You know what I keep not getting round to? Writing the new birth story. So right now, as Little Miss bleats from the bouncy seat where I put her down five seconds ago and whence I will no doubt have to pick her up two minutes hence, I will at least begin.
There we were, Monkey and I, one afternoon in November, two weeks and two days before my due date. It was election day, actually. Monkey was up from his nap and we were lolling on the sofa having some “side” (ie nursing) before getting round to going out for our usual afternoon jaunt to Safeway or wherever. And suddenly, “flub,” went something wetly in my pants. “Oh wow,” quoth I, because I knew where this was going. Yes, even though only something like 15% of labours actually begin with the melodramatic “and then my waters broke and there was fluid everywhere”, both mine have done.
Actually, let me back up a little. That morning, something else a mite portentous had happened. I had lost my mucous plug. I don’t remember this happening with my first labour, but this time I was pretty sure what that yellow blob in the loo was. I looked up “mucous plug” images on the web, just to be sure. That was a nice thing to do before breakfast. Anyway, I knew that meant very little beyond that I would have a baby in the next week or two, which I sort of knew anyway, but it was, um, interesting. It led to my prevaricating when I happened to be on the phone later in the morning to my sister-in-law, who was then able to claim that she knew I was in labour before I did, because I sounded funny on the phone. I just hadn’t wanted to treat her to a blow-by-blow account of what was going on in my ladyparts.
So. Back to the sofa. I told Monkey that something had happened and it meant the baby was going to come soon, probably today or tonight. Then I got up and did the same pointless flapping around looking for a pad and a large towel to sit on that I’d done the previous time, except at least it wasn’t two in the morning, and my husband was on the far side of the K-Mart car park at work, not in Houston. Yay. (He doesn’t work in K-Mart. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I just just mean that there’s hardly anything between home and his workplace other than that particular car park.) I gave him a ring and mentioned that he might want to pack up and come home and tell them he wouldn’t be back in for two weeks or so. Not that I was having contractions, but I thought they’d probably start soon enough. I also called the birthing center and the midwife said to wait till I was contracting hard, five minutes apart for five minutes each, and then ring again. I also rang my wonderful friend, Alice, who was on babysitting notice for when the baby would be coming. Luckily, it was a Tuesday so she wasn’t at work and wouldn’t have to work the next day either, so she was free to come over with her daughter and hang out and watch Monkey whenever we’d need her.
Then I repaired to the sofa. Monkey was looking worried and ominously quiet. I asked him was he okay, and he said, “Giant coming.” He’d been having nightmares about giants lately, and I think it was his psyche manifesting the prospect of the baby as something big and scary. (He’s so clever, my boy, to be able to verbalise such a thing.) I tried to comfort him and sound as normal as possible. I didn’t really want to nurse him much more in case it made the contractions come too fast, but I did nurse him a bit. We’d cut right back to only mornings, but with so little of my pregnancy left I’d relinquished a bit and let him nurse after his nap or before dinner some times, feeling like it was the last time he’d get uninterrupted side so he may as well make the most of it.
So B came home and made tea or whatever one does in these situations, and I had some cereal and drank some water and made sure everything was in my bag, and went to bed for a couple of hours. I didn’t sleep, and the contractions started coming slowly but surely, but the rest was good. Still, I didn’t want them to go away entirely, so I got up after a while. I languished on the sofa with B’s fancy running watch that has a stopwatch in it, trying to time the contractions – I never had to do that last time, since we were in hospital hooked up to the infernal machine; this was much better – and leafing through my Ina May Gaskin Midwifery book from the library to get me into the right frame of mind. I didn’t think too much about what was going on, because I wanted to try and string things out till after Monkey’s bedtime, if possible, rather than asking Alice to put him to bed. I told a bunch of strangers on the Internet that I was in labour but hardly anyone in real life, in case it turned out to be a false alarm.