I’m sure there’s some inherent censoring that goes on as I write this, since the whole point of endocannabinoids and all the other sweet, sweet chemicals my body produced were to help make my memories of labor a bit fuzzy (in a good way).
It all started Saturday night (the 15th). Allison had come up from NYC to visit real quick, and we had gone out to dinner ( at the local chinese place, I had cashew chicken) and retired to Wadsgreen HQ. I sat in the rocking chair, and while we talked I felt the occasional uncomfortable pang. I’d previously been attributing any uncomfortable moments to Octavia moving around and sticking her butt out. Turns out those were Braxton-Hicks contractions — she wasn’t doing baby yoga, it was my uterus contracting gently around her.
Knowing that makes the whole thing make much more sense. Around 10:30 or 11, I went to bed. As I was laying in bed, I realized that I was still having little twinges, every once in a while. While laying in bed, glasses off, covers up, I used my iPhone to google “what do contractions feel like”. Turns out, the early ones feel exactly like I had been feeling. Jason came to bed, and I told him that I thought I could be having contractions. He was skeptical (and continued to be skeptical that I was *really* in labor, until we got to the hospital).
Being the awesome geek-dad that he is, he already had an app that let him record contractions. So, I began telling him when contractions started and ended. This is the point where I can say that my sense of time went way off. This was a fabulous thing, all the way through. I had no idea how long the contractions were, or how long I rested in between. Jason became a bit worried when the contractions were just a few minutes apart. They certainly weren’t that bad, most akin to gas pain, with a wave sensation. Increase, increase, INCREASE … decrease, decrease, gone. We called the midwives anyway. They asked if I could talk during the contraction. I certainly could. They said that it was very light contractions, and to drink a bunch of water. (Drinking water can slow or stop contractions.) They advised us to try to get some sleep, indicating that it was likely that we’d having more of this labor business soon.
So, I drank water. I went out to the living room, and announced to Al that I might maybe be in labor, and I’d let her know if there was anything she needed to do about it. She had a bus ticket for Sunday afternoon around 3, and I wasn’t sure if we’d leave for the hospital before then, or what.
I also texted my AMAZING BIRTH DOULA and friend, A’Nova. I told her that I was having minor contractions, and to stay home until I was sure it wasn’t a false alarm. It was the middle of the night, the trains stop running, and I figured she’d need the sleep as well. A bonus to all this was that Allison was around to provide the role of distracting and comforting.
Then we all slept. I woke up around 4, with more labor pains. They were like the ones before. They started getting more intense, to the point where I couldn’t quite concentrate fully when they happened. My brain needed to use some power to perceive and handle the contraction pain. It certainly wasn’t something I couldn’t handle, especially in wave form. I knew the pain, I knew it was coming, I knew it would recede. Totally doable. Jason kept timing contractions, and we both dozed between them. I think there was a lot more time between them.
Around 8 am, we got up. Allison was up too, and she went and got us breakfast. One of the plans Al and I had was to paint my toenails. I don’t usually care about such things, but I got it in my head that having cute toenails would be something that would bring me comfort. Al painted my toenails between contractions. By 9, Jason and I were curled up on the couch, and I was mostly thinking about contractions. Al decided it was best for her to leave. She was right, but I couldn’t bring myself to ask her to go. My sense of hosting overrode my sense of nesting.
After Al left, Jason and I stayed on the couch, counting contractions. Well, he counted. I still had no sense of time, and was in a very zen place, where my only expectations were to feel the beginning of the next contraction, ride with it like a wave, and then relax. These contractions had been of the can’t-quite-concentrate variety. If we had a movie on, I wouldn’t have been able to follow the plot fully.
The contractions kicked themselves up a notch to what I’ve classified as level 3 (1 being gas pain-like, 2 being hard-to-concentrate). Level 3 was where to be able to handle the contraction, I needed to make a noise. I mostly made a low aaaa sound (as in father, not able), or a mmmmm sound. It worked really well, turning down the intensity of the contraction. I wasn’t talking during those contractions, which is what the midwives had described when we’d called them at midnight.
Besides being curled up on the couch, the other position I took up was on my hands and knees on the shag rug next to the couch, holding my head in Jason’s lap, while holding his hands. I’m not sure if it’s comforting because it’s cliched, or if it works on some primal level, but holding Jason’s hand became a necessity throughout labor.
I think Jason called A’Nova at some point, and told her to meet us at the hospital. Previously, we had talked about her coming over during early labor, specifically to play cribbage between contractions. I didn’t feel the need to be distracted — in fact, I was keenly interested in experiencing the contractions. Plus, I had Allison to paint my nails.
At 10:30, the contractions were of the level-3 variety, about 5 minutes apart (although not consistently), which is when the midwives want you to call them. We hadn’t packed a bag (we assumed 80 would be overdue, if anything), so Jason grabbed a few things, and pulled the car around front. We agreed that if I started having a contraction in the car, he’d try to pull over, so I could contract in peace. We live about 7 minutes from the hospital, and I had one contraction on Sparks Street. It’s a one-way, with little traffic, so there was ample time for Jason to calmly pull over.
Thus ends part one. I’m erring on the side of getting the thing posted, rather than writing this huge, epic blog post that I don’t post for weeks.