woman will take. Some are fast and some are slow so I kept reminding our parents that it could be a really long day, we never know so don’t rush to the hospital until we know the situation and that I am checked in.
We got to the hospital at around 10:30 am and went into the triage room. The Dr. was really nice and checked me and gave an estimate of your size. She said 7 pounds if that. I was relieved to hear that =). She also said it was right to come into the hospital when we did but my contractions weren’t strong enough yet, so she sent us to the mall to walk around instead of going all the way back home. Her gauge of the pain of my contractions was by watching my face through one of them and it didn’t seem like it was very painful. “Easy for you to say!” I thought, later I discovered I was wrong!
We left the triage room and got into the car to call our parents with an update. Your Dad was on the phone with his parents who were coming from the bay area so rightly so were anxious to be in the Sacramento area. I was on the phone with my parents who were in Walnut Grove which was about a hour away from Roseville so they were anxious to get out there too. I could hear your Dad on the phone with your Nonno (Bob) and he said in a very suspicious voice, “where are you?” We were thinking we would call them and tell them it was ok for them to leave up to the area from the bay now. I could hear your Nonno through the phone say, “I can’t find a parking spot in this darn place”. What!? They were already in the parking lot!? We were in the parking lot turning around to leave and go to the mall. I was on the phone with your Grandma Cyndy at the same time giving her an update and I could hear both her and your Grandpa Dave. I suspiciously said “where are you guys?”. Apparently they were just waiting in the driveway in the car...right I thought. They were in the car alright, I wonder how far down the road they really were. Looking back, it’s funny to see how excited they all were to be there with and for us and to meet you. At the time, we were a little on edge because I didn’t want a room full of people in the hospital when I wasn’t even checked in yet. We still had to go to the mall and walk around for 2 hours.
So, Grandma and Grandpa Paulsen waited until we went back to the hospital to come and Nonno and Nonni went to watch a movie while we went to the mall. We grabbed something to eat because I know how cranky I get without food and had no idea how long it would be before I got food again. We walked through JCPenny and saw the cutest Panda Pillow Pet that we bought for you and brought it back to the hospital with us. Once time started to pass, I had to go to the restroom a lot and I actually had to stop and hold on to the rail during contractions. It was definitely getting more painful and things were progressing. We headed back to the hospital around 12:30 pm.
It was 1:00 pm and this time it was different, I was feeling enough pain and was dilated to a 4 so they checked me in. It took a while to get situated and from the triage room to the labor and delivery room. Once we were in the labor and delivery room it took them a while to get things situated. I knew our parents were there but I wanted to wait until things were completely settled in the room before they all came in to visit. It must have been taking an eternity to them and so your Grandma and Grandpa came to the door at one point and all I could see from my bed was their heads peaking in just so excited to come see us. From my perspective they looked like the people in the old Mervyn’s commercials waiting by the door saying, “Open, Open, Open”. I wasn’t ready yet so I told the to go away and wait, I wasn’t ready to see them all yet. I didn’t say it very nicely, so I am sorry Mom and Dad, I didn’t mean to be so snappy. Things finally felt all settled and I told the nurse it was ok to bring our parents in now.
The four of them came in and we visited for a while and I would just close my eyes and grasp the bed handles during contractions. It’s a weird thing having visitors in the room while you are in labor because you have so many things running through your head while all these people are sitting around you. I remember feeling like I was on display because the bed is up higher than the chairs and everyone is watching you through contractions. Despite all that, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. We were so blessed to have all of our parents there to support us. Eventually your Aunt Lynda and her family came in and Haley and Heater provided some much appreciated comedic relief. At one point Heather announced, “Raise your hand if you think Luke will have curly black hair?”. It was pretty funny and we tried to convince her that maybe you wouldn’t have any hair. I don’t think she liked that much.
As time progressed, so did the pain. My birth plan was very much like me in that I didn’t have really strong opinions one way or the other about pain medication and an epidural. I knew I most likely wanted an epidural but I didn’t know how long to wait for one and I didn’t know how much pain to expect. Around 5:00 pm I asked for some pain medication through my IV because I wasn’t quite ready for an epidural yet. I got that medication, it made me really loopy, and only lasted about an hour. I thought that was a complete waste. I knew an epidural was in my very near future so I took a walk around the hospital with my parents. Towards the end of the walk I had one contraction that was my clear sign that I was ready for the epidural. The second we got backed into the room I asked for an epidural and they sent the request in. At that point things start to get slightly blurry. I don’t remember how long it took for the anesthesiologist to come in but things were getting really intense. I began to shake uncontrollably and was in a lot of pain just waiting for a little relief. We don’t know for sure but I think I got the epidural around 6 or 7 cm dilated.
Your Dad was right there with me every step of the way being really supportive. When the anesthesiologist finally came in, it took a while to get things set up and I just remember sitting facing your Dad trying to control my shaking. I think I was almost in tears and whimpering, I am not positive though. Your Dad accidentally saw the needle and said something about how big it was but I didn’t pay any attention to that. It didn’t hurt at all to get the epidural compared to the pain I was in so at that moment it was all worth it. I felt the cool medicine in the tube strapped to my upper back and soon I felt the relief! YAY, I felt good, not loopy, could still move my legs, and felt more engaged in the experience again. I hit my pain threshold and I think checked out, so now I was back and felt energized to get through the rest of this. The visitors came back in and things were more calm for a little while. Your Uncle Danny and Aunt Kellie arrived just after I got the epidural and when they came in I was feeling good. I think they were hoping to see me just before I got the epidural to see how much pain I felt because your Aunt Kellie was going to go through this in 2 months with your cousin Connor and they wanted to see what it was like.
We had great nurses at the hospital and at one point I tried to sneak a saltine cracker but I think nurse Jennifer had eyes in the back of her head. I was not allowed a snack at all, just liquid. At around 8:00 pm we had the visitors leave the room so we could rest for what we had coming up ahead. We dimmed the lights, turned on the TV, your Dad took a nap, and I tried to rest and relax. During the whole day of labor you were a champ. Your heartbeat was good and strong and there were no issues with you. At around 9:00 pm the nurses came to check me. To our surprise I was fully dilated to a 10 and you were low in the birth canal so the nurse announced it was time to push! I was so excited but an extreme sense of nervousness rushed over me and I began shaking again. I kept telling your Dad I was nervous. Maybe I was nervous to finally meet you, maybe I was nervous to push, maybe I was nervous about something going wrong but whatever it was, it caused me to shake. Your Dad went to tell everyone we were going to start pushing!
When it came time to push the nurses made it seem like you were so close, just right there, that it would be no time before you were out. Um, that wasn’t the case. I started pushing and it was going fine, it was what I expected. I could feel the contractions enough to know when I was having one and the nurses would have me start to push right at the peak of each one for three counts of ten. We did this for an hour and I think at that point my frustration began to settle in. I didn’t know how long was average for pushing time but on TV shows it seems like a few times and the baby is out. The nurses kept saying you were stuck under my pelvic bone and each push would bring you down but you would go back up. After each push they would tell me it was good but I remember being frustrated that it obviously wasn’t good enough because we were still pushing. I had an oxygen mask on and the pushing was so exhausting that at one point I ripped it off my face because it was bugging me. I am a patient person in most situations but when it comes to me controlling something I am doing physically, I lack patience. Every push took more and more out of me and I was getting fatigued, extremely frustrated, and exhausted as I anxiously watched the clock. 10:30 pm, 10:45 pm, 11:00 pm, 11:15 pm. It seemed like it was taking forever and nothing I did was doing the trick. They moved me to my side at one point but when you were born I was back on my back. at 11:30 pm things started changing. The Dr. was in now, not just the nurses and they started bringing all these things into the room to prepare. I then knew it was almost over. Towards the very end I could feel A LOT. I was physically exhausted from pushing but I could also feel a lot of pain down there. I hadn’t pushed the epidural button during this whole time so I was on the lowest dose. When you were almost out your Dad was getting really excited and his words encouraged me. I believed him when he said you were almost out but I hadn’t believed the nurses prior to that.
At the very end I pushed and pushed and didn’t take any breaks because you were here. It hurt really bad and I remember saying “It hurts, it hurts...”. I am a quiet person and I don’t scream and yell but it hurt enough for me to at least say that out loud. At 11:43 pm all the pain was gone and you were here. Your Dad has been know to cry a time or two and this case was no different. I had tears in my eyes but the big smile on my face was more dominant. I was so happy to see and hold you. They immediately put you on my stomach and I held you and studied your perfect little body. You were everything we dreamed of and more. You were perfectly healthy and beautiful at 7 pounds, 12 ounces, and 20 inches long. Looking back your head was a little stretched from being in the birth canal so long but so are most babies. Your Dad went out to the waiting room while they cleaned you up and while they fixed me up. I didn’t even do anything or feel anything when the placenta came out and they were busy stitching me up. I had quite a bit of tearing and bleeding but I got through that. They brought you back over to me and we cuddled and you feed immediately. It was smooth sailing from there on out of the hospital.
It took the nurses a while to fix me up and get everything situated before our families could come in and see you so I think it was almost 2:00 am before they were able to come back into the room. Your temperature was just a little low so they kept you under the heat lamp while everyone came in to see you. All your Aunts and Uncles were there on my side and your Nina Gina came first thing the next morning to meet you. Overall I think you can put my labor and delivery in the average category. It was 11 hours from when we checked into the hospital and I pushed for 2.5 hours. My recovery was a little rough but I think still better than what a c-section would have been. Our first night in the hospital was fine, we were all exhausted and you slept well. By the end of our stay we couldn’t wait to get out of there.