I went into active labor December 1, 2001 at 3:00 in the morning. No mucous plug, no ruptured bag of waters. Just intense and regular contractions. We had a bag packed beforehand even though our due date wasn’t until the 11th.

We were set up in a lovely L&D suite where I changed clothes, put the Vivaldi CD in their stereo, plumped up the pillow I brought from home and listened to the baby’s heartbeat and watched (and felt) each painful contraction come and go on the monitors. Sparring Partner was snoring as soon as his feet were up in the recliner, and we waited.

And waited.

After about an hour, the contractions slowed in frequency and intensity. I wasn’t progressing so in short, they sent us home.

I was scheduled for a non-stress test at my OB’s the following Monday morning as we were monitoring the baby’s heartbeat which wasn’t staying consistent, and in fact, was dipping into the scarily-low ranges. Over the weekend, I was in utter misery. I basically labored throughout but refused to go back to the hospital for fear I would be sent home again. I figured this is what the last couple weeks in a pregnancy were suppose to be like.

When Monday, December 3rd, rolled around, we were both exhausted. I hardly had slept and Sparring Partner suffered as well. At 9:00 a.m. I arrived at my OB’s office for the NST where they strapped me up to the monitors. By 9:30 a.m. I was at the hospital upon the urgent instructions of the staff and my doctor to check in again.

This time, there was no L&D suite available. I wasn’t dilated far, only 3cm at check in, so they set me up in a triage room where a curtain separated me from another expectant mom who loudly complained to her mother/sister/whatever that the doctor better get his ass in there to see her and fucking induce her right now. Should I mention, she had two other small children with her too and that she wreaked heavily of smoke?

I complained quietly to one of the nurses who was actually a high school friend of Sparring Partner and she was able to get us moved to one of the other triage rooms, but still no L&D room was available. I remember as the day progressed into the afternoon and then evening that I got to 6cm, and for the most part, the baby’s heartrate stayed fairly consistenct, only dipping during the really strong contractions. I was enjoying my epidural to its fullest.

Moments before they wheeled me into surgery. "C" Section

But sometime late in the evening everything changed. Our Nurse Friend was taking vitals when a contraction came on. The baby’s HR went from 130 to 110 to 90 to 70 and then she was frantically adjusting the monitor’s belt, asking me to shift. The heartrate plummeted to the 40’s and then was gone. Nurse Friend literally ran from the room and returned within a minute with OB on her heels. I think I was still rather oblivious to what was really happening.

My OB and nurse once again found the baby’s heart with the monitor once the contraction had subsided, but he told me that it was time for the baby to come out and I would need to be prepped for a c-section.

We never made it to a L&D room. I never got to hear Vivaldi in the background while my husband squeezed my hand and brushed the hair out of my sweaty face. Instead, I watched the reflection of my c-section in the face-shield of my doctor and his assistant like I was watching someone else on TV. It was Sparring Partner who announced joyously, “It’s a boy!” when they pulled him the baby from my body.

He was born at 9:53 p.m. and weighed a mere 5 lbs and 12 ounces; skinny at 19 3/4 inches. We never had an inkling that he would be so small.

I had a boy, and with two names we had picked out (Declan was the alternate), we named him the name I first suggested to my husband only weeks after finding out we were expecting.

Eight years later and I have the sweetest young man growing up beside me. Doodicus has exasperated and infuriated me to tears. He’s made me laugh when I’ve least expected but needed to the most. When Aitch came along, he matured instantly into the most perfect big brother I could have ever hoped for. I see more and more glimpses of how he will be as an adolescent, a young man, an adult. He is amazingly beautiful considering the combination of genes it took for him to be created. He gave me the most valuable present I have ever been given: he gave the gift of motherhood.

Happy Birth Day my darling. I love you to the moon and back, and I always and forever will.