On TV and in the movies people always go into labor and know it right away. They either double over at the first contraction and then rush off to the hospital in a frenzy or they start out with painful and regular contractions and “manfully” (haha, what a ridiculous choice of words) muscle through them until they get to the hospital where they end up screaming through labor.
Well, I knew those weren’t the only two options but I’ve never actually experienced it for myself. Yes, I know you’re probably doing a double take if you’ve read any of my other posts because I have three children already! And yet, I’ve never gone into labor before… well, not on my own anyway. I was induced with both my previous pregnancies so I know what contractions (the “real” ones) feel like and I know how they progress and grow and become pretty unbearable (hear more about how Pitocin makes everything different in my birth story post) but I didn’t know how it feels when it starts on its own.
So, the week before my fourth child was born was the crappiest week of the entire pregnancy. It was a good pregnancy, so maybe that’s not saying much, but it was like the entire nine months of stress and discomfort that I should have felt were crammed into one week! Three days before my due date we had a playdate at my house with a bunch of Punkin’s friends. One mom happens to be a massage therapist and offered to stimulate my labor pressure points. I’m a firm believer that all those things you’re supposed to do to “start” labor only work if the baby is already ready to come out but I thought it was worth a try, after all I was ready! So around noon while we sat outside she activated my pressure points and by evening I was having regular contractions–huzzah! Chris went to sleep while I sat on the yoga ball and practiced breathing through the contractions (they were strong and uncomfortable but not painful yet). They maintained a steady 5 minutes apart pattern for a few hours when, finally, they slowed. Thankfully I hadn’t called the midwives in (though I did text to give her a heads up before bedtime, just in case) and I didn’t call my mom to start the 3 1/2 hour drive from Maine. I went to sleep annoyed that they’d slowed and sure that if it was the “real thing” i wouldn’t be able to sleep through it. Next morning still contractions that were sort of regular. Talked to the midwife and this time I was more sure it was going to happen… but it all came to nothing. Grrr… Whatever, I brushed it off because I wasn’t even at my due date yet and I knew it was unlikely that I’d have a pre-date baby after my first who was induced at 42 weeks.
All weekend we waited to see if things would start up again but nothing ever really happened. Thursday (40 weeks 3 days) my midwife checked and stretched my cervix which often starts labor if the baby is ready (again, kicks it into gear if things are already waiting to start, not starting it unnaturally). A few hours after they left– VOILA! Contractions!!! They were getting stronger so I called the midwives (who told me to call if they were stronger to the point of being painful and in a distinct 4-5 minute pattern) and my mom (who started the drive down). After those phone calls I got on my elbows and knees because we were worried the baby was posterior (facing up–ouch to deliver!) and I still had hopes of avoiding that. Guess what, the contractions slowed to 10 minutes! Okay, now double Grrr… I was angry when I fell asleep because I was starting to feel dumb. My mom got here around 9:30pm and although the contractions were the most painful I’d had they still weren’t really painful and they weren’t in a real pattern.
Now we’re into the weekend before I was 41 weeks. My mother had to decide to hang around or go home to be at work on Sunday. She decided to leave Saturday morning and work if she could but all of us were feeling like it couldn’t be much longer! What happened Saturday night? I won’t even make you guess: contractions again. Regular, gaining some strength. Again the phone calls went out and my mom turned around after only being home a few hours and drove back (that’s a lot of driving for one day!). So, did we have a baby on Sunday? Nope.
Sunday morning I broke down. I mean I was done. I actually told Christian I wasn’t leaving my room that day. Every time I interacted with my children I yelled at them. I felt like they were being purposefully naughty and even though I tried to stay calm they just kept pushing my buttons. All the while I was blaming them I knew it was actually my own fault they were acting like that. I’ve been a teacher for over ten years and I know enough to realize that my mood effects the children around me and they were feeding off my frustration.
I was just tired. Tired physically of waking often in the night (“I’m ready to be exhausted because the baby is waking me not just because my dumb body won’t sleep!” I kept complaining), tired of not being able to bend properly and pick up all the crap around my house, tired of not being able to snuggle my children on my lap (what lap?), tired of fending off my children because they wanted to jump and snuggle me. Just tired. I was tired of being stressed about calling everyone on time, giving enough heads up, making sure my other kids would have somewhere to be (Punkin was staying for the birth, the twins were NOT). Just tired. Tired of not being able to get my business going either! My 37th week pregnant I got TWO calls from people wanting daycare but I couldn’t even set up meetings with them because there was no point with my imminent (ha) labor! Argh… I was DONE.
Sunday morning Chris brought me breakfast in bed, kept the kids away, let me relax and watch tv… but when he came up to check on me I just started crying and couldn’t stop. I was so angry at everything and everyone. I cried, “I don’t even want to go into labor now because I’m so miserable–what kind of state of mind is that to bring a child into the world with?!” I cried and cried and just couldn’t stop. My wonderful husband had a solution. Somewhat against my will he arranged to have the girls go to my mother in law for the day and Punkin go with my mom for the afternoon. He and I would have kid-free time and then meet my son and mom at the movie theater to see Brave.
As we sat at the Olive Garden we smiled. We got to take our time. We didnt’ have to share our food with anyone (except each other which was nice). We didn’t have to rush to be back to relieve any babysitters. We just chilled. We actually even brought books and read at the table… I mean we really relaxed. I started to feel like a person again. I realized that when you work at home… with the home… as a stay at home mom you’re never “off”. My job is 24/7 and usually that is fine but the frustration and stress of continually thinking I was in labor and dealing with the kids while my hormones raged pushed me WAY over the edge.
A day off did wonders!
With my mom to give me a hand I managed to get through the next few days with Christian at work (I had serious doubts Sunday morning whether I’d be able to function well enough for him to go to work–I was that depressed!). I was able to prepare to bring my baby into a calm and happy home.