Lots of time
May 28, 2013 appeared to start the same as any other day in Dana’s pregnancy: she was up early to go to the washroom while I remained asleep. As fate would have it, Dana came out of the bathroom at 5:20am and told me she was pretty sure she was in labour. Dana’s contractions started at 6 minutes apart and we figured we had some time yet before needing to head to the hospital. We got up, had breakfast, I had an espresso, we both had showers – no problem. Around 6 or 6:30, I fired off a text to our doula, Nicall, to let her know Dana had gone into labour. An hour later at 7:30am, Dana had moved through 5 minutes apart and was on her way to 4 minutes apart. So much for this taking a while.
By 8am we were in the car and on the way to the Grey Nuns. It took more self control than I was expecting not to scream down the Henday at 200km/h. Thank you cruise control. At one point on 50th street Dana said to me, “Listen, you need to drive around this guy,” and, like an adrenaline-fuelled father-to-be, I complied (I was under DURESS, Your Honour). We made it to the admitting desk by 8:25am and a scant 2 minutes later Dana stated very matter-of-factly, “I’m pretty sure my water just broke.” Now things were getting interesting. A porter escorted us up to the Labour and Delivery unit where they got Dana into a gown, put on a monitor, and helped her through more contractions which I’d completely forgotten to keep timing. Listen, I WAS UNDER DURESS.
There to stay
Nicall’s 9am arrival was followed almost immediately by the news that Dana was 3-4 cm along and we were there to stay. Sweet, time to move to a delivery room! Once we’d gotten settled into our room and had put on the Beatles, I was able to step out and make a few phonecalls to our parents and my sister to tell them what was going on. On a side note: working with a doula is AWESOME and I highly recommend it to everyone. Back to the room, things were continuing to move along at a fairly rapid pace and we were told that Dana had progressed to around 5-6 cm. I think that was at about 9:50am. Clearly, this baby was eager to arrive. Dana’s contractions were coming fast and strong and she decided it was time for an epidural. The nurse got an IV started and we were waiting for the anaesthetist to show up when Dana came out of the washroom and told us she really wanted to push. Time: 10:25am. Craziness.
Welcome baby girl
No time to waste, the nurses got Dana up on the bed to check how far along she was: 10cm. Holy crap! So much for the epidural, this baby wanted out right away. A call went out for the doctor and Dana started to push at 10:35am. After 15 intense minutes of Dana pushing (like a champion might I say), we welcomed our daughter into the world. Allie Michelle Edwards was officially born on May 28, 2013 at 10:50am, weighing 6lbs 3 oz, and measuring 19 inches long. Let me digress for a minute here: I get why asking her weight makes sense but I have no idea why everyone asked how long she was. She’s not a fish. It’s not like I’d hear that number and think, “Well, that’s a good length,” or “Whoa, that’s pretty long/short,” or “Yes, she’ll fit nicely in my China cabinet.” Anyway.
I saw one of the most amazing things right after Allie was born: when the nurse put Allie on Dana, Allie instinctively went looking for her first meal. She was strong right from the start and threw herself forward with her chubby little arms, her mouth smacking and searching. As Dana held our new daughter I made phone calls and sent text messages. Shortly after Allie’s arrival, Dana’s mom poked her head in expecting to offer words of encouragement and support but – much to her surprise and excitement – discovered her granddaughter. Allie’s first “take out” meal came from her mom at 11:50am and we moved to a private room for Dana to recover and the three of us to bond. I don’t remember all the parts and pieces of the rest of the day but I do know we were visited by Dana’s parents and her sister, both sets of my parents, and a few other family members.
Okay, we’d like to go home now
We’d hoped to stay in a theme room at the Grey Nuns – they come with double-beds and hotel-like decor – but they were all occupied when Dana delivered Allie. Curses! Fortunately, we were able to get a private room for our stay which was undoubtedly better than having to share a semi-private room. That said, the sleeping arrangements left a few things to be desired: Dana’s hospital bed provided little in the way of comfortable sleep for her and the bench I slept on was a notch above sleeping on a boulder. Yes, I know, not a big deal in the grand scheme of things but that first night with our new baby was like nothing else. With no idea what to do, people coming in every 2 hours, Allie crying, other babies crying, and trying to cope with all of it on no sleep – basically, it was terrible. Why doesn’t anyone warn you about this? They didn’t talk about this part in the pre-natal class.
If there was something I could say to help other couples prepare it would be, “Listen, that first night in the hospital is going to suck. You’ll both be exhausted – physically, mentally, and emotionally. You won’t know if what you’re doing is right and won’t have the familiarity of home to give you comfort. Don’t despair though, you’ll find your rhythm and your little one will make it through the night – as will you two.” Admittedly, if someone had told me this I’d still have been overwhelmed but would have had a better idea of what to expect.
The next day – though effectively a continuation of the night since we hadn’t really slept – we got ready to go home. Dana was given the okay by her doctor, the paperwork was filled out, and we’d received the nursing staff’s approval on having safely strapped Allie into her car seat (the first and only time someone will formally test you as parents). The trip home was surreal. I remember loading Allie in the car, driving down the Henday, and talking to Dana about what had just happened and what was to come. Once home we experienced that same sensation that all new parents talk about: now what? The best option seemed like settling Allie into the basinet beside our bed and having a nap. While short-lived, it was probably the best sleep we’d gotten in 36 hours and enough to carry us into the new adventure of being parents.