“Steve, wake up, I think this is it.”
It was about 1AM on Saturday morning, and Erin had been having contractions for about a half hour. Unlike the Braxton-Hicks contractions that she’d been having throughout the pregnancy, these were much bigger and deeper. However, we’d had a false alarm about ten days earlier, so she didn’t want to wake me immediately. But she was a week overdue at this point, so it seemed far more likely that this was the real thing.
It didn’t take long to realize that it was indeed the real thing. The contractions were about seven minutes apart, and completely debilitating. We moved into the TV room next to our bedroom, where we have a couch and some floor space to work with. We started timing the contractions, waiting for “5-1-1” (5 minutes between contractions, each 1 minute long, for 1 hour).
I should mention that I wasn’t exactly in top form. We’d had a few beers in our backyard the previous evening, and a few more at the Twilight Exit at the end of our block. Nothing serious, but we were drinking Hamm’s, and let’s just say my stomach and head have felt better, and it was just the beginning of a long, long night.
Of course, in the meantime, Erin is literally on her hands and knees, in agony, as her body began the birthing process. I massaged her back, squeezed her pelvis, anything to try and give her some relief. The pain was so intense it was making her nauseous, and more than a little snippy. It’s pretty agonizing watching your nearest and dearest in the throws of something that you’re unable to control or help with. Whatever semblance of a hangover my body was trying to cook up had to go away, and quickly.
The contractions kept coming, three or four medium-sized ones, followed by a king-sized one that would completely wipe her out. The minutes dragged on and on. Erin kept asking if it was time to call the doctor, and I kept trying to rally her, trying to talk her into “just a few more,” because I knew we weren’t quite ready yet. Finally, at about 4AM, we’d reached the magical 5-1-1 and I called the Seattle OB/GYN late night number. I left a message with the phone service and she said the on-call doctor would call back shortly.
When the doctor called, I tried to calmly explain our situation. She listened briefly, and finally said “Put your wife on.” I handed the phone to Erin, feeling a little ignored, and listened as Erin had a quick conversation with the doctor. She handed the phone back to me, with tears in her eyes and said “She said if I could talk to her then we weren’t ready, and that we should wait another two hours.”
Two more hours? Two? Holy moly. Well, okay, doctors orders…
So we steeled ourselves for what was to come. I made tea (in a vain effort to settle my stomach) and tried to rally her with inane pep talk like, “Okay, 6AM it is then. That’s not long. That’s only what, twenty-something more contractions, right? No problem. You’re doing great!” But it’s hard to sugar coat it. It sucked. Erin was in pain, and there was nothing I could do, except to make her wait longer, and go through more pain.
6AM finally arrived, so I packed up the car, and off we went to Swedish Hospital. It was still after hours, so we had to go in through the emergency room. They put us in triage and hooked Erin up to the monitors. Everything looked great, with one exception – she was only 1cm dilated.