“You’re three centimeters,” he said, and I was thrilled. “Contracting?” Yes, I told him, for about 2 hours, but nothing I couldn’t talk through. He kept his hand on my stomach as he asked about other symptoms and felt several contractions. “Well, I think you’re in early labor and you don’t need to hurry, but you should get No1 where she needs to be and head to the hospital.” My eyes must have popped out of my head because he helped me sit up and put his hand on my shoulder. Then he looked straight into my eyes and said, “You can do this. You are an old pro and you have done amazingly throughout the whole pregnancy. I will be there tomorrow to check on you. You’re going to do great. I can’t wait to meet your baby.”
I walked out to the waiting room in a daze where Dr. K was telling Hubs all about the exam, leaned down to No1 and said “Guess what!? Today might be your sister’s birthday!” She gave me a huge hug and we excitedly dashed out to the car. We dropped her off a home with my bestie, called grandma to come pick her up, filled the car with bags already packed, and headed into the city.
I did not get car sick. Which doesn’t sound like much of an accomplishment unless you’ve ever been around me in a stressful situation, riding in the car. I had a trashcan ready at my feet. An extra towel, too. And I didn’t need either. This is what it feels like to not be riddled with anxiety, I thought.
We calmly checked into L&D and met our nurse, Sue. 20 minutes on the contraction monitor verified that I was, indeed, contracting every 2 minutes and that baby was doing well. She advised me to drink some water and walk the halls – she would check me again in 2 hours. So we walked. And walked. And walked. And I kept thinking to myself It’s so strange that all these nurses know I’m the only person out here with no underwear on.
We walked by rooms where women were about to give birth. We heard the cries of brand new babies. The contractions kept increasing in strength, making me lean against the walls for support. We kissed in the hallway, excited that our time had come. Finally, I was too tired to walk anymore. We went back to the triage room and I laid on my side just to catch my breath.
We walked a little more and Sue came by to check. No progress. Still 3 cm. Son of a bitch! All that walking. All that pain. All that mental preparation. And nothing. Early or false labor, Sue said, and we prepared to head home.
Honestly? I was exhausted and excited at the prospect of sleeping in my own bed. And yet the entire drive home, I stifled tears and tried to keep myself from falling apart. When I realized that No1 wouldn’t be home because she was sleeping over at Mimi’s, it was too much. All I wanted to was to put my arms around my firstborn. To smell her freshly-washed hair and hear her voice tell me “I missed you soooo much, Mommy!” When we got into the house, I crashed on the couch and let the emotion of the day wash over me in big, ugly sobs.
I knew rationally that false alarms are common, that I was lucky now to get a good night’s rest, and that all we had lost were a few hours. But the anxiety and tension from the day had built up in my brain and needed to escape. I was so sure we were on the right track, and so proud of myself for handling it so well. All the logistics, the emotions, the preparations were all….perfect. There’s the truth. I felt like I had lost out on my chance for the perfect birth experience. I think I felt in control all day – OB appointment confirming labor, easy no-traffic drive into the city at noon, contractions slowly increasing as we walked the hall. It was all going according to plan.
Turns out, I’m not in control. That has been slowly sinking in over the last 12 hours, and you know what? It’s kind of a relief. I don’t have to control any of this. All I have to do is respond to it, which I did amazingly yesterday. And I can do it again. If this baby wants some more time, so be it. I’m going to try to soak up the quiet time we have left, enjoy the holidays (and my birthday, ack!) with my family, and let this whole birth thing take care of itself. I’ve been told it will.