There's stacks of single-serve apple juice "cups" on a tray to my left, along with that creepy oversized water "jug" you get at the hospital that looks like a surgical device. There's a board of "how to rate your pain" in front of me, with the first set of make-shift emojis ever used in the United States, telling me to use the numbers 1-10 to describe my current condition. There's also a bright fluorescent light creeping under the doorway just next to that, and behind me, is the sound of the television playing "America's got Talent" in the background (even though the screen is hung way too high in front of me).
And just to my left is a couch, where my mom, "Gaga", is snuggling a sweet baby boy I'll get to take home with me in the morning, who will grow up calling me "Mama".
The day started like most days at the end of pregnancy, where you're hot, and tired, and can't see your toes.
I got out of bed to fetch juice cups and breakfast for the four kids, and pour myself a big glass of something other than plain water.
I tidied as I went, and probably grumbled at how I'd straightened the couch throw-pillows for the 800th time this weekend.
I made the (mayo-free!) potato salad I was bringing to the unofficial "Memorial Day BBQ" at my brother's house, and got the kids' swim suits ready, along with a change of clothes.
I was craving a chocolate donut.
I whined to Paco about it.
After he helped get things together and woke up himself, he lovingly drove up the road to get me one, along with a Starbucks. He loves me. He really loves me.
And the barista doesn't judge him for ordering a venti caffeinated beverage, unlike my last few visits with full-grown-baby-belly-in-tow.
I felt a little "crampy". Just some tightness. Nothing painful. Nothing regular. Nothing rhythmic. Nothing to be concerned about, since it's baby number 6, and my body is well-acquainted with actual labor.
I mentioned it to Paco on our way over. I told him that if anything "transpired" I would just tell him I was tired, to not alarm anyone, and he would know it meant "it's time to go home, the baby could be coming."
After all, as all moms know, when you don't have a plan, things go crazy. When you have a plan, you don't need one.
The day went on, I was about as comfortable as a 40 week prego can be. Sitting in the sun, watching 4 cute Curzio kids swim their guts out.
We ate. And swam. The kids jumped and played. Teaghan practiced her diving. McKenna chased Uncle Nick through the deep end of the pool. Adalynn jumped in with her bright orange water wings and kick, kick, kicked her little brown legs. Wesley attempted to jump in backwards and catch himself with his hands on the ledge and split his chin open.
To the hospital Paco went.
The emergency room.
With Papa. (My dad) He was responsible for holding the rag and helping Wesley through the car ride.
The cute blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy gave us a run for our money, and wooed the nurses at the visit. Warranting only some "skin glue", Wes earned himself a "man-shake" as if the trip to the ER was a rite of passage for his gender.
We headed home that afternoon, beyond tired and with children who were way passed nap time. In fact Adalynn fell asleep on the 4 minute drive back home.
We let her sleep for about 15 minutes before waking her because we knew she would never go back to bed that night if not.
I had one more "cramp" feeling while helping get the kids out of the car and sort through their "pool stuff".
I went to the bathroom, and felt one more, this one a little more uncomfortable than before.
I told Paco that while the kids were energy-less and settled before dinner time, I was going to lie down and rest for about 30ish minutes. If this was the beginning of real labor, I would need the nap. If not, I would still need the nap.
I tried to sleep. And had one more. Strong enough to warrant closed eyes and calm breathing.
I got up, and decided if I was going to be this uncomfortable, I would keep moving. Either they would pick up and be over with soon, or they'd subside and I would have had accomplished much.
I helped get the kids dinner. Left over obviously. Because I was in no condition to make an entire meal.
I started a load of laundry.
I put away the pool items that remained in their designated place in the garage.
Here comes one more. I needed to stop. To focus. To breathe. To.... Ok back to it. Pick up the throw pillows for the 801st time.
Kicking remnant toys into a pile in the living room, as to avoid bending over, Paco noticed my discomfort.
"I'm texting your mom."
"OK but tell her it's not really an emergency yet."
"She said she's coming now."
I knew mentally, the kids would be laying down for bed around 7:15-7:30 because of the day we had had. It was 6:30. This wouldn't progress to full blown labor until at least then, if at all. I was too distracted and worried over the other kids.
Mom arrived and decided that with the holiday traffic and the light rain, along with the 35 minute drive to the hospital, we should head to the hospital now.
I again, whined.
"I don't want to go yet. If we go too soon, the hospital will just push me around and do things instead of letting me do what I want."
"We are going" she said, "you can labor in the parking lot if you want when we get there, but I'm not cleaning up an unplanned home birth, or detailing my car after!"
So against my wishes- sort of- we went. The other kids were pumped with adrenaline at the thought of a new brother as a possibility at dawn.
At the hospital, we hung out near the car while I labored for a bit. Just about an hour. Until we walked towards the doors. Paco nearly carrying me the whole way. My legs were buckling under the pressures of active labor.
After convincing the triage nurses I wouldn't sue them in the event of an emergency, I was allowed to get by without an IV, or labs, or pelvic exam.
I chuckled at the nurse who said "well I need to check to see if you're really in labor" and with the next breath told me to "not push the baby out there on the ground floor but wait until we got to the actual delivery room if possible". As if the two were completely unrelated.
We got to the delivery room- after stopping 4-5 times along the walk to breathe and "get through" contractions.
The midwife on duty had met me a few times before- and was easy going and laid back for the most part. Except for when I told her I had to go pee, and she didn't believe me, and said I was probably feeling the baby instead.
She was wrong.
I finally got up in the hospital bed, on all fours to finish the last few contractions that would bring the pressure in my lower abdomen down and into my pelvis.
I could feel every detail - I guess after six natural deliveries you learn every sensation and understand its purpose more clearly after each sequential birth.
I had nurses telling me to push once my water broke on its own, since he was so close - but I knew I needed to rest and wait for the next contraction. There's no point wasting energy between the natural and God-given forces that bear down for you.
"No. I'm resting. I'll work with my body." I told them.
And then apologized for sounding snippy.
They kept saying I didn't need to apologize, but I didn't want them angry- after all, I needed them on my team to be able to get through this with as few needle sticks as possible!
I could feel the next contraction coming, and at that point, you have two choices, much like in life: whine and scream and wish you weren't in the throes of labor and pain, or use the power behind the pain to overcome the hurdle in front of you.
It was a long push, because Oz had his head tucked like an Olympic diver, nearly buried in the space between his shoulders. But once it was over, he was out and on my chest.
I looked down, and melted into mush, like a bowl of warm and soggy cream of wheat, because he was so stinking cute.
I cried. I've not cried after any of our kids' deliveries. I'm not usually super emotional, and on top of the high of childbirth, I'm exuberantly relieved to be un-pregnant! But this time was different. It was the culmination of 18 long months of pregnancy and morning sickness and weight and aching. And now in a moment, the prize of a lifetime was staring me in the face.
"He's so cute and I'm so excited we get to take him home!" I said.
Everyone cheered, and stared at this perfect little baby as I was cleaned up.
We are currently waiting to be discharged so that we can get home to rest in a more comfortable bed.
He's a tiny little bear with tons of dark brown hair. As much as he holds close to his daddy, his hair is straight and reminds me of my dad- who the kids ironically call "Papa, the bug hungry bear".
Did I mention he's so tiny? All of our kids were ginormous. Especially Wes. And I've heard from everyone over the years, that each baby gets bigger. Ozzie however weighed 7 pounds, 10 ounces, just an ounce more than McKenna, the smallest Curzio kid at birth.
My first noticeable contraction was around 4:30pm. And he was born at 10:12. Definitely not a record fast labor at our house, but short enough to get through!
We are thrilled to be bringing him home, and the kids are all excited for their new little brother- especially Wesley- who has been outnumbered for quite some time!
Thanks for all the prayers and well wishes! We are so blessed and so loved by all of you!
And I'm also going to apologize now for all the texts I don't reply to, calls I miss, and posts I ignore, in advance- clearly I'm much too busy snuggling a super cute Ozwin Thaddeus! When you meet him, I'm sure you'll forgive me!