On February 22nd, around 1 pm, my whole world started to shift. I was sitting on the couch with Vince, my feet in his lap (because he’s a wonderful husband and was rubbing my 38 week pregnant feet) when my belly started to ache. As someone who’s had some gastrointestinal issues for years, I didn’t think anything of it. I was only 38 weeks pregnant, and I’d read that most first time moms don’t go into labor until 41 weeks on average. So I didn’t say anything, I gritted my teeth, and dealt with some discomfort for a few minutes.
When I felt the same stomach pain about an hour later, I got suspicious. So I told Vince about it. We called mom, and she said it could be false labor, so again, we didn’t stress it too much. We still had two whole weeks before we were gonna have a baby!
Despite the fact that I was pretty sure this was false labor, we decided to go to a few stores and look for some essentials I would need in the hospital (because of course I hadn’t put together a hospital bag yet). We went to WalMart, then drove to Richmond and went to TJ Maxx, and then Meijer. By the time we got to Meijer, I’d had at least one contraction in each store, which was really awkward and difficult to handle, so Vince went in solo to get the last things on our list. When he came out, I’d been having contractions for five or six hours, still at an hour apart. So, what did we do? We went through Cook Out’s drive thru and then headed to my workplace, LaFontaine Early Learning Center, for Vince to do his weekly cleaning.
We ate. Vince cleaned. I contracted. By the time we left a few hours later, my contractions had jumped from an hour apart to 15 minutes apart, and quickly to ten minutes apart.
On the way home, I looked at Vince and asked if he’d called his mom. Up until that point, we both were still kind of in the mindset of “this is false labor.” Clearly it was not false labor. We couldn’t get a hold of Vince’s mom, Sandie, because they’d lost power due to ice, but we got ahold of my mom and told her what was happening.
At home, Vince started packing my bag (did I mention I’d procrastinated with that?) and I got in the bathtub, because the contractions were getting more intense. It was hard to talk while they were happening now. Every time a contraction would start, I’d tell Vince and he would time them for me (because he’s an amazing, wonderful man). They were five minutes apart and all of a sudden, I couldn’t talk at all while they were happening anymore. When the contractions made it four minutes apart, we were going to leave, but the contractions hung out at five to six minutes apart for a while. I don’t know how long I was in the bathtub, but I had to refill it once because the water got cold.
I’ll never forget the moment I said Vince’s name to let him know I was having a contraction and he said, “Um, honey? The last few have been two minutes apart.”
Two. Minutes. Apart. We’d skipped four completely.
I got out of the tub. We scrambled to get a few things together. Vince took Juno out and loaded the car. And I walked around around the house, stopping to hold onto walls, the couch, the bed, whatever I could find, and make some sounds that I can only describe as sounding like a really upset cow.
We got in the car and Vince called my mom. By the time we drove from exit 76 to exit 83, I was convinced I wouldn’t make it all the way to exit 104. I was convinced the baby was crowning at that very moment. (He wasn’t, but it sure felt like he was.) Vince called my midwife, and after she talked to me for about 15 seconds and heard me start a contraction, she said, “Take her to the hospital in Richmond.”
We made it to Baptist Health, pulled into a spot by the ER, and I hobbled in. The ER receptionist asked what we needed, and after I told her I was in labor and started a contraction, they got me in a wheelchair and sent me up to labor and delivery. I made Vince run down the hall. I was so sure the baby was crowning, that I’d waited too long.
When we made it to labor and delivery, Vince and I were both a little panicked, so they sent us straight back to a room and got me in a gown and on the bed. They could have made me stop and sign in and do all that, but they let Vince do it for me as I was contracting on the bed.
I told the nurses I needed to push. I felt like I did. When they checked me, I was only at six centimeters. SIX. I still had four to go. I’d planned to have a natural, no medication birth, and now I was sure I couldn’t do it. It was so intense.
For the next two hours, I contracted, I made a lot of noise, I begged the nurses to let me push, and I kept saying, “I can’t do this. I cannot do this.”
If it weren’t for Vince, the most wonderful, strong, amazing husband in the WORLD, I would have asked for an epidural or pain meds, but he kept reminding me that I could do this, that I could handle each contraction if I just took them one at a time, and that he was there. He was strong and supportive, but also soft and empathetic. I’ll never forget holding onto him when it hurt the worst and hearing his voice telling me he was proud of me and that I could do it.
Mom got there around midnight. I kept looking at the nurses, Amanda and Kerrie, asking them if I could push. One nurse was firm (in a way that I very much needed) and the other was very soft and kept telling me I was doing perfectly, that Vince was doing perfectly, and baby was doing perfectly. They balanced each other out and helped me tremendously.
I can’t describe how hard it was not to push at one point. I’ve never wanted anything so badly in my whole life. I thought, “If I can push, this can be over.” But I somehow managed to listen to my nurses and wait. And wait. And wait. I was only in the delivery room for about two or two and a half hours, but it felt like much longer.
When the doctor finally got there, and it was time to push, time ceased to exist. I had Vince on one side holding one hand and mom on the other. The nurses and doctor were talking, but I can’t remember what they were saying. I can only remember looking at my mom, looking at Vince, and pushing as hard as I could when they doctor gave me the go ahead.
I don’t know how many times I pushed, but they told me later I pushed about 25 minutes. Pushing didn’t hurt as much as transition had. It was really just pressure. So much pressure. I pushed and pushed.
And then, suddenly, he was there. I looked down, and the doctor was holding this purplish-whitish-reddish creature upside down by one foot, and I thought, “Oh, that feels so much better. And look, an octopus-alien!” They dried him off and laid him on my chest, and I thought, “How cute!” but I think I was in shock. It didn’t register that this creature, this tiny, beautiful, strange creature was my child. My SON.
They laid this beautiful baby on my chest and he just stared at me. Vince leaned over, and he stared at him. Mom came over and he stared at her. He barely cried. He just looked around, taking in the world. He was so warm and soft, and even though it hadn’t registered yet that this was my son, I knew I would do anything to protect this baby.
Vince had cut the cord. The baby was doing well. We were skin to skin and I didn’t hurt anymore. I cannot describe that sense of relief.
On February 23rd at 1:34 in the morning, weighing 7 pounds and 1 ounce, measuring 20 and 1/4 inches, James Gordon Frantz entered the world and changed our lives for ever. Since that moment, he has consumed my every waking thought. I speak for both his daddy and myself when I say he is the best thing that ever happened to us.