I got home, got changed and hopped into bed. Rather, I hopped as well as I could being 39 years old and 39 weeks pregnant. I was sitting up as I planned to do some reading before turning out the light, but when I pulled my legs up to cross them under me I felt a little "leak".
"Oh, for heaven's sake," I thought, "Did I just pee?" Because with baby number two, well, there is some involuntary stuff that goes on with a person's body.
So I got up, went to the washroom, did my part for King and Country, and then waddled back to bed.
Hoisting myself back up and getting back into my cross-legged sit, I felt the sensation again.
"Come on!" I muttered, as I waddled down the hallway again.
All the time, my husband was downstairs, tidying the kitchen or some such thing. He wondered what on earth I was doing.
I got back in the bathroom, decided to "settle in" and well, let's just say my water broke in the absolute best place possible for one's water to break. NOT in the new car.
I hollered down to my husband, "Call Suzanne!"
He hollered back up, "What? What? Did your water break?!"
I responded, "Yes! Call your sister! And call Flip (our neighbour) to see if she can come until your sister gets here."
While he was busy making the phone calls, I went to our room and tossed the last few things into the hospital bag. Then, as I heard our neighbour arrive, I went into the Mogrunt's room and crawled in bed with him.
There are things about that night that I don't remember, but I do remember this distinctly. I wrapped myself around his tiny sleeping body and held my first born as closely as I could. I had felt distinctly uneasy about giving birth again and chalked it up to the wisdom of experience and the knowledge that I had a lot more at stake should things go poorly. I snuggled the Mogrunt close and whispered in his ear that he was going to be a big brother and that I loved him more than anything in the whole universe. Even chocolate.
I then waddled down the stairs where my neighbour was waiting with my impatient husband. He was very concerned to get me to the hospital. I hugged my neighbour and headed for the door.
We live across the harbour from the maternity hospital and this necessitated crossing the toll bridge on our way. We have a pass that normally works like a charm, but on this night, the sensor didn't read the pass. The gate stayed down. My husband, usually a calm guy, honked his horn and gestured to the attendant at the next toll booth. When he didn't respond quickly enough, Andrew gestured wildly in my direction and hollered "We're having a baby!" (Well, not for hours, but the attendant didn't know that.) The gate lifted and we were on our way.
We arrived at the hospital and were checked in without event. The admitting nurse assured us that the I.V. I required wasn't emergent so we had no need to panic. We headed upstairs and were given a labour room straight away as it was a slow night. We laughed when we saw the labour room as it was the same room we had been in both for our prenatal class tour 4 years prior and for the Mogrunt's birth. It felt like home.
Our nurse, Denise, was wonderful. She made us feel at home, encouraged me to walk the hall and stopped to get all three of us popsicles at the refrigerator. We got talking, as we Maritimers do, and discovered that she had attended the same high school as my husband and had some mutual acquaintances. Our city is really just a big small town. After a bit of wandering, Andrew encouraged me to get an epidural, stating the obvious, "You know it's not going to get any better, so you should get an epidural now so you don't miss the window." It seemed like good common sense at the time, and in retrospect, I think he was a bit worried about me missing the window.
With the Mogrunt, I had decided to delay meds of any kind just to understand the experience. I made it to 7cms before asking for an epidural. When I spoke to my grandmother (who was 90 at the time) about her childbirth experiences and whether or not they used painkillers she said, "Oh my dear girl, the doctor did not believe in making women suffer." And you know, there's something to be said of the wisdom of a lady who gave birth four times in significantly more rustic circumstances. (I believe my youngest aunt was the only one born in hospital.) I applaud women who give birth without pain meds, I really do. I admire their fortitude but I am glad that I made the choice for myself to have meds.
At some point during the night, Denise went on a break. A young nurse, 22 weeks pregnant herself, came in to relieve her. I had been in some pain and the epidural didn't seem to be doing its thing. The nurse was from Cape Breton, I could tell by her accent and she confirmed it. Cape Bretoners are known for many things: humour, hospitality, practicality... . She took one look at the charts coming off the fetal monitor and said, "You've been pretty uncomfortable and I think we should check on things." Sure enough I was ready to go, but the tiny baby, on the other hand, was not. He was sideways.
The nurse let me know that she was going to set up the room for delivery and started bustling about in the way that nurses do and, if you know any, a Cape Breton woman sets up for dinner guests - with determination, purpose, and joy. Lights were turned on above the baby warmer, instruments were set out, and trays were rolled into place. She assured us that it was all standard procedure.
I was a bit shocked to find myself at 10cms already and asked if it was already time to push.
The nurse said, "We're just going to give him the opportunity to turn himself around. We don't want him to come out that way. So I'll check again after your next contraction. I wouldn't want anyone trying to turn my baby, and I am pretty sure you don't either. If we give him time, there's a good chance he's going to do it on his own."
Sure enough, on the next check, he was ready to roll. We called Denise back into the room and she teased me about cutting her break short (by this point in the night we were all fast friends) and I started to push. At some point, the doctor was called and everything went really well.
In what felt like less than 15 minutes, I was holding my baby in my arms. (I really have no idea how long it took and I don't think Andrew has any better idea.) His birth was so much easier than the Mogrunt's birth (something I have yet to document, but involved the cord being around his neck and dropping heart rates).
He was tiny, perfect and wonderful. Andrew and I shed a few tears of happiness, relief, love... Denise suggested that I try feeding the baby. He latched on no problem and nursed like a little champ.
The truth be told, all of this part is fuzzy to me. I remember that I sat there admiring him, feeling elated by the birth and strong in that way that you do after bringing a person into the world, but the memory is surreal, like it happened to someone else because right about then, that's when things went south. For me.
And that's where I'm going to stop for now. This is my little Bunny's arrival story. This is the part that is overshadowed by what came next for me. I can't separate the two in my head and I have a hard time celebrating how peaceful and calm his birth was because of it.