As we approach Samuel’s 3 week birthday (I think the traditional gift is diaper cream), Rachel and I realized we never officially shared our ‘birth story’ with everyone. Since it is somewhat entertaining, we thought we would share it with everyone (spoiler alert: Samuel was born and everyone is healthy).
On Tuesday, August 30, Rachel and I were having dinner with Fr. B (the Jesuit priest who married us). We were all having a relaxing (or so I thought) evening on our deck grilling and enjoying the beautiful weather. After dinner we talked about getting some ice cream but much to my surprise Rachel said she wasn’t “feeling well” and maybe we should skip dessert. Now I am a Herrel man, and I do on occasion miss a signal or two, but either of us passing on ice cream (at Hold the Nuts no less!) is like shooting off a flare gun that something is amiss. Fr. B offered to take a taxi back to Xavier, but Rachel thought it would be ok if I drove him.
When I got back home after my quick trip to Xavier, Rachel told me that she had called the doctor because she was having pains but she was convinced that they were not contractions. These ‘pains’ persisted and started to become a bit more regular and were lasting 30-45 seconds. At 9:30pm, when the ‘pains’ were coming in 5 minute intervals and lasting for about a minute, I was able to convince Rachel that she was having contractions.
We stuck to the plan of staying at home in the early stages of labor for as long as possible. The contractions became more and more intense for Rachel and became more and more frequent. At 11:45, when the contractions were lasting more than a minute and were coming every 3 minutes, we called the doctor who said “I’ll meet you at the hospital.” It wasn’t until that point that both of us realized that baby Herrel’s arrival was imminent.
We packed the car and made our way up Montgomery Road to the hospital. [Background: I was driving the Prius and it is a long running joke that I drive very slowly in the car to maximize gas milage – and I’ve never been pulled over by the police for speeding] I was determined not to drive too slowly on the way to the hospital because Rachel was in labor and car rides are not particularly pleasant during contractions. We are about 2 blocks away from the hospital when I see flashing lights behind us! I pull over to the side of the road, put my hands at 10 and 2, roll down my window and start yelling ‘MY WIFE IS IN LABOR!’ The officer walks up to the passenger window, and Rachel (between contractions) says ‘Officer, I am in labor, we are going to the hospital.’ He shines his flashlight on her stomach and says ‘Alright, drive carefully’ and sent us on our way.
We arrived at the Emergency room (since it was after hours) and made our way on foot to the other end of the hospital to Labor and Delivery (Rachel didn’t want a wheelchair and we had to stop every 30 yards or so while she had another contraction). We checked in to labor and delivery (12:30am) and Rachel’s biggest fear was that she would only be 1 or 2 cm dilated. Thankfully, she was 8 cm dilated and it started to really sink in for me that we would have a child probably before dawn. Contractions continued, and at about 1:30 she was 10 cm dilated but her water had not broken yet. Her water did break shortly after that (picture dropping a water balloon onto the labor and delivery floor). The doctor arrived (Bowen) and Rachel began pushing a little after 2 am. All of the pressure and intense feelings made her say some rather humorous lines such as “Now I know why some women get an epidural” and “Just get him out!”
Samuel was born at 2:29 am and I was able to help catch him as he was delivered – I wasn’t about to let Mom get ALL the glory ;). Seriously though, Rachel stayed as relaxed as possible and was amazing throughout the entire process to ensure the natural (no drugs) delivery of Samuel.
We spent the rest of the early morning together as a family before grandparents and other visitors started arriving later that morning.