Monday, July 17, 2017

Gaius's Birth Story, Part I: Is This Really Happening?!!

I woke up on Thursday, July 6 to a contraction. Rudely awakened by the painful tightening, I stumbled drowsily into the bathroom to drain the little bit of pee that my bladder could hold. As I crawled back into bed, a little more alert, I wondered if I had really had a contraction at all, or if the feeling was left over from a fading dream. I closed my eyes, hoping to doze off again before Jadon and Eden skipped into my room to ask for a banana.

Then I had another one. This time, my eyes flew open. 

I was exactly 39 weeks pregnant that day. But pre-labor signs were the last thing on my mind. After all, Jadon had been born twelve days past his due date; Eden had to be coaxed out with castor oil fourteen days past her due date. I fully expected to be pregnant with little Gaius for another three weeks! What's with these contractions?!

I turned over to Jon, who was just waking up. "Jon."


"I just felt two contractions. Like, not just Braxton Hicks contractions, but real, uncomfortable, annoying, pre-labor contractions."

He turned over to look at me, and motioned to take my hand. I offered it, and he gave it a reassuring squeeze. "You ready to have a baby?"

"Well, I guess I might have to be," I responded outwardly. Inwardly, I asked, How can you be so calm? This isn't happening today! You should be laughing at me, asking if I'm really sure, something!

We rolled out of bed and started getting ready for the day ahead. Jadon and Eden emerged from their beds, asking for their morning bananas. I took a rare morning shower to test and see if the contractions continued. They did. They were sporadic, anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes apart, but real, and not going away. 

I thought about my plans for the day. Soon, our upstairs neighbor would be sending down her daughter for me to watch while she was at work. After feeding everyone breakfast, I would drive us all over to the home of Alison, my doula, to also watch her two kids for the morning. I knew I had no reason to cancel any of these plans right then, but I hoped I wouldn't have to inconvenience two families by going into labor while I was in charge of their kids.

Once we arrived at Alison's house, the kids poured out of the car to greet their friends and start playing. I followed Alison into her kitchen and practically blurted out that I had been experiencing contractions all morning. She gave me the look that I had expected from Jon: surprise and doubt, mixed with a little smirk.

I proceeded to explain how I woke up, and how these contractions were different from Braxton Hicks. She laughed, "Oh, stop it, stop it. It's so not fair. Alison, I was having contractions like that with Joel starting at, like, 14 weeks!" We have frequently joked with each other that we would be a perfect baby-making team if I could take on pregnancy, and then she could somehow take over at labor and delivery. I took her comment in good humor, but it did cause me to question if I was experiencing something that was "normal" for most full-term pregnant women, but I had yet to experience with my "easy" pregnancies.

Once Alison left, I turned my attention to the little people in my care. Looking back, having all those kids and their needs fill up my day helped me not become consumed with what was going on in my body. I continued to notice the contractions as I helped pick backyard raspberries, set up a sprinkler, tend to "owies," make lunch, read books, and police conflicting ideas of what games and imaginative play should come next. 

It was time to return home around 1:30, and I had a few more contractions during the drive. It was another couple hours of playtime before my neighbor came home, and I continued to notice the presence of these sporadic, uncomfortable contractions. The kids were playing so nicely that I decided to sit down at my sewing machine at the dining room table and try to finish a few more cloth diapers for Gaius once he outgrew my newborn sizes.

I remember my eyes unexpectedly tearing up at the sewing machine. It was the first time that day where I had a pause, just a moment to myself. My sudden emotional response helped me admit to myself what I already knew deep inside: this baby was coming, and it wouldn't be in three weeks. Maybe not tonight, but probably in the next couple days.

By 5:00, my neighbor was back from work, and Jon arrived home soon after. He asked me what time we had to leave, since Thursday night is "Grandma night," and we planned to go out to our favorite restaurant downtown. I told him that Grandma was expecting us around 6, and that the contractions had continued all day. 

"Did you tell Pam yet?"


"You need to contact her and give her a heads up. We don't even have the birth tub yet."

So I texted Pam:

When she called me back, she affirmed that she was surprised by the timing of it all, but that she trusted what I was feeling. I told her that I planned to go about our evening as planned, which she agreed was a good idea. She reminded me that pre-labor contractions could last for days, or even weeks. What she needed to know was when I was experiencing clear labor patterns, and she needed to actually start heading my way once contractions were under five minutes apart, or lasting longer than a minute, or if my water were to break.

After I hung up, I downloaded a contraction timer app to my phone so that I could actually start tracking myself objectively. 

Soon it was time to pile the family into the car. As I walked the kids into my parents' house, I happened to get another contraction. We found my mom in the kitchen. She greeted the kids, then looked at me and asked, "What's wrong?"

"Oh, nothing's wrong...I've just been experiencing contractions...all day!"

My mom's eyes opened wide with anticipation. I told her that there was no established pattern yet, but that I was pretty sure labor would come much sooner than I had originally thought. However, I knew that really anything was possible at this point. Pre-labor pains could plague me for days, but go away at night; they could last all night and ramp up into an exhausting labor the next day on little sleep; they could jump straight into active labor if my water were to break. 

All the same, my mom was excited, and insisted on taking a picture of me, in case it was the last one I would get before Gaius arrived. 

As we parted, I told her that we would pick up the kids before 9. She told me to keep her posted.

Jon and I headed downtown for dinner at our new favorite Milwaukee restaurant, Bavette. However, we completely forgot that Summerfest was in full swing, so traffic was thick, and parking looked impossible. As we drove around for the next half hour, I continued to track my contractions. I also had a long text conversation with my doula.

Soon, I noticed that they started coming in under ten minutes apart. We decided to ditch the downtown area for something closer to home.

We arrived at the Riverwest Filling Station, located just three blocks from our house, just before 7. I was relieved to step into the air conditioning, as it was nearly 90 degrees that day. We sat at the bar and started looking over the menu, all while I continued to track the contractions. They were about 7 minutes apart. I texted Pam a screen shot of my contraction timer to give her an update. She recognized that things were picking up and asked if I wanted her to come down. I still had this haunting suspicion that labor could taper off. I can't have this entire birth team come to my house, only to send them home again. I told her I wanted to have a few more contractions first.

We ordered our food. Then they started coming in less than five minutes apart. I knew that there was really no turning back now. It had taken me all day to realize that this was really it. I am definitely in labor. I am having a baby tonight!

I showed Jon the timer app. We requested that our food be put in take out bags since we needed to leave sooner than originally planned; I was in labor. I don't think I've ever seen a waiter power walk that fast.

I texted Pam that it was go time. I really hoped that she would get to our house in time to set up the birth tub.

I texted Alison. She said she'd head over as soon as she finished dinner with her family.

I called my mom. She said that she was already anticipating keeping the kids overnight. I laughed to myself, knowing that I literally dropped them off with the clothes on their back, and technically, Jadon was only wearing his swimming trucks and rash guard from playing in the sprinkler that morning. He didn't even have underwear! 

Our food arrived, and we headed out the door.

Click here to read Part II

1 comment:

  1. Ah, so beautiful! Excited for part 2. Still giggling from, "I don't think I've ever seen a waiter power walk that fast." (Great comment for Yelp review of the restaurant, btw. hah!) <3