This week started with my brother's wedding on Saturday. All along everyone gave me a hard time about going into labor at the rehearsal dinner, and I'm happy to report the weekend went off without a hitch. In hindsight, we should've gone to bed earlier Friday and Saturday, but when your family is partying, you don't want to be the spoilsport! Also, the wedding was actually really fun and we're so happy for Tommy and Sarah!
So we were super tired on Sunday, but that's to be expected after several long days and late nights. That evening, our doula came over for the last bit of our childbirth class. When she left, I said, "I'm so not ready to be done being pregnant. I haven't hit the miserable point yet. I really love it and I'm going to miss it!" She laughed and said, "that's exactly why you're not even on my labor radar yet!"
|(June 1... notice the nursery jam-packed with moving boxes...)|
So... Saturday wedding. Sunday childbirth class. Monday hospital tour. Tuesday... I went into labor.
I say that in hindsight, of course, because I was totally in denial at the time. I started having painful contractions Tuesday morning at work. I'd had regular Braxton-Hicks contractions for months, so I wasn't really concerned at first. But these contractions continued to be just painful enough to make me take notice. It was really the perfect day to go into labor (besides, you know, being a good week or so earlier than I was mentally prepared for): I was at work in the NICU, so I had something to occupy myself with, but I had a really easy assignment meaning I got to sit when I needed to sit, and drink lots (and lots) of water.
|(lopsided belly at work)|
[As a funny aside, one of my patients was going home, and the baby had a due date just one or two days off from mine. He was 7 1/2 lbs and seemed huge to me. When his mom found out that my own delivery was imminent, she said, "as for a spinal the minute you get to the hospital. This sh*t is going to hurt!" Uhhh...How do you even respond to that?! ]
Throughout the day, the contractions continued to be frequent enough and "painful" enough that I timed them every few hours. (I put painful in quotation marks, perhaps because I now know how much more painful they were going to get, but also because they weren't really painful enough for me to stop what I was doing when it happened... just enough to make me take notice and take a deep breath). Anyway, they were 8-18 minutes apart all day.
I gave my doula a heads-up, but I really didn't think much of it. My Braxton Hicks always acted up during 12-hour shifts, so I figured this was going to be the same kind of thing... practice contractions, doing some of the work of labor (work that I wouldn't have to do later on in the hospital, as my doula always said) but not the real deal yet. I had big plans to go home, take some Benadryl, and go to bed.
Which is more or less what I did, after making a labor playlist and throwing some stuff into a hospital bag (maybe I knew something was really happening after all?). I went to bed around 11pm or so, only to wake up at 2am. There was a HUGE storm that night and I listened to the thunder and laid in bed for a few contractions before waking Ross up to time them. Then I proceeded to have a few painful hours of contractions lasting 1-2 minutes, and coming 5-6 minutes apart. I was really able to breathe through them, but they were significantly more painful compared to the ones I'd had all day. But again, it was a different kind of pain than I'd ever experienced. Maybe because it was productive pain instead of needless pain? I felt normal between the contractions throughout all of labor, which was an immense relief to me. The pain isn't continuous! It can and will end! Although as I laid there that night, I noticed my shoulders were starting to hurt from being clenched up and my abs were sore like I'd been doing situps.
|(at 3:25am June 4)|
Ross had actually planned to take Wednesday off to finish a few things around the house, put the crib together, unpack a few boxes... you know, important things. He said at this point, though, that if he didn't have the day off already he would've called in then. I was moving out of my denial a bit, but still thinking we had a ways to go. Yet I was literally praying, "God, make these contractions stop. Give us a few more days. I'm not ready!"
I managed to get up, make a smoothie, take a long hot shower and take a second Benadryl (I'd taken one capsule before bed earlier in the evening). By that point, I was comfortable enough to go back to bed, although it was a weird sleep. I feel like I slept seamlessly through the contractions, but was still coherent enough to feel each one before drifting off again. I woke up around 9am and the contractions were still just as painful, but had spaced out to 8-10 minutes apart.
I walked to the garden in our backyard with Ross to get some kale to eat with my eggs for breakfast, and the uneven ground was incredibly painful to walk on and basically gave me constant contractions as I walked out and back. I remember saying to Ross, "this is so painful! How on earth do people go on long walks in early labor?!" (Spoiler alert, I was not in early labor anymore!)
Around 10am I decided to call my Midwife's office just to be sure my water hadn't broken or anything (I always swore I'd never be one of those people who "wasn't sure" if her water was broken or not. Joke's on me!) The nurse called back and told me to come on in to be checked. I hemmed and hawed for a bit. Considered painting the kitchen cabinets that really needed painting. Considered baking brownies because I wanted to bring them to the hospital. Finally decided I should probably be seen before the office staff went to lunch, so we left the house around 11:15am.
|(5 HOURS PRE-BABY! So oblivious. Photo taken mid-contraction.)|
We got to the office around 11:45am and the elevators were being slow, so I said, "let's just take the stairs!" Up 4 flights. I had one or two contractions on that hike. I think that kicked things into gear again and from that moment on, my contractions started getting closer together. When we got to the office, they took me back pretty quickly. I went to sit on the exam table, but had a contraction again and stood up to bend over the table. (Ever since the end of my shift the day before, it hurt to sit during a contraction). Of course, that's when my Midwife walked in and I think she went into labor mode right then and there. She said, "oh, you didn't tell me you were having labor contractions!" I said, "I wasn't sure if I was!" She was like, "Um yeah those are not your Braxton-Hicks anymore."
She checked me and said, "well, your water's not broken, but you're 6cm dilated, 100% effaced, baby's at zero station, and we're going to direct admit you to labor and delivery right now!" All I heard was, "6cm... direct admission..." I started tearing up and it was all I could do not to sob. It was starting. We were going to meet our baby THAT DAY! I was shocked, elated, and... mostly shocked. Also relieved that the pain had been productive and I was over halfway there!!! Ross started tearing up, too, and I think we were both just completely in awe. This was real. It was really happening!
When Ross pulled my phone out to tell my parents we were being admitted, he noticed a missed call from our doula around 11:30am. He called her back to update her and she said she was calling to tell us that if we hadn't been checked yet, we should think about going in. She knows me so well. She said when I rated my overnight contractions at a 7 out of 10 on the pain scale, she knew it was the real deal. I just couldn't stop apologizing because all along, she'd said "don't be the hero. I don't want my first update to be your calling from the hospital." Ooops! But I legitimately didn't think I was in real labor yet until my Midwife said those words.
Then the nurse brought a wheelchair over to take us to L and D. Of course, I took one look at it and in my split second of hesitation, the Midwife said, "It's going to hurt to sit isn't it? You can walk if you'd rather." So we walked very slowly across to the hospital and I had very frequent contractions the whole way there. I'm glad we left the house when we did, because things had accelerated rapidly in that hour.
|(family of THREE)|