This entry will contain Part 1 of my birth story, but before I get started, there are two disclaimers:
Disclaimer #1: Birth is a messy process, and in this blog I will give a fairly detailed description of the process. If you think this is gross, I’m sorry. Feel free not to read it. Trust me – I’m leaving PLENTY of stuff out that you wouldn’t want to know about.
Disclaimer #2: Birth is not an “easy” process, and there are many, many women that struggle for many, many hours, or even days, when they deliver their babies. These women are superheroes and I am in no way in the same league with them. You’ll see why…..
Now on with the story! (oh, Disclaimer #3: this will be long. Thus the 2 parts.)
As loyal readers of my little blog know, I was convinced that Addison would not be early, and in fact, I thought she would be late. Our due date was Friday, February 5th, but Aaron was betting labor would start on Saturday, February 6th, and I thought the 8th. At work on Friday, I told my friends (who are also my co-workers) that there was no way this baby was coming any time soon. Hah!
Friday afternoon and evening, I was experiencing some leaking “down there” and spent hours trying to figure out if my water had broken or if I was just having bladder issues. This conundrum is pretty common, and all the pregnancy books and websites have a portion on “how to tell if your water has broken” because, contrary to what you see in the movies, your water won’t necessarily break all in a single, dramatic gush. However, after a phone call or two to our doula, Leslee, and watching the situation overnight, I figured out that the baby had probably dropped and was squishing my bladder and causing the problem.
This little incident was enough to give Aaron and I a reality check – this baby is coming! Obviously she wasn’t coming at that moment, but it made us realize that the labor and delivery that we had been preparing so rigorously for was quickly approaching. That left us in a really, really weird mood all weekend, feeling as if we were in a sort of limbo. Saturday evening, after basically sitting and staring at each other for over an hour, we decided to get out of the house and have dinner at our favorite neighborhood Mexican restaurant.
Sunday, the purgatory continued, and in a sort of devil-may-care move, I decided we were having pizza for dinner (something we hadn’t done since I had been diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes because of the high carb count.) While I was online ordering the pizza, I felt a little twinge, kind of like a cramp, in my lower abdomen, and noticed that I was simultaneously having one of the practice contractions I had been having off and on for a week or so. I told Aaron, “My Braxton Hicks contractions have changed. They used to just make my upper stomach really tight, but now I feel them a little bit lower, too, and it’s kind of crampy.” That evening we settled in and watched Kung Fu Hustle (a great movie, by the way) and I relished every single scrumptious bite of the two slices of pizza I was allowed to eat.
Um, yeah, pretty sure in hindsight that the “weird” Braxton Hicks contraction was my labor starting.
Sidebar: For those of you that don’t know, labor is broken up into three stages: the first stage is all of the contractions and dilating, second stage is the pushing, and the third stage is post-labor. The first stage is further broken up into early labor, active labor and transition. When you read all the information on labor, they tell you that early labor can last up to 24 hours and is the easiest. The active phase lasts for 4 to 5 hours and is when things start amping up in the pain area. The transition phase is the shortest, just a couple of hours, but it’s also the hardest. Our childbirth class teacher explained that this is when women start saying things like, “This is a really bad idea. I don’t think I want to do this anymore.” For first time mothers, labor is usually longer than for women who have done it before.
Now back to the story…
Around 1:30 Monday morning, I woke up having stomach cramps and felt like I needed to go to the bathroom. I came back to bed, had some more cramps and headed back to the bathroom. Around 2:00, Aaron woke up wondering what was wrong. I explained to him what was going on, and we both assumed that I just had an upset stomach and that things would die down once everything was “worked out” so to speak. I mean, I had eaten Mexican food AND pizza in a 24 hour period. It seemed like a no-brainer.
But after an hour, I was still having the cramps. I decided to start timing them just to see if there was a pattern. I had downloaded an iPhone app months ago that kept kick counts and also was a contraction timer. The timer asked me if the pain was “mild, moderate or firm”, and I selected “mild” since I still just thought it was cramps. At this point, the cramps were about 10 minutes apart, but I still thought I was just experiencing digestive distress. When you take childbirth classes, they teach you all about the phases of labor and a lot of time is spent talking about pain and how to deal with it. Also, I’ve watched probably 100 episodes of A Baby Story on TLC, so I’ve seen many, many women in labor. They all seem like they’re in a lot of pain and basically want to die. I honestly never had any idea that I wouldn’t know I was in labor because I thought the pain would be really intense. The only people that are in labor and don’t know it are those insane women on I Didn’t Know I was Pregnant who don’t think they’re in labor because….they don’t know they’re pregnant! Except for me.
Until about 3:00, I just felt like I had a crampy stomach. I continued to lie in bed, and Aaron rubbed my back and helped me with breathing while playing some relaxing music, specifically Jonathan Goldman’s Chakra Chants (so relaxing that this music is basically the audio equivalent of taking a roofie.) I continued to time my cramps occasionally, but didn’t see a pattern, so I still didn’t think it was labor. Aaron and I joked that if we were timing my poop, we were going to both feel like idiots. We had spent awhile debating over whether my pains were labor, and if they were, what we should do. We decided that Aaron would take me to my doctor’s appointment that morning at 8:30 because if I really was in labor, I shouldn’t be driving. Plus, it would be pointless for him to go to work if that was the case.
At some point, I felt like things were getting more serious and started to believe I was actually in labor. I started timing what I would now term “contractions” and by 5:30, they were about 3.5 minutes apart and I had started classifying them as “moderate” on the contraction timer. Even though I thought we still had awhile to go (and so did Aaron), I called Leslee and told her my status. We had originally planned to stay at home as long as possible, but I was starting to wonder exactly how far along I was and how far I was dilated, so I decided that I wanted all of us to go to the hospital so I could get checked. Aaron had already taken a shower, so he started to pack all of our bags in the car “just in case” we wound up staying at the hospital.
This was at 5:45, and little did I know how quickly things were about to amp up…….