We sat down in Catherine the midwife's office. I fidgeted in my seat, as I was feeling crampy and uncomfortable from the membrane stripping.
“So…” Catherine began. She knew I wasn’t going to like this. “The physicians usually talk about scheduling an induction when you’re one week past your due date. For you, that would give us an induction date of Friday, September 5th.”
I nodded. “But my cycles tend to be longer than 28 days. I actually calculated my due date as being today, September 2. Couldn’t we add a few days to the deadline? Please?"
Catherine smiled wryly. “Don’t confuse the doctors with facts.” She looked down at her desk calendar. “Okay, here’s what we can do. If the doctor beats me up a little for not clearing this with her first, well… I can take it.”
She made some notes. “We’ll schedule another office visit for this Thursday, day after tomorrow. If you end up still being pregnant that day, we can strip your membranes again. Then we’ll schedule an ultrasound for Friday to check on the baby. If you make it to that appointment, they’ll check to make sure the baby has enough amniotic fluid and isn’t too stressed. If everything looks good, we’ll wait until Monday for the induction.”
“And if everything doesn’t look good?” I asked.
“Take your bag with you and be prepared to go straight to the hospital.”
I agreed, and Catherine called the hospital to schedule the induction for Monday morning, September 8th. Meanwhile, I silently begged the baby to come soon.
Mike and I stopped at a grocery store on the way home to buy some Kleenex. I threw a few other things in the cart, whatever struck my fancy- fresh pineapple, oatmeal cookies from the bakery, and a frozen Amy’s Organic Indian dinner to have for lunch. Every so often I had to stop and lean against Mike as contractions washed over me.
We didn’t get too excited, though. This had happened once before.
At home, I heated up my Indian food but only got halfway through. “Oh God,” I said. “This is disgusting. I can’t eat another bite.”
My mom made me some plain scrambled eggs and toast, saying that I should try to eat something in case this was real labor. I managed as much as I could, but suddenly my appetite was gone. The pineapple and cookies sat on the counter, untouched.
The contractions were still coming, but we weren’t timing them. Every time I felt one coming I went to the stairs and leaned on my knees and elbows, moaning, my face buried in the carpet. Mike called the doula, who told us to start timing them. They were coming three minutes apart, each one feeling like a mirror image of the last.
By now it was 2:00 in the afternoon, and Mike called the doula back and asked her to come to the house. We moved upstairs to our bedroom and I paced the room, stopping to lean on my dresser each time the contractions hit. Sometimes I sat on the exercise ball and leaned forward on the bed. The contractions felt like an intense squeezing around my lower abdomen and back. Alex sat near me on the bed, sniffing my head and licking my hand.
Mike called Catherine the midwife, who encouraged us to stay home for as long as possible. “I’ll call and tell them that you’ll be in eventually, but if you want a natural birth, try to stick it out at home for a while.” She wanted to speak with me, but I could only mumble at her.
"You're sounding like you're in pain," she said as we hung up. "This is good!"
Our doula, Cathy, arrived. She had brought all her tricks with her, including an aromatherapy machine. She knew I liked citrus and had bought some citrus oil for me. Soon the room was bathed in the fruity scent. Mike put our special CD of ocean sounds and meditation music on the CD player. My mom hovered nearby with ice chips and a trashcan, as I was gradually throwing up every bit of the Indian food I’d consumed earlier.
(a word of advice: if you even THINK you might be going into labor, don’t eat curry. You are welcome.)
Somehow, four and a half hours ran and blended together and soon it was after 6 p.m. The contractions were now less than two minutes apart. I was pretty much not speaking at all, so Cathy asked if I wanted to stay home or if I wanted to go to the hospital.
“I want to stay here,” I breathed. Suddenly, getting in a car and driving to the hospital seemed like the worst idea in the world. I couldn’t bear the thought of seatbelts and bumpy roads. I wanted only to climb into our giant bathtub and float in warm water. “I wish I was having a home birth!”
Everyone laughed. “I understand,” said Cathy. “But we’re not equipped for that.”
After some back and forth, I told Cathy that my biggest concern was getting to the hospital before I went into transition. I didn’t want to be in the car when that happened.
After a few more contractions, I decided that we should leave.
Mike called his mom and told her to meet us at the hospital, since I’d invited her to be there for the birth. There was a flurry of activity as the car was packed, the dog was taken out to go to the bathroom, and our next-door neighbor was called upon to care for him that night. Mike and I got into our car, my mom ran to hers, and Cathy followed behind us.
On the way to the hospital I remember gazing at the drivers and pedestrians around us. They were going about their business without realizing the huge thing that was happening to me. I wondered if anyone could tell that there was a woman in labor in the front seat.
We reached the hospital shortly after 7 p.m. I remember stopping in the parking lot and holding onto the trunk of a tree on the way in, moaning as another contraction squeezed my body. The thought of “Hey- I’m a tree hugger!” drifted somewhere in the recesses of my mind, but I couldn’t laugh. I was aware of my mom recording me on our camcorder, and Mike stroked my back.
On we moved, through the front entrance of the hospital. I was vaguely aware of people watching me as they passed. “This is it!” I told myself. “You are having a baby!”
Once inside, my group moved to the front desk. I heard the receptionist calling for a wheelchair.
“No!” I said feebly. “No wheelchair.” Standing was the only thing that felt bearable.
“What?” the woman asked, confused. “She doesn’t want a wheelchair?”
“No chair,” I gasped, pressing my forehead against the wall and rocking back and forth. “NO CHAIR!” Mike called to her. She backed off.
After that contraction passed we got on the elevator, but another one hit just as the doors opened on the labor & delivery floor. I stood with my face pressed into the cool metal wall as the door pinged and attempted to close over and over again. Finally I could move, and we got off. “Sorry,” I mumbled to the people who had been waiting to board.
We had to be buzzed into L&D by the nurses. One of them asked for my photo ID, and I tossed my purse to Mike’s mom as another contraction washed over me. She ran down the hall, waving my driver’s license. As the pain slowly ebbed, I realized that I was standing in the doorway of the waiting room with an audience.
,” a little boy said sadly, looking at me.
is right,” I told him, trying to smile.
It seemed to take an eternity, but finally a nurse came to take us to our room. We were off to the races!
Labels: Birth Story, Doulas, Midwives, Natural Childbirth