The pains were coming every 5 minutes, strong and hard, so of course we left for the hospital. I was 9 months, 2 weeks, and 3 days pregnant and ready to deliver this baby. I'd read every book, taken classes, toughened by nipples in preparation for nursing, painted a mural on the nursery wall, and answered the phone for 17 straight days to let my husband's grandmother know that I hadn't given birth yet. Tomorrow she would finally stop calling. Thank God.
So after waiting for my husband to take a shower (he wanted to be fresh for the delivery), replacing the light bulb in the front porch light (so we wouldn't come home to a dark house), and grabbing the bag that had been packed for four weeks (in case the baby was early...fat chance) we were finally off to the hospital.
My water hadn't broke and my breathing routine was keeping the pain in check. The hospital staff was friendly and efficient, getting me checked in and hooked up to every machine imaginable in no time at all. Then came the examination and the announcement...1 centimeter and the long face. Was that bad? No, it just meant we were in for a long night and they might need to send me home if I didn't progress.
Send me home? No way. I couldn't bear to hear the phone ring and the disappointed voice of Grandma Costanzo when I answered, signifying I was still at home. In week two past the due date, she wouldn't even say hi. She'd hear my voice, grunt, and hang up.
So I willed my body and the baby to get their acts together and get this show on the road. Hour after hour I'd dilate one more centimeter until five hours later I was at 5 and holding. I held and held and held. The baby was turned around backwards causing back labor. My husband had to massage my back with a tennis ball until HIS wrists could take it no more. They finally broke my water to try and speed things up. Tuesday turned into Wednesday and still no baby but things were starting to move. Contractions got progressively stronger and the baby finally turned around. Yeah.
In the meantime, a wing of the hospital caught on fire and we were told we might have to evacuate. No way, I said. I'm having this baby here and now. Luckily the fire department came to my aid, putting out the fire and letting me continue my labor in peace. Finally 16 hours from the time we arrived, I gave birth to my first child, Erica Ann Costanzo, 8 lbs, 12 oz., 21 inches long. I was on cloud 12, because cloud nine isn't even close to how amazing I felt.
The picture of me coming out of labor with my baby on the gurney is one of my favorites: I'm glowing; my smile reflected in the faces of both my mother and mother-in-law on either side of me, my baby in my arms. My husband, on the other hand, looks like he'd run a triathlon. He hadn't slept all night, had blood-shot eyes, and a 3 pm shadow. He looks haggard, tired and grumpy, as if HE was the one who had just given birth.
So that's my favorite labor day story.
Oh wait, what's that you say? You wanted a "Labor Day" as in the first weekend in September celebrating Laboring people in the U.S. story, not a labor day as in giving birth story?
Opps. My bad.