Internet, I did a thing. I did a thing and I'm sitting here staring at a blank page because I don't even know where to begin.
Twenty-five days ago, on September 29, Owen Arthur was born at 6:17 a.m., weighing 6 pounds and 14 ounces, measuring 20 inches long. That's a whole lot of measurements to basically explain: PERFECTION.
He is perfect. And not in that adorable, adoring mom sort of way. You know, the way any mom beams with pride over their perfect, adorable baby. Owen actually is perfect. He's perfect. I stare at him, at his perfect nose and perfect mouth, his tiny ears and soft eyelashes.
He is perfect.
He was also early. Of course he was, I'm his mother. I am incapable of arriving anywhere on time. I'm never late. I am perpetually and inconveniently early. All the time. He decided to be three weeks and three days early. Three days shy of being considered "full term." Two days shy of being the October baby I'd imagined.
And that's where his story begins, on a Thursday evening in the middle of a difficult week.
Chicken's health had declined rapidly. Medical intervention earlier in the week yielded zero results, and her rapid deterioration and suffering led us to the heartbreaking conclusion: it was time to let her go. That evening, when Todd returned from work, we planned to take her to the vet and say our goodbyes.
I sat in the kitchen with a pit in my stomach after work. How do you prepare yourself for this? For saying goodbye to your companion of 16 years? This deserves -- and will get -- a blog entry of its own, but you can't prepare. It's awful, no matter how, no matter when, every time.
Chicken had my heart for nearly 16 years. Since the day my dad tucked a squirming kitten into his coat and delivered her to me on my twentieth birthday in 2002. Chicken was a legend. Where there was me, there was Chicken. I was the girl with a cat named Chicken.
I tried to process what was to come as I sat on the bench in our kitchen, simultaneously messaging a friend who could commiserate over the loss of a beloved pet and the misery of late pregnancy. It was September 28. I had less than a month until my October 23 due date.
I could get through another month of pregnancy. At least, that's what I told myself. In the meantime I had to come to terms with what was happening in my present day: the inevitable loss of my best fur friend.
And then, at 5:45 p.m., three-and-a-half weeks before he was due, my water broke. In my kitchen. While I sat alone, awaiting my husband, so we could take my beloved cat to the vet to put her to sleep.
MY WATER BROKE.
Only, I wasn't sure. I didn't experience what movies portray. I wasn't in the pickle aisle of the grocery store, standing horrified above a puddle of water. In fact, for a second I strongly considered whether I'd actually just peed myself. It could happen, right? I mean, I was uncomfortably pregnant. Peeing myself wasn't out of the question, let's be real.
I rushed to the bathroom where I convinced myself I absolutely had simply peed my pants a little. Until it happened again. And then another time. And for sure, without a doubt, I knew it. My water had broken.
I began to scramble. We didn't even have a bag packed for the hospital. I still had weeks. I considered texting Todd, who was on his way to pick up Eden for the remainder of the weekend, but I figured this was news I didn't hope to share in a string of texts full of exclamation points and emojis. BUT I CONSIDERED IT.
Instead, as soon as he pulled his car into the garage, I accosted him. He stood before me, flowers in hand, knowing it would be a hard night. And it would be, it just wouldn't be for the feline reason we expected.
"We have a situation," I told him upon greeting.
I mean, surely we did. We had a dying cat, a clueless 5-year-old, and a dear friend on the way with pizza as a pick-me-up. She offered to stay with Eden and Luna that night while we spent time at the vet clinic.
He looked at me, confused, in the garage. I blurted out the words.
"I'm 99 percent sure my water broke."
THAT WAS NOT THE SITUATION HE WAS EXPECTING, INTERNET.
We both stood in temporary shock and panic for a moment, staring at one another, before the doorbell rang and Becca arrived, hugs ready and pizza in hand.
"BECCA MY WATER BROKE," is how I greeted her at the front door.
So now we had three high-strung and panicked adults buzzing about the house, one 5-year-old already lost in cartoons on the tablet, plus one dying cat and an over-excited dog. And my water was still broken.
I had no idea what to do. I felt so wildly unprepared. What do I pack? Do I call my doctor? What about Chicken? I need to call my parents. All of this was happening, and suddenly all of those childbirth preparation classes felt vastly inadequate. Todd left to return Eden to family for the night, then rushed home to help me pack a bag.
What the hell were we supposed to bring? I had a handy checklist from the hospital, but I felt overwhelmed by it all. In the end, we shoved a hodgepodge of things into a few bags, including, but not limited to, pajamas, books, an essential oils diffuser, pillows, blankets, toiletries, phone chargers, and S'mores Pop-Tarts. Obviously. This was my labor, after all.
I also shoved a newborn diaper into my pants because I wasn't about to sit on the leather seats in my Jeep while my water ran rampant. Pro tip: it worked perfectly. You're welcome.
Becca, who got wrapped into a hell of a night, offered to stay at the house until bedtime to keep an eye on Luna and Chicken until my parents could inevitably take over pet duty. Before we left for the hospital, I curled onto the bed to kiss Chicken atop the head, where I'd kissed her hundreds of times in our years together, unsure what the next few days would hold.
"I love you, Chicken."
And we left for the hospital. Only we were headed to the people hospital, not the animal hospital, like we had planned.
I envisioned that drive to the hospital in my head for months. My doctor returned my call while we were on our way and told us to get comfortable because it certainly sounded like we were in it for the long haul. To be honest, none of it felt real. All I knew was I definitely had a diaper in my underwear.
We arrived at the women's hospital around 8 o'clock, a jumble of excitement and nerves. This was happening. We were going to leave the hospital with a baby.
I WAS SO NERVOUS.
Once checked into labor and delivery, an indescribably painful pelvic examination (I screamed) (it would not be the last time) confirmed what the newborn diaper in my pants already knew: my water had broken.
We were having this baby.
Labor and Delivery Room 8 became our home for the night. A room that will both haunt me and instill a sense of wonder. I'd become a mother in that room. Todd and I would become parents. I'd endure hours of literal gut-wrenching pain. I'd throw up. I'd cry.
But first labor had to start. And at that moment, it hadn't yet. My body wasn't yet making progress, but because my water had already broken, we needed progress. It was then that the first of my Do Not Wants became a reality: I needed pitocin to jumpstart labor.
With the IV inserted and the Packers game on the overhead television, we settled in. Pain would start soon enough. Very soon.
By that point I'd called my parents, the first-time-grandparents-to-be, who were living for this phone call. LIVING FOR IT. My mom had been at home worrying, knowing what the night was supposed to hold for me. I felt oddly nervous to make the call, knowing it would transform the night into something VERY REAL.
I could hear hesitancy in her voice when she answered the phone.
"... did you take her?" she asked, wondering about Chicken.
I told her no, and she responded with shock. She didn't understand.
While I rested in my hospital bed, my husband watching the football game, medical staff milling about, preparing me for labor induction, I filled her in.
"Well," I started. "My water broke."
Her response is exactly what I expected, and exactly how I'd envisioned it in my head for months.
Yup. That's exactly how I felt, too.
To be continued.