One year ago today I went into labor. It was quite a surprise, really, even though I was already overdue. According to the doctor Joshua was due November 8, but according to my (much more accurate) calculations, he was due on November 11. When I went for my regular checkup on November 11, however, nothing was happening. He hadn’t dropped at all and my cervix was closed up tight. I was about 80% effaced, but I had been that way for several weeks. The doctor scheduled a non-stress test and ultrasound for the following Tuesday (the 15th) and an induction for the Monday after that (the 21st).
So it was a surprise when I started feeling crampy on Saturday morning. Jay had gone out for a run and I was sorting laundry, figuring I could use another Saturday to get things in order around the house. I called my friend who had given birth just six months before.
“I’m having cramps,” I told her, “Am I in labor?”
She gave me the short list of things to do: stand up, sit down, lie down, drink as much water as you can choke down. If you still feel crampy, you’re in labor.
I was, indeed, in labor, a fact that I doubted for the rest of the day. I was sure that the contractions were going to go away and that I would be pregnant forever. Jay came home from his run and showered, and then we started timing the contractions. They stayed about six minutes apart all day. We whiled away the hours watching football and trying to take a nap (in hindsight I should’ve done everything in my power to fall asleep, seeing as that was the final opportunity for pre-baby rest), but I kept alerting Jay to every contraction and neither of us could sleep. Finally I sent him out for Portillo’s, which we jokingly referred to as “The Last Supper.” At 8:00 p.m. I began doing laps around the living room/dining room/kitchen circuit in the parsonage, which shortened the time between contractions to three minutes. Finally we decided to call the doctor and head into town. If I knew then what I know now we would’ve just headed into town and gotten a nice hotel room rather than going to the hospital, but I was a first time mom and perpetually neurotic, so we went to the hospital.
It took a little over an hour to get there (we moved during my pregnancy but I didn’t want to give up my doctor) and I was only moderately uncomfortable. When we showed up I was sent to a triage room and given a gown to change in to. Several minutes later the triage nurse showed up and began her exam…or at least she tried to. The poor woman couldn’t have been more than five feet tall, and her hands were in perfect proportion to her height: She couldn’t reach my cervix. And that was not for lack of trying, mind you. Finally, she gave up (much to my relief) and called a taller woman in to do the job. Nurse #2 gave me the fabulous news that I was 1 centimeter dilated. I almost cried. It was about 90 degrees in the triage room, I’d been laboring all day long, I wasn’t terribly comfortable, and I had barely made any progress.
The nurse started to offer the possibility of admitting me and starting a Pitocin drip. About halfway through her offer she remembered my intention to have an unmedicated birth and stopped herself. She offered to let me walk around the floor to see if I could get things moving along any faster, and also suggested staying in a hotel nearby until I began making more progress (for those of you new to this, a woman isn’t considered “in labor” until she is at least 3 cm dilated). I was hot, miserable, embarrassed, and frustrated that no one could give me any indication of when I might “really” be in labor. I only wanted to be in my own bed.
Totally crestfallen, Jay and I got back in the car and drove back to
Jay has a strange gift for low-profile sleeping. He can be almost completely undetectable in a bed. I looked for him in the guest bedroom, but he wasn’t there. I went through the first floor of the house, but he wasn’t there either. So I went back up to the guest bedroom and noticed a slight lump under the comforter. I informed him that we needed to go back to the hospital, hopefully this time to have a baby.