Cramping started Wednesday night strong enough to have Kelsey believe they were contractions. They were definitely strong enough to keep her from getting any sleep. By morning she was certain it would only be a matter of hours before giving birth.

Not the case. Cramping calmed down by mid morning, and we went about our day as usual. I reminded Kelsey of that time my sister-in-law thought she was going into labor that one time, but then an hour later decided she wasn't, and it wasn't until four days later that she actually gave birth.

This demoralized poor Kelsey a little because we were already a couple days past our due date and it started to feel to her that she would stay pregnant for life.

By 10:00pm Thursday night, she was having contractions. This time, she was sure of it. They were far more severe than what she'd experienced the night prior, and their rhythm far more regular. They were contractions and they were hella painful. By around 3:00am they were 5 minutes apart. I gave the hospital a call and they told us we should probably give it a couple hours before coming in. Mind you, Kelsey hadn't gotten any sleep yet, not even from the night prior, and there's no way she'd manage to get any sleep now. Our awesome doula was with us on and off on the phone all night though, helping with tips, tricks, and encouragement.

By 4:00am, my wife was in tears, sobbing “I can't take it anymore.” I had a WhatsApp group set up with a tight group of friends to help with transportation when the time arose (I don't drive, long story). I sent out the signal, but understandably everyone was asleep except for our lovely friend Zeinab who was ready to hit the road. By 5:00am we were being admitted into the hospital, a process that took maybe two hours. When they checked her, her dilation was at 3cm and baby was stationed at -2. This discouraged Kelsey a bit, because she knew she'd have to get her dilation up to 10 and she was already in too much pain as it was. Adamant about avoiding epidurals or narcotics at all costs though, she powered through.

Hooked up to a tocodynamometer, I could see the numerical representation of contraction frequency and length as they occurred. When the counter went from 11 to 30, my wife screamed and roared and spoke in alien tongues. A little while later, the counter went all the way up to 100.

By 10:30am, the doctor told us she had a surgery to attend to from 12:00 to 2:00pm, after which she would check in on us. In Kelsey's mind, that meant she would be delivering at 2:00pm. Having an easily foreseeable endpoint was the only thing that helped her endure the pain. By 10:50am, her water broke. It should just be a couple hours now, or so she thought.

Corona cases are off the charts in Houston right now, and most hospitals are overwhelmed, with beds being very limited and ventilators far below the necessary capacity. The hospital we went to though is a birthing-only hospital, still with limited visitors permitted, but luckily with doulas still allowed. Our wonderful doula showed up at 11:30am, and together we breathed with Kelsey, held Kelsey, massaged her, and encouraged her as much as we possibly could. Seeing her in so much pain was too much to bear at times. “No no no” she screamed, “oh my baaaaaack”, and more than once she connected to her inner beast and roared like an amazon warrior.

By 4:00pm she had reached her limit. Dilation was at 8cm and baby was positioned at 0 and contractions were every 2 minutes or less. She described the pain as a “million stabbing knives”, and her “back breakinnngg” with tears running down her face. All this on top of not getting any sleep since Wednesday night. It was Friday afternoon, and there was still more to go. She was ready for her epidural.

Much to Kelsey's dismay though, that would be a 1-2 hour process. 🤯

Pushing started around 5:10pm. Our first sight of him was a single curl of hair encased in humanly gel.

At 5:33pm, baby Mounir(“the Lit One 🌞😎”) emerged, held up for his mother to see, umbilical cord still attached. “Oh my god, he's real”, she cried.

“Do you wanna hold him?” asked the doctor.

Kelsey had no words, she just nodded and cried and took him to her chest, all while the nurses cleaned up the last bits of goop that made up his previous home.

Mounir's eyes opened, and up he looked at his amazing mother's face.