They say if you want to make God laugh, tell Him about your plans. Apparently, if you want to make Him smite you, tell him about your birth plan.
As you might have been able to tell, I'm was a bit of a Nervous Nelly as a pregnant person. As a pregnant person about to have a baby, I was basically insane. I'd been experiencing lots of back pain throughout my whole pregnancy. This would freak me out a lot at the beginning but eventually became obnoxious background noise. One more thing to list in my sobbing complaints to Brandon when he dared to ask me what was for dinner.
In my first hospital visit--when they were checking out my uneven leg swelling--the nurse said she was recording some contractions. I was a little excited by this because I had enjoyed my pregnancy experience to the fullest and was ready to move to the next step, thank you. Unfortunately, I was still only 34 weeks along and hospitals don't encourage that kind of thing.
Anyway, I couldn't feel these alleged contractions. I believe they were the beginning of the mysterious braxton-hicks contractions that I'd have now and then in the weeks to follow. Eventually, they'd feel like a tightening across my whole belly, or I'd just wake up on one of my many many bathroom trips and my tummy would feel even firmer than usual.
After the braxton-hicks became perceptible, I started having a weird sensation a couple of times a day. I'd just be sitting there and then feel a flushing head rush shoot up my chest into my brain. I'd get a little light-headed and feel kind of breathless, and then it would go away. It happened a bunch of times. My doctor thought it was vagus nerve pressure from my swollen legs and suggested compression stockings.
Sometimes I am a good patient. This was not one of those times. In my defense, to get measured, you had to drive way the heck out to I-Can't-Even-Remember-Where-it-Was and get your giant body measured by a lady in the back room of a giant supermarket. Then you felt bad about how giant you were and had to go to McDonalds to feel better. And then in the drive-through line, the ornery nurse you called about whether your water might have broken gives you a lecture about how when your water breaks, "it gushes," and sighs impatiently when you describe what must have been an oddly area-specific night sweat episode. Don't worry--she too gets smitten by God in this story. With Wrongness.
Anyway, so measuring for my compression stockings was a bad experience and I never went to pick them up. And that was okay because at 36 weeks I went into labor. For a while.
Remember my birth plan? Well, the very first step was to NOT have a false labor episode. And it kind of worked out. Instead of having a false labor episode, I ended up having two.
Now, I had talked to people, watched videos, read articles, talked to my doctor about what constituted true labor, and had distilled it to this: period-like cramps that increase in intensity and arrive 2-3 minutes apart for at least an hour. I was prepared. I had a little app on my phone that could count contractions. I was gonna map them out and present them proudly to the intake nurses and have a baby a handful of hours later.
One Saturday, it happened. I was only at 36 weeks, but my baby was big, I was waddling and my back pain had resurged to the front of my consciousness with a vengeance. I was having cramps while we were walking through the mall. Yeah, we go to the mall. A lot. A maintenance worker asked if something was wrong. I was being slightly over-dramatic, leaning over and breathing slowly through the pain of a really bad spate of back pain. Once the pain subsided, I smiled and assured her I was fine.
Eventually I realized that these back pains were coming on regularly, and with increasing intensity. Like 5 minutes apart or so. I was afraid this was false labor. Leaning on Brandon and close to weeping (well, I was anyway), I toddled out of the mall, as always, with small steps so I didn't break my pelvis more.
We drove, waited at home for a while, called the doc's office and were directed to the hospital. I was crying in pain by now. My contractions were measuring 2-3 minutes apart and had been for over an hour. It was unpleasant. We took advantage of free valet parking, and I collapsed into a wheelchair. Brandon wheeled me through to the Women's hospital and I was admitted after several more hours of continued contractions--I had progressed to a 4. Also, getting your cervix checked HURTS!! I'm pretty sure I got admitted because after the 3rd check, I was sobbing with pain from the check. My contractions held steady after I got admitted. A nurse put in an IV. Or she tried to. She actually blew up my vein. They called off a lethal injection in Oklahoma when an inmate's vein blew. My nurse just tried again. It was a special experience. She also assured me that I would be having a baby that day. I gave her a copy of my birth plan. Bad idea. My contractions immediately slowed.
After a couple of hours trying to force myself to have contractions through sheer will (not super possible, by the way), I was crying in my bed. A nurse thought I was going through transition because "people don't cry like that unless something is happening." They checked my cervix. Dead stopped at 4cm. Apparently, some people do cry like that for no reason.
They gave me morphine and told me to sleep. The next morning, the doctor gave me a pep talk and then we went home. My live-in sister had made brownies. Brandon complained that his hospital fold-out bed was too small. I cried for about half a day. Then I fell asleep.
The day after that, I had a doctor's appointment. It was a substitute doctor because my OB was out of town. She checked my cervix (eventually I got to the point where it hardly even excrutiated at all!) and said there was no way that anyone ever could have measured it at more than a one or a two. I cried. I complained about my pain. She said something along the lines of "Life is Pain, Highness. Anyone who says otherwise is selling something." It was not well received.
Then it was Thanksgiving! Brandon's parents came and we had a great time. Until Black Friday, when the contractions came back. This time I waited many hours. I measured them on and off but they were right back in that 2-3 minutes apart time. They were intense. I was on my knees rocking back and forth with my head pressed onto the bed. Or the couch. I would move around from time to time. Brandon's family picked up my couch while I continued to progress. I hoped.
Eventually, reluctantly, I called. They sent me to the hospital. This time I was at 37 weeks! A week earlier, they didn't want the baby to be born prematurely, so they wouldn't "help me along" to have the baby. Once again, I was curled up and crying as Brandon wheeled me in a wheel chair up to the women's hospital and I was brought into the triage room. Incidentally, I had the same bed this time as when I had the uneven leg swelling. It's all coming full circle!
Everybody saw it. They saw my contractions. They saw the bigness of the baby. They saw my readiness to have her. They saw my cervix. And it was a two. And it stayed a two. For hours of painful labor. I didn't get any pain meds this time. Also, they didn't "help me along." I just writhed there. Brandon was developing this thing where the second we would go into the hospital, he would become starving and incredibly sleepy. So he hunted up some food and then fell asleep. I just sat there. The nurses were really really nice. Baby hated having that stupid heart monitor on, so she'd move around constantly. The nurses would readjust. Then baby would move. Then the nurses would readjust. Then the baby would move. And so on. Forever and ever. And then my contractions died out and we went home.
This time I wasn't as sad, because I expected the brownies that my sister was making. She did not disappoint.
At some point, I decided I would never have the baby. I'd just get bigger and bigger until I died and then my bloated body would explode and then baby would be there. And she would be a super villain. And it would be The Avengers' problem because I was dead. I went to the doctor. She checked my cervix and announced there was no way anyone could have ever measured me at a two because I was definitely a four or a five. By this point, I had lost my faith in obstetrics as a science.
But my doc also stripped my membranes because baby was now measuring at like 9lbs. There was even talk of a C-section because she might not be able to squeeze out. That was definitely not in the birth plan.
Having your membranes stripped is like having your cervix checked but somehow even more intense. Basically, the doc puts their fingers in between your uterine wall and the sac of waters that is holding the baby and swirls things around a bit in the hopes of triggering hormones that put you into labor. It sort of worked, in that I had like 5 contractions that day. But then they died out.
This doctor visit was also notable because my sister came to support me. And then I had a urine sample disaster. I couldn't tell if I was filling the cup, so I lifted it out to see, but I accidentally tilted it and a bunch spilled in my pants. This was a bummer. I refilled the cup and gingerly placed it on the sink, where it promptly slid off onto the floor, showering my pants with more pee and spilling all but a tiny film, which the technician said was all she needed anyway. That was after I had pulled back on my wetted pants and lowered myself to the floor to wipe up the spilled urine, and then had to call her to the bathroom and explain how I had wetted my own pants at second hand. This conversation went down with my sister in earshot and she almost wet her pants the old-fashioned way from laughing so hard.
Anyway, pregnancy is difficult. After that appointment, nothing happened for a week. I'd have the odd contraction or two. Or a bunch for like a half hour and then nothing. By this point, my true labor definition had changed to "contractions so bad they take your breath away, each one progressively and significantly worse than the last."
My next doctor appointment, I had a successful urine test and got my membranes stripped again. By this point, it was like second nature to have people reaching up and messing around in my cervix area (that was vulgar, I'm sorry). My OB, the eternal optimist, said, my sac of waters was bulging and she thought my water was going to break. Yeah. I'll see you again next week, I grouchily responded in my head.
I came home. I felt wet, but that can be as a result of the stripping process. I stuck a pantyliner in my underwear and moved on. I had to change the pantyliner a couple of times. But because of that snotty nurse from way earlier, I was waiting for a big gush. It never came. Dinner was 5 Guys burgers. That was all I ever wanted to eat. Brandon and my sister and I enjoyed a nice meal at the table, and I got up to put my plate in the dishwasher. And I made a noise. Well, not me exactly. It sounded like, "drip-squish." It was embarrassing. I am excited now to have shared it with you.
There was no big gush, but we'd all heard the drip-squish. I had to change my liner again, but that was it. I had some random contractions here and there. Finally someone screwed up their courage to suggest that we go to the hospital. I was against it. I didn't want snotty nurse to be right and me to look like an idiot. Again. I wasn't even contracting that much. I was certainly not having my breath taken away. I went in my bedroom and grabbed my dog and cried. I sobbed into her fur. I wanted to get this thing out of me so badly, but I COULD NOT TAKE another false start, no matter how many brownies were waiting for me on the other side.
Brandon argued long and logically, and finally I told him to call the doctor if he wanted me to go to the hospital so much. My dog was snuggled against me in bed and I held her while I listened. I grabbed the phone at one point to explain to the nurse exactly how it had been a "drip-squish" and not a "big gush." She still said, "you sound like you've won yourself a trip to the labor and delivery floor."
I was not well-pleased. I was doubtful that my water had broken, and I did not want to spend another long, hungry night in the hospital. Our revolving door hospital visits had made us regulars with the courtesy valets and the information desk people, and now they just smiled sadly at us as we came in the door. I refused Brandon's offer of a wheelchair this time, preferring to walk boldly toward certain defeat instead. Of course, my tiny steps made it difficult to walk boldly. I also had to stop for a potty break halfway along the five-minute walk to my destination. Up to the labor and delivery floor again. I snarled out my personal information and sat impatiently in the little waiting area. We were informed that unfortunately, the triage room was packed, so we had to wait. Fine by me. This baby was never coming out anyway.
After a surprisingly short wait, a nurse came back to take me to the triage room. It really was packed. She said, "Let's just have you test before you get all settled down here." She handed me a yellow-tipped cotton swab and pointed me in the direction of the bathroom. "You're looking for blue." I had to pee again anyway.
I swabbed. By the time I brought the swab up to look at it, it was already dark blue. I handed it out the door. I was shaking. "Let's admit you!" the nurse said.
I was going to have this baby.