Four days prior to giving birth
Meredith’s due date was approaching, and I was becoming increasingly swollen and tired. I planned to work up until I went into labor, but my resolve was weakening. On Monday, July 18 I saw my doctor. She checked me and declared me to be 1.5 cm dilated, and my cervix was soft. She stripped my membranes, but said that they weren’t very well attached to the wall of my uterus so she wasn’t sure that it would have the desired effect of sending me into labor. I certainly didn’t feel like I was going into labor anytime soon. I started taking herbs and doing natural remedies to get things started, because one of my biggest fears was having to be induced.
I guess I should mention here that having as natural as possible of a birth was very important to me. I took 8 weeks of The Bradley Method classes, I read The Birth Book, I got a doula, and I felt prepared. I still planned to have the baby in the hospital, however, because a) I work there and the insurance coverage would be amazing, b) I found a fantastic doctor that I wanted to stay with, and c) first-time parent nerves. So I was willing to be flexible and work with the hospital guidelines, and my doctor was willing to help as much as she could, too.
But back to the story. On Tuesday I decided to drive to work instead of taking the bus. My charge nurse had assigned me to give injections that day, which was a relief since it doesn’t require as much walking. I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions on and off for the past couple of weeks, but as that day went on I noticed that they started to change. The pressure with contractions started to hurt a little bit to the point that I actually had to lean against a desk or wall a few times in the afternoon. I had decided that I would take Wednesday, my due date, off work one way or another; if I hadn’t gone into labor then I’d need a day’s rest to make it through the week. I finished out that day of work and my coworkers hugged me goodbye. I knew that something was starting to happen, but I didn’t know how long it would drag on.
As I was making the hour-long drive home I decided to time the contractions using an app I had on my phone. Turned out they were lasting 30-50 seconds and were approximately 5-7 minutes apart. That was a lot more regular than I thought. Before going home I stopped at my friend Sara’s house to borrow a bunch of baby clothes she had for me. While I was there I went to the bathroom only to discover that my mucus plug had come out. When I finally made it home my husband was so excited to get things moving, and at first I was, too. I was walking around, timing the contractions, but then all of a sudden exhaustion took over. I begged David to let me relax awhile because I had just worked a full day and I really wanted to get some sleep that night.
I ate some applesauce, then got in the bath tub. I dozed off a bit, and while I was there one of my best friends, Carmen, called to ask me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding. After the bath I settled on the couch to rest. I thought I might catch up on some TV, but my contractions began to get more and more painful. Eventually I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to relax. I called my mom and asked her and my dad to come over and pick up our dog Oliver. I knew it would be good to have him taken care of even if nothing happened that night. While my parents were on their way, I began timing the contractions again. They were now almost a minute long and coming about every four minutes. It was to the point where I couldn’t focus on anything else other than getting through the pain while I was having one.
I now knew that it was time to call the doctor. It was 7 or 8 p.m. by this point, so I paged the on-call. While we waited for the call back, I finished packing my hospital bag and then experienced the only real nesting instinct of my whole pregnancy. I began tidying things up and issuing cleaning orders to my husband and to my parents when they arrived. By the time the doctor called me, I was ready to go. When I described the situation he told me to “shake a leg” and get to the hospital. He said the nurses would check me and be in touch with my own doctor, who would most likely be taking over. I had been in touch with Kelly, my doula, and Cio, my birth photographer, and at this point I let them know that we were ready to go. My parents left to take Oliver home, Kelly met us at our house, then we headed out.
I was excited to be in labor, but it felt surreal – until a contraction came, then it became very real. It hurt a lot more already than I expected it to. The drive back to the hospital was shorter than usual because there was no traffic, but it was still about 45 minutes. David wasn’t driving too fast because Kelly was following us, but occasionally I had to politely encourage him to speed up a little bit. We finally got there and parked in the garage, and decided to just bring all of our things inside. I led them to the labor and delivery floor and we were let in. I filled out just a little bit of paperwork and then we were escorted to our room, 617.