When we found out that we were due in December, we wondered whether we would meet Baby Lucking before or after Christmas. Every festive plan and party was RSVP’d with a tentative yes, baby depending. I was hoping for a Friday the 13th birth, and Baby Lucking luckily decided to cooperate. See, Friday the 13th can be lucky!
For about two weeks prior to the 13th, I kept feeling weird cramping feelings in my abdomen. I googled “Braxton Hicks,” and what people described didn’t really sound what I was feeling. Every once in a while, the feeling would be so startling that I would stop where I was. Mark would say excitedly “is it a contraction!?” And I would respond with “I’m not really sure what it is…” He would say “let’s just say it’s a contraction!” This happened numerous times before I just started responding with “sure.” In hindsight, I know now they were Braxton Hicks, but I just wasn’t sure what to expect.
Mark had injured himself at the beginning of November and was waiting for a surgery date, so we got to spend almost every moment of the last six weeks of being a childless couple together. Financially, it wasn’t ideal that he was home, but now I am so glad we had those weeks together. As we approached the due date, I was getting increasingly uncomfortable. We were eager to meet Baby Lucking before Christmas, so in addition to almost every method we read about inducing labour, we made a lot of visits to the mall to keep me up and active. I was determined to have all my Christmas shopping done by the end of November just in case I gave birth early (our due date was around December 18); I didn’t want to feel like I had to finish our Christmas shopping after the baby was born and malls were at their busiest. But as days went by at the beginning of December, I regretted doing my Christmas shopping so early, because each mall visit to be “mall walkers” as we called it (we like the show The Walking Dead) consisted of just walking – no shopping, which wasn’t as fun… Mark would limp and I would waddle through the mall.
During my visit to the OB the first week of December, we agreed that December 9th would be a “perfect” date to deliver if Baby Lucking decided to cooperate. My OB would be on call that day, so she would be the one to deliver (which would be ideal since she is awesome!).
I had my weekly OB appointment also scheduled for 9th. When the day came and I didn’t feel like labour was imminent, she asked if we wanted her to do an examination to see how things were progressing and to do a membrane sweep. Eager to meet our baby, we agreed to anything that would help things progress! She discovered I was 2 cm dilated and she did a membrane sweep to try to move things along. She made no promises that it would make anything move faster. I did not like the sweep! I found it incredibly painful as I gripped Mark’s hand. I laid on the table afterwards and felt a clammy sweat. The OB cautioned me against standing up because I looked so grey and I felt like I was going to vomit. Teary eyed, I apologized “for being such a suck.” If the sweep felt like that, what was labour going to feel like!?
We went home and waited. Nothing happened other than the odd contraction. We were hoping that things would progress soon; the weather forecast was not promsing with reports of a large amount of snow that coming weekend. In fact, on Tuesday the 10th, Mark felt the need to tell me I should hurry things along…
On the evening of the 12th, I started experiencing the contractions feelings more often but they weren’t regular (sometimes every 20 minutes or so before they would stop for an hour or two). We went to bed late on Thursday, and at about 2:00 AM I woke up to a stronger contraction. I dozed off before another one came about 6 minutes later. I started timing them on my phone and tried dozing in between the contractions but wasn’t getting a lot of sleep so I went downstairs so Mark could get some rest. Baby Lucking was coming and we knew we weren’t going to get much sleep soon!
In prenatal class, we were told to remember 5.1.1; we were to go to the hospital when contractions were 5 minutes apart, lasting for about 1 minute each, and were consistently like this for an hour. I was timing every contraction, and quickly noticed that my contractions went from about 6 minutes to 2-4 minutes apart. My contractions would come sporadically, some 2 minutes apart, and then the odd 6 minute one… I went upstairs and told Mark that I thought it was time to head to the hospital. I was nervous that I was just experiencing false labour, but the 2 minute contractions scared me (I did not want to give birth at home because I knew my tolerance for pain would likely lead me to wanting an epidural…). It was 5:30 AM and we excitedly left for the hospital wondering if the next time we came home would be with a baby. We had told our family that we would call them when we were in labour just to let them know that their new grandbaby/niece or nephew was on its way, but we decided to hold off on the calls since we weren’t sure what was going on with contractions.
We got to the hospital and walked to the birthing unit. They put me into a room and took their time coming to examine me. When they finally came to check me, they said I was only about 3-4 cm dilated. They said it was likely that we were to meet our baby that day, but that they didn’t want to admit me quite yet… They suggested I walk around the hospital for a few hours or go home. Running on very little sleep and pretty uncomfortable, I opted for home. Unsure what “sign” I should look for to return to the hospital (since most of my contractions were already less than 5 minutes apart…) I asked when I should know to return. They said when the contractions were more regular, my water broke, or if I started to bleed. Still unsure of what to look for, we left the hospital around 8:00 AM. (Speaking to my OB afterwards, she said she never would have let me leave…).
I went home to a nice warm bath (which helped quite a bit!). We decided that Mark should try to get some sleep (my contractions were too close together for me to get any sleep) since we knew it was going to be a long day. I went to our basement and tried some of the pain management techniques we learned about in prenatal (or at least the ones I could remember; I was more interested in learning about medicated coping strategies during the class…).
I tried the Pilates ball, but the pressure “down under” was too intense to be sitting on the ball. I tried laying down. I tried kneeling across the ball. But mainly, I focused on the HGTV shows I was watching (watching dreamy Scott McGillivray’s Income Property is a great coping strategy!). Mark insists that he didn’t get much sleep, but he was in deep enough of a sleep that he didn’t hear me moaning and yelping during my contractions… (Love you, hunny! xo).
Around 12:00 noon the pain was becoming more unmanageable, so I went upstairs to look for my heating pad. I couldn’t find it, so I joined Mark in bed. Just as I was about to tell him that I thought we should head back to the hospital, my water broke! Finally a glaringly obvious sign that it was time! Our bags were already in the truck from our morning visit, and I rushed to put on dry pants. I had been pretty nauseated all morning, and I had one last pregnancy puke before rushing out the door. Mark barely had time to call my parents (who had previously agreed to come get our dog when “it was time”) before we were on the road.
On our 15 minute drive to the hospital, it became obvious to me that we should have left the house earlier… My contractions were now all 1-2 minutes apart. I tried to focus on my “labour playlist” that I had created weeks earlier. While I tried to pick fitting songs for the occassion, there’s nothing like being in labour to realize which songs are actually soothing and which songs just make things worse…
The million dollar question was where to park… There is short-term parking just outside the birthing unit where Mark could drop me off and then go park the car in long-term parking. I wanted to be in the birthing unit immediatey, but I was also terrified to be without Mark in these last moments before delivery. But could I make the walk from long-term parking which was significantly farther away? My fear of being without Mark outweighed my fear of delivering in the hall, so I told Mark to park in long-term parking and together we made the longest walk of my life. Every minute or two, I would have to stop for a contraction, leaning against the wall moaning in pain while people bustled past me. Then it would pass, and I would try to walk as fast as possible before the next contraction hit.
When we got to the birthing unit, there was another couple before me. In comparison to what I was experiencing, it looked to me like they were going on vacation… She was calmly standing there with a rolling suitcase beside her while I leaned on the wall for support and groaned loudly. No one was coming to admit me and there was so much pressure, so I finally told Mark “you have to go get help! I feel like I have to push!” He returned with a male doctor or nurse (I can’t remember) who said something ridiculously stupid like “how are you feeling” or “you’re in labour?” I can’t remember exactly. I do remember feeling bad for the “vacationing couple” in front of me because they took me to a room before them.
I got into the bed and told the staff “I feel like I have to push!” They told me, “no, no. You still have a while. We have to examine you first.” Finally they did and the OB looked a little surprised when she said (or what I thought she said), “you’re 5 cm.” At this point, I may have let out a loud curse… That was my biggest fear, that I would be in so much pain only to find out that I still had so much more to endure. Then I heard the OB say to the nurse “You have to get the anesthesiologist. She wants an epidural and she’s already 9 cm!” I said “I’m 9 cm?! I thought you said 5…” I was so happy that I was so close, but also so worried that I wouldn’t get an epidural in time.
According to Mark, the nurse literally ran out of the room for the anesthesiologist who came in and had me sign a piece of paper agreeing to the epidural. I would have signed anything at that point, and I managed to scratch something that looked close to my signature. I almost debated not getting the epidural since I was already 9 cm dilated, but I was having a difficult time focusing and I had no idea how much longer it would be. If the staff had talked with me and told me I could deliver then and now and it would be over in minutes, I may have opted for no epidural. But all I remember is chaos and confusion (on my part), and I just wanted some relief.
It took them four tries to get the epidural in because – according to the nurse – I was sitting wrong. Frustrated with me, she kept wanting me to “bend down farther” but would then scold me for not breathing. I can understand why – the baby’s vitals would drop when I forgot to breathe – but I felt like telling her, “lady, I can’t even bend down to tie my shoes anymore and you expect me to bend more?!” They finally got it in, and I felt some relief before pushing.
With Mark beside me, I pushed and pushed. Again, the scrooge nurse scolded me for “not pushing right.” She wanted me to wrap my hands underneath my knees, pull up my own knees, and push at the same time. I felt like telling her “YOU hold up my knees! If you’re not going to help me hold up my knees, then what use are you standing beside me?!” Thank you, Mark, for holding up my right knee so I could focus on my left…
During the pregnancy, I kept telling Mark that I hoped our baby had lots of hair. He would reply “yeah right, the baby is a Lucking… Its not going to have any hair for months!” When the OB or nurse (again, can’t remember…) said “I can see the head! Your baby has lots of hair!” I grinned and was given more energy to push.
Well, I pushed. It was 2:37 PM, and I had been in the hospital for about an hour and a half. The baby came out. I was told it was a girl. And my life changed forever. It’s incredible how you can love someone so quickly. I never believed in love at first sight until I met my daughter.
On a side note, today our little girl giggled unmistakably for the first time. In love…