This year, ESPN aired a 10-part docuseries following the last year of Michael Jordan's career with the Chicago Bulls. The term "Last Dance" was used to describe the chase for his 6th and final NBA Championship Ring. Much like Jordan, this too was our last chase. This was the last time we'd experience childbirth and all that comes along with it. This was Sid and my Last Dance!!! And it went like this.........................................................................................................................................
I'd been having Braxton Hicks contractions for months by this point and as my due date loomed, they were as frequent as ever. I didn't think much of it, because by baby number 4, you're kind of a pro! All day on Tuesday September 22nd, I contracted. They were sporadic, didn't hurt, and would disappear when I'd drink water or change positions. It was definitely NOT the real thing. Like always, my husband arrived home from work that day at about 5:30 pm. As he showered , I began to feel some very familiar feelings. I was nauseous. I also felt the need to purge my bowels. I knew this feeling. This was the feeling I got before labor began with my last two. I knew what was to come.
I interrupted my husband's shower to tell him what was "happening" and to fuss about the fact that he still had not packed his hospital bag. Like all the other times, he didn't take me seriously. In fact, he said, "You ain't finna do nothin'!" By this time it was 6:30 pm and I resumed my nighttime routine as usual. I had a Braxton Hick contraction at 7:30 pm and 8:30 pm precisely. I was now paying attention to frequency, intensity, and length. They were both no more than 20 seconds and again they would subside when changing positions or drinking water. At 9:30 pm, as I was laying in bed with Carmyn, I felt a pop down there. I froze and waited for a gush of water, but none came. I laid still for a minute and attempted to shift. That's when I realized that my mucus plug was dislodging. I rushed to the bathroom to confirm and sure enough, it was in the toilet. It was REALLY time now.
I called Sid, who had stepped out, to tell him the news. In my previous pregnancies, each of my girls were born within 24 hours of losing my mucus plug. I knew that he'd finally understand the urgency. As he rushed home to pack the bag that was supposed to be packed 4 weeks prior, I took a shower. And I took a long shower! I knew that this was the beginning of the end for us building a family. I wanted to savor every moment. As I showered, I touched my belly. I prayed. I thanked God for allowing me this gift that so many struggle to have. I thought about each of my girls and their birth stories. I thought about Morgan, our sweet angel baby that was stillborn. I thought a lot, and I mentally prepared. They warn you that with each delivery, the time will get shorter. My doctor strongly advised that I not labor at home at all. But even i had no idea just how quickly this would all progress. She was on her way!
After my shower, I was ready for bed. I'd planned to sleep peacefully that night, expecting to give birth the next day. But at 10:30 pm, it happened; my water broke! Let me stop for a minute and explain that my water has never broken prior to labor. In the movies, the depiction is often far from accurate. The movie storyline is always the same. Your water breaks (often in a public place like a restaurant), the panicking ensues, and the hee hee hoo moment begins as you race to make it in time for your little one to peek his or her head out. Well, my water always broke after laboring for hours and on average, my babies were born within 30 minutes of my water breaking. So I was shocked!!! And scared!!!!! I was shocked and scared that we’d have this baby in the car. So was my husband. He loaded the car as I kissed my three girls. And we were off, racing to the hospital to Salt N Papa’s Push It!
We were officially checked in at 11:30 pm to Huntsville Hospital’s Women and Children. Like I said, I was a pro or better yet, a repeat offender! They already had all of my info, lol! Contractions had become more consistent and intense. The were coming every 20 minutes. The nurse checked for dilation and announced that I was at a 4. I was finally wheeled to the Labor and Delivery suite at a little after 12:30 am. We met our nurses and settled in for the huge job. I’ll never forget the encouragement of our nurse Olivia! She was probably the sweetest nurse I’ve ever encountered. She kept marveling at how calm I was and was just generally such a kind, warm and positive spirit. I needed it, because like always, I opted for natural childbirth. I prefer using breathing and meditation to manage pain. The atmosphere is key to these two pain management devices. A chaotic or negative atmosphere will not allow you to slip into the zone needed to withstand such a high level of pain. I’m grateful that my atmosphere was one of peace, because things were about to get a little crazy!
From 1:00 am to 2:00 am I labored hard. My contractions were violent and coming every 5 minutes. I’m almost certain I blacked out few times. My husband was a trooper though. Not only was I a pro but so was he and he proved it. He did everything short of getting in the bed with me. I tugged, I squeezed, I hugged, I leaned and I used his body as a pain absorber. He remain led calm and in control. He talked me back from a few of those blackout moments. At 2:10 am I was checked and told that I was at an 8. I knew this was inaccurate. She was coming now. By 2:15 am i felt an undeniable urge to push. I told my nurse. My calm moans were now screams of pain. I couldn’t help it. She was coming. An assisting nurse said, “No honey, don’t pus, the doctor is on her way!” Olivia made her way to my side. She was alert and ready because once again, she was coming! As the minutes counted down I needed to push again. I was contracting every 30 seconds now and I think even my husband was getting scared. I said, “I've got to push!” My declaration was met with protests. Don‘t push! So I pushed and reached down to pull her out myself. I felt her head full of thick curls. And then........ she was here! She jumped out and landed on the bed as Olivia was standing by to catch her.
I’m almost certain my husband screamed, “What are you doing” when I reached down to pull her out. The poor guy thought I was delirious. As he stared down at her, he started to cry. It was in that moment that I knew that we’d made it over the finish line. She was here and healthy. She was beautiful. We’d done it once more and God was with us every step of the way. So, our Last Dance was a far cry from our first, second, or even third. She was born at 2:20 am waiting on no one, not even the doctor. She was the first baby that Olivia “delivered” without an MD present. She’ll always be remembered! Our fourth and final baby girl exploded into the world unapologetic, a day early, and on her own time. I can’t wait to see how she takes the world by storm!!!!