|From 5 Minutes for Parentin|
I suppose a lot of epiphanies happen in hospital beds.
I had one Monday morning, just as the sun's light warmed the horizon to a glowing tangerine and the birds burst into song to welcome a new day.
And it is this: I know a lot of stories about women going into labor spontaneously -- women who wake up in the middle of the night to time contractions, women who deal with multiple trips to the hospital only to be sent home, women who have their water break right there in the supermarket.
But I never believed it could happen to me.
That sounds crazy, I know. But consider my history. Natalie and Teyla were induced. Scheduled. And while I technically went into labor with Connor by myself, I have a sneaking suspicion it had more to do with my OB visit that day (where she stripped my membranes, click at your own risk) than it did with my body instinctively knowing it was time to deliver a baby.
So imagine my shock when I was woke up 4:00 Monday morning to a cramping uterus. My first instinct was to say, "These can't be real contractions. Go back to sleep You'll be fine."
But I couldn't get comfortable. And as I lay there, staring at the clock, I started to remember the last time I tried to talk myself out of having contractions. It ended with me curled in a fetal position until I had to push. It's not a drama I'm eager to relive.
At 4:30, I did what I never thought I'd do: I woke my husband in the middle of the night and whispered, "I'm hurting. I think I need to go to the hospital."
He woke up immediately, disheveled and concerned. I called Labor and Delivery to make sure my decision was solid. They agreed I should head in. I threw on some clothes, told my bleary-eyed husband I would call him from the road (with three sleeping kids, we didn't see how we could both go) and I set off for the hospital.
The contractions were four minutes apart when I got to L&D. I was dilated to 3 centimeters, which was progress from my OB appointment on Friday, when I was at 2. I got changed into a fetching hospital mumu and settled in to wait.
Slowly, ever so slowly, the contractions got less intense. An hour after I was hooked onto the monitors, they were eight minutes apart. The pain, never horrible, was totally manageable. I warned Corey via text that I might be coming home. I unhooked from the machines and watched the sun rise. My OB stopped by before clinic hours and confirmed that my cervix wasn't changing like they would want to see in order to admit me. And since I was only 36 weeks-5 days at the time, they were understandably reluctant to do something like break my water and help Mother Nature along.
So I found myself driving home at 7:30 Monday morning, the newest member of the False Labor Club.
1. As annoying as it can be, I don't regret my decision to head to the hospital. Even my OB agreed that I did the right thing, given my history of lightning quick childbirth.
2. That said, if I woke up to moderately painful contractions today, I would wait longer to see if a true pattern set up before leaving home. It's true that Connor was born just minutes after I got to the hospital. (You can read his story here.) But that was after I labored at home for more than two hours (trying to convince myself the whole time that I wasn't in real labor), and the contractions had gone from cramping to kill-me-now. There has to be a good middle ground between heading to L&D every time I feel a twinge and waiting until I feel the urge to push.
3. When I left for the hospital in the pre-dawn hours Monday morning, I didn't have a hospital bag packed or emergency plans for what we would do with the older kids if I went into labor spontaneously. After all, I wasn't even 37 weeks along, at the time, and we've already scheduled an induction at 39 weeks. What's the rush? Needless to say, I now have a bag packed (which wasn't that hard; I wholeheartedly agree with #9 on Lifenut's fabulous list of pregnancy and baby musings), and I have called all our emergency contacts to alert them to the fact that we might need someone to fill in the gap between when labor starts and when my parents would arrive from Colorado two days later.
4. When it comes to pregnancy, don't get cocky. This might be my fourth baby, but until Monday morning, I had never experienced a painful contraction that didn't end with an infant-in-arms. When it comes to childbirth, anything can happen.
Anything else I should note? Now that I'm aware labor could begin at any moment, I feel strangely inexperienced and vulnerable.
Kelly is now 37 weeks pregnant (cough, full-term, cough) with her fourth baby. When she isn't going to the bathroom (every 20 minutes), she can be found blogging at Love Well and passing time on Twitter.