I started feeling contractions at 4 a.m. on Saturday. I looked out the window to gauge the daylight and rolled over and went back to sleep. At 5 a.m., I couldn’t sleep, so I picked up my glowing phone and tracked them. 60 seconds. 7-8 minutes apart. Hm, this could be it, I thought.
A. woke at 5:30. “I think I’m having contractions,” I said. Nonchalant. We slowly got up, took a shower and packed our bags. I threw on a skirt. I ate a bowl of homemade granola. We woke up my mother-in-law by 6 and told her to get dressed.
A.: “How are they now?” He’s whispering. My best guy friend from college is sleeping on the couch in the living room — he has to catch a flight that morning from LAX.
Me: “Three minutes apart.” (I had one that was two apart, but didn’t tell A.)
A.: “Let’s go, I don’t want to deliver in the bathtub.”
Me: “OK, but I don’t want to be in the hospital monitored for too long.”
I took a carrot muffin out of the freezer and reluctantly got into the car. We drove to the hospital as the sun rose, orange over the horizon. At 6:30, we sat in the hospital parking lot, while I crunched on a half-frozen muffin and we chatted with my parents in Michigan.
“We’re going in,” I said. “Who knows, it could be false labor, but we’ll keep you posted.”
We had a labor and delivery bed by 7, the last one available. The contractions were sharp, but easy to manage by myself. “Get to the top, get to the top, get to the top,” was my silent mantra. By 8, I was 8 centimeters dilated. The anesthesiologist came in. It was too late for an epidural, but I got a spinal, the doctor broke my water, three pushes, and Curtis Paul Olsen was born at 8:43. 7 pounds, 4 ounces. 20 inches long. This time, I was brave enough to look at a mirror and watch his head emerge, a vision I’ll never forget. This time, I was floored by how easy it was compared with C.’s birth.
The next early afternoon, we were home, enjoying the newborn snuggles, his skin soft like the petal of a flower, his intoxicating smell.
A. finished his latest wood projects just in time: A homemade co-sleeper (we borrowed one last time in D.C.) and a changing table for our room so we wouldn’t have to take the dresser out of C.’s room. (Little man, I should say, is rocking the potty training and is so far sweet to his baby brother.)
There is so much more to my pregnancy story — my fear of delivering in the desert, my frustration with being over-monitored, the doctors’ treating me as if I had gestational diabetes even though I passed the tests — which I will share later. As I neared the end of my pregnancy, I thought: I wish I was back in D.C.
But being here, now, in the sun in February, in the desert, in the quiet, in this house, with my healthy baby, and my (now) three boys — there is absolutely no place I’d rather be.