In this post I will begin the details of actual labor. For days I've wrestled with how to write this story in a discrete but honest fashion. My goal is not to gross anyone out, but I can't leave out the messy stuff or it won't be the whole story. Therefore, this is a faint warning... gore and very personal information is ahead.
Our wedding anniversary is on December 17th. While pregnant with Melody, Chad and I celebrated being married four years. He surprised me with a grand celebration. We stayed in a nearby hotel. Dinner was at a nice steakhouse. I still remember that meal. My taste buds were on steroids, everything tasted so good. After dinner we returned to the hotel to exchange gifts. Chad gave me a beautiful robe. It was light blue, thick, soft as a cloud, and luxurious. Surprisingly, I was able to wrap it around my massive middle. I wore it over my maternity swimsuit to the pool. Many endearing looks were cast my way as I waddled through the hotel. It looked like I was hiding a beach ball under there.
The day ended with intimacy enhanced by a hotel room, a great gift and a special occasion. That night I was not able to sleep a wink. I tossed and turned and peed every 30 to 45 minutes. I woke up exhausted and frustrated. I blamed the sleepless night on the unfamiliar firm bed. My hips and shoulders ached. I did not realize my body was entering the early stages of labor.
Two days went by. Small things were happening. I was loosing enough stuff to have to wear a pad all the time. My back began aching to the point of major discomfort and sleeping was impossible. In my head, I still had three weeks to go, so I tried to have positive thoughts. I focused on the baby inside me. I thought of her all the time and wondered what she looked like. Did she have hair? How big would she be? I could feel her knobby knees and pointy heels under my ribs. Occasionally it felt like she was trying to fully stretch out inside of me. Her movements did not cause pain. My stomach jumped and bumped at her command. I let these things make me happy even though my discomfort was monumental. If I had known I was actually in the early stages of labor, my attitude would not have been so good. But I thought we had weeks to go and I did not want to be negative about my baby.
Tuesday (December 21st) a friend and I went to the mall to do some last minute Christmas shopping. We ate pizza and I barely fit in the booth. On the way out of the restaurant a stranger said something like, "When was your due date?" implying that I was overdue. As nicely as I could I replied, "Not for three more weeks." I was completely annoyed. I turned to my friend in the parking lot and said, "Do I really look that big!?" She sheepishly, carefully replied, "Yes, honey. You do." I shrugged and thought once again, "But I have THREE WEEKS left!"
Later that same evening I finished shopping first. I stood on the outskirts of the food court, scanning the crowds for my friend. Suddenly I felt flushed, exhausted and weak. I hobbled to the nearest chair and lowered myself down to rest. Never in my life had I been too weak to stand up. Looking back, I don't know why it didn't cross my mind that I was in labor. I guess my mind was just set on January, not December, for the birth.
That night, when I finally arrived at home, I collapsed into bed and slept like a baby all night long. Wednesday, the 22nd, I woke up to mildly icy roads. I took my time getting ready for work in order to let the roads clear. For some reason I decided to do a load of baby clothes laundry before leaving the house. It was the first of the baby clothes for me to wash. I had to get gas on my way to work. I remember standing by the car, pumping the gas, in the freezing cold wind. My hair was slightly damp and I was wearing a light-weight jacket. Despite all of this I was still warm!
During the 40 minute commute to work, I had my first strong contraction. It took me by surprise. I had to concentrate to keep the car on the road. The seat belt felt horrible; it was so tight around my stomach. I shrugged it all off, and focused on other things. Three weeks. Three weeks. Three more weeks.
I got to work at 10:30. It was a relaxed day in the office; everyone was happy and looking forward to Christmas. We goofed off and talked about silly things; I laughed really hard and felt very happy. For lunch I was in the mood for A&W root beer on tap. (Normally I don't care for root beer. I'm a coke girl.) Scot and Melissa and I went to Long John Silvers / A&W. I ordered a three plank chicken meal with my root beer. They each got smaller meals. I felt slightly embarrassed to be eating so much. While at the table I repeatedly got up to get things like ketchup, a straw, napkins, etc. Each movement was a monumental task. I was growing very uncomfortable and things were beginning to hurt.
I asked my friends if they minded going to the nearby health food store on the way back to work. I felt an urgent need to buy vitamin C powder and calcium citrate powder. These were ingredients for Teresa's labor smoothie. They help provide the laboring mama with extra energy and reduce muscle cramping. Typically I would not have bothered my friends with an errand like this, but the roads were suppose to get more icy and I felt an urgency. I still did not realize I was in labor. Every five minutes I reminded myself I had at least three weeks left to go.
On the 10 drive back to work I experienced two strong contractions. Each bump in the road made me grimace and close my eyes. Scot and Melissa did not notice. I mentioned the contractions to them and they got excited. I remained calm, still not believe this was it.
Once back at the office I began timing the contractions. They were five minutes apart and each lasted between 30 and 45 seconds. It was difficult to concentrate on anything else. I was unable to get comfortable in my expensive posh Herman Miller chair. I went to the bathroom; sitting on the toilet felt good. I did some pelvic rocks; they brought on more contractions.
Back at my desk I frantically worked on a list for Ellen. I felt responsible to leave her with clear directions for my projects incase this was it. I wished with all my heart the list was already made. It should have been a 20 minute task; instead it took me one and a half hours! The contractions continued, but no one in the office noticed my frequent breathing breaks. I squirmed through each one; leaning back and leaning forward. I never found a way to relax in that stupid chair.
Around 2:30 I realized I could not drive myself home. Liz immediately came to mind. She was a longtime friend from college who also worked at DaySpring. I walked to the other building to ask her to drive me home. Walking felt good. The cold air was refreshing. I walked slowly and paused when contractions came. Liz was on the phone with a mutual friend when I arrived at her desk. They chatted while I waited. I masked my way through two more contractions. Then Liz handed me the phone. I chatted through a couple more contractions; it was very difficult.
Finally, I told Liz I needed her to take me home. She was awesome. On the drive she panicked a little. I calmly told her to drive slow on the curvy highway. The curves were painful for me. Once we almost veered off the road when she looked at me instead of keeping her eyes on the road. I surprised myself by remaining relaxed and telling her not to worry. With each contraction I'd rest my head on the headrest, close my eyes, fully relax my arms, and slowly breath in and out with my mouth slightly open. I think this sight scared her a little. Also, she realized the magnitude of the situation more than I did. I was STILL not convinced this was it! Liz's actions reminded me of the classic sitcom husband who gets hysterical when it's time to go to the hospital. She told me later that she was coaching herself to not talk too much or be loud.
I called Crystal on the drive to tell her about the contractions. At this point they were three minutes apart. Our conversation ended abruptly when a pain began. I said shortly and weakly, "I have to breathe now. Bye." and hung up the phone. Later she told me that it was then she knew I was in active labor.