Two short years ago, it was Saturday and I was massively pregnant. My due date of May 21 had come and gone, with still no signs of labor. Since I was past due, I was being checked by my doctor every other day. That entire week was tense: lots of “still not really dilated yet” and “are you sure you don’t want to go for a c-section?” from my doctor, along with the reminders of “we can only wait so long” and “remember you can’t be induced” to add to my stress.
I knew well that I couldn’t be induced. Cordy had been a c-section due to a complicated breech presentation, and I was determined to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) this time. My doctor was completely on-board with the idea, as long as it fit the guidelines: no pregnancy complications, no breech, and no trying if I hit the 42 week mark. Of course, I couldn’t be induced or have labor sped up either due to the risk of uterine rupture, so I was responsible for going into labor and keeping it going on my own. It was a long list of caveats, but I was still determined to go for it.
My entire plan nearly derailed when I was 32 weeks pregnant. The baby flipped into a breech position and I immediately went to work to convince her that head down was the more popular choice. I went to a chiropractor for the Webster Technique – a pressure-point exercise that is supposed to help babies turn – and at home I spent many evenings with my head on the floor and my butt on the couch with a bag of frozen peas placed on the top of my belly, encouraging her to flip. She hated the cold peas – I could feel her squirming away from them. But it worked – by 36 weeks she was head-down again.
But I still had to go into labor on my own. And by Saturday, May 26 – nearly a week after my due date – there were still no signs of labor. A non-stress test done the day before was completely normal, and thankfully the baby was surrounded by plenty of amniotic fluid, so my doctor signed off on letting me continue to be pregnant. My birth plan was written, the doctor OK’d it, and the hospital already had a copy. All we were waiting for was the baby.
I remember it was hot that day. Really hot. It was Memorial Day weekend and we couldn’t go out of town in case I went into labor. Aaron was restless and suggested we go downtown to the convention center. Marcon (sci-fi/fantasy convention) was going on, and he wanted to at least walk through it. We put Cordy in the stroller and walked through the (blissfully!) air-conditioned convention hall. Then Aaron remembered the Zombie Walk was being held nearby at Goodale Park, and asked if we could walk over to see it. I said sure, hoping that all this walking might convince a stubborn baby that she’s missing something exciting and needs to come out to see.
We walked up the (non-airconditioned) street to Goodale Park. There were hundreds of people gathered in the park, some already dressed as zombies with zombie make-up in place, others waiting for an available make-up artist to get a little help looking their zombie best. Aaron wanted to get involved, but we agreed that should I go into labor, a zombie daddy might not be the best look at the hospital. Once everyone was gathered and ready to do their zombie shuffle down High Street, we decided to leave. We were walking down one side of High Street as the zombies were staggering down the other side. It was fun to see, but I was sweating, uncomfortable, 10 months pregnant and pushing a heavy stroller, so we went home.
The entire way home, I felt miserable. The heat had been too much for me, and I had every A/C vent pointed towards me in the car. At home, I felt better, but I noticed the occasional cramping sensation. Aaron started dinner while I rested. By the time I finished eating dinner at 7pm, I noticed there was a pattern to the cramping. I was in labor! Aaron joked that the zombies were responsible for sending me into labor.
The contractions were every 4-6 minutes and felt like small cramps. Barely noticable at first. Since I never went into labor with Cordy, I had no idea what to expect. I was excited at this point, thinking we were finally reaching the end. I called my doula and told her to stand ready, and then went back to watching TV and timing the contractions. I also called my mom to come stay the night for Cordy.
The 4-6 minute pattern continued for several hours, but the intensity of the contractions increased. Now it was impossible to not notice them, but it was getting late and I was tired. My doula advised me to eat something and take a nap if at all possible. I did as she suggested and slept for a couple of hours before my contractions woke me at 1am.
At this point we called my doula and asked her to come over. The next few hours were spent practicing my breathing techniques while timing contractions and wishing it was over already. Contractions were now about 3 minutes apart and lasting over a minute. By 4am, I started trembling from the pain, and my doula suggested it might be time to go to the hospital. Trembling and unbearable pain can be a sign of transition in labor. Aaron called the doctor, I grabbed my iPod to try to focus on music, and we left for the hospital.
I still remember the song I focused on in the car at 4am on the way to the hospital. It was “Broken” by Seether and Amy Lee. I don’t know why, but that song was very soothing.
At the hospital, it took 20 minutes for me to get from the parking garage to labor & delivery because I had to stop every few minutes to weather another contraction. I was doing my best to look calm and pull inward, but inside I was screaming. Despite the pain, I was still thrilled to be going through labor this time, confident I could have a VBAC.
We got through the paperwork quickly and they settled me into a triage room. The nurse finally came to check my progression around 5:15am, and I expected to hear that I was nearly complete after 11 hours of labor, or at least pretty far along. What I was not prepared to hear?
“You’re not quite three centimeters yet. We can’t admit you until you’re a full three.”
Part two coming tomorrow, as I celebrate Mira turning two and wallow in my sadness of WHERE HAS MY LITTLE BABY GONE?