Nina Ellen Pratt - July 4, 2014


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Our son James took his sweet time being born, despite arriving four days prior to his due date. Emily started noticing contractions on a Sunday night. We spent all day Monday packing and preparing to go to the hospital before finally heading in around 5:00 PM. Once we arrived, we were immediately turned away and told to go walk around the block for a couple of hours. In the middle of the night, we realized that he wasn't coming imminently, and the doctor fired up an epidural so Emily could sleep. Finally, James was born on Tuesday at 11:53 AM, over 24 hours after we started.

Nina made us wait for several days past her due date--in fact, we had just scheduled an induction. Friday was a holiday, and we went to bed on Thursday thinking about all of the stuff we could do with James--the kids' parade, fireworks, etc.

At 1:00 AM, I awoke to the sound of Emily breathing very loudly and strangely. I realized she was having contractions, and thought, "I should get some rest."

At 1:30 AM, I realized I wasn't going to be able to sleep through the racket, and thought, "I should make a pot of coffee. It is going to be a long day."

At 1:45 AM, I made said pot of coffee. Emily got up shortly thereafter and suggested that we take showers. At this point, neither of us believed anything was really happening.

Emily struggled to get from the toilet to the shower (a distance of approximately six feet). It took her almost 10 minutes. I consumed most of the pot of coffee.

At 2:15 AM, we called my father-in-law to come watch James.

At 2:25 AM, we called the on call doctor. "Well, come on in and let's take a look," she said.

At 2:45 AM, we left for the hospital. Emily woke up the neighbors with a contraction between the front door and the car. When I asked if I should run red lights, my normally risk-averse wife immediately said, "HELL YES."

Of course the only other car on the road between our house and the hospital was a Seattle police cruiser. I thought of passing him and asking for a police escort to the hospital, but then I figured he would take his sweet time running my plate, etc. Thankfully, he exited quickly so we could pick up our pace. I ran the light at Boren & James, and made an illegal left turn into the Swedish emergency room entrance.

I dropped Emily off at the emergency room entrance at 3:00 AM, and punched the parking garage ticket at 3:01 AM. An attendant at the E.R. loaded her into a wheelchair and we headed for the birth center.

In the birth center, she initially measured 6 CM. Her contractions were otherworldly. The nurses would ask her a question right as a contraction was beginning, and she would repeat the answer Howard Hughes-style through the contraction: "No, I don't. No, I don't. No, I don't. No, I don't. No, I don't."

They were also unable to see baby's heartbeat right away, which caused a flurry of activity. Things you don’t want to hear: the nurse yelling out, "I need the doctor over here RIGHT NOW." Thankfully, after rolling Emily onto her side, the monitor kicked in and we could see that the baby wasn't in any danger.

After we'd been there maybe 15 minutes, the doctor arrived and asked if Emily wanted something for the pain. Emily asked her to check again, and--again, after maybe 15 minutes in the triage room--she measured 9+ CM. "Honey," said the doctor calmly, "you are having a natural childbirth."

They wheeled Emily toward one of the birthing rooms. She was on all fours on the bed, because she couldn't move to roll over or lie down. Almost immediately once we were in the birthing room, her water broke with a splash.

Emily pushed three or four times, and our daughter was born at 3:54 AM. We had not yet been formally admitted to the hospital.

I'll always remember the doctor. She was from a different clinic, so we had no idea who she was. She walked into the birthing room with a Diet Coke, set it down, changed into scrubs, delivered a baby, did the "repair work", took her scrubs off, picked up her Diet Coke (which was still cold!) and headed off to the next delivery like it was no big thing.

My kids are already different in awesome ways. One boy, one girl. One born early, one born late. One long labor, one (scary) short labor. Life is good.