Friday, January 31, 2014

The birth that proved I could trust myself

I can’t believe it’s already been three and a half months, but I’m finally sharing my birth story.  It will be ridiculously long…just so you know. 

Months before my due date, I had a “feeling” about October 17th.  Such a strong feeling, in fact, that I even told my husband about it.  “This is probably silly,” I said, “but I just feel good about October 17th for the baby to come. We’ll get there, and it will come and go and have meant nothing.  But, you know, maybe.”

The week of my due date, my mom decided to come over to visit.  She lives about a four-hour drive away.  “If you haven’t had the baby by Wednesday,” she said, “I’ll take Little Spaghetti, and we can go back home and give you guys a day to yourselves.”  My heart dropped.  That meant he’d be gone Thursday.  October 17th.  What if the baby really did come that day?  He’d miss it. 

Wait a minute. He’d miss it? Miss what? Watching me be in labor?  On second thought, that sounded like a perfect idea.  

But what if I didn’t spend my last day as a mom of one with him? Well, I’d had three and a half years for it to be just me and him.  If I hadn’t made the best of my time with him, one more day wasn’t going to change anything.  

Monday morning – the day my mom was to arrive – about 2 a.m., I started having contractions.  I’d been having Braxton-Hicks contractions for weeks, but these were definitely different.  They came every 8-10 minutes, and after about 2 hours, they were more like every 5-7 minutes.  “This is it!” I thought. “Today is going to be the day.”  

And then they stopped. 

Later that day, I went to the OB for my 40-week check-up.  He said my cervix looked the same as it had for weeks.  He stripped my membranes and sent me on my way.  That afternoon, my mom and I made "Put You Into Labor Eggplant Parmesan."  I’m not sure if eating this lasagna could put you into labor, but I think making it sure could. 

Tuesday morning, about 3 a.m., the contractions started up again.  Every 5-7 minutes.  “The lasagna worked! This is going to happen for sure now,” I thought.  Three hours later, when my husband got up for work, I told him I thought it might really be happening.  

And then they stopped. 

I tried to keep busy.  I googled “labor starting and stopping?” and ”does labor stop?” and “contractions start and stop, when will I have this baby.”  Everything I read told me I was having “false labor.”  Let me tell you, folks, that may be what they call it, but this labor was anything but false.

Wednesday morning, can you guess what happened? Boom, contractions, every 5 minutes starting at around 3 a.m.  And then, after a few hours, they stopped.  I was getting really discouraged by this point.   

“Why can’t I just go into labor???”  All this false labor bullshit sucked.  I tried to tell myself that the contractions had to be doing something.  I whined to the Blogger Idol contestants group (who happened to be having a contest to see who could guess when I’d actually have this baby).  A couple of women there were very reassuring. “I had labor on and off for days, but then when it really happened, it went so fast.  Until then, it was horrible, though. The waiting. The starting and stopping.”

My mom took Little Spaghetti home with her later that day, and my husband and I went out for pizza that night.  If nothing else, I was going to enjoy my last day to not haul any kids around.

Thursday morning, about 4 a.m., the contractions came back.  This was old news by this point, so I tried to go back to sleep.  My husband woke up with his alarm clock and told me he was going to stay home from work because he was getting a cold.  We both went back to bed, and I think I dozed on and off.  

A few hours later, the contractions weren’t stopping, and it was getting harder and harder to lie down through them.  I got up to move and walk.  Or sit on the yoga ball. Or something.  Some positions helped the pain; others made it much worse.  I’d get myself in a position and be afraid to move in case I got caught somewhere that made me much more uncomfortable.  When I did, I’d just buckle down and breathe through my contraction until it was over and I could get into a position I knew would hurt less. 

About 8:00 or so that morning, I decided to get in the bathtub.  That felt so much better.  The contractions were still intense and still coming every five minutes or so.  

That was the strangest time, for me.  I’d be in incredibly intense pain for thirty seconds or so.  Rocking in the water and moaning through the pain.  And then it would just be gone.  And I’d feel totally normal for another four minutes or so until the pain came back. During those in-between times, we’d laugh and joke about things.  My husband had brought a laptop into the bathroom so we could watch TV.  We were blowing through the whole season of Master Chef Junior.

At one point, I said to him, “I think I’m in labor, but this can’t possibly be it, right? I mean, I feel totally fine between the contractions.  It’s actually sort of boring.”

I felt hungry after a couple hours and decided that Jello was the only thing that sounded good.  “I’ll go get a couple boxes,” Mr. Engineer said.

“Boxes??” I said, “Who are you kidding? What are we gonna do – boil water and wait for it to set up in the fridge? I think we’ll have a baby before it’d be ready to eat.”  Pre-made Jello from the dairy case it was.  Red and orange.  They both tasted phenomenal.

About noon, I was really starting to feel like we might want to head to the hospital.  I was getting anxious and excited that we were finally going to meet our little girl.  My mind started racing, thinking of the things we should gather up and get in the car.  Eight hours of contractions every five minutes seemed like it had to be going in the right direction.  I decided to get out of the tub and walk around to see if I could move things along.  I texted my doula to let her know that I thought I might be getting close, as she had a two-hour drive ahead of her to get to me.

I went out to the living room to sit on the exercise ball.  The contractions didn’t seem to be coming as often.   I started timing them again.  7 minutes apart.  Then 8. Then 9. 

And then, they stopped.

Tomorrow: birth story, part 2!


  1. Argh! You are the Queen of the Cliffhanger! ;-)


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