WARNING: This post is extremely elaborative and mostly serves to remind me of the experience years down the road. Read at your own risk.
I am aware that Eli came without a whole lot of warning. That's not to say we didn't know he was on his way because I was having contractions all day Sunday, but by the end of the day it had tapered offsome and I wasn't sure if I had made any progress. So I went to bed Sunday night convinced I was in for another long day of labor judging by how labor went with Lela. I was awakened at midnight to consistent contractions and I timed them for an hour before I woke Nathan up. So we took our time and got ready to head to the hospital. I could tell the contractions were stronger but I just knew I had at least six hours before Eli made his appearance. Nathan packed up the car and then asked me one more time if I thought we could wait a little longer (we didn't want to spend twelve hours in labor and delivery like last time) and I told him we better go because I was determined to get an epidural this time and didn't want to wait too long.
So we got to the hospital around 2:00 am (after turning around to pick up my purse that I forgot) and got checked in by 2:30. I was surprised/relieved to hear that I was dilated 7 centimeters when I arrived but again I was sure I had a few hours left if not more. The contractions started getting stronger really quickly but I was comforted by the thought that my epidural was on its way because again I was convinced I was in for a long haul. Suddenly the contractions were very intense and I began to panic because I didn't think I could handle it very long. My water broke a few contractions later and I immediately had the urge to push. At this point the nurse asked me if I could sit up to get my epidural and I told her I didn't think so. (My actual response was more like a panicked "Well am I about to deliver!?!" She wasn't much help so I simply declined.) To make a long story short, Eli made his appearance at 3:42 am, just an hour and 42 minutes after we arrived! Good thing we didn't wait any longer!!