I’m pretty sure the Cleveland Cavaliers put me into labor.
(Bella Baby Photography, taken at the hospital the day after Caroline was born)
A week overdue and extremely uncomfortable, I planned on heading in for an early morning induction on Wednesday, June 10. I tried everything to get this baby moving – spicy food, long walks, even hibiscus iced tea. Out of sheer boredom, I read the entire Divergent series and ate a sleeve of Saltines. Things had gotten out of hand, and I had pretty much accepted the fact that the only way Baby Mac was leaving the premises was through an induction.
And then the contractions started.
Early Tuesday afternoon, I started having mild contractions, about a half hour apart. I began to track them, knowing that early labor can take hours at best. They remained pretty steady until the Cavs’ playoff game that night. The contractions started to increase in both frequency and intensity, and by the end of the game, they were coming every fifteen minutes. And oh my God, were they painful. Unbeknownst to me, Caroline was “sunny side up,” which causes back labor – and let me tell you, it literally brought me to my knees. In less than two hours, my contractions progressed to four minutes apart, and I could barely walk. Mac dressed me and practically carried me to the car, speeding down Lake Shore Drive to the hospital.
By the time I was admitted to Triage, I was on all fours in the waiting room and barely coherent. I can say with 100% certainty that I flashed all the nurses behind the desk when I flopped down on the sofa lounge during a particularly painful contraction. After a quick exam, they rushed me up to Labor and Delivery, where an angel of mercy (aka the anesthesiologist) administered the epidural. The epidural, you guys – amazing. Not only did it provide complete and immediate pain relief, but I was able to give myself an extra dose twice an hour, feeling no contractions for the rest of my labor and delivery. (That’s right. I didn’t feel the birth at all. Not the breaking of the waters, not the pushing, not the crowning. It was magical.) I dilated from 2.5 centimeters to 7 in just three hours, and they let me rest for a while, albeit in several crazy positions to flip her face down. (Luckily, she obliged; the alternative would have been uncomfortable, to say the least.)
At 11am, I had reached 10 centimeters, and the doctor told us we’d be meeting our baby in less than an hour. I started crying, thinking about how long we had waited to meet our Baby Mac. I was so excited…and terrified. I had been nervous about childbirth for nine months, not knowing what to expect and full of every horror story out there. But it was beautiful. Maybe that’s the epidural talking, but I have never felt so capable or empowered to do what I needed to do in that moment. The nurses and our doctor coached me through each push, keeping me focused and encouraging me every step of the way. I kept looking at Mac’s face for reassurance, and it dawned on me that just when you think you couldn’t love someone more, you share an experience that makes you fall in love all over again. He was amazing.
And after pushing for 45 minutes, our beautiful baby girl arrived! Caroline Grace MacNamara was born at 12:01, weighing in at 8 pounds and 4 ounces and measuring 21 inches in length. Mac and I were 95% sure Baby Mac was a boy, so I can’t begin to tell you how surprised we were – we actually laughed when we saw her! It was just so perfect.
I will never forget the moment they put her on my chest – she looked right at my face and stopped crying for a minute when I said her name. You always hear that the love you feel for your child is overwhelming, but what people don’t tell you is that it feels like you’ve somehow known this little person your whole life. Caroline was so familiar to me already; I had always been waiting for her. And every time I look at her, I think of that, how incredible it is that we belong to each other. Everything changed the moment she was born, and we can’t imagine it any other way. Caroline is our little love, and we can’t wait for all the adventures to come.