In April 2014, Stan and I welcomed our daughter, Madeline. She was 8.6 pounds of pure perfection. I went into labor on my due date… One of the only times I have ever been on time in my life… And 24 grueling, painful, exhausting hours later, our Maddie was born.
So, how do you know when you’re actually in labor? In movies, they make it look like you’re just going about your business, and all of a sudden, GUSH, your water breaks, flooding the room, the pain of contractions goes from 0 to 100 in a matter of minutes, and next thing you know, your feet are in stirrups, and you’re pushing non-stop until a baby pops out.
Well, that was not the case for me.
The morning of my due date, I woke up at 7:00 am, looked at my husband and said “I don’t think you should go to work today. I think this is it.”
I had no idea what to expect. First baby. First labor. I didn’t know what a contraction should feel like. Would I be able to tell when my water broke? Should it feel like a huge gush of water that would drench the floor? Or could it happen while I was using the restroom, which was all the time, and then I wouldn’t realize that my water had actually broken?
For nine months, my OB nurse drilled it into my head that I was not to go to the hospital until my contractions were five minutes apart or my water broke. So all day, I sat there timing them. 14 minutes here. 28 minutes there. Eight minutes, here. 30 minutes there. They were all over the place.
And then, at 1:30 in the afternoon, they just stopped. For three hours, nothing! I was miserable. I thought it was all just a false alarm. What a cruel joke.
I texted a few girlfriends to let them know my contractions had stopped. One girlfriend suggested having sex. Yeah, that wasn’t happening. Even if I wanted to, which I didn’t, Stan was way too freaked out at that point to even consider it!
Another girlfriend suggested eating the core of a pineapple. It sounded a little hokey, but I was desperate, and happened to have a pineapple on hand. So I ate it. Now I don’t know if it was just a coincidence, or if the old wives’ tale actually worked, but my contractions started again at 4:30.
I was so scared of getting to the hospital and being sent home. It has happened to friends of mine. It happened to the daughter in Father of the Bride II. On the other hand, there are those stories on the evening news of the woman that had her baby in the passenger seat of the car because she didn’t get to the hospital in time, and the husband had to tie off the umbilical cord with a shoelace.
No thank you!
Anyway, my contractions were still too far apart and inconsistent to legitimately justify going to the hospital, even though they were getting stronger and more painful. So, at 7:30 pm, I called my dear friend’s mom, a midwife, and told her what was going on. She reassured me that this was labor, told me to try to get some rest, and that in the next few hours I would most likely be heading to the hospital.
So, I did. I got in bed, tried to close my eyes and get some sleep, which I wasn’t able to do. And at 10:30, while my contractions were still eight minutes apart, I decided enough was enough. I had to go to the hospital, and I would lie and say my contractions were five minutes apart if I had to. I was in agony, and ready to get the show on the road.
Once we got there, I went into triage, and got a room immediately. The nurse came in, and I said “Please don’t send me home.” She looked at me, giggled, and said in her sweet, Barbados accent, “Girl, you ain’t goin’ home. You’re goin’ upstairs. You’re 7 centimeters!”
Well, no wonder I was in so much pain. And, by the way, my contractions still weren’t five minutes apart, and my water was still perfectly intact. Had I waited until they were five minutes apart, I may have been the next chick on the news to have her baby in the car because she was sitting at home timing her contractions!
And, just like that, I was on my way upstairs to the labor and delivery room.
Check out the next post: Labor and Delivery: Expectations vs. Reality