*Warning: This post contains references to bodily fluids, body parts, and gross stuff that happens during labor and delivery. If you can't hang, this post may not be for you.
On July 19 I went in for my regular weekly checkup, knowing that the nurse practitioner would want to do an internal exam. I was shocked when she told me that I was a whole centimeter dilated and 50% effaced--shocked because I never dilated at all before going into labor with Joshua, and I assumed (from discussions with the doctor and anecdotal evidence) that things would be the same with this pregnancy. The NP was unable to determine the baby's position, so she recommended an ultrasound. The ultrasound showed that the baby was head-down, that my amniotic fluid was at a normal level, and that the baby's head was enormous. None of these things came as a shock.
I was excited to go to my appointment the following week to see if I had made any progress. I hadn't. But my doctor was very encouraging, understanding how aggravating things can be in the last few days. He sent me on my way with a pat on the back and a great pep talk.
The following Tuesday (the day after my due date) I lost a good bit of my mucus plug while in the shower. This came as a shock, again, because I didn't lose my mucus plus at all with Joshua until I was already in labor. I got out of the shower and dried my hair, waiting for every ache and twinge to turn into a full-blown contraction. Nothing happened. Joshua and I went to our regularly-scheduled playgroup at the park where the other moms were surprised and a bit disappointed to see me. "But!" I cried triumphantly, "I lost my mucus plug this morning!" There was much excitement.
The next morning I lost more. But by then I knew better than to be excited. Everything I read said that, after losing the mucus plug, I could go into labor within the next few days--or the next few weeks. I went to my appointment the next day and gave my doctor a desperate look. He pulled out the pep talk again. Before I left I shared with him that I was somewhat concerned about the baby's movement. Sometimes her movements were seismic and sometimes I could barely feel anything. He decided to do a non-stress test right away and scheduled an ultrasound for the following Monday. The non-stress test went fine and I was sent on my way, but not before I asked the doctor if it was still safe to try "natural" induction even though I'd lost my mucus plug. He highly recommended it, which makes him quite the hero in Jay's book.
That night, after enjoying pepperoni pizza with Jay, Joshua, my cousin David, and his girlfriend Amanda, we tried natural induction. It wasn't fun, but my goodness did it work. By 11:00 p.m. I was having regular contractions at six minutes apart. My only concern was whether I would be able to stay at home until my mom could get here at 7:00 the next morning.
I couldn't sleep, so I sat in the living room and read Children of Hurin until about 2:30 a.m. Then I went back to bed, thinking I might be tired enough to sleep. I slept between contractions until about 4:00 a.m. when I felt the need to walk. I showered, I dressed, I finished packing our hospital bag, I did some laundry, and as soon as 5:00 a.m. rolled around I called my mom and kept walking.
She got to the house at about 7:30 and went right to work playing with Joshua so I could--you guessed it--keep walking! I ate some breakfast and finally at 10:00 a.m. Jay checked my cervix. He made a pretty good guess that I was somewhere between 4 and 6 centimeters dilated, so we decided to head to the hospital.