I should preface by saying that if you’ve never read a birth story or aren’t familiar with birthing and the gory details of it all, this could be a little scandalous for you. Additionally, if you have a weak stomach, you may want to skip this article and go read something pleasant like date night ideas or how my sister and I met our husbands.
I wrote this as Miriam was about to turn six months, so by that point I was a little rusty on the details, and by then the fertility fairy had already waved her magic wand to make me forget most of the pain that I experienced (which is dumb because right after I delivered I promised myself I’d never forget #rolledeyeemoji).
December 29, 2016—I had a doctor appointment in the morning, and I was two days away from the baby’s due date (we didn’t know the gender yet). I had four days left with Jonathan before he had to go back to work after the holidays, and I still had no idea when the baby was going to come. So I asked the doctor to strip my membranes. He said they usually don’t do that until after the due date, but he said he would “move things around in there” to help speed things along, and if the baby was going to be on his/her way out anyway, it would help me out. He checked to see how much I was dilated. He said I was about 2 cm, and the baby was positioned towards moving out (I don’t remember what position she was). This made me mad because I felt like if I was going to be near labor at all I’d at least be 3-4 cm.
Fast forward to that same evening—I went for a two mile run on the treadmill. I felt pretty good, as I usually do after a run. I didn’t feel any different than normal. I went to sleep around 10 or 11 fully expecting to wake up in the morning and play the waiting game all over again.
December 30, 2016—2:40ish AM: I woke up in the middle of the night because it felt like I peed on myself a little bit. Since I hadn’t done much of that during my pregnancy (surprising because I pee on myself when I’m not pregnant all of the time), I was a little suspicious. I woke Jonathan up and told him I wasn’t really sure what just happened, but I went to the bathroom to check if there was any indication of what it was.
I saw some blood, and I was definitely wet—wetter than if I just peed myself a little. With our Bradley Method training, our instructor advised us to go to the hospital only after we’d been contracting for a while and the contractions were regular and a certain number of minutes apart. The instructor also told us that if my water breaks and it looks like there’s blood, I should call the doctor or go to the hospital immediately because it could be that the baby is in danger. So I was mad because I had no idea what that blood meant, and I was determined to do most of the labor from home. Because there was blood, we called the doctor; we didn’t want to take any chances. He said to go into the hospital and if I’m in labor I’ll stay there but if not I’ll just go home.
I really wanted to be in labor but I also really wanted to not be in labor so that I could do it the way I planned on doing it the whole time - from home in a comfortable setting with just Jonathan helping me through and without being hooked up to tons of machines like I knew I would be at the hospital. On our drive to the hospital it felt like I started to get strong contractions. Up to that point I hadn’t had many at all and the few I did have were really light and nothing regular. In the car the contractions started to pick up and get more painful.
I should probably mention here that Jonathan was a nervous wreck at home. It was hilarious. He kept finding little things to do before we left because I think he was legitimately pondering how his life was about to change and soaking in every last minute. He put on his new Christmas watch. He combed his hair for longer than usual. He sprayed cologne on himself. Eventually after I nagged him enough we got in the car and left. It was snowing!!
Once we got to the hospital around 3:30 AM, Jonathan dropped me off so he could park in the doctor’s parking lot and not have to pay for patient parking (#perks). The security guys at the emergency room were so nice, and I remember feeling like, “Wow I’m making their day because I’m a woman in labor and they get to see me before I deliver my baby,” as though they never see women in labor. #rolledeyeemojiagain
When we got to triage the doctor said that I was 4-5 cm dilated, and because my contractions were intensifying and becoming more regular, I was probably in labor (!!!!!) So they took me up to my delivery room. At UPMC Mercy the delivery rooms are the same as labor rooms and recovery rooms—no wheeling pregnant and postpartum women around. The delivery room was so cool—it looked out onto a helicopter pad, which slowly got covered in snow as my labor and delivery went on. (Side note: now whenever we pass that helicopter pad while driving, I can see my delivery room window, and I get pretty sentimental.)
So we labored for the whole morning, and I kept thinking to myself, “This is hard but it’s not as hard as I thought.” I did keep reminding myself that it was going to get much worse (Oh, and it did. Much. Worse.) We walked around the room, we used the exercise ball, and we walked around the hospital floor stopping for contractions so that I could breathe and squat through them. Squatting saved my life during these contractions.
At around one or two or three in the afternoon, the doctor decided to check me to see how much I had progressed. I was about 8 cm, which to me sounded like the beginning of the end, so I was SUPER excited. I want to travel back in time, appear to myself at that moment, and tell myself to calm down because I still had a loooooonnnnnnng way to go before I was going to meet that baby.
To be continued...