Warning: This post contains references to female body parts and bodily functions that one generally doesn't talk about in public. It is also loaded (far more than usual :-) with sappy emotion, so if you are the owner of a y chromosome and / or a delicate sensibility you are advised to give this set of posts a miss.
Despite my resolve to be all zen if Munch didn't arrive by his due date, I must confess to feeling rather antsy as the 21st of June came and went with no excitement other than a particularly agile housefly that confounded my efforts to kill it for most of the morning.
Bouncing around on the birthing ball, performing allegedly labour-inducing accupressure on myself, walking, swimming, visualizing going into labour, talking to the baby - nothing was working. (And no, don't tell me about orgasms - at almost 41 weeks pregnant I was NOT going to try that!)
It seems my body liked being pregnant so much it was refusing to give this baby up.
By the 24th, I was so desperate, I even considered castor oil, something I had sworn I would never do again. The next day, I was due for a checkup and a non stress test - to check if the baby was still doing ok and if the placenta function had started to deteriorate. If all was well, my doctor had said, it would just be a matter of waiting for another week. Ha, so easy for her to say!
(A word of explanation here - having had Moppet by C-sec, I was trying for a vaginal birth this time. This meant that labour couldn't be induced by the usual drugs since that has been shown to increase the risk of uterine rupture in VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean section) cases. It had to happen naturally. If it didn't, I'd have to go in for a repeat C-sec at 42 weeks.)
So anyway, on the morning of the 25th, as I was getting ready to go for the checkup, I realised that I was getting some mild contractions. Didn't tell anyone for fear that they might go away (it seemed a most reasonable fear at the time :-) and headed to the hospital. The doc did an internal exam and declared the cervix firmly closed.
But I'm having contractions, I burst out. The doc was not particularly impressed and told me to go on and take the test which would give us a clearer picture.
The birth centre nurse's reaction was far more gratifying. As the machine I was hooked to spat out a nice graph showing the baby's heartbeat and below it, my contractions, she looked at me in surprise. Oh, you're getting good contractions, she said. Yes, I grinned happily and added proudly, they're even hurting a little bit too.
Convinced I was cuckoo, she sent me back to the doc clutching my precious graph, but the damn woman was still unimpressed. Oh, she said with chilling casualness, they sometimes go away. But she was not entirely heartless, for she looked at my disappointed face and said, maybe you'll have the baby tomorrow, okay?
So I called the husband and proudly announced that it had started, but that he didn't need to head home just yet; he should soldier on earning our daily bread (and medical coverage) and I would let him know when. Although after that bit of news, I doubt he really earned his daily wage that day :-)
Anyway, I came home and spent the day pretty much as normal, even heading out for a walk in the park with the husband that evening. The contractions were getting stronger but not coming any closer together. For most of the day the contractions were coming at 6-7 minute intervals, lasting for 35-40 seconds each.
By Moppet's bedtime, the contractions were so painful that I'd have to stop reading / talking / singing every time one came along, prompting Moppet to ask tearfully - Mama are you okay? I had wanted to put her to bed before I went to the hospital, but I realised it was beyond me. And worse, it was frightening Moppet to see me like that.
Eventually, it was Ammamma who put her to sleep, while the husband and I debated whether we should go to the hospital or not. I didn't want to go too early - somewhere in the back of my head, I felt my first c-sec was because I landed up at the hospital too soon - but staying and hearing Moppet cry for me and not being able to go to her was stressing me out even more.
Finally around 11 pm, with a whispered word to Ammamma, we headed out to the hospital. I was relieved that Moppet was finally asleep, and confident that I would be at least 3-4 cms dilated by the time I reached. After all, the pains were coming fast and furious and they'd been really strong from around 8 pm that evening. Right?
Wrong! We reached the birth unit and the nurse examined me and announced that I was 1 measly cm dilated. What?!!!
Contd in Part 2: Endless Night