If you ask my husband, he’ll tell you patience is not my strong suit. So you can imagine how I felt when my due date, January 9th, passed by without any sign of labor. I had stopped substitute teaching at Christmas break so at that point I had been sitting home without a baby for two and a half weeks. The Christmas decorations were long gone, the presents had been put away days ago and all of my thank you cards were finished and mailed. I spent my time that week cleaning the house, watching lots of TV, reading, and trying every possible method of naturally inducing labor I could find. As the days went by I grew more and more impatient.
On Sunday night, January 15th, I finally hit my breaking point. Joe was heading to bed for the night and I realized I was about to start yet another week home alone with nothing to do. Through tears, I told Joe that I was so frustrated. I was tired of being pregnant, tired of not fitting into any of my clothes, tired of struggling to get my shoes on. But most of all I was just tired of waiting to meet the little boy I had been carrying for 41 LONG weeks.
After Joe calmed me down a little, he went to bed. I stayed up watching TV, browsing the internet, and feeling a little sorry for myself. Finally, around midnight, I got up and went to bed. As I lay there, I felt a contraction start up. This was nothing new, I’d been having Braxton-Hicks contractions for about 20 weeks at that point. Yet this one felt a little weird. It hurt just a little and seemed to spread to my back. I ignored it, sure that I had imagined the pain. But several minutes later, another one hit. Then another. After about 4 contractions, I pulled out my phone and started timing them. They were 14 minutes apart… then 10… then 8. Around 1:30 a.m., I finally got up and walked into the living room to bounce on my birth ball for awhile. It was then that I realized I was actually in labor.
I woke Joe up and told him what was going on. We tried to go back to bed but we were both too excited and anxious to get any sleep so we ended up back in the living room. Over the next few hours, the contractions got more intense and painful. I worked through them on the birth ball, leaning over the couch, and in the shower. They hurt, but they were manageable. Around 6:00 a.m. they started coming 3 minutes apart, so we decided it was time to call my midwife. She returned the call right away and asked me a bunch of questions. She asked me if I wanted to head to the hospital or stay at home for awhile longer. I had been in labor for 6 hours and the contractions were really starting to hurt but I had no idea if it was truly time to go in or not. In the end, we decided to head in.
After we packed a few last minute things in our bags, we left the house. I was terrified of having contractions in the car but it turns out, they weren’t that much worse than they had been at home. We drove to the hospital in the dark, getting there just after 7:00 a.m. The hospital had valet parking in the front, so we took full advantage, leaving our car there and heading inside. I checked in at the desk, signed some forms, and was sent to the Maternal Assessment Center, where the nurses determine whether or not you are actually in labor.
As I walked into the center, the nurse asked me what I was there for. I looked down at my hugely pregnant belly and back at my nervous looking husband carrying my labor bag and wondered if she was seriously asking me that question. Apparently she was. I told her I was in labor and she asked “Well, what are your symptoms?” I stared back in disbelief for a few seconds but was then hit with another contractions. As I closed my eyes and tried to breathe through it, she said “oh, just pain?”
Just pain? Really?!
Eventually I got to a nurse who checked me and found that I was dilated to a 3. I had been hoping for a slightly higher number, but was glad to know I had made some progress. Finally, we were brought back to an L&D room where we settled in for a long day.
I spent the next several hours walking the hospital halls, bouncing on the labor ball, laboring in the shower and trying to catch a few minutes of sleep between contractions. My labor was definitely progressing but it was moving much slower than I’d hoped.
Around 1:00 that afternoon, my midwife came in to visit. When she walked in the door, I felt instantly relieved and more relaxed. I adored my midwife and seeing her gave me a new burst of energy. Because my labor was moving so slowly, we decided she would break my water. Now, I have to say that this was definitely the grossest part of the birth experience, in my opinion. [TMI alert!] I always expected that my water breaking would just be one big gush. NOT the case. Every time I moved, it was like a tidal wave of fluid. Ick. (A few weeks ago I was digging through the purse I no longer carry and found 2 pads I had stashed in there at the end of my pregnancy in case my water were to break in public. I burst out laughing when I saw the size of those tiny pads, they would’ve kept me dry for all of 3 seconds).
From that point on, things started getting really intense.
To Be Continued…