It's never like the movies.
I woke up at 3:30 a.m. soaking wet, a week and a half before my due date. At first, I was in denial, but what else could it be? I texted the midwife and while I waited for a response, I hurried to brush my teeth and put my toothbrush in the hospital bag. I was shaking and confused. I didn't feel like I was going into labor, but I thought water breaking meant the baby would come shooting out of me at any second.
For some women, like me, water breaking doesn't immediately signal imminent labor. The body replenishes fluid for the baby, and occasionally, a rupture will seal itself. For two days, under the supervision of my midwife, I had mild, inconsistent contractions and no real dilation. The midwife suspected I had resealed, which meant we could still be weeks away from delivery.
The next day, feeling stir crazy, we went out shopping. Walking around, I started feeling more intense contractions, and around 5:00, I noticed they were becoming regular. By about 7:00, I was in active labor--contractions 3-4 minutes apart and 60 seconds in duration. The midwife came to check on us and stay until we decided to go to the hospital. Even though my contractions had sped up quickly, I wasn't dilated very much.
The next several hours are a blur. The pain was intense to say the least. I took hot showers and baths, I walked around, I lay on my side, and I bounced and circled on an exercise ball. When morning came, and it had been 12 hours since I started active labor, I was sobbing through each contraction, but I was still only halfway dilated. I knew I couldn't handle another several hours of the same, so we headed to the hospital so I could have some relief.
That meant a lot more medical intervention than I had hoped for. As I come to this part of my story, I still question everything. Why didn't I dilate faster? Was I doing something wrong? Did I give up too easily? Hadn't I taken care of myself during my pregnancy? At the same time, I wouldn't go back and change my decision. I remember looking at my glass of water, my bed, a half-eaten banana on the table, and my pink exercise ball and thinking, I now hate all of these things, as if these items were to blame for the pain I was experiencing. When I arrived at the hospital, I couldn't get an epidural fast enough.
Everything slowed down then. We just had to wait and see if I would dilate. We watched a lot of bad daytime TV (we couldn't even figure out how to change the channel in the room). Around 5:00 p.m., the doctor was saying, "I don't want to give up just yet." After he left, I asked the nurses what he meant: c-section. Not long after, a nurse came in saying the baby wasn't getting enough oxygen. She put a mask on my face and had me readjust my position.
This was not how I had envisioned this day happening at all. My pregnancy was so uneventful and easy I never imagined delivery would be this complicated and emotionally draining. All I wanted was a healthy baby. And I wanted it to be over with already. That's why they call it labor.
To my surprise, the next time the doctor came in, he very quietly said, "It's time to push."
At 8:00 p.m. on the nose, December 14, our little Sam came out to meet us with a healthy set of lungs (and everything else).
Our midwife says Christmastime births are always dramatic--I suppose it's tradition--and we now have our story to tell. He's six days old today, and we're settling into our life together.