To celebrate our oldest daughter turning 4 this week, I’ll be posting some little stories about her life. We may as well begin at the beginning….
Photo credit: Cheryl and Sarah Hansen
It all began on Monday evening, August 17, 2009. I started having painless contractions that were very consistent and pretty intense. I had also had some bloody show that morning. I was so excited, because my mom and sister were here for the baby and L’s birthday was on Tuesday, August 18th. We were hoping the baby could share her birthday!
Mom had fixed dinner for Nathanael and me to eat together out on our back patio. We had a great time talking and enjoying one another, thinking this could be the last dinner we would eat alone for a while. It was right at the end of dinner that the contractions started.
Nathanael began timing contractions, and we all took a walk to see what would happen. The contractions started getting longer and longer, with shorter spaces in between. I was so excited, but tried to keep my mind calm. When we got home, we sat down and talked for awhile, and I noticed that the contractions were slowing down. Oh no! Sometime in here we had called our midwife to give her a head’s up on what was going on. By the time I went to bed, the contractions had pretty much stopped, and I was very disappointed. We talked to our midwife again, and she said it was common for pre-labor to do just that, and real labor could even start in the middle of the night or in the morning. We went to bed, hoping that something would happen that night or the next day.
Another thing that had made me anxious, is that when we saw the midwife on the 17th, she informed me that if the baby had not come by the following week, I would need to have a non-stress test, and also an ultrasound to make sure that the baby was still okay to be in the womb. Oh dear, I did not want that! We had opted out of all the ultrasounds before that because we did not want that kind of intervention in our pregnancy. I started to worry, and started feeling a little like a failure because the baby had not come yet.
August 18th, L’s birthday. I had not had a single contraction all night, and that day proved to be the same. We enjoyed a little party, complete with cheesecake, and at the end of the day, I was disappointed once again that nothing was happening with my body. Nathanael and I took a walk to talk about it, and I had a few painless contractions while we were walking, which just made me frustrated. “So, when I’m walking I have contractions, but if I stop, they stop. What am I supposed to do? Start walking to the Birth Center and hope I’m in labor by the time I get there?”
Finally, we decided to change our waiting tactic. I gave up the idea of giving birth on L’s birthday, and decided that instead of waiting so eagerly and reading into every little twinge my body made, I would just ignore the fact that I was “overdue” (my EDD was August 14), and pretend that I had another month to go. That way I could enjoy Mom and L, and not feel pressured to pop the baby out right away. We had a great time the next few days, shopping, spending time together, taking walks, and loving our time as a family. I went to water aerobics on Wednesday morning as usual, and of course everyone was surprised to see me there. I just needed to get in the water and stretch out, and also feel that my schedule was “normal”. The rest of the week was completely uneventful with no sign of labor.
Friday morning, August 21, I woke up at 3:25 a.m. with a contraction. I didn’t realize it was a contraction, though, I just thought I had to go to the bathroom. I went, and then returned to bed, only to wake up again a few minutes later with the same urge. As I sat on the toilet, I noticed that I was pretty crampy. After the third or fourth contraction (I was figuring out that is what they were), I was really feeling them, and resorted to leaning my elbows on the edge of the bed and swaying my hips back and forth for the duration of each one.
It was now about 4 a.m., and I saw that Nathanael was awake, so I told him I had just had about 5 contractions in the last 30 minutes. He opened his contraction tracking app on his phone and we started tracking them as they came. At first I could cope with them just fine on my own, leaning on the bed and swaying back and forth. I tried the birth ball too, but that didn’t work for me. The contractions were getting closer and closer together, and were becoming more intense too. Soon I was having Nathanael do the double hip squeeze on me as I leaned on the bed each time.
Time is very blurry to me from this point on. (I had heard that this happened in labor, and didn’t really believe it that much, but it was totally true for me!) Some time around 5 or 5:15 Nathanael woke Mom and L to tell them to start getting ready, and called his sister T to let her know what was going on, and I think he may have called the birth center then also.
I decided to take a shower, because I wanted to get all dressed, and do my hair and makeup before we went in. (Ha ha!) This was probably around 5:30 or 5:45. The contractions were happening about every 3-4 minutes at this point, and were quite intense. I was now groaning and making oooh, and ahhh sounds to keep me focused during the contractions, as well as leaning over, swaying, and having Nathanael press my hips together. I had several contractions in the shower while he was on the phone with A, our midwife. She asked him how things were going, and what time we wanted to meet at the birth center. Nathanael said we could probably be there in about half an hour. She listened to me have a couple contractions, and they decided we would all meet there as soon as we could.
I have never been so aware of how very short a minute is before! The contractions were a minute long and two minutes apart by now, which is a sly way of saying there is only one minute between them. I was blow drying my hair, and had to stop every minute and run into the bedroom to lean on the bed so Nathanael could press my hips and I could make it through the contraction. Mom and L were rushing around the house gathering the last few things I wanted at the birth center, and getting everything in the car. After drying my hair, I said, “Ok, forget the makeup. Let’s go right now!” Everyone practically ran to the car. Don’t tell anyone, but I did not wear a seatbelt as Nathanael drove like a mad man to the birth center, 10 minutes away. There was no way I could sit in the seat. I was kneeling backwards on the front seat, leaning over, hanging onto the seat for dear life and moaning my way through 5 or 6 contractions until we got to the birth center. I recalled the instructor saying in our birth class that if you jumped out of the car, grabbed your bags and walked in smiling, you were there too early, but if you had to hang onto the car for a contraction, and then hurried in and charged right to the room, barely making eye contact with anyone, it was perfect timing. I’d say we got there at the perfect time……
….to be continued….