I’ve sat down to write this post several times. Writer’s block, sleep deprivation, a continuous string of visitors, and the needs of our little man have intervened. And, as much as this blog has been my savior over the past year, that’s exactly how it should be. Life first, blog second.
In many ways I feel like I’m slowly moving back to the land of the living. A land where acquiring the basic human needs – food, sleep, love – has assumed so much of my time that I haven’t had much left to think about the world I’ve occupied for the past five years. The one where wants were front and center. The one where no joy could be found thanks to the constant hole that was felt. I’ve done both now, and can say confidently that I’d much rather go without sleep than go without hope. Even through glassy eyes this life lives better.
June 23 was my due date. June 19 was my scheduled c-section date. June 16 was my induction date. June 12 was my baby boy’s self-selected birthday. What a sense of humor this little man has already.
I should have learned long ago thanks to IF that planning is pointless. Yet, with a stubborn breech baby who only turned at the 11th hour, with a rare clotting disorder that threatened my placenta, with a history of repeat losses, infertility, and IVF, so much of my pregnancy was planned. It seemed so unlikely after all the appointments, all the difficult decisions, all the warning signs, that this little guy would catch the mister and I off guard. But, that’s exactly what he did.
I’ve mentioned several times before that the mister and I are die-hard trivia buffs. We attend (well, attended!), a weekly Wednesday night game at our local watering hole. So, there we sat playing away on Wednesday June 11 surrounded by friends, co-workers, and the majority of who’s who in our tiny town. Looking back now I realize I came within 60 minutes of being a Wednesday night trivia legend. We left the game a little after 10pm, walked the three blocks home, and settled in for bed and work the next morning. Just before 11:30pm I felt a substantial trickle. For one mortifying moment I thought I’d lost control of my bladder, then realized that was unlikely. I poked the mister, who’d probably only gone to sleep less than ten minutes earlier, and said:
“Um, I think my water just broke?”
One thing that you hear repeatedly – from your birth classes, from pregnancy books, from random strangers – is that labor is not like it is in the movies. It does not start with a woman walking down the produce aisle at the grocery store and experiencing an unexpected gush of amniotic fluid in front of the peaches. Except, it seems, when it does. I was so convinced my labor would not start with my waters breaking, that I spent the next several minutes in disbelief. I went to the bathroom and looked and smelled and consulted Dr. Google on my phone. Was I absolutely sure I hadn’t peed myself? I changed my underwear, grabbed a giant bath towel, and waddled back to bed. “I guess I’m supposed to call the doctor, right?” I asked the mister. “I guess,” he answered. We were both oddly calm. I called, left a message with the triage nurse, and waited for a call back. Of course, this is the moment that my cell phone decided it didn’t feel like connecting to the cell tower any longer, so when the on-call resident finally did call back all I could hear was about every fifth or sixth word he uttered through a thick, unidentifiable accent. I got the gist, though. Watchful waiting. If I wasn’t sure sure it was my waters, then there was no reason to panic. I should only plan on coming in if it happened again. Get some sleep.
And, that’s what I did. On my giant bath towel wearing a super pad. Until 12:45am when the flood gates opened. I was on my hands and knees in bed pouring forth like Niagara Falls when I shook the mister again.
“Er, yea, no doubt. <Nervous laughter.> My water is totally broken.”
Through this all the awkward calm continued. I was having no contractions, and knew full well that there were no perks to getting to the hospital early. Just a lot more sitting around in an uncomfortable environment. I got up, changed my pad/underwear for what felt like the hundredth time, took a shower, did a load of laundry (all those soaked bath towels and undergarments weren’t going to wash themselves), ate a granola bar, kept the mister company as he made himself coffee and a breakfast sandwich (half as fuel for the night ahead, half to soak up what remained of that double scotch he’d had at trivia!), grabbed the car seat, fed the cats, and prepared to leave for the hospital. As I walked around the house with another bath towel between my legs I kept thinking:
“Am I seriously about to have a baby?”
After moving to this rural village 2 years ago I sought out excellent doctors no matter the distances I had to travel. That is, for all but obstetrical care. We moved here fresh from my second miscarriage, and I still had hope that some day my body would get it right. Some day we’d be doing that midnight drive to labor & delivery. Some day I’d be happy I’d picked the closest OB I could find. When that closest OB botched my third miscarriage, I succumbed to the lure of the talented professionals in the nearest city, and prepared myself for an hour drive in labor. As news of our pregnancy spread, friends and family alike looked puzzled as I explained that I’d be delivering fairly far from home, and I came to embrace the, “Well, I had no choice in hospital,” line once that wonderful city OB transferred me to an equally wonderful high-risk practice that only delivered at the wonderful hospital an hour away. After 9 months of hearing and internalizing, “How are you going to manage that drive in labor?” it was wonderful to embrace my 10% status as me and my soggy bottoms made the hour drive covered in amniotic fluid, but totally without contractions.
When we did our hospital tour a couple months earlier, a highlight was learning of the valet service that would remove the “What do we do with our car?” confusion from what we were sure would be a confusing and tense time. Those giving the tour, however, failed the inform us that said valet service comes with limited hours of operation. As we rolled up to the hospital at 2:45am we were greeted by a sign noting that valet parking begins at 6am. Sure, I could have gotten out and either waited for the hubs in the lobby or informed the desk attendant that he’d be by behind me, but I didn’t really feel like having to stand about flooding out public spaces without my husband by my side to share in the mortification. So, I did what came naturally. I rode with my husband to the nearest parking garage, helped him find a spot on the far end of the 3rd floor, delicately extricated myself from the passenger seat of our (NEW!) car that I had carefully wrapped in plastic and covered in bath towels, waddled down three flights of concrete steps (“No, I’m fine, I don’t feel like using the elevator!”), and shuffled the few blocks uphill toward the hospital in the cool 3am air.
There was one other thing the nurses had gotten wrong during our birthing class/hospital tour. As we wandered around the labor and delivery floor, they let us – especially the “first timers” – know that we shouldn’t take it personally when the labor and delivery nurses treated our arrival to the 8th floor with a fair bit of skepticism. “You may feel excited, you may be screaming inside, ‘THIS IS IT!’, but your labor and delivery nurses will still almost certainly send you to triage where you’ll wait to be evaluated before being given a room, or told to go home. Don’t get discouraged, this is all a normal part of the process!” So, while the lack of a valet caught me off guard, I wasn’t going to let anything else catch me off guard. I mean, I was so prepared for this wait that I’d actually, you know, done two loads of laundry before driving the hour to the hospital! But, sure enough, when the nurses of floor eight saw the very pregnant lady waddle in sporting jeans that looked like they’d just gone for a swim in a backyard swimming pool, their response was a jovial,
“Well, we don’t need to triage you! You’re in the right spot! Let’s get you a room!”
The large digital clock above the nurses station glowed red with “3:00:00” (why does that stick out in my mind?) as we were ushered off to room 8020 for the foreseeable future. And, with that, it’s time to feed the little man whose kitty binky just isn’t cutting it anymore! Hopefully it doesn’t take another month to write the final installments of this journey! Until next time…