The only water in the forest — River’s Birth Story Pt 1

June 20, 2013: You could have knocked me over with a feather when I made it to my due date, much less when it looked like we were going to sail right past it. I was expecting her to come early, but in my mind I had always said, she’ll be here no later than June 23. Now, I wasn’t so sure…

June 21, 2013
11:15 AM: A well-baby ultrasound to make sure she’s happy to stay in there, that fluid levels are staying optimal, and that her vitals are good. She sleeps through the whole thing. And sleeps. And sleeps. The technician can’t get her to wake up enough to move around and show muscle tone! All the usual tricks — butt poking, elbow jiggling, getting mom to go to the bathroom and move around, rolling mom from side to side — and she sleeps through it all. The technician is pretty sure she’s facing out toward my stomach, which corroborates what I’ve been suspecting based on her recent movements, which feel like hands and knees distending my abdomen.

12:15 PM: A 40-week OB appointment. The ultrasound images are all good-looking, there’s plenty of fluid cushioning her (it starts to decrease after 38 or 39 weeks), her heart is showing no signs of stress. The doctor did an internal exam and exclaimed, “Why is this baby not here yet!?” I don’t know, doc — we’re asking the same question! At 2 cm dilation and ready to go, he’d expect a first-timer to be in full swing labor. The OB issues an eviction notice: If she has not appeared of her own volition by Thursday, June 27, I’m to be called in on Thursday evening around 7 to have labor induced, and she’ll be born on the 28th. The doctor is pretty sure she’s NOT facing my stomach, but is correctly positioned facing my spine.

1:49 PM: Fretting myself to pieces over the idea of having a heavily-medicated, induced labor, I RSVP to a friend’s housewarming for Saturday night in a fit of pique, and drag Jim to the mall to pick out a housewarming gift. And buy chocolate, because chocolate. I even make a comment on the Facebook event wall that the best way to encourage baby to arrive is to commit to attending the party!

June 22, 2013
2:30 AM: Woken up by waves of lower back pain. Squinting at the bedside clock in the dark — they’re coming about every 9 minutes. Refusing to be tricked by another round of 9-minute Braxton Hicks contractions, I roll over and try to sleep.

3:30 AM: Rhythmic back pain still keeping me up. 7 minutes apart.

4:00 AM: Now they’re 5 minutes apart. I prowl the downstairs a bit to see if they’ll stop. They don’t. I wake Jim up enough to tell him I think we’ve got to call the doctor in a few hours.

5:30 AM: Still prowling the house, checking email, and corresponding with my dad about the comet Hale-Bopp‘s passing in 1997. The subject came up because we were emailing about the Supermoon due on the twenty-third, and he mentioned he had to start brushing up on his astronomy from my childhood for another little girl he knew…

6:00 AM: Still 5 minutes apart, except sometimes, when a second contraction comes after only 2 1/2 or 3 minutes, and the only comfortable position is kneeling in the hot shower with water hitting the base of my spine. If this isn’t going to be the day, we’ve got to go in to the hospital anyway to see what’s going on. We’re committed to calling the doctor’s on-call line at 7 if the back pain doesn’t let up.

7:22 AM: Jim calls the OB on-call. A nurse calls us back and asks to talk to me. I’m expecting this — they usually make the mother talk for about 10 minutes, to assess her state of mind, breathing, and the intensity of contractions. If she can talk through them, it’s not time to go in yet. The entire phone call only lasts 4 minutes, and I am able to talk the whole time, even though I know I am speaking slowly and in broken phrases. The nurse says, “Well, it sounds like you might have something going on here, so if you want to come in you can, so do you want to come in now or see what happens in the next hour?” I say to her, “We’ll start leaving now, but it will take us an hour to get past the front door with this pain.” I spend the next hour instructing Jim on what I need to have done before we can leave. He finishes my packing and wraps the housewarming gift (and it looked very chic, I must say).

8:38 AM: We’re finally in the car. I have a mental laugh that it really did take an hour for us to get out the door. Jim tells me that true to what was suggested by our natural hospital birth book, it took me ten minutes to walk from the front door to the car. I start text messaging our support team to let them know we’re in action.

9 AM: We arrive at the hospital and an ER nurse wheels me to the 2nd floor birthing centre while Jim parks the car. I spend the time waiting for him to come back kneeling on the floor and leaning over the seat of a chair. After about 10 minutes, during which I swear I was surreptitiously being monitored by the reception nurse, the triage nurse — the same one we had when we had to visit at 30 weeks! — comes out, starts to call for me, then says, “I guess you are in labor!” I get as comfortable as possible in a triage room, roped to monitors, and as it turns out, my contractions aren’t exactly 5 minutes apart — they’re “coupling,” so there’s a big one every five minutes with a smaller one during the interim. You know how they tell you that false contractions are irregular, and real ones aren’t? THEY LIE. Real ones can be irregular too. After an hour or so the OB on call comes in to see how I’m doing, and he’s happy — we’re at 4 cm. We’re moved to a labor & delivery room and I spend the next hour or so kneeling on a rolled up yoga mat on the floor and draping myself over either the side of the bed, or a birthing ball.

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