PictureKaspar performs a finger-puppet show for Baby O.
So, yes, I'm still pregnant. (And still not officially 'due' for another week. Tick-tock, tick-tock.) And I don't have any idea when the new little will arrive. I've been having Braxton Hicks contractions for a couple of months; they've been far more noticeable and intense than any I experienced in my first pregnancy. My midwives say that's normal the second time around. I asked, once, how I'll know when I'm actually in labor, since this baby's been so low from the get-go -- lots of pelvic pressure going on here -- and since I'm already having contractions, sometimes in pretty regular patterns. The answer? "It'll be different. You'll know." 

Well, two days ago, I felt different. As in, noticeably more uncomfortable throughout the day. Nauseated, even. That night, I had a contraction so strong it woke me from a deep sleep. It really hurt. I actually felt like the bed was shaking, and reached over to feel whether Aaron was breathing strangely or something, only to realize he was lying perfectly still. The bed wasn't shaking -- I was. I breathed deeply for the minute or two the contraction went on (it felt longer), asking myself if I felt pain in my back, as I haven't with the Braxton Hicks but expect to during labor. I couldn't really tell, but this thing, in a word... hurt. 

I got up, wandered around, somewhat panicked (thinking, We haven't had our home visit yet! We're not set up. The cleaners aren't coming until next Thursday. Where the hell is my phone? I'm in the middle of a piece of writing. Is this happening? I haven't gotten a breast pump yet, or ten spare towels, or extra-thick maxi pads... and so on). I eventually found my phone, and called my midwife. She was in New York, where she'd flown to deliver her best friend's baby before flying back to deliver mine. (I have another amazing midwife here on backup, too, so our bases are covered.) I asked if I woke her, and she said she was actually at her friend's birth as we spoke. When I described what I'd felt (specifically, "It hurt like a motherf*cker"), she told me it could very well be the start of labor, but maybe not. The best thing to do would be to go back to sleep; if the contractions woke me again, and became regular, I should call her. 

I went back to bed and lay there, clinging to Aaron. He asked if I was okay, and I told him about the contraction. "I'm scared," I said. 

He answered, "You've done this before."

"I don't think we're ready."

"We're ready... Do you think it's happening now?"

"I don't know. Brielle said to go back to sleep." 

"Okay." (Snore.)

I lay awake for a while, my mind racing, trying to breathe slowly and calm down, prepare for the next contraction, which never came. Instead, baby kicked around in my belly and I eventually fell asleep. 

I'm surprised by my response to that contraction. I've been feeling totally ready for labor, and actually looking forward to it, even to the pain. But it was the pain that panicked me. Being awaked was probably a part of that -- I was just sort of disoriented -- but I think that contraction was a bit of a wake-up call in more ways than one, a reminder that labor pain is... seriously intense. Having had a chance to process that brief encounter with real pain, however, the kind of pain that's all-absorptive while it's happening, that shakes a room, I now really DO feel ready. I'm grateful for that little warm-up. I know I'm going to experience pain, and likely fear. But I'm not going to run away from either experience. (Because of the type of blood thinner injections I'm on, too, I don't even have the option of an epidural, even if I were to freak out and think I needed one.) Instead, I'm going to walk into this. That, after all, will be the only way through. 

As far as feeling different goes, my midwife texted me yesterday to check in. She said to call her any time if I get spooked, but the go-to game-time rule remains regularity, with intensity. I said again that I wonder if I'll second-guess it, when labor's real, because of these warm-ups, because things feel different already. She texted back, "You'll know."

09/01/2013 13:47

With my son, my second, I had a ton of strong practice contractions. They were regular for an hour or more sometimes but always stopped. I could tell they were different as with my first it hurt through my hips. The morning I went into labor I had my usual post bathroom contraction and I told my husband that maybe today was the day, half joking. Little did I know an hour later the real deal would start and I knew in less than an hour it was the real thing. My hips hurt so much, I can deal with the belly pain but the hips were the worst.
I know this is hard to say but relaxing will help so much. When I got all tense because my husband was not home and ready to go my contractions killed. Once we were in the car talking and laughing they felt much better. They were pretty mild up until right before pushing. I think if I had relaxed more with my first they would have been milder, but I was too tense.

09/01/2013 18:34

Oh man girl! Hang in there (as if I have any idea what I'm talking about!) I would selfishly LOVE it if you gave birth soon so I can meet baby O when I'm in town in 2 weeks! Hope you, Kas, & Aaron are doing well! Big love!

09/03/2013 09:48

I am a frequent reader, but seldom comment. But you are on my yahoo home page! Congrats! That seems like it must be a big deal.
With my second baby I was in labor all day, but it wasn't hard labor and my contractions were like 10 minutes apart so I wasn't sure. I finally called my doctor at about 10 pm when they started hurting a lot and the on call nurse suggested that maybe I should wait at home a little longer. I told her NO I'm coming to the hosp now. I got there about 10:30 and my son was born at 11 pm. There was no time for any pain meds or an epidural. So I did it pain med free by choice the first time and by necessity the second!

I really admire people like you who plan a home birth. I know you'll do great. Can't wait to hear about you wonderful birth experience.

09/03/2013 17:31

with my second birth, this one at home, i just couldn't remember really what real labor was like. I had a few false starts, thinking it was the big show. BUT when i stopped laughing, joking, making sarcastic remarks...when the tone in my voice was all business... that was when the show really started. And my brain went "ooohhh yeeaaaahhhh...THIS is what it feels like". You will know. Trust me. And you will kick ass. ;)


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