Motherhood Mondays: Birth Story (Part 1)

Monday, April 8, 2019

My very last bump selfie. I get butterflies just thinking of that anticipatory time right after my due date.

When you're 10 days past your due date, you get a lot of texts.

Around 3-ish days overdue, I had set my phone on 'Do Not Disturb', at last unable (or maybe just unwilling) to absorb the curiosities of people-I-haven't-spoken-to-in-years-who-somehow-feel-qualified-to-tell-me-to-go-ahead-and-get-induced-already.  Side note: my sister's texts, always posing the same benign 5-word inquiry ("How are you feeling today?") were understandably exempt from any and all eye rolls.

The thing is, I liked being pregnant.  I felt zero inclination to rush the birth of my firstborn.  I loved knowing (or at least hoping) that my baby's birthday would be determined via a mutual agreement between my body and baby - and no one else.  I wasn't particularly uncomfortable, and was LOVING the nesting phase.  I was already on maternity leave from work and was crossing to-dos off my list left and right with my mom's help (she was staying with me at the time and we were having so much fun finishing nursery set-up, binge-watching Big Little Lies, and endlessly speculating whether or not I'd have a girl or a boy).  It was sort of, like, a guilt-free version of skipping work everyday.  On top of that, I loved the feeling of the baby moving around inside me constantly throughout the day.  To this day, I get butterflies at the mere thought of it.  I also relished the comfort of the small yet powerful company that only I enjoyed, of never being alone, of always having a tiny, precious, foreign (yet so familiar) friend along with me for errands, for road trips, for mundane tasks like filling up the car with gas.  I was totally fine with letting the pregnancy run its course in due time and didn't appreciate others' incessant inquiries and expressions to the contrary (however understandably well-meaning).

On the 10th overdue day, my mom and I went to On The Border for a late lunch.  We ordered a ton of food, and brought it home to have with Joe for dinner.  After re-heating it, we spread it on the table for a certified feast of a meal.  Intermittently during post-dinner clean-up, I kept pausing to hold my side in discomfort.  "Contractions!", my mom immediately declared.  Unconvinced, I shook my head.  "No, sometimes this just happens after I eat big meals.  There's not enough room for the food and the baby.  It happens a lot after dinner."  Nevertheless, my mom insisted they were contractions.  What's funny is: I think on some level I truly believed I would never go into labor, so I genuinely didn't even entertain the idea that these might be legitimate contractions.

I'd be lying if I said I don't also get butterflies thinking about On The Border...

One hour after the "post-dinner side cramps", it dawned on me - hit me like a ton of bricks: oh my gosh, these are contractions.  I told my mom, who quickly confessed that she'd been timing each one and documenting the intervals in the Notes app on her phone.  She'd even texted my dad, "I think this is it."  I was shocked that she had known (although in hindsight, I'm like, duh).

I called my doula and told her that I thought I was in labor.  She told me to keep her updated as contractions progressed, but that I should try to get some sleep - that if I was really in labor, I'd need to conserve as much energy as possible.  I walked into our bedroom and had another one - the first truly painful contraction of the night.  I was overcome with emotion and began to cry, crouched alone at the side of our bed.  A feeling of lack of control washed over me.  It passed momentarily and I thought, "These are no big deal - I can totally handle contractions."

You would think I would have known better than to think that.... you would think.

My mom went to sleep in the guest room and told me to wake her up if and when we went to the hospital.  Joe went to sleep as well, but not before I excitedly told him, "Joe, we finally know when our baby's birthday will be!"  I said tomorrow's date aloud, assuming all would be over in the next 12 hours.

I tossed and turned in bed but with every contraction wondered, "What's the point in even trying to fall asleep?"  I probably got a few hours' sleep total, but as my adrenaline was racing, there was no deep sleep to be had.  Morning came, though, and contractions had slowed to 12-15 minutes apart.  I spoke with my doula again on the phone and she encouraged me to eat something of substance -- avocado toast with a boiled egg, yogurt with granola, etc.  I tried, but couldn't keep anything down (as was the case for most of my pregnancy).

Joe called into work and told them he wouldn't be coming in that day, and that I was in labor (they were like, "Uh, finally!").  He put on You've Got Mail and I tried to enjoy it, but was super frustrated with the fact that my contractions weren't getting any closer.  I had this bright idea that maybe the dogs could help (as if they had some supernatural connection with the baby and could lure him or her out - don't ask).  We let Rumble in and she was totally useless - she may as well have not even noticed I was in the room, let alone in labor.  We switched her out for Bruno, who was equally ineffective (I mean,  really -- what did I expect?).  We sat outside on the back porch with them and I didn't talk much -- just sat in silence with my mom and Joe, feeling defeated and wondering if I was imagining my contractions altogether.

All I see when I look at this photo is the ugliest green nail polish (there was a major mix-up with the dip color, guys...)

When we moved back inside, I laid around on the couch and even took a nap while Joe and my mom watched Casablanca. When I woke up, contractions had slowed to about 30 minutes apart, which devastated me.  The baby was moving a ton (which was very normal for my pregnancy) and I could tell s/he had moved down waaaaay lower.  Hoping to speed contractions back up, Joe and I took a walk around the block, only coming home so that I could sit on the birthing ball for awhile.

While sitting on the ball, I received a text that would change my life (no exaggeration) and lift my spirits in a matter of seconds....

mtom said...

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