Six months ago today, Andria and Ryan Ralph welcomed their beautiful baby boy, Nicholas into the world. Although she is a first-time mom, Andria’s calm and reassuring demeanor would suggest that she’s an old pro. Her advice to other new parents: “Try to remain as relaxed and positive as you can be (as nervous as you are!) because babies pick up on your vibes.” Smart little things, they are.
I was one day late for my period, and although it was premature, I had a gut feeling that I was going to be more than just a day late. Something felt different that day at work, I just couldnʼt place my ﬁnger on it, but I couldnʼt get home fast enough. I practically raced up the stairs and into the washroom, and grabbed a pregnancy test. I noticed one line instantly (two lines were a positive). After what seemed like eternity and only one line visible, I was actually disappointed — thatʼs when I realized what I really wanted! As I was taken aback from my own reaction from the test, I looked down at it again and thatʼs when I noticed the second line!! I began to celebrate by myself and contemplated how I was going to tell my husband, Ryan when he got home from work. As soon as he got home, my initial plan crumbled and I just held up the pregnancy test with tears in my eyes. Iʼll never forget his face when he ﬁgured it out — a moment I will revel forever!
It was the day before my due date, Wednesday, January 16th, and I had all but one thing left to do on my list. I was to enjoy the morning with a visit with a good friend and her one year old and at last complete that never ending list later that day. I joked with her that I felt just “too comfortable” and didnʼt see the baby coming the next day and we even made plans for the coming week. As soon as she left, I didnʼt feel great and decided to lie down. That last thing on my list would have to wait.
Ryan came home and I felt better, so we decided to check out a house with our real estate agent, (she thought I was crazy for leaving the house the day before the due date, for the record.) We then decided to go out for dinner. As soon as we got home I noticed a wetness. There was only a light trickle, “could this be it,” I thought. I was so sure that I was going to be late, I wasnʼt ready, I still had that last item to check off my list!!! After 15 minutes of meandering around the house, I ﬁnally told Ryan. He was so organized, he called Oakville Trafalger Hospital, took out the garbage (it was garbage night), grabbed the bags and together we jumped into the car.
As we drove to the hospital from Burlington to Oakville, it was almost 10 pm and I starting talking to my stomach, “are you going to actually come on your due date! You are a prompt little fellow like your parents!” I looked at Ryan and knew our lives would never be the same again. I had enjoyed and felt fantastic for the majority of my pregnancy and now I could hardly believe we were en route to the hospital.
At the hospital, it still hadnʼt hit me 100%. We were seen straight away. When the OBGYN told Ryan to buy an overnight parking pass I said, “really, this is it?” “Really” he laughed. I was dilated 2 cm. First though, he had to break the membranes as my water wasnʼt fully broken. Instantly after he left the room, I felt the pain of the contractions. As I got some relief in between, I announced to Ryan that he was about to see me do and say things that he hadnʼt seen in our 9 years together. The contractions went from being 10 min apart to 5 min apart within half an hour and kept getting stronger and stronger.
Ryan tried to massage me like we had learned in our birthing classes, only I wasnʼt having any of it. I didnʼt want to be touched. Poor guy had paid attention and made notes about the relaxation techniques during the classes too! After three hours, the contractions were rolling into one another and I wasnʼt getting any relief. I was stretching my body in the weirdest contortions in order to gain some relief and repeating to Ryan how much the pain “sucked.” “I want the epidural” I declared. “But itʼs too soon!” he replied. “How can you say that!!” I responded — actually more like snapped. I think he got the point that I meant business from my reaction because he told the nurse as soon as she walked into the room. I would have to wait for the anesthesiologist to ﬁnish with the girl next door and then it would be my turn. At this point I was 6 cm dilated.
After what seemed like a lifetime, in she came. It was 3:00 am already! As I closed my eyes and tried to relax, my nightmare became a reality: I felt a contraction coming on just as she ﬁnished telling me to not move. I started doing breathing exercises and focusing on the fact that after everything said and done, I was going to meet my baby boy! It must have worked because I didnʼt feel the epidural needle go inside of me and another contraction came and went, as well. Geez, I thought, I guess the breathing does work, and maybe I didnʼt need the epidural. Then I heard some crazy moaning coming from the room across. “Thatʼs what happens when you donʼt do the epidural!” I joked with Ryan and the nurse laughed.
I was checked to see the dilation progression right after and the doctor was shocked — I was 9 cm dialated already!! “I guess I better stick around here,” he chuckled. My regular OBGYN wasnʼt in until 6 am, so I think he thought he wasnʼt going to deliver my baby, only things were happening so fast. I was comfortable and I felt my whole body relax as a result; the epidural had worked better than I had ever imagined.
By 4:40 am I was told to start pushing. I pushed like nobodyʼs business, yet was told “I better do better the next time around.” After 30 minutes I was pushing so hard that it felt like my eyeballs were popping out of their sockets — yet the OBGYN stated that he would have to use the vacuum if I didnʼt push harder. I felt defeated yet I didnʼt want to disappoint them and I sure didnʼt want a vacuum bringing my baby into the world. As I pushed with all my might, everything felt like it was in slow motion around me, the nurses, Ryanʼs coaching words, and then I heard that cry. It was 5:25 am and I was a mother! It was so surreal. As I pushed one last time to deliver the placenta, Ryan cut the umbilical cord, mouthing, “you did amazing!”
Nicholas James was 6 pounds 9 1/2 ounces. He made his grand entrance to the world with a big poo and pee all over me! As the nurses cleaned me up, Ryan held our bundle of joy, our eyes met and we started to cry. My heart melted when I held him and is still melting as I watch him grow every day. The miracle of life is like no other.