4:30 am and I’m starting to regret whatever it is that I ate. I rush to the bathroom with an icky feeling in my stomach and a cold sweat starting to break out. I hate throwing. Absolutely hate it. I prepare my self for it though because it seems imminent. I wait and wait. Nothing. I’m not reassured as I head back to bed in the dark. It’s only a matter of time before it kicks in. I lay my head down for some rest. I ease bank into sleep, the calm before the storm.
5:15 am. I’m roused once again feeling worse. Here it comes. You’re a big girl Amnah, you’ve been through this before. Headed to the bathroom I try to remember what it is that I ate that has made me feel so horrible. Whatever it is I will never ever eat it again. If I can only remember what it is. Again, I wait and nothing happens. Back to bed.
5:30 am. Now I’m having the weirdest cramps ever. I’ve never had such a sensitive stomach before. I stopped focusing on what I ate and focused on what I was feeling. The cramping started in my back and rolled forward to my stomach. Wow, just like they say in the books. I’m in labor. Without being induced. Success! Headed to the bathroom because I still felt like throwing up. Luckily, nothing.
5:45 am. Back in bed, I call my mom letting her know. She tells me she’ll come after Fajr prayer. Even with the 45 mile drive, I know that will be fine. I have plenty of time before I have to head out to the hospital. For the previous week I have been updating my Facebook status counting down the days until my due date. I reached the point of counting past it as well. It seemed only natural to update one last time. I’d hate to keep everyone in suspense. As I lay there in the dark, I typed “Amnah is IN LABOR!!!!!!!” into my phone. That will certainly go down in status history. I put down my phone and closed my eyes hoping to get an extra hour or two of rest to build up some energy for later on.
6:00 am. The contractions are far apart but pretty painful. Manageable, but painful. By this point, Jenin has found her way into our bed. I’m trying to breath through each contraction and not overreact. “They are early contractions and you can do this,” I kept saying over and over in my head. I’m incredibly uncomfortable and anxious so sleep is impossible. On my hands and knees with a pillow below my stomach, I try to relieve some of the pressure off of my back. Jenin whispers to me in Arabic, “Mama, are you hurt?” I tell her yes and she begins to softly caress the top of my hand. All while Rami is sleeping and none the wiser.
6:30 am. Are these contractions getting closer or am I just really nervous? I call my mom and tell her she should probably head out soon. “Just as soon as I put some gas in the car,” she tells me. My hospital bag is all packed but I realize I’ve forgotten a few things. I take out the video camera and charger along with some blank DVDs. Contraction: lean against the wall, deep breaths. I pack Jenin clothes that I want her to wear when she first meets the baby. Contraction: squat, deep breaths. Did I pack my contact solution? Contraction. “Rami, we need to go to the hospital soon.” Contraction. “Mom, where are you?!” “Stuck in traffic.” Contraction.
7:30 am. I think I’m going to die. I don’t remember it being this intense with Jenin. I’m getting an epidural once I get to the hospital. I’ll ask for it immediately and all will be well in the world again. Rami finally woke up. Welcome to the party, homeboy. I believe I’m on the sofa at this time just praying for the pain to go away. Just make it stop. That’s it, I’m done. I wanted to experience labor without being induced and I have. Thank you for the opportunity God, but I’m ready for the numbing effects of the chemicals to take over my body. I’ll call ahead and let the hospital know that I’d like the epidural upon arrival. At the curb if possible. Maybe in the elevator on the way up to the second floor.
7 something am. I. Can’t. Breath. I’m not as strong as I had hoped I was. I think I’m 3, maybe 4 centimeters and I can no longer see straight. With my eyes closed, I try to make it just long enough to get to the hospital. Rami and Jenin are arguing in the background. Something about pajamas. Now I really need to throw up. “Rami!” I yell out but it’s more of a strained whisper. He brings me a plastic bag just in time. Of all the plastic grocery bags we have, he brought me the one that had brought home the onions. Of course.
8 am. I am on my hands and knees, throwing up by the front door. Will some one please put me out of my misery? I’m hot. I’m cold. I’m weak. I’m scared. My mom shows up. The front door is wide open and I’m enveloped in the cold morning air. My mom is talking and joking about something while Rami and Jenin are still going at it about her wearing her pajamas. I don’t remember how I ended up in the car but I can’t wait to reach the hospital. I’m on my left side, seat reclined, eyes closed. Throwing up with each contraction which seems just seconds apart. Just 5.8 miles away from epidural bliss yet it felt like we were taking the long route. I felt every touch of the brake and gas pedal. Whose idea was it to have another baby? Obviously Rami’s.
We finally reach the hospital. The only reason I know this is because my door has swung open and there’s a man waiting with a wheel chair. “Hang on. After this contraction.” Or at least that’s what I meant to say. Instead what came out was just a bunch of deep breaths and grunts as I held on to the car door with all of my might trying to channel the pain into the frame of the car. No luck. The man asked me again to get into the wheel chair. I was still in the same contraction that showed no signs of letting up. Some how, some way I was put in the wheel chair.
I’m not wearing my glasses. I don’t even have my eyes open, but I know all eyes are on me. I hear the ding of the elevator. One floor away. Ding. The doors open. Contraction. I force my eyes open to make sure I don’t miss the nurses’ station. “Epidural,” I manage to get out in time. As I roll past them I hear one nurse say “a live one.” For a brief nanosecond, I get a kick out of bringing some excitement to the maternity ward. In the room the man informs me that we’ve arrived and I can get up now. I would love to but if you haven’t guessed by now I’m having another contraction. Longest. Contraction. Ever. The nurse tries to help me up but I snap at her. I don’t mean to but you just can’t move a person mid-contraction. It’s not a very nice thing to do. “Epidural,” I beg again.
It turns out it doesn’t happen that fast. The nurse tells me that I have to get up, get undressed, and get in bed before I can get anything. Let me tell you dear readers (if you’re still with me), I have never gotten undressed so quickly in my life. I didn’t even know the nurses name but she was instantly introduced to every part of me. There is no modesty in the delivery room.
Nurses fill the room. “Bulging bag!” I’m on my left side as they prep me for the epidural. A page goes out for my doctor. Contraction. Monitors, IVs, stirrups. Contraction. Beeping, voices, static, heartbeats. Water bursts. Contraction. Sounds become muffled. I literally lose my breath and every single cell of my body freezes in pain with this contraction.
9 am. “SHE’S COMING OUT!!!” I scream. The nurses don’t believe me until they quickly roll me onto my back and see that yes, Maysoon is in fact making her way into the world whether anyone is ready or not. The nurse tells me that whenever I’m ready I can pu…. She hasn’t finished her sentence and I’m already pushing.
Three pushes is all it took to bring my sweet baby girl out. That’s it. The pain stopped. And it had nothing to do with the epidural. I felt every single bit of the “ring of fire.” The epidural took effect 10 minutes too late and only my right leg went numb. In my haze I didn’t hear the nurse say that I was 8 centimeters when she had checked me. Had I known I never would have gotten one. When I had Jenin I was induced and feeling that type of pain at 1 centimeter. I thought I had a long way to go.
On March 31st, at 9:06 am, Maysoon arrived with full force at 9 lbs, 1 oz. (It was all the hot chocolate I was drinking every night during my last trimester.)
Happy birthday my sweet precious baby. I love you with every ounce of my being.