We have plenty of time, I repeat to myself for the hundredth time and continue folding my towels into perfect rectangles. Bending to get the last one from the dryer I pause as another contraction waves through my abdomen. A quick check of my watch tells me it’s been 10 minutes since the last one. I load the next load of laundry into the dryer and carry the towels to the linen closet.
It’s just after 5pm, so Drew should be arriving home any moment. I have plenty of time, I whisper to myself before tasting the spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove. The noodles are just about cooked to perfection when he walks through the door. My husband plants a kiss on my forehead before bending down to kiss my belly. He lets me support myself on his shoulders as I try to hide another contraction.
“How close are they now?” He asks lovingly.
“Oh, about 8 minutes. I’m okay.” I sigh and wave him off.
With full bellies and drooping eyes we settle down into our bed. The massive C shaped maternity pillow takes up most of the queen sized mattress. Snuggled into it with my husband at my back I feel like I’m in the safest spot in the world. Just like my baby. She is in the safest place in the world right now. We have plenty of time.
The world is dark and silent when I wake to another wave of contraction. When it passes I silently slide out of bed to pace the hall. Another contraction stops me outside the nursery. 6 minutes apart now. Drew’s warm hand lands gently on my shoulder as his lips land on the back of my hair.
“Come back to bed” he whispers groggily.
“I can’t sleep.” I sigh leaning back into him.
“Do we need to go in?” He rubs my belly.
“Not yet. Go back to sleep. We have plenty of time.” With one more kiss I gently led him back to our room.
The sun peeks through the blinds, landing on me from across the room. The gentle sway of the glider is helping me to relax through another contraction. 5 minutes apart now. The hospital bag has been packed and put in the car for three days now. The only thing I have left to do is slide my feet into my slippers and I’ll be ready.
Drew groans as I plant a gentle kiss on his forehead. He turns away from me, but only for a moment. He bolts up right with wide eyes. Without a word he jumps out of bed and begins to throw on his clothes. He’s grabbing phone chargers and extra socks. Anything his frantic mind might think we need.
I try to hide the strain in my voice as I attempt to reassure both of us “Honey, it’s ok. They are only 4 minutes apart. We live close. We have plenty of time.” It’s getting real now. But why would she want to leave? She’s in the safest place on earth.
A laugh escapes my clenched jaw as I see the plastic sheet on the passenger side front seat of the car. He’s thought of everything hasn’t he? The contractions are getting harder to breathe through. Harder to walk through. But we have plenty of time. The hospital is only 15 minutes away. That’s what, 4 more contractions tops?
At the end of our street a construction worker waves us to a stop with the sign in his hand. We watch in silence as 4 rigs full to the brim with building materials slowly pull into the once vacant lot on the corner. 2 contractions wave through me during that time.
Back on the road, Drew is trying hard not to speed. His knuckles are white on the steering wheel as he goes 50 through a 40. He curses as the blue and red lights flash behind us. The officer takes his sweet time arriving at our vehicle. Drew quickly and frantically explains that I’m in labor. As if to prove his story 3 more contractions threaten to rip me in half. 2 minutes apart. With a police escort we were now flying through town.
You know how they say when you’re about to die your whole life flashes before your eyes? I want you to know that it does when your whole life is about to change too. With every tear streaming down my face I flashed to every tear I had cried the last 7 years hoping and praying for this exact moment. Every doctor's appointment. Every shot. Every pill. Every negative pregnancy test. Every missed baby shower. Every tiny piece of my broken heart poured down my face.
With every too sharp turn and skipped red light the fear I had kept safely tucked away forced itself to the front. My fingernails dug into the leather armrest as reality sunk in. My breath caught in my chest when I saw the first road sign pointing us in the direction of the hospital. We have plenty of time.
Somewhere between the police escort and the first hospital sign I lost track of how many contractions I’d had. Drew took the turn into the parking lot just a bit too sharply and I slammed against the door. The force made me pee myself. Wait… no, we had plenty of time.
The officer had apparently radioed ahead and waiting at the ambulance bay was a team of Labor and Delivery nurses ready to whisk me away. Their giggles and encouragement turned to silent smiles and gentle touches after they took my blood pressure and did a pelvic exam. Hushed whispers to my husband in the corner as I slipped in and out of consciousness. What could they be talking about?
Something in the IV made my blood boil. The nurse gently wiped the sweat from my face with a cold sponge and whispered something sweetly to me. I think she may have been singing. I couldn’t focus on anything but the burning in my blood and the pain in my lower body.
The doctor said something about blood pressure and a small window. I couldn’t keep up. Finally he put his hand on mine and told me it was time for the main event. My legs went up into the stirrups. My husband wrapped his arms around my shoulders to support me. So many hands and so many voices and so many lights. So many tears on so many faces.
It could have been hours or it could have been days, but eventually there was a silence as the world held its breath. But only for a moment. The most beautiful sound I’d ever heard screamed life into my heart.
My weak arms reached out for the slimy wriggling mass the doctor held before me. I counted 10 little fingers, 10 little toes, two little ears, two little eyes, one little nose, one screaming mouth, and a head full of thick black hair before I could finally catch my breath. I found my voice and prayed I’d make a good first impression.
“Welcome to the world my dear, I really thought we were never going to make it.”