Saturday, August 11, 2012

Birth Story: Early Labor

Axel, 2012

You know that Christmas Eve feeling? Or the feeling you get the night before an early morning flight to somewhere exotic, when you know you need to sleep but just can’t? I was up all night on Friday the 3rd, so excited that this was really happening.

After that first contraction, things began to seem a little regular. It wasn’t exactly more painful than period cramps, but each one came on like a small wave, with a definite start and stop to it. My uterus got a little hard and sore. Not enough to really hurt, but definitely enough to  make it impossible to fall back to sleep. I didn’t time things, but I guessed that contractions were happening every 8-10 minutes. 

I felt like I’d definitely be meeting the baby that weekend.

When the sensation got too distracting, I got out of bed, leaving Will to sleep (he’d need his stamina over the next few days, I reasoned, and I also didn’t want to wake him up to cry wolf.) 

I made a cup of tea and sat out on the balcony, watching all the Williamsburg revelers stumbling to the next bar. It was amazing to feel the night air on my skin and to be alone with my thoughts, even if they weren’t all that coherent.  They went something like: “Baby! Soon! Amazing! Possibly the last night without him! Mindblowing!”

In the morning when Will woke up, I was almost hyper, and really excited to report that I’d had contractions all night long. I told him we had to go out for food, and soon, and so we went for breakfast at the Verb. After that, I canceled plans to see a friend later that day and basically hung out in bed for the rest of the day. I did a few rounds of cat and cow on the living room floor just to try to get comfortable. 

At some points, I was sure things were picking up and I started to look at the clock (when I wasn’t googling “False Labor” or reading up on natural childbirth.) I also kept visualizing the baby. Nothing very exact but just this image of a pink, warm, squirmy newborn. I knew that things were going to get hard and that I needed to keep remembering the end goal. I asked Will to stock up on food that afternoon, and he came home with coconut water, Gatorade, a roast chicken, an enormous watermelon and mangos. 

That night, when Brooklyn cooled down, Will and I went for a walk down by the waterfront and looked at the skyline from the pier. He had begun timing my contractions with an app on his phone, and so I’d tell him when one was beginning and ending while we sat on a bench overlooking the East River. 

I was getting a little bit nervous that it was nearly 11 p.m. and I hadn’t slept for in nearly 24 hours and was going to be up all night, no end in sight. I was also starting to get a little discouraged by “the numbers,” which were indicating irregular contractions, and made me feel a little like I was failing some kind of test. Eventually I asked Will to stop timing them because it was getting frustrating to know that I wasn’t discernibly closer to the end. 

When we got home, Will called our doula to let her know what had been happening, and she suggested I take a Tylenol PM and have a cocktail and to try to get some rest. I resisted at first, because 1) rest seemed impossible, and 2) I felt like we’d be leaving for the hospital any moment. Our bags were packed and on the kitchen table. In the end I followed her advice, but it didn’t seem to slow things down. In fact, by around 2 a.m., the contractions seemed to be around 5-7 minutes apart and getting more and more intense. 

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