One Hundred and Eighty One Days

Six months.   It’s been six months since I gave birth to the most amazing little human being I’ve ever met.   So without further ado, I give you:  Enter Delilah: Part I.  (That’s right. There are parts.)

It’s Wednesday October 7th, 2009. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and I have my 39 week appointment with my Obstetrician. For the previous two weeks I’ve been walking around with a gaping hole in my cervix, frantically trying to get things ready, feeling like my little one could plop out onto the sidewalk at any second.

My OB walks into the exam room exclaiming “Man, I can’t believe you haven’t gone into labor yet” before proceeding to check for progress. I’m dilated another centimeter (that’s five centimeters total) and am now almost fully effaced, putting me in active labor by some hospital’s guidelines, although I’ve yet to feel a single contraction.

Since my blood pressure is still inching upwards, and my swelling is now so extreme I’m pretty sure I’m single-handedly responsible for convincing at least six women to adopt, the good doc informs me that she’s not letting me go through the weekend without an induction – something I am desperately hoping to avoid. In a last-ditch effort to get this show on the road, she strips my membranes (which feels pretty horrible) before warning me that “i might see some cramping spotting over the next few hours” (oh boy, would I) and sends me on my way.

I leave the OB’s office with the distinct feeling that this might be my last afternoon sans baby. I treat myself to a McDonald’s Two Cheeseburger Meal and Chocolate Shake, break my rule of not turning on the TV during the day, and settle on a marathon of The Hills while I begin to contemplate whether or not I should cancel my 3pm meeting, since labor or no labor, these cramps aren’t letting up, and I pretty much just want to curl up in bed. I call Scott and give him the update – but I tell him to take his time – I’m still not sure this is the real thing.

By 1:30 the cramping is getting worse and I find myself debating on the internet whether or not the bleeding from the internal has turned into a bloody show (it had) and if the cramps are actually mild contractions starting (they were.) It’s not until 2pm that I call to postpone my meeting, scaring the crap out of the assistant on the other end when I cite “possibly being in labor” as my reason for needing to reschedule… even though I’m still not totally sure this is “IT.”

[Here’s the thing about contractions. They pretty much feel like you’re going to take the biggest poop of your entire life. For all the times someone said to me “don’t worry, when you’re in labor, you’ll know” I remained pretty unconvinced that this was IT, until Scott came home from work to find me on the toilet white-knuckling the countertop confused about whether I was having a contraction, or if my McDonald’s lunch was just really disagreeing with me.]

Scott (calmly) springs into action. He starts loading our bags into the car “just in case” while I sit there like a fool, still insisting that this might be a false alarm. At Scott’s prompting I call my sister [in the Bay Area] who (despite my continued insistence this might not be it) grabs her husband and kids and jumps in the car, hoping to make it for delivery. I call Sara and finally concede that “something might be starting” before proceeding to compare every detail of my possible labor to her labor in an effort to determine…ultimately nothing. I don’t call anyone else. Not even my parents. I do not want to have to un-ring that bell.

We start timing my contractions and decide to take a walk to the grocery store for some snacks to bring to the hospital (I had previously bought a bunch, but ended up eating them all during the last week of my pregnancy.) My contractions are now time-able, at about 5-7 minutes apart, sometimes stopping me in my tracks, but still completely manageable as I go over the “emotional signposts of labor” that Scott should expect to see from me if this thing gets going Scott teases me for most of the walk. The laughing makes it hard to time the contractions, so I get pissed and insist he stop being funny immediately.

By the time we get to the Market, my Dad has heard through the familial grapevine that we might be having a baby today and is calling Scott’s cell phone to check on our progress. We assure him there’s no reason to rush over to the hospital just yet, grab some snacks, and continue our stroll through Sherman Oaks hoping to speed things along.

At this point, Scott (thanks to my early progress, and my sister’s speed-labor) starts to get antsy about the possibility of having to deliver our baby on Laurel Canyon, and wants to head over the hill right away (LA traffic is unpredictable, and rush hour was closing in, which on any given day could turn our 20 minute drive to the hospital into a two hour clusterfuck.) While I always imagined that I would feel anxious to get this show on the road the moment I felt a twinge of contraction, I find myself surprisingly calm, and very confident that we can wait until traffic has subsided to head to the hospital. I know our entire plan all along has hinged on heading over the hill early, but right now, I just really want to be at home with my husband for the last few moments we have together before “we” become “three.” So we settle in on the couch, turn on the Dodger Game, and continue timing my now sporadic contractions.   I try to envision my big bag of muscles [that’s my uterus, if you don’t read a lot of birthing books these days] doing it’s work…and we sit there for the next several hours as I contract, she kicks, I give her a mini pep talk that is really meant for me, and round and round we go.

By about 8pm contractions have slowed to about every twenty minutes and I begin to fear that I have sounded a false alarm. Our bags are in the car, my sister is on her way, and I am certain that my contractions are slowing to a halt. Grasping at straws, Scott and I decide to order dinner from Caioti Cafe (home of the fabled Labor Salad) to see if that won’t kick things up a notch. It doesn’t have to. No sooner have I placed the order than I am hit with a contraction so powerful it brings me down off of the birthing ball I’m bouncing on and onto the floor. (Apparently “The Salad” does have magic properties – the mere suggestion of it got my uterus working double time.) This contraction isn’t like the others.  This one is different.   I’m sure of it.   I can feel it in every fiber of my being:   This contraction is doing something.    This girl is getting ready to be born.

(to be continued…)  (I know, I know…the anticipation is killing you.)

Feed Me Seymour