|Beckett's first photo op|
This labor wasn’t what I expected it to be but then again, when is it? I’d been told when I was pregnant with Calder not to have a birth plan, or at least not to be wedded to one, and I suppose that was good advice given the way things played out.
|this is serious, everybody|
It’s shortly before 9am and I’m standing at the kitchen sink loading the dishwasher after feeding Calder breakfast. A sharp pain in my side has me heading for the couch instead of breakfast, and I tell Kraemer I need to lay down. My voice has an edge, so he plays it cool and tells me to relax while he takes Calder out back. About 10 or 15 minutes later – I’m not timing – I try to stand, thinking I’m not getting another one. But the second I stand up, there it is, and it’s strong. "I think it's labor," I shout around the corner, and I’m going to go upstairs to lay down and do this labor thing from the comfort of bed. I’d been hoping to go into labor on a weekday so that Virginia (our nanny) would have Calder and Kraemer could be my full-time doula, but it’s beginning to look as though that plan will not pan out.
After my first pregnancy, I’d read more into the phenomenon of Braxton Hicks, and how if you move positions sometimes these false contractions will go away, so I decide to get up and start a bath. Hm, no. Contraction. I lay down. I call the doctor, and the answering service tells me they’ll return the call within one hour, two at the most. I get up to brush my teeth. Not so much. I call Kraemer upstairs and when he gets there, ask that he call 911. A one-hour call-back time isn’t going to cut it, and there’s no way I’d be able to a) sit up in the car to wear a seat belt or b) make it to the hospital in time if we have to get Calder into a car seat and heed the traffic lights. I’m still not timing my contractions, but that’s mostly because, well, I don’t have to time these to know they are too strong and too fast to just be getting started. After assuring Kraemer there is NO way I’m getting downstairs into our car, I hear him replying to the dispatcher that my contractions are, yes, less than five minutes apart. This must have all been over a span of 25 minutes.
At this point, I’m more inside my head than anything else and keep my eyes squeezed shut the entire ride there. I’m certain labor and delivery CAN be a peaceful experience for some, and I’m trying to picture all of the relaxation techniques I’d learned about only a couple days before in a birthing class that will later (or rather had already) become a joke between Kraemer and I. Not that I’m in a position at this stage to really use any of them except for breathing in my nose and out my mouth, so I do. I’m sure that though challenging, generally labor is nothing to fret about, but I’m admittedly freaked out. My baby is early, I’m in transit rather than at home with a midwife or in the hospital with doctors, and I’m in the company of paramedics, not my husband.
I’ve got a death grip on the paramedic’s hand, who, by the way, has been great. By the time they roll me into L&D without stopping in the ER, as is protocol, I’m 8 cm dilated. The doctor introduces herself and apologizes for not having been able to return my call. The room is full of residents, nurses and doctors, which is probably normal but still a bit overwhelming, but I’m happy to have made it to the hospital, period. The paramedic tells me apologetically that at this stage she needs to get out the way, and no one steps in to take her place, so I find myself grabbing the railing on my bed. I realize that Kraemer, who has to find someone to watch Calder, isn’t going to make it for the birth. The doctor who has been seeing me throughout my pregnancy happens to be on a call and I feel a little bit of comfort when he walks into the room, a familiar face. I have two or three more contractions once in the room before having contractions where I feel the urge to push, and the doctors confirm it’s time.