In the wee hours of Friday morning, 39 weeks and 4 days, I noticed blood on the paper during a routine middle-of-the-night trip to the bathroom, which freaked me out a little, because BLOOD! I spent the whole pregnancy in fear of seeing blood when I wiped and now, there it was! Scary scary scary! But only for a second. All the books I had read in preparation for labor said this was normal. I was fairly certain that this was my bloody show, AKA the placenta starting to separate from the cervix and labor getting ready to begin.
Now we were even more excited.
We spent the next day just sort of floating around, waiting for stuff to happen. John did a little research on his nerdy doctor websites and found that once a mom sees her bloody show, labor is very likely to start within 72 hours. I was fine with that.
We also called Dr. P, my NaPro OB, to make sure what we were seeing was normal. He said yep, light bleeding is fine, and get your hospital bags ready because we'll probably see you soon.
But by that evening, the bleeding had stopped and I was starting to think maybe the bleeding was just a fluke. I know, quite a silly thought, but your mind plays tricks on you when you're almost 40 weeks pregnant and you just can't wait to meet your babe.
Fast forward to the wee hours of Sunday morning and during another middle-of-the-night potty break I saw more blood! Cue happy dance! And then cue the contractions. They started off as mild period cramps and then got a tiny bit stronger from there. I was so excited, I couldn't sleep. Plus, ya know, contractions, even mild, kind of make it hard to doze off. So I just had to wake up John to tell him, even though it was 2 in the morning.
He got so excited too! We woke up and decided it was time to make my labor food of choice -- pancakes! Mmmmm. We knew that once labor really picked up and we had to head to the hospital, I wouldn't be able to eat anymore (hospital rules), so I had to stuff my face during these hours and pancakes were all I wanted.
While noshing on the best pancakes of my life, we decided to watch Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and start timing my contractions with this handy app. They were definitely picking up in intensity, if only slightly, and they were gradually getting closer together, maybe 5 minutes apart? But then, by the end of the movie, contractions really started to space out, to the point where I could fall asleep. And so I did. And so the contractions ended. Womp womp.
We spent the morning catching up on our lost sleep. When we woke, I was a bit bummed the labor didn't progress, since baby would have probably been born that night... on 5/10/15, the coolest birth date ever AND Mother's Day. Oh well. I quickly let that dream go and then stopped moping about because my body had figured out how to have contractions and baby was probably gonna come super soon!
Since it was Mother's Day, John told me we could eat whatever and do whatever I wanted. I think part of his plan was to keep me distracted from not being in labor anymore. Smart cookie, that one.
I decided an everything bagel with cream cheese from Panera and a sweet tea from McAllister's was exactly what this little momma needed. We spent an hour or so in McAllister's playing King of Tokyo, then decided to go on a long walk in the park. If labor was gonna stall, I was gonna at least try to coax it out again with a few laps around the park. We went to the park where we had our maternity pics done and that made it even more meaningful and lovely.
When we got home, we decided to watch a long movie to keep us distracted, and Inception just so happened to fit that bill.
As it turns out, Inception is exactly what my body needed to go into labor again! By the end of the movie at 5pm, I was feeling those lovely little contractions once more. Except now they were getting slightly more intense and closer together. Progress!
We quickly realized that if this labor kept progressing, we'd be having ourselves a due date baby, May 11, 2015. We didn't get our hopes up too much since labor had already stalled once before, but we also had a good feeling about it.
We went for a quick walk around the apartment complex to keep contractions going. Some were getting intense enough that I had to walk funny to get through them, like a weird waddle. I even had to stop to rest at one point.
After the walk, John cooked us the most lovely dinner, hot dogs and tater tots, and served it up on our wedding china. A most lovely dinner for laboring.
We spent the next hour playing a round of Ticket to Ride, which I'm apparently really good at when I'm in labor because I totally kicked John's butt. As we played, the contractions got more intense, to the point where I couldn't sit down on the hard wooden chair. And actually, this is when something really weird started to happen. I started to feel my contractions in a really awkward spot. All my contractions leading up to this point were felt in my abdomen and lower back. Totally normal stuff. But while playing Ticket to Ride, I started feeling them in a not-so-normal spot... my butt. That's right. I was experiencing what I like to call BUTT LABOR.
In all the birth stories I've ever read, no one has ever mentioned laboring in their butt. I've heard of back labor and how horrible those contractions are, but not once has anyone said that when their contractions hit their peak, they felt the most horrible urge to poop they've ever felt in their entire lives. And every time. And no, trying to have a bowel movement didn't help. There was nothing in there. Just a whole bunch of butt labor going on. It was so weird.
So we didn't sit down while we played Ticket to Ride. Instead, we'd slow dance during contractions and I'd sort of hang on John and squat to relieve all the butt pressure. At this point, I decided to start praying for all the women on my labor prayer list. I would read a name and her intention, then try to focus on it during the contraction while John said a few Hail Mary's. We got through almost a whole page of prayers (of 3) before we realized things were getting really intense. Contractions were definitely hard to talk through, at least 45 seconds long, and coming approximately every 3 minutes.
Everything I had read said if contractions are 4-5 minutes apart, lasting about 1 minute each for more than an hour, go to the hospital. So, as you can see, they kind of fit the bill, but kinda not. They were pretty intense, but not a full minute long usually. And I noticed that when I sat down on the couch, they would actually get easier and space out a bit. I figured this was because standing is a better position to bring baby down and out, so I was happy to stand if it meant a faster labor, but I was still confused by it all. Especially since I was feeling it in my BUTT and I knew that could be a sign that baby is moving into the birth canal and about to come out! I mean, we were pretty sure that wasn't the case, but we didn't want to take any risks. Meaning delivering-in-the-car-on-the-way-to-the-hopsital risks.
So we decided to call our doula, Amy. And she recommended waiting it out a bit more. She said if they got strong enough to the point where the intensity stayed the same whether I was standing or sitting, then we should head to the hospital. But for now, she felt it sounded a lot like early labor. She offered to meet us at our apartment, but since the contractions were still pretty manageable at that point, we opted to let her sleep. It was about 8:40pm at this point and we knew if we were going to be laboring through the night, we'd all need our energy.
Soon after we got off the phone with Amy, things got even more intense. Contractions were still easier when I was sitting vs. standing, but I was having some contractions less than 2 minutes apart. John kinda went into hyper-focused mode and made it his job to pack up the car. Our hospital bags had been packed for weeks, we just had to throw last minute things in them (toiletries, clothes, etc.), grab some pillows and the carseat, and get it all in the car. While he did that, contractions would get stronger, then weaker, then closer, then further apart. We were just really confused.
So I did what any confused laboring mama would do and made myself feel a little cuter by putting on my labor gown and throwing a bow in my hair.
And wouldn't you know, as soon as the car started moving, the contractions slowed down. They got pretty easy to breathe through and spaced out back to about 5 minutes apart. Now we were really confused, but we were already on our way, so we just went with it. And I basically told myself to set low expectations for progress and anticipate going home again before baby was born.
On the plus side, if things did look favorable and we decided to stay at the hospital, it was 10:30pm and there was no traffic whatsoever, making the drive so super easy. Actually, one of my fears leading up to labor was getting stuck in rush hour traffic on the way to the hospital, which would mean a 40 minute to 1 hour drive there as opposed to the normal 20 minute ride in, all while contracting painfully the whole way. Boy was I glad this baby was on his way in the middle of the night, hopefully, and taking it easy on his momma.
So around 11:00pm, we walked into the hospital ER and started the check-in process. I filled out my paperwork, not even stopping during a super easy contraction, and we waited for a nurse to meet us with a wheelchair.
She arrived not even 5 minutes later and wheeled us up to the triage floor to be checked. I had another easy contraction on the way up and thought... we really aren't going to be staying, are we? This labor is backing off again. Just prepare yourself, Stephanie, you're probably going home.
But that didn't stop me from being so excited to finally find out how much progress we'd made. Our nurse, Gabby, came into our room to introduce herself and check me in and then check my cervix. And wouldn't you know, we had made some progress!
To read part 2 click here.