At 2:30 am, on a Friday night in June, I woke up from my sleep. My stomach was tight, and uncomfortable, and I felt nauseous.
I was 21 years old, in an unplanned college pregnancy, and completely unsure of what to expect in childbirth. It was also still three weeks before my due date, so I didn’t think I was in labor.
I got myself out of bed and walked myself to the bathroom, worried I was going to puke.
“I must have eaten something funny earlier,” I thought. I sat there, on the toilet (not puking), but going over in my head everything I’d eaten earlier that day. Could this be food poisoning? Did I drink enough that day? Had the summer heat from earlier gotten to me?
I sat in the bathroom for a few more minutes, feeling shaky, and hoping it all would just pass. I didn’t feel any contractions, but as I sat there, my water broke.
Surprisingly, I didn’t realize what had just happened. It was such a very little amount of fluid that I simply brushed it off as some sort of thing that happens that you can’t control when you’re this far along in pregnancy. Since I’d completely misread this major sign, I went back to my room, laid back down, and hoped I could fall back asleep.
But after a few more minutes of feeling increasingly uncomfortable, I got up and went into my mother’s room, waking her up. I told her that I didn’t feel good, and thought I should probably go to the hospital to get myself checked out for whatever “sickness” this was.
At first, she too, figured it was something else other than labor. She said, “Are you SURE you don’t feel that well? It can’t be labor, you’re not due yet! It’s the middle of the night, do you want to just wait a while and see if it will pass?”
I explained to her that I’d already tried to go back to bed, but I REALLY was NOT feeling well. And there was no way I could go back to sleep.
A bit reluctantly, we decide to go in to the local hospital to get checked out, which was about three minutes away. Since I didn’t think I was in labor, we were not planning to drive to the hospital where I was planning to deliver my baby. And I didn’t bring my hospital bag.
A few minutes later, I’d gotten my shoes on, and was making my way to the car, and suddenly— I felt a HUGE contraction—I mean, my stomach felt HORRIBLE.
It was not until I was fully in the front seat of the car, that the cramping really started to set in. My mom then recognized what going on—that I was, in fact, in labor. “Really, you think so? Maybe? My stomach just really hurts!!” I said.
Making a quick change of plans, she decided drive to the hospital where I was supposed to deliver my baby—this hospital was about forty-five minutes away.
As each minute in the car passed, I was feeling the contractions getting stronger and stronger, and I tried to breathe through each one. I clutched the side of the car door, and kept adjusting positions, trying not to feel SO incredibly uncomfortable. (And, sitting in a car during active labor is the WORST—there’s no room to move or stretch)
It was obvious that I was progressing pretty quickly. Much more quickly that either of us would have anticipated.
So there we were, in the middle of the night, on the highway, driving close to 90 mph.
As we got closer, I was beginning to feel a LOT of lower pressure. It felt like my baby was trying to come out. And I started to panic. Literally, what would we do if this baby came out? I had no clue.
A few minutes before we pulled into the hospital ER entrance, I told my mom that I felt like I had to push. And she looked at me, wide-eyed, and said “NO, we are about to be there. You have to wait!!”
The drive ended up taking only of thirty minutes (though it felt like FOREVER), and we pulled in to the ER entrance, unannounced.
I climbed out of the car, and found that I could barely walk. I tried to sit down on the parking lot pavement, just outside the car. My mom shouted, “NO, don’t sit down! You have to get in the hospital!!”
There was an EMT standing just outside the ER doors, who saw the severity of the situation and came rushing out with a wheelchair and lifted me up into the chair so that I could make inside.
Once we rolled into the ER, I had to continue sitting—horribly uncomfortable!—until the nurses from Labor and Delivery could take me back to a delivery room. I remember the lady at the front desk, looking completely unphased by what was going on. She simply said to me, “Just calm down hunny, they’ll be coming down to get you soon.”
“Soon?!” No, I needed someone IMMEDIATELY. I was barely keeping this baby in and I felt like I going to completely lose it!
I was so worried that this baby was going to come in the middle of the waiting room—right there, in the midst a number of patients waiting to be seen.
But all I could do was wait. At this point, I’d be laboring for a total of 45 minutes. I just kept trying to breathe properly and sit in that wheelchair.
After five of the slowest minutes ever, a nurse from Labor and Delivery came walking slowly up to me, starting to push my wheelchair. I explained to her that I “REALLY didn’t feel well and that I needed to lay down as soon as possible.” She said, “Okay, we will get you checked out in the room, just hang tight.”
We got into the delivery room, and I was asked to change into a gown. I changed and laid down on the delivery bed, and they told me, “whoah, you’re 8cm dilated—I can see your baby’s head!”
All of sudden, the nurses realized how far along I was, and five of these sweet ladies began picking up the pace, doing quick prep all around me.
It was go-time and they knew it. They said, “We’ve called the doctor and she’s on her way. Do you think you can wait?”
I told them I really didn’t think so. I noticed that they glanced at each other, looking a bit worried, but they understood, and were ready to do whatever they could to help me.
My mom stood nearby, encouraging me, saying, “You’re doing great! Just keep breathing!” A nurse held my hand, and talked to me, trying to get my mind off the pain.
They managed to get an IV started just in the nick of time. When I felt like I had to push, I did; and after two tries, my sweet little Benjamin was born. They put him on my chest right away.
It had all happened just 15 minutes after I had arrived in that room. And I felt IMMEDIATE relief after he came.
“Thank God that’s over,” I remember thinking. I had somehow survived, though it was all a bit of a blur.
After he was born, they kept monitoring me closely, since I’d really only just arrived. And a couple minutes after that, the doctor on-call that night arrived, coming in to check on me and stitch up a small tear.
Thankfully, all had turned out okay, and my little one was healthy—6 lbs 12 oz, with a head of reddish-blonde hair.
I was then rolled into a new room to begin recovery and spend time with my new baby. My mom was there with me, but there was no husband there by my side.
I remember looking down at my little one, so small and innocent, just one hour old, wondering how our future was going to work out—and I began to cry, the weight of everything sinking in. I’m a literal mom now. I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I’m going to take care of you. I kept telling him I would do my best to give him a good life, and just kept holding him close to me, blinking away my tears.
My mom, seeing my sadness, started tearing up too, but she kept telling me it would all be okay.
Hours later, the doctor who had been with me earlier, dropped in to see me. I had been resting, and it was raining softly outside. This doctor, whom I’d never met until earlier that morning, looked to be in her fifties, and she had a very calm, put-together appearance. As she checked me over, she began to tell me a story about her past. She clearly must have realized that I was unwed, and fairly young.
I remember her distinctly starting out by saying: “In my previous life, I was a nurse…” And she began to tell me about how she had gotten pregnant at the age of 19. She’d given birth to a daughter, and soon after, she became a nurse, raising her daughter as a single mom.
For 20 years she practiced nursing, and then, when it was time for her daughter to go to college, she decided to return to school too, to become a doctor. So in her forties, she went through medical school, eventually becoming an OB/GYN.
She, too, had been in my shoes. I’m sure the journey wasn’t easy for her, but she had managed okay, and her story had given me hope.
At first, it really struck me how oddly coincidental it was that she happened to be the doctor on-call that evening.
But deep down, I knew that it wasn’t a coincidence. It was as if God wanted to let me know that it was going to be alright.
And you know what, He was right.
Read more about Monica’s story here: My College Pregnancy Made Me Stronger