During the absolute climax of the movie I felt a pop. Then a small gush. I grabbed Brandon's arm and whispered that I thought maybe my water had broke and we booked it to the hospital.
It was flurry of gathering bags, checking in, changing clothes, tests, checking, and waiting to see if I was, in fact, in labor.
The nurse wasn't really sure what had happened. I was so confused. It appeared my water HAD broke. But all signs pointed to no. It was late by this point, defeated and exhausted we headed home to bed.
Exhausted, the entirety of the next day was spent on the couch with Brandon. Just he and I. Olivia was with my in-laws giving me a much needed break to try and rest. I don't remember the last time we did that, perhaps 7 moves and 2 states ago? It was needed. After Olivia got home that evening, we ate dinner, read stories, did the whole bedtime song and dance. I hadn't had a contraction in hours and resigned to the thought that it probably wouldn't happen that night either. Around ten, as Brandon and I were winding down for bed, I heaved myself out of my chair when, again, I felt a gush. But a really big one. But really, could it be?
I gasped loudly and waddled quickly to the bathroom, yelling to Brandon, "Okay, I think it really broke this time!" He raced into the bathroom, asking if it really had. "I don't know, I think so? Maybe I will just go to the hospital and if I did, you can drop off Livi to Tasha's and meet me there. No point waking her up if we don't need to."
"Well...Okay. Are you sure?" He asked as I made my way into the bedroom to put on some clean clothes. And then all doubt about this being "the real thing"escaped....all over the bedroom floor. I did the only reasonable thing I could think of, which was to stand in the bathtub to wait for the liquid to stop while Brandon scrambled to grab our bags, wake Olivia, and load the car.
Making our way to the hospital, I tried to focus on breathing and keeping calm. Not because the pain, which was nothing at this point, but because the sheer adrenaline of it all. I called my mom, Brandon called his, I text my sisters, and tried to explain the best I could to Olivia what was going on. I was reassuring her just as much as I was myself that all was going to be just fine.
Brandon took me to the hospital first before taking her to my sister-in-law's house. I'd had anxiety about not getting to the hospital in time for an epidural. My labor with Olivia was so fast that I'd almost missed my chance to get one with her and I most certainly didn't want a repeat. That part of Olivia's labor was a little too traumatizing for me. I needed the epidural and didn't want to miss my window to get it . I squeezed Olivia's foot, blew her kisses, and waddled in.
The nurses aide wheeled me to labor and delivery, where the nurses from the night before greeted me with a chorus of "Hey, you're back!" and "Is it for real this time?" I laughed, assuring them, there was no question, and within a matter of minutes I was getting set up in my room. I had text a few dear friends and a sister-in-law that had wanted and offered to be there. Brandon arrived a few minutes later with the other's not too far behind.
I was excited. I had a good group of people I loved and cared about there and there was no shortage of laughter and bantering in the room. The combination of Nichelle, Lee Ann, Sarah, and my husband was a good one. I'd requested the epidural right off the bat. I was far enough dilated that it wasn't a problem and I had no desire to feel the big contractions. So the mood was light-hearted and happy. It was about 3 and a half hours and multiple checks later that I had made absolutely no progress. None. And I was not having any contractions. At all. I told everyone to go home, get some sleep, with promises that I'd text them once I was nearing the end.
Around 3:00 am, they started pitocin. Brandon passed out on the couch, and I had hoped to sleep a little myself.
But there in the dark, I lay cradling my belly think about this boy I was about to meet, this little family of mine that Brandon and I had made together. I thought about the significance of it, what we'd been through the last couple of years, and just how big this all was. I began to pray as I lay there. I prayed for this sweet boy who I already knew, my soul recognized his and I knew he was mine from the beginning. I prayed for his safety, for his strength, for his courage. I prayed for me, to be fearless as his mother, for strength, for stability in my life so that he might have it in his. I prayed for Brandon, for our marriage, for the ability to always be what he needed me to be so that he might be what his children need. I prayed for Olivia, for her to have courage, for her to remember how much she is loved. I prayed over and over for love in this family, for the continued love that we have, for new love, for strong, unconditional, protective love. I prayed for two hours for this little family of mine, feeling close to Heaven, and feeling surrounded by nothing but wonderful.
Between 3:00 and 5:00, the pitocin did it's job beautifully and quickly. So quickly, that I realized very soon that my epidural had not entirely done the job and I began feeling intense waves of pain. Parts of me were immune from the pain while other parts were not. Wave after wave grew stronger and stronger. Brandon was now awake and I called him over. He held me hand talking me through each contraction. It had become too intense and tears poured down my cheeks as I tried to breathe through the pain. The nurse checked me again and I was around a 7 or 8. I was making progress fast. Still crying and now shaking, the notified the anesthesiologist that I was "uncomfortable"and he came back and gave me a bolus of meds to get me through the end. Within five minutes I had relief and I was ready to push.
The nurses had filed in making preparations, the doctor was getting appropriately attired... They told me it was time. I still felt enough that my body knew what to do. Everyone in the room, encouraged, counted, and coached as my body did what it was mean to. And less than 10 minutes later he was here, his cry a confirmation that it was all okay and that he was ready for me.
I heard nothing, I saw nothing but him, felt nothing but Brandon holding my hand as they placed him on my chest. And in that moment, Heaven was so close and I felt surrounded by the love of my Savior and of a Father in Heaven who gave me this child, who trusted me not just once, but now twice, with two sweet spirits and the gratitude was more than I could take and my heart burst. Tears flowed freely from me and from my husband.
'"I'm so happy to see you! I love you, I love you, I love you," I whispered through my sobs as my crying baby lay on my chest.
Cole Matthew was born at 6:29 am, weighing 8lbs 1 oz and was 21 inches long. He is beautiful, good natured, and strong. He is perfect. Loving is son is so much the same but so vastly different from loving a daughter. But no less beautiful and sacred. I never doubted I could love another child as much as I do Olivia, but I didn't know how much I needed this child. I didn't realizing that something was missing until he came along and made me complete.
I am in love with this family. So, so, so in love. I am anxious and nervous about how each child will adjust to this life we've been given. I am excited to see how Cole will bless this road we are traveling and how his relationship with Olivia will grow. It was a tricky balance before and I hope that we can do it without either child suffering or feeling neglected. The Spirit was strong at Cole's birth, something confirmed to my by my friends that were there. It felt like a promise, like and encouragment and a reminder of who I need to be and what I am capable of. I know the mother I need to be for them. I just have to remember to pace myself, breathe, and take it one step at a time.