I need to provide some background because I believe it contributed to the extremes I experienced.

My Dh's dad died when I was 8 weeks pregnant. It was sudden, he was only 57. It was a massive heart attack while he was on business in CA. My husband, his mother, and his four brothes and sisters were devastated. His sister, Patricia, had just gotten engaged and the wedding had been scheduled for the following September. We had not told him that we were pregnant.

We made it through the holidays and in January, that nagging cough that his mom had developed was diagnosed as terminal metastatic cancer. She was 55 and was given 3-6 months to live. Again, the family was devastated and couldn't believe they were going to lose both parents in a year's time.

My husband was finishing his medical residency and I had been laid off from my job as a medical researcher for a pharmaceutical company. We didn't have a lot of money coming in, but we knew we had to make a very difficult decision. We decided to move from North Carolina to Pennsylvania during the last two weeks of my pregnancy to give birth where his mother might be able to see and hold her first grandchild before she passed away. We found an obstetrician and quickly gathered together everything we would need to have the baby away from home. His sister's wedding was moved up to May 26th, two weeks after my due date of May 12th.

So, my due date comes and goes, the baby hasn't dropped, I haven't dilated at all. I feel a great deal of pressure to "perform" so to speak. My MIL was getting worse by the day, my own mother was absolutely freaking out and calling me every day to tell me so, and the herd of family and friends who were always at the house did nothing but ask me "so, when are you going into labor?"

Finally, after lots of sex, consuming massive quantities of jalapeno peppers and walking literally miles every day, on the morning of May 18th, I had a bloody show and some very painful contractions. Which, of course, began to go away. "NOT THIS TIME!" I said to myself and literally spent the rest of the day hiking around the neighborhood. By 7:00 that night, my contractions were five minutes apart and pretty painful. We called the doctor and he told us to come to the hospital. When I got there, I was examined, but I apparently had not yet begun to dilate. After discussing our options, realizing we had to be back in NC in 10 days, and not really knowing what I was getting myself into, I agreed to have my water broken. For the next four hours, I had some extremely painful contractions, but was not dilating. So, they gave me a pitocin drip. Not fun. My contractions became so painful that I couldn't breathe through them at times. I would become hysterical or bang my head against the wall. Finally, I dilated to barely four centimeters and was given an epidural.

That lasted for about three hours. My doctor came in to check me again and I was still only four cm. He told me that if I didn't progress in the next hour, they would have to consider a C-section. Picturing driving 8 hours home with a newborn and recent surgery, I began to cry. I begged him to let me sit up, stand, squat, whatever it took, but with an epidural, your legs are paralyzed. So, he turned it off. I wouldn't be able to walk for hours, but now I could lay on my side. Over the next three hours, I finally began to dilate. But, I can honestly say, I thought I was going to die. I don't know if it was the pitocin or what, but I was shaking uncontrollably, vomiting, and having some of the worst pain imaginable. If it weren't for my DH, I wouldn't have been able to get through it. (My L&D nurse was an apathetic, unhelpful *****)

Finally, by nine am, my doctor told me I was fully dilated, but the baby had not dropped and was still at station -5. I was determined to push her out. It took me 2.5 hours and a grade 3 episiotomy, but finally she was out. And I couldn't believe that it was over and she was here.

They quickly cleaned her up and did all the things they immediately do with newborns and then gave her to me to nurse. She latched on almost immediately and again, I was simply overwhelmed by her presence. I knew that all the pain and suffering was worth it and that I would do anthing for this little girl.

Dh's mom arrived at the hospital 2 hours later and was able to hold her granddaughter. We went home the following week, but returned for the month of July. My MIL passed away on August 15th, but I am so glad I was able to give her that special moment. Since then, everyone tells me how special I am to have done that for her, but now that I am a mother, I know that it wasn't about me, it was that after losing her husband and having to say goodbye to her five children, it was what she deserved. I couldn't have possibly made the decision any differently.