The usually crowded interstate is rather empty and quiet at 3:00 a.m. We drove to Northside Hospital as I continued having contractions. The doors opened to the Women's Center and we were surprisingly the only ones there. We checked-in, and despite already filling out paperwork ahead of time, there were still more forms to complete...and even more once I was checked-in to my delivery room. Marc was a wonderful secretary that morning since I didn't care two licks what the fine print said as my contractions kept coming. The midwife I had seen at my 40-week appointment a few days prior visited me and said, "I knew you weren't going to make it to your next appointment." She checked me and confirmed that yes, I was in labor. I was not being sent back home...hallelujah...but now it was time to deal with this pain. Where is my epidural? I assumed it would be waiting for me, but no, I was told it would take up to two hours to get it administered. WHAT?! They do NOT tell you this in birthing class or in your "What to Expect" book. I conveniently didn't listen about how to deal with pain and even laughed as Marc and I practiced breathing exercises and positions in our birth class. The midwife suggested some drug that would take off the edge, and I protested at first saying I didn't want to over-drug my baby since I was already having an epidural. She looked at me as I cringed through a contraction and gave the ease of mind I needed to be ok with having some medication while I waited for the epidural. I could almost feel the drug enter my blood as the nurse administered it through my IV...all of a sudden, the pain slowed down and my eyes grew heavy. That was some good stuff, and gave me about two hours of relaxation and sleep.
And then, it wore off. Marc was passed out on the couch but I woke him up as the contractions started coming back with force. The anesthesiologist finally came into my room with a gift from God...the epidural. There was a lot more drama getting prepared for the epidural than having it administered. My bed was raised, a lot of instructions were given, a lot of stuff put on my back but the actual epidural was over before I could ask, "Is this going to hurt?" As quick as it was, Marc held on tight and kept his eyes locked on mine. Marc couldn't have been more supportive, encouraging, and calm throughout this process...he was my rock that day.
It finally time to share the news to our family and close friends. Throughout the morning and early afternoon, our support group trickled in. We are blessed with some of the most amazing family and friends. They sat in our oversized delivery room and kept us entertained as we waited for "go-time." The hours passed as my body labored beneath the effects of the heavenly epidural. As my body dilated to 10 centimeters, I got hot and pressure grew...down there. The room started feeling smaller as I began sweating. We said our goodbyes to our support group who took up residence in the waiting room.
The time Marc and I had in the delivery room before Sam arrived was precious. Even though I was at 10 centimeters, the nurses wanted my body to "labor down" for about an hour...essentially letting my body do the pushing before I did. My body was hot and I still felt a lot of pressure. Marc sat right next to my bed...holding my hands, brushing back my hair, talking with me, laughing with me, praying for me and playing music for me. It was such a sweet moment, and the last we would share as a family of two.
I was so relaxed that I actually fell asleep. By this point, we were both exhausted after not getting but a few hours of sleep that night and morning. The midwife and nurse entered the room and after checking me, confirmed that "go-time" was here. Once there was a green light, the delivery room completely changed. A few additional nurses entered the room and began pushing in carts and arranging blankets. Bright lights came over my head, the doctor adorned her blue scrubs, Marc was one side and the main nurse on the other. A side note about the main nurse who attended me during the day and through Sam's delivery...she was amazing. She cared for me in such a nurturing way. As we prepared to start pushing, she shared with me one of her favorite verses - Joshua 1:9, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Like I said, amazing.
The moments leading up to Sam's delivery was not what I had pictured at all. Surrounded by my midwife, nurse, and Marc, we talked, I received coaching on how to push, I pushed, sometimes I apologized at not pushing at the right time to which my nurse laughed at me, and I pushed some more. It was all surreal and surprisingly very calm. I would squeeze my eyes shut as I pushed, and finally Marc said, "Cris, open your eyes." When I did, I laid eyes on our son, Samuel Wesley Hunt. I could barely connect that I had just birthed this child I was staring at. But, at 5:10 p.m. on Sunday, November 13, Sam entered the world.
Marc and I stared at him in wonder as they laid Sam on my chest. There were no clear thoughts my mind was racing so fast, but one thought that stopped long enough for me to remember was, "He is so big and long!" And, he was. Sam was born 21 inches long and 8 pounds, 3 ounces. Can I just say hallelujah again for the epidural. He came into the world, bigger and longer than I could have imagined. Enough so that I had some internal bleeding. Enough so that another doctor needed to come into the room to try to stop the slow bleeding. Enough so that these precious, quiet moments I had envisioned having with my new family of three slipped away as nurses, the doctor and midwife crowded around me trying to fix the bleeding. Marc stayed by my side as they performed the initial tests and screens on Sam on the other side of the room, but I kept telling him to be with Sam. The peace I had before Sam's arrival filled with anxiety. I was now cold and shaking. My sweet nurse stayed by my side to rest my worries, and every so often the doctor would look up and reassure me. It felt like an eternity before they were finished.
Outside in the waiting room felt like an eternity too. Our family and friends knew the news of Sam's arrival, but only through text. Marc had not visited the waiting room with photos to share because he was too busy running between me and Sam. My mom was burdened with the same anxiety and worry even though were separated by many rooms and hallways. Finally, almost two hours later, the flurry was over and family was welcomed into the room. We had initially planned for family to meet Sam first, but any kind of organized plan was thrown out the window with the chaos that ensued after Sam's delivery. Instead, in some order, Sam was taken to the nursery (which I don't even remember), Mom visited to check on me, Marc left to take the rest of the parents to the nursery to see Sam, and Mom left to rejoin the rest of the family. At some point, I was all alone in the delivery room and it didn't take me long to invite our sweet friends who were still at the hospital to my room to keep me company.
Finally, and again, I'm not quite sure how, but Sam and our entire support group of friends and family piled into the delivery room to meet and hold Sam for the first time. Sam started crying, and I'm fairly certain the overwhelming feeling of, "Now what?" entered my mind. It was a chaotic. It wasn't long before Marc, Sam and I sat in the room alone. It wasn't exactly how I had imagined those moments would be, but so far, nothing about Sam's delivery was what I expected. I was surprised from the very first contraction.
Sam came into our lives with such force, in almost every way. I think that's just a small glimpse of the man God created him to be.