Disclaimer: This is a birth story, which means it includes talk of body parts, bodily functions, and all that other stuff that comes along with having a baby. There’s nothing distasteful written here, but I still wanted to give a fair warning to those who might be sensitive to this sort of thing.On Wednesday, June 25th, I noticed that I was cramping a lot. I had been having some cramps the night before too, but I was trying to not really think about them or get my hopes up, since my due date was still a week away. The cramps kept coming all morning, but I still didn’t time them or pay them much attention. They were very low in my belly, which was completely different from how I remember my contractions feeling with Kaya. I went about my normal routine, still running two miles in the morning and then walking another two to take Kaya to the playground. I had my 39-week appointment with my OB at 1:30 pm, so I picked Michael up from work and we headed there.
Everything at the appointment was pretty standard, but I did tell him about the cramps. He said it sounded like my body was getting ready, and asked if I wanted to be checked. I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to know how dilated I was, but a part of me just had a feeling that my body had already made some progress. Well… he checked me, and my cervix was completely effaced and 4 cm dilated! He also said that her head was so low that he had to reach AROUND it to even check my cervix. I was so excited to be at 4 cm already. It gave me the hope I needed for a natural (unmedicated) birth, especially since it had taken me so long (and had felt so agonizing) to get to 4 cm with Kaya. My doctor predicted that I’d have a baby in just a couple of days. He was actually pretty eager to strip my membranes, but I was adamant about keeping this labor as natural as possible.
I dropped Michael off at work and noticed that I was now having some pretty intense cramps. They stayed low down in my belly, so they didn’t necessarily feel like all-encompassing contractions. I also felt like I needed to pee very badly, so I was eager to get home.
I used the bathroom as soon as I got home, and noticed a small gush. I wondered, just for a moment, if my water had broken… But I mostly just dismissed the thought. It sure seemed like a lot of liquid, but I had felt such an overwhelming urge to go to the bathroom that I just thought my bladder must have been very full.
Kaya went down for her nap, and I kept cramping, but just like I had done all day, I was trying to ignore it. I didn’t want to start timing contractions and putting too much focus on them, just in case I had a long labor again like I did with Kaya.
I spent some time texting back and forth with my friend Brittany. She was super excited about my cramps, and told me that she needed some “Tara time” with me before I had the baby and got super busy. Right before she arrived, I noticed that my shorts were wet… just a little bit on the backside. I was a little suspicious, but in the end, I chalked it up to my bottom just sweating a lot (it was a hot day and I had been sitting on a hard wooden chair). Looking back, I know now it was my water leaking. I changed my shorts and stayed completely dry after that, so I dismissed the possibility that my water had broken and went on with my day.
Around 3 pm, I noticed that the cramps really were feeling like mini contractions. I still didn’t want to get too excited in case this wasn’t really labor, and tried to blame the cramps on the fact that the doctor had checked my cervix. Brittany came over around 3:30 pm, and she chatted with me while I folded laundry. I was having some very tight cramps by this point, but nothing too distracting. We kept talking until it was time for our husbands to come home from work. She left, and Kaya woke up while we waited for Michael.
Michael ended up missing his bus, so I went to pick him up instead. My latest craving was fried chicken and mac and cheese, and since I wasn’t so sure yet that we’d be having a baby that night, we decided to indulge in KFC for dinner. Michael had the buffet, but surprisingly, I didn’t eat very much. There were a few things we needed to get at Walmart, so we headed there afterward. I kept cramping the whole time, and even ended up leaning on the handle of the shopping cart during a couple of the contractions. We got what we needed and also made a quick stop at Target before heading home.
We got Kaya ready for bed around 9 pm, which is very late compared to our normal schedule, and had prayers and goodnight kisses. By this point, I just had a feeling that these would be our last goodnight hugs with Kaya before our family would change forever. I teared up a little, but I didn’t stay in her room long because I thought that taking a shower and then sitting in a warm bath might help me relax.
I got in the shower, and managed to get clean before I started feeling incredibly hot and nauseous. I had thought the hot water would help my muscles relax, but it left me feeling shaky. I started having hot and cold flashes, intermingled with the urge to throw up. I called for Michael, and when he saw me, he told me to just sit down. I sat in the shower and just tried to overcome the feeling that I had to throw up. Fear set in for a few minutes. Could I really have the natural birth I had hoped for? Part of me wanted to just head to the hospital right then and ask for painkillers (although it was the nausea that was really getting to me, not the contractions).
It was about 9:45 pm when I realized that this would probably be the night we’d meet our sweet baby. I really wanted to lay down and rest, because in hindsight, I wished I had done that in my early labor with Kaya. However, I just couldn’t mentally relax because we didn’t have any bags packed! I couldn’t take the chance that we’d have to go to the hospital without our things.
Still recovering from the nausea and hot flashes, I sat on the bed while I told Michael what to grab from my drawers and put in the suitcase. He packed up a good amount of our things, and I think it was at this point that I asked him to give me a priesthood blessing. I don’t remember exactly what it said, but it did help me feel peace. Michael then went to finish up some work on his computer. He told me later that he didn’t realize how serious the contractions were really getting, so he thought he had some time to get a few things done.
I kept feeling like I had to use the bathroom, so I ended up sitting on the toilet for awhile. I texted with Brittany and she encouraged me to time my contractions. Around 11 pm, I noticed they were about 4 minutes apart and at least 45 seconds long. I still wasn’t diligently timing them, and they felt so short to me.
By 11:15, I was entertaining the idea of going to the hospital. I was a little anxious because I didn’t want to get there too early, but I also knew that we had to let Ben and Brittany know if they needed to come over to stay with Kaya while we were gone. At 11:30, we told them to just come. If we ended up not going to the hospital (I still thought the contractions might just fizzle out and we’d all go to bed as usual), it wasn’t really a big deal.
Ben and Brittany arrived around midnight. We all sat in the living room and chatted, but I have no memory of what we talked about. Every few minutes, I had to close my eyes and breathe through a contraction, but I honestly still didn’t think it was painful, just a lot of pressure. I’d focus on my body, the contraction would be over, and then we’d all go right back to laughing and hanging out. I was walking around through some of the contractions, putting together Kaya’s “big sister” gift bag and doing a few other things around the house, but most of the time, I was sitting. I think it was about 1 am when the contractions started to seem a little closer together. Brittany noticed and started timing them, since I still wasn’t at this point. They were about a minute and a half apart, but my perception was that there was so much time between them! The breaks between contractions seemed so long that I still didn’t think my labor was very intense. However, once they kept coming at 1.5-minute intervals, I knew we needed to leave for the hospital.
Michael had fallen asleep on my nursing pillow on the floor, next to our packed bags. Brittany and I excitedly woke him up and told him I needed to go!
We left around 1:45 am. We drove for about 10 minutes (Michael might’ve run a couple of stop signs and driven a bit above the speed limit) before I realized that I had forgotten my wallet, and therefore had absolutely no form of identification. I didn’t know if the hospital would ask for it, but I had to have it just in case.
“We have to go back and get it!” I exclaimed.
His reply was simple: “Do we have time to?”
To be continued…