Okay! Here we go. Here’s how it all happened.
I did not know it (though I had an idea), but I was in early labor while I was writing this post. (And this one, too — don’t be fooled, I was NOT sitting at my computer writing on Wednesday morning! I wrote it on Tuesday.) Yes — I went into labor on my due date! And I went into labor entirely on my own without needing to be induced! Two things that in all honesty I did not expect.
I was up early on the 10th and started feeling regular contractions around 7:30 a.m. I had had a braxton-hicks-heavy third trimester, so I didn’t take much notice of them at first, but when they were coming regularly about every ten minutes, I started tracking them.
As you can see I still managed to cross some things off my to-do list, though I never got around to vacuuming …
By midday I was really starting to wonder if this was it. My contractions had not stopped, despite the fact that I had been wandering the house doing laundry, making lunch, and checking and re-checking my hospital bag. They let up for an hour over lunch, but started again and did not stop … well, until Will was born!
You may remember that April 10, in addition to being my due date, was my little niece Sophie’s fourth birthday. I had promised to come over to Leah’s house to help her decorate some rainbow cupcakes, but not wanting to take any chances (i.e. driving myself there and then being stuck if the contractions got worse), I called Steve and asked him to bring me across town. (Priorities, people! Cupcakes come first!) Before we left, we gathered up everything we would need to take to the hospital — just in case — and put it right by the front door.
The last picture taken of me still pregnant!
While I was at Leah’s, I continued to monitor my contractions. It was now late afternoon, and they were coming on average about 4-5 minutes apart. They were mildly uncomfortable, but I could easily talk through them. However, I declined Sophie’s invitation to go play outside with her.
We had dinner there (Chick Fil-A and cupcakes wound up being my last child-free meal), and by 6 or so I decided it was time to call the doctor. Despite what I had declared just hours earlier, I was convinced this was the real thing. The on-call doctor advised us to call again when the contractions became difficult to talk through, so Steve and I decided to head home and see how things progressed.
Once we got home, as Steve put it, I was having to practice my “thousand-yard stare” during contractions, so at around 7:30 we called again and decided to head over to the hospital. At this point things began to feel a little surreal. I kind of had to put aside the fact that this was it, our last hours as a family of two, and that I was about to actually go through labor, and instead just go through the motions minute by minute without thinking about it much. By the time we arrived at the hospital at 8:00, the contractions were definitely becoming much more painful. Still, despite my nervousness I stayed very calm and just tried to take things one contraction at a time, without thinking about what might come next. I lucked out by meeting a man pushing an empty wheelchair just outside the front doors, and he wheeled me down to labor and delivery — rather more slowly than I would have liked, but it was better than having to waddle down there myself!
We got checked into a room, and at this point I really was not feeling well. One thing I couldn’t have anticipated about labor is the way it takes over your whole body — I didn’t just feel contractions in my midsection; I felt them all over. It felt after a little while like the whole world had shrunk down into just the four walls of the delivery room, and looking around, I could see evidence that sooner or later, a baby would also occupy it: a small bassinet, a warmer, tables of equipment that were meant to help get him out. Seeing the bassinet in particular made me realize what was really happening.
The nurse met us and checked to see how I was progressing, and you can imagine my dismay when I learned I was only 1.5 or 2 centimeters dilated! All those contractions for what seemed to be very little progress! So frustrating. The words we could send you home were uttered, but before I could gasp in horror, they were quickly followed with but since you are Group B Strep positive and need antibiotics throughout labor, we won’t. Sigh of relief. We were instructed to labor for around an hour to see what kind of progress I was making, and the nurse would come back to see how things were going.
At this point I was starting to have to remember the things I’d learned in childbirth class and prenatal yoga about managing the pain of contractions. My body was starting to reject everything I’d put into it in the last 24 hours or so, making me nauseous on top of everything. I remembered how Leah had snacked on Pop Tarts during her labor with her second baby, Evie, and felt even more sick at the idea of eating actual food (and, in the end, the only things I consumed for almost the next 24 hours were popsicles and Swedish fish). I sat on a doctor’s rolling stool and leaned against Steve, rocking back and forth with each contraction and praying that soon enough I would be at 4 centimeters — the point at which you can get an epidural.
An hour later revealed that I was only at 3 centimeters, but as I was making progress, they hooked up my IV, which allowed me to get some pain medication for a while. As I was now on monitors, I had to labor on the bed for a while — but thanks to the medication I really didn’t mind. However, it didn’t do much for my progress; an hour later, things hadn’t changed much. My nurse decided more drastic action was needed, so despite my reluctance, she had me get out of the bed and labor on the ball. At this point, I was in excruciating pain (the IV pain meds don’t last long), and the only thing that really helped was leaning over the bed while Steve applied his entire body weight in counterpressure on my back. (According to my nurse, I was experiencing back labor.) I could think of nothing else — my entire being was taken up with managing each contraction as calmly as possible, and recovering my strength and sanity during the brief breaks between them.
At four in the morning, I was elated to discover that I had progressed to the magical 4 centimeters. You may recall that my “birth plan” consisted of two things — 1. epidural; 2. baby, so I happily sat up on the bed and allowed the anesthesiologist to work his magic. And magic it was — I took a well-earned break from the pain for about two hours.
Yep — two whole hours. I’ll have to continue the story later — baby is waking up!