Yes, we’re calling him by his middle name, Calvin. Bonus points if you remember why.
Here is my best recollection of his birth:
We spent the weekend finishing up the biggest parts of our move. Since the moving crunch was over and having a baby was the next thing on our list, I was finally allowed to work a little. Nobody wanted me to overdo it, but I was given clearance by the entire family to go into labor anytime. By Sunday we were ready for some good ole’ Sabbath rest. We all wondered if that would be my cue to start labor. I had labored slowly on a Sunday with Parker, and delivered him early Monday morning. Maybe it would happen the same way this time.
It seemed like a promising theory, but Sunday morning came and went with no sign of labor. We all went to church, stayed for the fellowship meal that followed, and headed home in the afternoon as usual. For the first time, our drive home was less than 15 minutes. I think we’re going to enjoy living in town!
The rest of the day was similarly uneventful, and I went to bed still wondering if I had 10 hours or 10 days to wait.
Around 6 AM on Monday morning, I woke to mild contractions. There was nothing unusual about this. They tend to hurt a little more when my bladder is full, and it’s always full by morning. However, after a trip to the bathroom I found myself still lying awake with contractions every 15 minutes. These seemed just a little stronger and more regular than the Braxton Hicks I had been experiencing for long. They were just enough to make me casually glance at the clock each time I felt one. I lay there awake for the next hour, using my phone to
time contractions read email and browse facebook.
At 7, Perry woke and asked if I was timing anything. (How did he know?! I wasn’t even doing it self-consciously.) I waffled, hopeful but not wanting to raise false hopes. “No. Well, sort of. Every 15 minutes, but nothing strong. I’m sure nothing will happen with everyone home and awake. Maybe tonight?” He asked if I wanted him to take all the kids to work today, and I thought it was a wonderful idea. I’m not always in a hurry for so much solitude, but today I relished the idea of a quiet, empty house. Maybe labor would start if I had the house to myself. It would feel like laboring at night, when all was quiet and nobody was watching or demanding constant updates.
While they all got ready to leave, I got up, showered and dressed. The activity caused a change in my contractions: instead of light and regular, they were frequent, indistinct and slightly crampy. There was no beginning and no end, just some vague discomfort that radiated to my back and entire torso. I lay down again. I didn’t want to slow things down, but this felt unproductive. I just wanted to hit the reset button, and start again with nice regular contractions.
Before leaving, Perry prayed with me and said some encouraging things. I smiled, thanked him, and told him I wasn’t scared now. I was ready to do this.
The reset worked, and I soon rose again to a quiet, empty house. I wandered restlessly, doing light housework and posting an update on our blog. Contractions were coming every 6-10 minutes, not painful, but intense enough to require my attention. I called my midwife to let her know I was in early labor but progressing very slowly. Her office was just minutes away, and after I hung up I realized I should have asked her to stop by before she left town, but I wasn’t worried about it. I could call her later, or maybe she would call for an update when she finished the day’s appointments.
The entire morning passed this way, slow and uneventful, with contractions very gradually gaining strength but staying widely spaced. Perry checked in on me via email and text, requesting updates and making sure I didn’t want or need anything. By lunchtime, I was experimenting with my exercise ball and making low sounds at the peak of each contraction, but not out of necessity. I was just practicing some self-conscious relaxation for when I needed to manage the pain later. At this point, the peaks were strong but hardly what I would call painful. I was hesitant to even call it active labor. I thought of this as more pre-labor, as my body got ready for the real stuff later tonight.
Perry and the three oldest girls came home for a late lunch. He had let the three youngest spend the afternoon with Deanna and Tyler, and the pastor’s wife took the three middle girls to play with her daughter. I was afraid our sitters had been unknowingly volunteered to host slumber parties, but I wasn’t about to complain. This had been such a peaceful labor so far, I didn’t want to derail it with chaos and ruin my own attitude. Perry knew what he was doing.
I came downstairs and had lunch with them, chatting between contractions and leaning quietly against any handy furniture during peaks. Before they left, they inflated the birth pool and hooked the hose to the water heater just in case I wanted to use it quickly and didn’t want to wait for Perry to make the 15 minute drive home from work. At this point, I didn’t see that happening, but I appreciated the thoughtfulness.
After they left, contractions picked up a bit more in strength. Now I was finding it very helpful to breathe and vocalize through the peaks. On a scale of 1-10 I wanted to say the pain was peaking at a 4 or 5, until I remembered that the Labor scale was nothing like the I Stubbed My Toe scale. Then I realized I’d better keep the numbers conservative so that I didn’t end up at 27 on a scale of 1-10. I decided to call it a 3, or maybe just 2.5. Or if I really wanted to scare myself, it could be a 2. This hurt, but it wasn’t scary at all yet.
I posted another update to the blog at 3:40 and wondered how much progress I was making. I felt a little shaky, but knew it was probably because I hadn’t eaten enough during the course of the day. Lunch was late and light, and I had forgotten to snack throughout the morning. I had a snack and knew I would feel better in a few minutes when it hit my bloodstream. I resolved to do better when labor kicked in later tonight. Right now, I was going to have a nap so I could save my strength for later.
When I lay down, contractions went back to every 10-12 minutes and seemed to lose a little strength. They were 1 1/2 – 2 minutes long now and still strong enough to wake me, but I was easily able to sleep between them. Just before 6, Perry and the girls got home from work. I heard them moving about downstairs for a few minutes, and then footsteps headed up the steps. I was still in bed but awake when Perry looked in on me. He was thinking of going to the store for some last-minute labor supplies. Was I still doing alright? Was this a good time to leave, or did I want him to stay home now? I assured him that I was resting easily, labor was still light, and he should definitely go.
I felt another contraction start as he headed down the stairs. 5:51 PM. A minute later, my water broke.
I wasn’t just surprised. I was shocked and suddenly lost. In 11 previous deliveries, my water has NEVER broken before I am fully dilated and ready to push. My biggest and best signal of where I stood in labor had just disappeared. I fought my rising panic and called for Perry, desperately hoping he was still in the house.