Sunday, December 8, 2013

Tad's birth story part two: Expectations v. Reality

Warning: Don't read this if you're squeamish or know me in real life and don't want to think about my reproductive organs when you're chatting with me over dinner.

Part one 

According to my to-do list, I spent the rest of the day making chicken carbonara. I mean, there was a little bit of putting laundry away and general tidying, but mostly I made dinner. And I barely finished that on time. We stuffed our faces, grabbed our things, and ran out the door to childbirth class. (Scott had been working from home so that he wouldn't have to worry about catching the bus after my appointment.)

I can't remember what the theme of the class was supposed to be, but I remember we talked about our plans and expectations for childbirth. I mentioned that my mother thinks that shorter labors are not always better--she was in labor for 3 hours with my sister and 6 hours with me and the second was apparently a far better experience all around. I put on my worksheet that my ideal length of labor was 6-12 hours. Really I meant 6, but I didn't want to sound completely unrealistic.

We also talked about our expectations for when the baby would arrive. "Now, I know all of you are thinking early, or at least on time..." she said, and I shot my hand up and replied, "Not me!" When she conceded the floor, I explained that I thought 1 week late sounded about perfect--you have plenty of time to prepare, but you don't quite get to where you have to start talking induction.

We also watched a video that had actual births in it. That was kind of cool, especially since they showed alternatives to the typical TV hospital birth. (For example, one mother was depicted giving birth on her hands and knees.)

At the end of the class, we did some "practice contractions", which involve sitting around in a dimly lit room with soft music playing and taking deep breaths while our husbands rub our backs or whatever. I commented that this was not very realistic without real contractions involved--I loved practice contraction time because it was so comfortable and relaxing.

Then again, I did actually manage to have at least one more-or-less real contraction during practice time. I had three or four altogether over the course of the two-hour class--my belly would tighten painlessly like with your average Braxton-Hicks, but then my lower back and hipbones would ache. So during the practice contraction I had Scott apply counterpressure to the top of my hips (you know that hollow sort of space just above one's buttocks? Or is that just me?) and it actually helped with the achiness. I made sure to point this out to Scott so he could remember it when I was actually in labor.

(See that paragraph right there? THAT is foreshadowing.)

When we got home, I sat up past my bedtime so that I could make quota for the day on my NaNoWriMo novel. I finally got off the computer and went to bed around midnight, but I had a hard time settling. I think I got up to use the bathroom after about half an hour, and then at about 1:00 Scott came to bed and woke me out of my light sleep and I went up to go to the bathroom again. When I went back to bed, I lay back down and immediately felt like I'd thrown my back out in the process. When lying still and taking deep breaths didn't help, I got up and hobbled over to my computer and sat down to check Facebook or whatever and distract myself.

The back pain went away after a bit, but then it came back, and went away again, and came back. After half an hour I was deeply suspicious, so I went and took a shower, because false labor goes away when you take showers. We had literally just talked about that in childbirth class.

The shower helped, but the take-your-breath-away back pain was still coming at regular and very close intervals. I almost talked myself out of thinking it was labor because nobody just wakes up and has super painful contractions 2-4 minutes apart, so obviously I was imagining things. Finally I shuffled into the bedroom and said something to Scott along the lines of, "Scott, dear, you need to get up now." (Don't worry, I got much less sweet and gentle later on.)

He got up after about 15 minutes (which is fast for him), came out, gave me a hug, and then sat down at his computer.

"Why am I awake at 2 a.m.?" he said after a dazed pause. (Turns out, he thought I was just waking him up so he could go to work.)

"Because my back hurts and I want somebody to share in my misery," I said. I am pretty sure I never actually said that I thought I was in labor. Eventually Scott figured it out, though.

Scott opened a file on his computer (I think he actually opened his code editor thingy, which is amusing in hindsight) and we started writing down start times for contractions. I couldn't handle the mental work of figuring out how long they were, so we skipped that part. In between, we got the duffel bag out of the closet and started putting things into it. This took a very long time because every 2-4 minutes I had to stop and have a contraction, and Scott had to stop and rub my back.

After half an hour of this Scott suggested that maybe we should skip to the part where we called Dr. B. I was wishing I could do the same, but I was determined not to be that first-time mom who calls way too soon, so I kept going in that manner doggedly for an entire hour.

(Side story: Dr. B has a rule where if you call the on-call number you have to disable your caller ID before the doctor can call you back. We had just installed a new cordless phone base and handset that have caller ID, unlike our ancient corded phone. I was trying to read the user's manual in between contractions, but Scott finally said we could just unplug the cordless and let Dr. B call us back on the other phone. So that's what we did.)

At about 3:15, I tried calling Dr. B in between contractions, but by the time I listened to the OB office message and got transferred and listened to Dr. B's on-call phone message, I was starting to have another one. So Dr. B got a message that included me snapping at my husband because I asked him how long he thought my contractions were and he started giving me a paragraph-long analysis. (It boiled down to "at least a minute long.")

Dr. B called back almost immediately after I hung up and said that it sounded "like a labor-like pattern" and he'd call the hospital and tell them I was coming. "Okay," I said. I still kind of wonder if he was basing his assessment on my 3-1-1 contractions or the fact that I was starting to sound snappy.

It took us a long time to finish packing the hospital bag and otherwise get ready to leave our apartment for what would probably turn out to be 2 or 3 days at least. It was 3:50 or so by the time we shuffled down to the car.

Then Scott accidentally scraped the corner of another car pulling out of our parking space (he's normally inhumanly good at pulling out of tight spots, but I guess he was distracted). So we had to stop and write a note and leave it under the wiper and then we were on our way to the hospital.

(They never called us. Either the note blew away or they didn't care.)

To be continued...

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