|Not in swimsuit shape. Not a problem.|
I heaved my weary body into the chair and Ying looked me up and down appraisingly,
"You go to hospital now?"
I cocked one eyebrow in mild alarm,
"Well, yeah, if labor starts."
"Okay then, you tell me if it too hard."
And we were off.
Now this isn't some kind of tortuous, violent pummeling we're talking about here. It's actually a fairly relaxing and somewhat gentle head/neck/shoulders/foot/leg/back massage. But the money is in the 15-20 minutes spent on the foot/ankle region. That seems to be what kicks my body into baby town, every time.
I was having mild feelings of conflicting guilt while she worked my feet, realizing that 7 pm on a Friday night with my husband all the way across town at a major sporting event was probably an inopportune time to start labor. But, I was so tired. And so sore. And I just didn't have the heart to stop her once she started on my swollen ankles. Once the massage was over and I was waddling out to my car I realized that I was already having mild contractions, but that overall my body felt good for the first time in weeks. I decided to go home, hit the warm bath, and see if anything came of it.
Dave rolled in around 11 pm, and the contractions were still coming at fairly regular intervals, but they were mild. I told him to try to sleep and I wandered the house, ping-ponging between the living room and the family room, trying to decide if the lumpy microfiber couch was more comfortable than the sweaty pleather number. Around 5 am I was convinced that we needed to head to the hospital, as my contractions had been 5 minutes apart for about 6 hours at this point. Never mind the fact that they still weren't terribly painful and that I insisted we hit up the Starbucks drive thru en route. (Note: if you are interested in coffee and/or sausage breakfast sandwiches, you're probably not in active labor.)
A couple snooty nurses, one very friendly and compassionate one, and 3 odd hours of monitoring and walking the halls later, our sweet nurse Katie sent us home with instructions to walk or rest up, and that she'd see us back later that night. Heads hung in shame, we shuffled out of the ER entrance at a paltry 3 cm and drove home to catch a quick nap before my baby shower. By the time my mom and sisters arrived to decorate and lay the spread for a very late-in-the-game celebration, I was having much more painful and regular contractions but I was determined to 1. eat that cake and 2. stay the hell away from the hospital until I had something to show for myself.
I mean, come on, who has a false start with baby #3?
Anywho, cake was consumed, presents were unwrapped, and friends were mildly amused/lightly traumatized when I paused to breath through particularly painful contractions during the party. The rest of the day is pretty hazy, but I did manage a nap at some point, and like 3 more baths. Damn I love baths. Around midnight that night, after a couple hours staring at a plastic image of Our Lady of Guadalupe and realizing I will never, ever attempt an unmedicated birth and that I most definitely would have died in childbirth had I belonged to any other century, I knew it was go time. For real, this time.
Back in the car, back to the hospital, back to the nurse's station with my head hung in shame…or was it in a painful contraction posture? It must have been the second, for they put me into a real LDR room and skipped right over triage, glory! And then, the moment of truth, the cervical exam. I mentally held my breath as my nurse winked and pronounced me a "conservative 6.5 cm" while assuring me that she had chubby fingers and I was probably further even than that. Weird. And awesome. Dave and I started high-fiveing each other because holy crap, 3.5 cm at home with relative 'ease' on my part, and I wasn't even screaming for my drugs yet.
Our sweet nurse inquired about my plans for pain relief and I told her they involved regulated substances and later, beer and ice cream. She told me now would be a wonderful time to get an epidural and I laughed with delight, because it didn't even hurt that much yet, and yes please, send that wonderfully overpaid doctor up right away. She mentioned something about sending my blood to the lab to check my platelet count and quoted us 30 minutes till party time. And then she left. 30 minutes later, no doctor or nurse in sight, I wondered if maybe I had misheard her. An hour later, with pain started to become kind of a teensy bit on the unmanageable side, I wondered if we maybe should call somebody. Nearly 2 hours later, I had Dave by the collar during a contraction and told him to go out into the hallway and yell her name, where in the hell are my drugs?
Apparently my wonderful doctor had fallen back asleep? Forgotten? To order my labs, and so while the contractions intensified and labor mounted, nary a platelet was counted. And to think I'd been worrying about whether I'd have the chance to offer anything up during this birth. As it turned out, yes. But I'll have to leave you hanging here because somebody is demanding a latte. To be continued…
(Part 2 here.)