Mae Roberts Ryals came into this world at 4:24 AM on February 15th, but she began her entrance on Feb. 13th around 9 PM.
My water didn’t break with a splash like in the movies. Actually, I wasn’t even sure it happened at all, but when my “cramping” (I was too scared to call them contractions) started to come at seven minutes apart, I finally believed I was in labor.
Jimmy and I stayed at home for most of early labor. He rubbed my back, kept the heated wrap coming, I took baths, and paced around the house. We left for the hospital at 5 AM on Friday morning with a full moon above us and icy roads below us.
The ride to the hospital is one I’ll never forget. I could feel every bump and wanted Jimmy to both slow down and hurry up at the same time. I joked that no one had ever needed the “oh shit” bar so earnestly as me in that moment.
We checked into the hospital and the nurse remarked “You must really be in labor” based on the way I looked. I was 100% effaced and two centimeters dilated. The midwife thought this was great progress. I was a little disappointed, but I readied myself for the hours ahead. Our doula came to the hospital around 7 AM and our families got there around lunchtime, I think. I wasn’t lucid to much at this point. We used the heated wrap, changed positions, got in the shower. I needed movement. Jimmy and my doula kept me hydrated and fed me applesauce and grapes.
I labored for 30 hours like this, through four different nurses’ shifts and two midwives. Mae’s heart rate never wavered, and I never really worried too much about her. I knew she was okay, yet she wasn’t progressing at the very end. She was in a posterior position and her head couldn’t maneuver around my pelvis from her position. The midwife said I could keep trying, but she didn’t think Mae would come this way.
I trusted my midwife’s opinion, and I was exhausted and just wanted to see our baby. The surgeon and nurse anesthetist came in and began explaining the c-section procedure. This was the hardest part because I was having contractions throughout these conversations.However, my “team” was amazing and honored my wishes of having skin-to-skin directly after her birth and allowing both Jimmy and my doula to come to the surgery. The nurses, doctors, and midwives really made our birth special.
I’ll never forget the moment I heard her cry. She entered the world loudly, crying out “Maaaaaemmmmmaaaaae,” so her name was decided quickly. The doctor held her over the curtain and Jimmy stood to see if we had a boy or a girl. “We have, we have a daughter,” he said with so much wonder and awe in his voice. That may be the sweetest moment of my life.
She cried until they put her by my shoulder and then she quieted. We instantly recognized each other.