Today’s probably not the best day to be writing this. I think I’m fighting the blues, but I’m not sure what else to do at the moment. Throughout the weekend of the 9th, I was getting lots of Braxton Hicks (BH) activity, which was really exciting. I’d gotten some during my first two pregnancies, but I don’t recall having them with this frequency. All day Saturday, with fair regularity, I was getting a mix of BH and mild contractions. It felt so good to see my body at work, doing what it was supposed to do. Sunday seemed like a “break” day, with only the occasional BH. That felt a little disappointing, even though it was still only my 39th week. I was excited to get this thing going.
Sunday night I went to bed with mild, regular contractions. Monday morning, about the time Brian gets up for work, I was having more painful contractions that had been keeping me up for a couple hours. I told Brian they seemed very regular and close, so I got in a warm bath and we started timing, as he got ready for work. They were right around 3 or 4 minutes apart, sometimes two minutes. I sent Brian to work, knowing that if this was the ‘real deal’ it could very well go on for hours or days. I finished out a full hour of timing to be sure. The contractions required a fair degree of focus, but I could still talk through them. As per my instructions, I called Dr. Tate to inform him. To my dismay, he wanted me to go into the hospital to get checked out, and make sure the baby was doing well. I called my doula, Kim, and told her I’d let her know what the hospital said. She set my mind at ease about the visit, reminding me that after triage, it was still my choice whether to check in or go home. I also gave my parents the heads-up that something might be happening. Since we had to get the boys together, packs some bags just in case, and arrange for a sitter, Brian turned around and headed back home.
I was glad Brian was there, because it would have taken me forever to get everything together, stopping every 3 minutes to crumple over in pain. Brian called our friend, Emily, who answered the phone with, “Is it baby time?” We got the boys up and took them over to Emily’s so they could play with their friend Luke, and headed to the hospital, making sure to eat on the way. We arrived at Emory University Hospital Midtown around noon. Dr. Tate has an outstanding reputation and record with VBACs (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) and difficult deliveries, and although EUHM has to stick to its policies, many of the nurses respect him and seem to give his patients as much slack as they feel permitted. I was not real keen on the internal exam this time because I’d come to the notion that it really didn’t tell me anything. My body wasn’t telling me I was anywhere close to the finish line, so I knew that it would be just a number. If I was 2 cm, I could be that way for days or minutes. Regardless, I made my official prediction of 2cm, 80% effaced. That seems to be my magic number. It’s where my body was with the last two pregnancies when it seemed to be the beginning of the end. To our nurse’s amusement, I was spot-on. I kept my own clothes on after the exam. It helped to mentally bolster my feelings that I was in control of my body and that I wasn’t going to be tied down there yet. The nurse ( I wish I’d remembered her name – she was so awesome), hooked me up to the monitors. I noticed that as soon as I was on my back in bed, the contractions began to fizzle. It’s just like taking your car to the mechanic and it fails to show the problem when you get there. The nurse started talking about the baby looking sleepy and she wanted to get him to look better so I’d have a better shot at being able to walk around. I sat up a bit and asked for a drink. She made me promise not to need an emergency c-section and slipped me a few cups of apple juice. I chugged those and got out of bed, and the baby responded positively. She thought the readings looked great and called Tate to let him know. She reminded us of EUHM’s policy for VBAC patients, and practically told us it would be wise to leave, since I would have to be on continuous monitoring and would be stuck in or beside the bed, possibly end up needing augmentation with Pitocin, and on down that track to another C-Section. We high-tailed it out of there as soon as we could and headed over to IKEA to do some walking.
IKEA turned out to be an ideal place to do the labor walk – chairs, bathrooms and drink fountains around every corner. It was getting late in the day, and I was feeling like this time could be better spent playing with the boys, so when I could walk no more, we decided to head back to Emily’s house to pick up the boys. By the time we got there, my contractions seemed to be fizzling down to 10 minutes, then 15 minutes, then I quit counting. Emily has some magic perfume or something that puts children under a spell. Her house is about the only place I can show up and have my kids tell me to “Go away. I want to stay with Luke.” We lingered there for a while, delaying the war that would erupt when we ripped them out of their place of contentment to head home.
The evening ended in an entirely unexpected and confusing way – with nothing. I never realized early labor could behave that that with such regularity and intensity and not progress with continuity to more labor and a baby. I reasoned it out that I was in a pattern of contraction day, rest day, worse contraction day, and figured the next day would be a rest day, hopefully followed by a real nasty real-deal baby-pushing day. Tuesday was in fact, a far more comfortable day than I cared to have. When someone asked me how I was feeling, my response was “unfortunately great.” Wednesday came and to my dismay, it was also far too painless. I was tired. So tired. We curled up in bed and plodded on through “just one more story” with the boys. The last book was about to be snapped shut when I said, “Uh oh, I think I’m leaking. Yep. Definitely leaking. Brian, my water just broke.”