The road to labor was set into action by my last visit to the doctor, exactly one week before I was due. At 39 weeks pregnant, to say Steven and I were “over it” was an understatement. Our little one was showing no signs of movement but seemed to be growing exponentially by the day. I looked and felt like Violet from Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, full blueberry status – just waiting for the team of oompa loompas to come and wheel me out. With each visit in the last month I was sure the doctor would tell me to pack my bags and head to the hospital, but instead received the same report: no dilation, no progress, and no baby until at least the due date or likely after.
My visit was on a Wednesday, and the night before I had tossed and turned and rearranged pillows a hundred times in an attempt to get comfortable. It was the same story every night for a week – an hour to get settled, two hours to fall asleep, then at 2am I’d start to feel the contractions – or, what I thought were contractions. They started with dull pains in my lower back, so subtle at first that I mistook them for the beginnings of a muscle cramp. Except when I tried to move around it got worse and would throb and migrate to the front of my body, turning into a painful stomachache. All I could do was writhe in pain until it dissipated. And each night I’d reach for my phone where I had downloaded a contraction app (yes there’s an app for that!) and start the timer. Now I just needed them to be one minute long and five minutes apart; then I’d jab the husband awake and we could begin our trek to the hospital. But no dice – they instead lasted about ten minutes and came every hour until it was time to get up for work. Labor – no. Torturous – yes. I was anxious to see what the doctor would say.
That morning post-examination she looked at us strangely, and my heart stopped. TELL ME I’M 8 CENTIMETERS DILATED! “Just 1 cm dilated”, she said. I sighed in frustration and re-set my mental state for another week of waiting. “BUT,” she said – I’m pretty sure you’re going to blow at any minute.” What? How could that be? “We’re not seeing any progress because your water needs to break first, and it seems like that’s going to happen soon. As in today or tomorrow”. EEK! She told me to have my bags ready, gave us the necessary numbers to call, paperwork to fill out, and sent us on our way.
In the parking garage Steven and I were nervous balls of energy. This is it. This is it! THIS IS IT! What do we do now? I was supposed to return to work but decided it’d be best to get my things and work from home until it happened. I was anxious enough without having to worry about everything playing out in the middle of a meeting with an audience. I returned to the office, packed up my computer, and floated around to say my goodbyes. I had just one errand to run, then would head straight home. As I drove to the store I imagined it happening right there in the car. Would I be able to drive myself to the hospital? Then, while walking into the store. What if it happened now? Would my water break in the middle of a crowded aisle? Would a stranger have to drive me? Then as I got home. What if no one could come get me in time? Would I have to deliver the baby in our bathroom on a towel like a litter of puppies? BY MYSELF as someone coached me via phone? Why the hell wasn’t Steven at my side every second of the day? I finally forced myself to relax – turned on the tv and waited. Minutes turned into hours, hours turned into days, and before I knew it, it was Saturday and still….nothing. I continued to get the nightly contractions. They increased in frequency and intensity but I was no closer to a baby than I was a week ago. All I kept thinking was my doctor is a liar.
In all the Wednesday excitement my husband luckily had the foresight to schedule an induction for the following Tuesday at 7am (just in case), on the last day my doctor would be available for a while. It would be two days before my due date but the pregnancy was taking a toll on my body and we wanted to be sure we had my doctor for the delivery. She had laughed saying I wouldn’t make it to Tuesday but that she’d go ahead and get us on the books. By Sunday morning I was 99% sure there would be no baby before then. Monday came and I continued to work from home, fielding questions from my coworkers and friends about my condition, “Is he here yet? How are you feeling?” NO and CRAPPY, I responded. Tuesday couldn’t come soon enough.
As the work day winded to a close I made a checklist of the few things I still needed to pack and some chores I wanted to get done. Steven and I had planned on having a nice last dinner and heading to bed early so we were fully rested for the big day ahead. I put on my out of office and shut my laptop, to-do list in hand. Even though the baby didn’t come early, at least I get to be prepared, I thought. And then the real contractions hit me…