A Tale of Two Labors: Part One

I found several forgotten posts under drafts. In my effort to blog twice a week, I thought that I would share Oliver’s two-part birth story almost four years later. We are very content as a family of four. So this is not an announcement of any kind. Mainly just cleaning house… literally and digitally.

This week, I have my six week checkup, so I plan to finally post my birth story. It’s kind of long even though it happened really fast… Eventually.

As with Lucy, I had two labors with Oliver had two labors. I categorize them in two distinct periods of time. With my prodormal labor, I wasn’t sure if part one would ever end. During the second, it was blatantly obvious.

Sorry that this part is so long. I do not have a baby in this post, but I wanted to record what we did leading up to the birth. You may want to wait for part two if you get bored. Or you could make a drinking game out of how many times I use the word miserable.

As I mentioned before, I thought I had PTSD from Lucy’s birth. Around 36 weeks, Henry and I discussed what happened four years ago. I ended up with a raging headache and threw up in the middle of the night. Tapping was in order. So on Monday morning, one week before Oliver’s birth, I was 38 weeks pregnant and had an appointment for some tapping. Once we started the session, I realized that the birth wasn’t what I was freaked out about, but welcoming Oliver home. I mean, at some point the birth is going to end. But I really had a lot of issues with breastfeeding Lucy and having a new baby doesn’t end. It is just the beginning. I guess I didn’t realize that this was my fear, but I felt my chest tighten as I said it. Fortunately we resolved the anxiety pretty quickly. I was calm and ready. I had reached the 38 Week mark, which helps minimize jaundice. Let’s go!

Tuesday I went to get a massage from my physical therapist. I asked her opinion on when she thought the baby would arrive. I was growing rather anxious and ready. She put her hand on my belly and said sometime between Saturday and Wednesday.

On my way to meet Henry and Lucy for dinner, I sent him a message sharing her prediction. This did not please him because he had been invited to speak at Yale on Saturday. I first learned about this on the NYC Subway platform in February. I calmly told him at that point that he could go if I had already had the baby and I did not have a cesarean. I knew that this conference was a big deal to him, but I did not know how big of a deal it was until this very moment. Granted we still had two more days to have the baby, but that focus was lost.

Here I am on Wednesday at Wolfgang Puck’s Pizza Bar.

On Thursday, I made a little clay baby at ArtQuest as part of some art therapy, which did help. But as I mentioned in this post, I was seriously sad.

I went to the OB on Friday. My progress was slightly less than it had been the week before. I was not happy. In fact I was miserable. But right there in the room, I fell in love with my midwife. I don’t remember what was said, but I looked in her eyes and thought, I want her to deliver my baby. We ended the conversation with her telling me that she was on duty that weekend. Perhaps she would see me. Yes, please, I thought.

I went to lunch with Heather at Print Works and then raced off to pick up Lucy. I was worried about some sore I saw in her arm pit and ended up at her pediatrician’s office. The doctor told me that she was fine and turned the conversation to her soon-to-be patient. We discussed circumcisions and what not. Then she said that she was also on call this weekend. Perhaps she would see me. My medical professionals were in alignment. I was ready to go.

I can’t remember what we did that afternoon, but I decided to weed our front flower beds before heading out to First Friday. At first I was bending over to pull the weeds. I was worried that I might pull the muscles in the back of my legs and not be able to push. Then I realized it was a great opportunity for me to squat and help stretch my hips and lower body. Anything to help get this baby out. I was pretending I was the mythical woman working in the fields, who delivers her baby and keeps on harvesting the crops.

While driving downtown to eat, we passed Peter and Betty. We asked them to join us for dinner. Lucy insisted on Fincastles. They make a delicious burger, which I happily ate and even wanted banana pudding for dessert. Although I was too embarrassed to order one. Soon we headed out.

We started walking down Elm to check out the exhibits for First Friday. We stopped in to see the beautiful mobiles made by an Elon professor’s wife. Once we started walking again, I started having real, regular contractions contractions. I had not started timing them yet, which for whatever reason, Henry considered critical to the birth actually taking place. Every time I made an audible noise, Betty looked at me with a panic in her eyes. I kept walking as much as I could, but decided it was time to turn back before we finished the strip. We parted ways at the Indie Market. I was rather distracted, but did go into a few additional galleries on the other side of the street.

On our walk back to the car, I picked up the origami swan dress in which they only had one XXL left. But I loved the print and hoped maybe it would shrink some in the wash. It is very nursing friendly and has pockets. I was sold. Now seven weeks later, it is pretty unflattering, but it works as a great housedress. As long as I don’t see what I look like in the dress, I am happy with it.

The contractions continued less than three minutes apart. I called my parents to come pick up Lucy. I told mom that I couldn’t promise that this was it, but I had no idea what else to do with Lucy. We returned home, got Lucy ready for a bedtime pickup and I started cleaning the kitchen.

My parents arrived. We took pictures and my dad gathered us in a circle and said a prayer. I kept working while having contractions. Henry told my mom that I was not having this baby. That this was all drama. Besides what was the point, he had already missed his trip. I don’t think he understood exactly how miserable I was. I told him several times when he mentioned his trip that I still wanted the baby out of my body. He was not still inside of me by choice.

I kept myself busy until I sat down on the couch at 10:55. I was exhausted. I went to bed and slept for ten hours for the first time in several months, maybe years.

Saturday morning the contractions were gone. We went to the Farmer’s Curb Market. I talked to all of the ladies there. The marble paper lady I had met at my Pyramid Atlantic Show said I looked like I was in labor. She said I had a far away look in my eyes. She reminded me of one of the midwives from Ina May Gaskins’ Farm. I think just looking at her made me dilate two centimeters. I think I had a random contraction here and there, but nothing steady. But she definitely got me back in the labor mode.

After we returned home, Henry took his car to the car wash at the end of our street. I decided to walk to Edward McKay, which is an easy walk from our house. It is roughly three quarters of a mile. The only difficulty is waddling across Battleground in time. I talked to Sherri the whole way. By the time I arrived, I couldn’t make it to the back of the store. I told Henry that we needed to leave soon after I saw him.

I managed to find an art book called The Creative Call, which is like a Christian version of The Artist’s Way. Maybe this would help somehow. I think I thought it could be part of some sort of plea bargain with God to make this baby come out of my body as soon as possible.

I really wanted an Oreo cupcake from Maxie B’s on the way home from Edward McKay. But I suggested we stop by Geeksboro to pick up a bag of Krankie’s coffee just in case we ran out. Great news. It was Star Wars Day and Free Comic Book Day. So I sat on a sofa by the door and watched everyone in their costumes while Henry ordered the coffee. It took much longer than you would think and we left with way less than a bag of coffee. Perhaps we had an uncommon request for the staff.

When we passed the long line at the comic book store, Henry convinced me to go in. I stood around looking at their graphic novels section and bidding my time before the cupcake. I was not feeling very pleasant.

Like the weekend before, I was so miserable that I couldn’t deal with small talk in restaurants or clothing store. I told Eris that I had to leave Anthropologie because I couldn’t talk to the staff. I was very uncomfortable. So I guess that I was in prodormal labor the Saturday before, as well. That is the down side to that type of labor. You don’t really know that you are in it and you have no idea when it will end. It’s often called “false labor,” which is a misnomer because you have done all of the work in advance of arriving at the hospital.

When we returned home, I took a long nap, the first of two naps over the weekend. I called my family to discover they were all out eating sushi. I was bored and hungry. We went to Brixx pizza. Then we went to Heather’s to pick up her birthing ball.

I had been craving music documentaries my third trimester, which has totally subsided at this point. For whatever reason I wanted to watch the final LCD Sound System concert as part of my labor. So we watched the first disk while I bounced on the ball. I was yet again exhausted and went to bed for another ten plus hours of sleep.

Sunday morning, I was MISERABLE. My uterus was hard as a rock all day. There were no contractions. It just felt like I was carrying a kettle ball on my pubic bone. The weather was dreary and I knew that the barometric pressure was making me feel even worse. It was so cold outside that I was worried about what I had packed for the hospital. I was still wearing my flannel pjs even though it was May. I finally decided to go to the craft fair at the Farmer’s Market. I was definitely weepy. I knew that my midwife was leaving her weekend shift soon. I was devastated.

I walked down the first row of the craft fair and was greeted by an enthusiastic ten-year-old boy with his mother. I immediately thought I can’t face anyone. She had a look of fear on her face. She said, “Are you okay?” I told her that I was trying to walk my baby out. I immediately turned and left for home. I cried all the way home.

I had read Michelle’s Bradley Method Handbook and I knew that emotionally I was transitioning, but there were no steady contractions to time. This was confusing to Henry and me. But I told Henry that I was just so miserable when he saw my face and asked what was wrong.

I finally headed out to mow our backyard. Our yard is a fright and was neglected and completely forgotten for many months. So I thought I will just mow the back, which is fairly easy to do. That’s when my mom drove up. She was also cranky, so I just ignored her and kept mowing. She had brought Lucy back for her pre-k’s spring carnival. Now the yard mowing is her favorite memory of my prolonged labor. She tells everyone that she wishes she had taken my picture. It was cold and I had on a tunic, leggings, a scarf and boots – not mowing attire.

We all loaded up in the car and headed over to the Spring Fling. I was still weepy and saw Michelle. I thought I can’t bear to face anyone at this point. But I sucked it up and told her my disappointment about the midwife. She guessed the midwife’s name I was talking about and completely understood. I’m telling you, all pregnant women love her.

I don’t remember much about that evening, except I put Lucy to bed. We had a nice evening reading and saying our prayers.

I wanted to watch something funny after putting her to bed. We tried to watch Veep, which is funny but in a stressful sort of way. I felt like I was clenching my teeth. I need something to really make me laugh.

Sphincter laws say that you should keep your mouth and face relaxed to open all of your orifices. From about 34 weeks on, I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying not to squint or making o sounds with my mouth. Chances are if you saw me and thought I was acting bizarre, I was likely focused on staying positive and opening myself up to releasing my baby. It was all consuming. I even tested this theory while in the bathroom. If you are ever feeling a little constipated, just sing a few open mouth song full of oohs and your progress will likely improve.

Laughter works very well also. And the Candidate was the perfect choice, especially the family dinner scene. This is not my favorite type of comedy, but for whatever reason, the bathroom humor sent me over the edge. It felt really good to laugh hysterically until I cried. I hee-hawed before going to bed. I wasn’t feeling optimistic, but anxious. I had no idea when this misery would end.

And that’s the end of part one. Whew! Kudos if you made it this far.

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