Pregnant mamas, if you're anything like me, you'll devour every detail in the hopes of preparing for your own labor.
Of course they tell you every labor is different, but they truly are unique. I could not have imagined the way mine would go. When I got to the hospital, nurses told me the average first-time mama birth lasts 12-14 hours. So they guessed I'd deliver around 1 AM or later. I think this is some kind of sick game that's fun for them: Guess the birth time! Will this one be wailing for 12 hours? 20? 30??
Here's the suck of it: I had contractions (for real, early labor contractions) for a week before my daughter was born. My doctor said they were not Braxton Hicks because I was dilating. Slowly, but still. They were painful, and they were happening all the time. Had not expected that. At all.
I had planned to work until my water broke, basically, because I am in generally great health and was feeling well the whole pregnancy. No swollen feet, sleeping well, no reason to miss work. And we were (almost) ready, anyway.
Plan changed a week before Lana arrived. I had been having contractions since the previous week, when my OB partially stripped my membranes. Shit, was that uncomfortable. I was 1 cm dilated, and had been since week 36. Every week, we were waiting for more progress. My doctor said she didn't want to schedule an induction date because she had a feeling I would go by my due date.
All was well. She fully stripped the membranes at week 39, I had contractions, and then they stopped. The next morning, Friday, contractions five minutes apart. I stayed home from work thinking I'd be going to the hospital. Nope. Contractions slowed down.
Let me say here: My husband was SO uncomfortable with all of this. My philosophy was "This may take a while, so I may as well be at home where I can eat and drink whatever I want and play Wii bowling and pet my dogs and sleep in my bed if I need to." His was "Hospital. NOW." He is not trained in baby catching.
So we stayed home for the weekend. Contractions came and went, and we ate out on Sunday. I asked for the spiciest sauce they could give me, and Sunday night, we thought that (and the whole pineapple I had eaten) had worked. We went to the hospital (4 days before due date), contractions strong, painful and less than three minutes apart. Obviously labor, right? Wrong. They sent us home.
I stayed home from work that whole week, having regular contractions the whole time, folding laundry, finally watching The Color Purple for the first time ever (and crying). Thursday was my due date, on which I had an appointment. I was already having regular, stronger contractions that morning, and my doctor stripped the membranes again. She said that whenever I wanted to come in and have my water broken, I could. I asked her about putting myself at risk for a c-section, since breaking your water supposedly puts you "on the c-section clock," but my doctor was confident that my body was ready (2 cm dilated, 90% effaced) enough that things would progress nicely after my water breaking, and not force a c-section.
I went home. Contractions were so strong in the car that I cried. But they were bearable. I cleaned the house, knowing that guests would be coming. I watched Good Morning America, where I heard Pharrell William's Happy for the first time. My husband was going absolutely crazy. Around noon, he forced me to call the doctor. She said, "Did it do the trick?" referring to the membrane-stripping. I said, "Yeah."
"How soon can you get here?"
It took us longer than that. My husband wanted to kill me for taking so long. I kept cleaning tiny things here and there, leaning on the kitchen counter through contractions. But he got me in the car and we made it.
Find out if your birth-time guess was right in Part 2 to come. (12 hours? 20? 30??)