Nelson “Sonny” Wilder was born eight days before his due date, on November 28, 2017. Three hundred and ninety-one days before that, Sonny’s older sister, Ruby, was born and went to heaven all at once, at 24 weeks gestation. It took one monumental loss, two pregnancies over one and a half years and, ultimately, just 20 intense minutes at the hospital to welcome our sweet boy.
Leading up to this day in November, I felt almost overprepared for delivery. After all, though it was a wildly different experience, I had already spent the night in Labor & Delivery just a year before; I had taken Pitocin, gotten an epidural, and had my legs in stir-ups to deliver a baby. But because grief and trauma tend to fog your memory in crazy ways, we still took all the classes and read all the books… again. I was mentally preparing for 24+ hours of labor, dutifully practicing various positions to help ease the pain. My birth plan was essentially “give me all the things to make this hurt less.” After what we went through last time around, why make it harder than I already knew it was going to be? But Sonny had other plans.
On Monday, November 27 I went in for a regular check-up, only to learn I was already 4cm dilated. The doctor predicted I’d go into labor “sometime [that] week,” before she did a quick membrane sweep and sent us on our way. My husband, Jered, and I left feeling excited, and started plotting the next 4-ish days we’d have before baby arrived. We envisioned a few more relaxing dinners at home, cozy naps, and quiet last moments as a family of two. I went home to clean the house and take a long walk; I ate lots of pineapple and washed my hair – just in case. We made chicken fajitas for dinner, curled up to watch some TV and went to bed like any normal Monday night.
Around 1am I woke up with some pain that felt like menstrual cramps – but by this point in my pregnancy these middle-of-the-night wakes were nothing new, so I went downstairs to walk around and ride it out, so I could go back to sleep. After about an hour and a half, though, I was in enough pain that I knew I needed to wake up Jered and start timing what I was feeling. We couldn’t find a real rhythm to the pain, and I was still unconvinced that what I was feeling was contractions; after all, cramping is common after a membrane sweep and I didn’t feel the traditional tightening that they describe in birth class. But, I was hurting enough to give a quick call to L&D just to be safe. It was 3am when they casually suggested we “come on in” to get checked out.
Things were calm at this point, so I patiently waited while Jered brushed his teeth and made the bed, only later admitting that he debated taking a quick shower as well. Thankfully, he didn’t make it that far because the second the car left the driveway – around 3:40am – the situation turned dire.
I was unbuckled in the front, propping myself up so my butt wouldn’t touch the seat, writhing and screaming in pain as we sped down the highway. Straight out of the movies, I’m telling you. My poor sweet husband kept his cool and got us to the hospital in record time (about 13 minutes) but made the mistake of parking nearby the emergency entrance, instead of pulling straight up to rush inside. The short walk across the dark and windy street at 4am was simply too much to handle, and I buckled down to all fours, screaming at Jered that I was definitely going to start pushing. He finally lost his cool in that moment – just for a second – to tell me to definitely NOT push and to get out of the street immediately. He flagged down hospital staff and threw me in a wheelchair, so we could get ushered straight to L&D. Every bump on the floor of that sterile hallway felt like the baby was going to explode out of me; it was excruciating. We burst through the swinging doors of the L&D ward to ten wide-eyed nurses hearing me scream about how I needed to push… NOW. From there, it was a whirlwind. I was thrown in the closest open room they could find, pants were off, and I was in stir-ups being told “you have no cervix left, dear, it’s time to start pushing.” I could’ve told you that.
There wasn’t time for drugs or an IV or even a hospital gown, and fifteen “quick” and painful minutes later, at 4:33am, Sonny was on my chest, warm and sticky and healthy and screaming and beautiful. Nurses later told me I was screaming both “KILL ME!” and “I really wanted an epidural!” through the entirety of my pushing. Both sound about right, but we made it through unmedicated and unexpected. And I’d do it ten times over if it would give me Sonny. He has a twinkle in his eye that lights up a room; a little spark in his smile that feels heaven-sent, like Ruby had something to do with it. He’s our rainbow baby and we’re grateful for every sweet day with him.