A labor story: Panic, peace, parent

My Parenting Perspectives column for Aug. 23 …

I was experiencing contractions while my husband sped north on Fargo’s Fourth Street in the predawn hours when I spotted the Main Avenue stoplight turn red. I suggested he drive through it.

When the car began slowing to a full stop at the intersection, I grew a bit more, um, insistent.

“RUN IT, RUN IT, RUN IT,” I screamed as another contraction came on.

Calmly as he could, Craig said he would if there weren’t cars coming from either direction. Caught up in the manic state of a labor that had come on quickly and intensely, I hadn’t noticed the approaching headlights.

Then we saw the flashing lights of the railroad crossing arms blocking our route to the hospital. Without hesitation, I swiftly and rationally directed him through downtown’s one-way streets, under the tracks and into the hospital’s emergency parking lot.

So went the next hour and a half until my son was born – moments of calm lucidity interspersed with hysterical screaming.

And, oh, was there screaming.

I’d woken up at 3 a.m. one week before my due date with a strange pain in my lower back – nothing I could time or define. I paced from our bedroom to the living room, wondering if this was it, time to have the baby.

The signs were more clear three years ago with my first child – my water broke with a gush, a clear signal to head to the hospital. This time, I was hesitant to call our friends who would watch daughter Eve while I was in labor. I didn’t want to rouse them in the middle of the night for a false alarm.

Soon, though, Craig woke up, and the contractions kicked in, coming five, then four, then three minutes apart. We made the call. It was time to go.

After the red lights and untimely train, we made it to the birthing center a little before 5 a.m. The nurses knew from my screams to take me straight to a delivery room instead of triage.

I was already dilated 6 to 7 centimeters and asked if there was still time for an epidural. The nurse assured me there was, and then began the litany of admission questions. I’ll never understand why they chose this moment to ask my pre-pregnancy weight, if I was allergic to latex, and when I took my last prenatal vitamin.

My delivery nurse told me later she was impressed how I smiled and politely answered questions between contractions.

During the contractions, I was a banshee.

Before the nurse had finished the third-degree, she found I’d dilated to 9 centimeters – too late for any pain medication. They brought in the on-call doctor, who broke my water. The obstetrician then said I was still only 6 to 7 centimeters, meaning I could get the epidural after all. But by the time the anesthesiologist got to my room, it really was too late.

Fifteen minutes later, at 6:22 a.m., we met all 7 pounds, 13 ounces of our little boy, Owen. And I had earned the badge of honor of a natural delivery.

Craig says I never uttered a single swear word but apparently did cry out “I’m panicking,” “I can’t do this anymore” and “I want to go home.” He also noted how calm and centered I was between the fits of pain and pressure, even saying that I looked peaceful.

In a way, the whole ordeal was a lot like parenting, I guess – moments of lucidity interspersed with hysterical screaming, panicking and peacefulness comingled.

And never have I felt such a sense of peace as I do cradling my two children as we begin our lives as a family of four.

Owen and me shortly after his birth

Sherri Richards is the mother of a 3-year-old daughter and 3-week-old son and is an employee of The Forum. She also blogs at http://topmom.areavoices.com/

2 thoughts on “A labor story: Panic, peace, parent

  1. What a great delivery story, Sherri! Despite the pain, that is. And it IS a badge of honor to claim a natural birth. Would you do it again or have an epidural? I’m curious because Murray was born via C-section and I’m hoping that the next one will be VBAC. Was it horrible?

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