Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Peter's Birth Story (Part 1 of 2)

Clare's Birth Story
End-of-Pregnancy Thoughts

{Expect TMI of various types. If you don't like it, don't read it. Just don't say you weren't warned! Also, even broken into parts, it’s long. Again, fair warning.}

As I made amply clear in the days/weeks leading up to Peter's very much awaited birth, I was done, done, done with being pregnant. I was over it long before it was even okay to be over it.

I started noticing Braxton Hicks contractions fairly early on, with weeks to go, and they would frequently pick up in the evenings, but never to an alarming degree. Toward the end of pregnancy, I had a false alarm or twenty -- not enough to send me to labor and delivery, but enough to start timing and thinking things would pick up, but they inevitably died down instead.

It turned into a total, complete, disastrous mind game. I was exhausted, sore, frustrated, tired of waking up every day wondering if that would be the day, tired of going to bed disappointed every night, no longer confident in my own ability to listen to, know, and trust my own body.
Saturday, April 5 was my due date. Charles, meanwhile, woke up with a sour stomach that quickly turned out to be a nasty stomach bug, with all the fun that a stomach bug brings. He spent most of the day sleeping, trying to hydrate/put food on his stomach, and, um, clearing his stomach of its previously held contents. I was an emotional mess. I was cranky to say the least – I had a sick, miserable husband, a very busy toddler, and no baby (and no baby in sight). It was starting to seem unlikely that I would ever have a baby, in spite of all logic to the contrary. And the then-current circumstances were less than ideal for having a baby anyway. I found myself ignoring well-meaning texts and phone calls of loved ones checking in on me. I tried to make the most of it (referring, I guess, to life), but failed utterly, miserably, and completely.

Were there contractions Saturday night? Probably, but they were not the mind-twisting variety, so I certainly didn’t get worked up about them. I woke up Sunday morning feeling zen about things for the first time in weeks. I was overdue. If the baby hadn’t come in a week, Charles and I had agreed that we’d induce at 41 weeks, especially since I was super-duper confident about our dates (thanks, NFP). In that knowledge, there was, in some small way, an end in sight.

This is how Clare got ready that morning.

We went to our usual 9am Mass, and I could confidently say that it was the last Mass we would attend without a baby. It was the kind of thinking that lightened my step. As we were walking in, I noticed a contraction, but had stopped thinking anything of one silly little contraction.  They continued through Mass and after we got home, and they were getting closer together. Closer than any contractions I had had to date. My gut told me that this was the beginning of the end, even if we had a long way to go. At lunchtime, I talked to Charles and we decided to put his parents (who were going to watch Clare while we were at the hospital) “on stand by” juuuuuuuust in case.

We went to run some errands, and the contractions continued. Not very painful (but not painless!) and 10-15 minutes apart. I could still walk and talk, but things were continuing to look promising. I tried to get rest that afternoon, and by 4 talked Charles into letting his parents come over for dinner and to take Clare. I wasn’t ready to go to the hospital, but I thought I would most likely be at that point sometime overnight. I didn’t blame him for his initial skepticism. I had clearly been wrong before. Like I say, I didn’t trust my own instinct at that point, not 100%.

Proof that this is going somewhere

Before they came over, we went for a walk to (hopefully) get things moving. By the end, I could no longer walk or really talk through my contractions, and I think Charles and I both agreed that we had made a good call on the grandparent smoke signals.

I tried to rest some more, watching an endless stream of HGTV while Charles got dinner together, and his parents arrived. The contractions were getting closer (5-10 minutes) and were painful enough that I had to sit quietly and breathe deeply through them, but still not the intense, get-me-to-the-hospital-NOW contractions we both remembered from Clare.

As an aside, at our birth class before Clare was born, the nurse-instructor pointed out that you can tell a lot about someone’s pain level (and labor stage!) from their face as they are experiencing the pain. From his time doing the (student) doctor thing in labor and delivery, Charles has often said that he found that it really is true. As I went through all the fake­-out contractions (and even the early stages of the real deal), Charles often commented on my facial state and his “professional” assessment that I wasn’t really there yet.

After dinner, we got Clare loaded up and ready to spend the night with Grandma and Grandpa. I got super teary saying goodbye, knowing that it was the last time I was going to be the Mama of one, and telling her that she would always be my Girly Schmirly (my silly nickname for her). I tear up again just typing it.

As I was walking back inside, a contraction came and hit me like a ton of bricks. I was doubled over on the wall. Definitely breathing, not walking or talking. These were for real, and they kept coming, 3-6 minutes apart. Since we live about 30 minutes from the hospital, we decided to get moving. As I said then, I’d rather walk there, if they needed me to, than here. We got the last of our stuff together and headed out.

To Be Continued . . . (Link to Part 2)

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