I think I have gone into labor approximately sixteen times.
I have yet to have this baby.
For the past two weeks I have had all the signs that the big moment is but hours away. I’ve had cramps, back aches, time-able contractions that feel like my stomach is making a fist and then punching my liver with it. Goo is escaping from me at an alarming rate and while I went to bed looking like a normal person, I woke up bearing more than a passing resemblance to a Campbell soup kid.
To make matters worse, my doctor keeps telling me things. Things like my effacement percentage and how wide I’m dilated. While at first it was exciting to hear that my body was progressing along, it’s now just super annoying knowing that really, it all means crap. Some women walk around three centimeters dilated for weeks, other progress from one centimeter to ten in hours. Telling me how much progress I’ve made is pretty much the same as telling me how much milk you have in your fridge at home.
Neither one is going to be able to tell me when this child is going to get the heck out of my uterus.
I have twice told my husband that this was it. That we were going to be headed to the hospital within the hour, only to end up sitting at home watching a zombie movie and apologizing a short time later because my contractions had stopped.
As a first time mom I don’t really know what labor feels like. It’s not that I have remained blissfully unaware on purpose, quite the contrary. I have purchased and read all the big titles on pregnancy, What to Expect, Girlfriend’s Guide, Mayo’s Clinical Guide, all pertinent facts absorbed and filed away. I am also a proud member of a half dozen online sites with doctors and experts and chat groups, all designed to feed me way too much information and give me anxiety attacks about the nitrate levels in the hotdogs I ate before we knew I was pregnant. I also know the statistical percentage that I will have a c-section (1 in 4, 1 in 3 at the specific hospital in which I am delivering). I know the definition of placental previa, signs of hypertension, and all the colors a normal mucus plug may be.
Labor is trickier than mucus.
Everything that could be a sign of labor could also be a sign of walking around sharing a body with a full grown baby. They could also be sign of constipation or alien abduction—how the heck am I supposed to know what’s really going on?
The three major signs that “for real” labor is about to begin seem to be loss of the mucus plug, regular contractions, and when your water breaks. Great, straightforward. Water breaking, should be a clear, very noticeable sign. A gallon or so of water leaking into your pants—can’t miss it.
Well, it ends up, yes you can.
A slow trickle is far more common than the whole gush of fluid so often portrayed in the movies. So … how much fluid is a trickle? And what kind of fluid should I be looking for? Pregnant ladies deal with many little ebbs and flows throughout the day, heck! Whenever I stand up it’s like playing the dry pants lottery. I had pretty significant leak a couple of days ago so I called my doctor’s office, went in, and upon further testing it ended up not to be amniotic fluid, but some mystery stuff, at least that’s the fancy, scientific term for it. Mystery stuff.
As for the regular contractions, no joke, I get those every day. Every day I get contractions that come at regular intervals, get really intense, and then … go away. They just go away and leave me clutching my hospital suitcase in one hand and my cell phone in the other. This happens every single day! I’ve stopped telling my husband because I’m convinced that this baby is never really coming out. She going to stay up there forever and no contraction, no matter how strong will push her out.
And as for this whole mucus plug delight … it’s all a mystery. Some women pass huge chunks of junk—pretty hard to miss, easy to see and understand. However, others never see their plugs, no matter how hard they scour the toilet. Oh! And as an extra treat, loosing your plug may mean squat because according to several articles and all of my pregnancy books it could still be weeks until labor starts. All losing your plug means for sure is that your cervix is dilating which, as we covered before, doesn’t tell anyone jack. Also, mucus plugs can grow back … so there’s that fun fact.
Lesser signs of labor include back aches, loose bowels, nesting, and increased urination. See what I’m saying about vague symptoms? Seriously, I would think just carrying around the extra thirty pounds of lusciousness I’ve gained would do more damage than this! I am carrying a seven-pound watermelon of a child! Sure I have to pee more! THERE IS A FULL GROWN BABY SITTING ON MY BLADDER! She likes to dance and twirl and flounce around. It’s like one of those big moon bounce castles in there for Pete’s sake!
And one last thing, I’m not cleaning the house because I can feel the baby coming, I’m cleaning because I’m bored. I will admit, I have never bleached the baseboards of the living room before, but in my defense I’ve never had all day to sit around. Maternity leave is great … for the first three days. Then it turns into one long torture session as you sit around the house eating the M&M’s your husband hid in the back of the drawer and obsess about every cramp, fetal movement, and lack of baby.
I can’t wait to meet this child. I want to hold her, touch her little nose, and count all those yummy little toes. Really, is there anything cuter than baby feet? I want to know she’s okay, not just guess and kinda hope that everything’s progressing along fine. I have carried this baby for nine months, loved her, and protected her, but I’ve never seen her. I haven’t seen the face she makes when she’s falling asleep and I haven’t heard the sounds of her coos and cries. I want to know if she inherited my husband’s long fingers and crazy monkey toes. I want to know if she’ll be as strong willed as her mother.
I am ready for this.
I only wish she was.