I should have known. I’m the first to admit, “Each pregnancy and child are different.” The same two people can make multiple babies, and physically and emotionally there’s no way you know they’re siblings. So, why, oh why, would I ever expect my labor and deliveries to be similar? I wish I could answer this, but I can’t. For some reason I expected my second labor and delivery to be just like my first with Big Brother N. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
With Little Brother N, at 34-36 weeks, I really started to feel like I would go early. Things were starting to happen that didn’t start for another 2-4 weeks when I was pregnant with Big Brother N. Among other things, I dilated earlier, effaced more and had stronger braxton hicks. With these developments, I walked around telling people, there’s no way I’ll go to 40 weeks (remember I was overdue with Big Brother N). And then, around 38 weeks, everything seemed to stall. My braxton hicks contractions stopped, I hadn’t progressed anymore from my last appointment, and I was actually feeling pretty darn good.
My parents were preparing to come from Iowa. They were hoping for a close-to-due-date delivery so their schedules and commitments would work smoothly. My warnings of a potential early delivery were making them nervous, and there was no way they could come earlier than September 28. On September 27 around noon, I called my mom and said, “Don’t worry; you’ll make it. Everything is slowing down and he isn’t coming at least until next week.
Man, I was feeling good. The sleepless nights I’d been experiencing seemed to have let up for a few days and my body was aching less. My mind was set, during the next few weeks, I’d soak in every minute I could with Big Brother N. Although I could not wait to meet Little Brother N, I knew that life would change for all of us, especially him, as he’d grown to know what it was like to have all of our attention all of the time. A small part of me was mourning what we’d be losing, even though I knew we’d be gaining so much. I would give Big Brother N every extra minute I had for the next two weeks. I was committed and ready to, no matter what, pick him over chores and responsibilities every time.
Later on the same day (September 27) around 6 pm, I took dinner to a friend who had a baby about 5 weeks earlier. I was one of the first on a meal train we set up for her, and I could not wait to spend time with her beautiful baby girl. I arrived a couple minutes early and headed to her porch with my food in tow. I rang the doorbell, and waited. Nothing. I rang it again. Again, nothing. I began to peek in her windows (yes, I totally do this to my best girlfriends) to see if there was movement inside, and I felt a huge rush of water down my legs. With Big Brother N, my water didn’t break until after I had my epidural, so this was a completely new feeling and experience to me. I was pretty certain my water just broke. But, let’s be honest, crazy things happen when you’re pregnant, so I wasn’t completely sure and wondered if I’d just peed my pants. I was standing there with my hands full of food, peering in my friends window with warm liquid running down my legs and jeans. I started to panic and lose my cool. Just then, my friend pulled up and jumped out of her car to meet me. Before she was even fully out, I screamed, “I peed my pants or my water just broke!” Looking at me confused she said, “What?” and made me repeat myself. She came running to the door and let me in so I could head to the bathroom to check things out.
I was fairly confident that the amount of liquid was consistent with my water breaking, and feeling the leak running down my legs in small bursts made me even more sure. My friend offered to drive me to the hospital, but since I wasn’t having any contractions I decided to head home and call for further advice and instructions. My head was spinning and I had a hard time staying calm, because deep down, I knew our boy was on his way. Armed with a towel to save my car seat, I headed home. On the drive, I called my parents. “Mom, you know earlier today when I said, you’d make it…I may have been wrong. I think my water just broke.” While this wasn’t met with complete pleasantry, my parents understand babies come when they want to come. They assured me they’d head out first thing the next morning after my mom’s appointment.
I made it home and called the hospital. I still wasn’t having contractions and I hoped I could stay home with Big Brother N for a few hours to spend the evening with him and put him to bed. The hospital let me know I should come in to get checked that evening, but I could wait a while. If my water did break, I’d have 24-48 hours to deliver to avoid infection. With that flexibility, I was pleased I’d have the evening with Big Brother N. We called Seano’s folks for reinforcement after bedtime. Waiting anxiously for my contractions to start, I threw myself into time with N by playing and reading books, giving him a bath, and completing our nightly bedtime routine with extra snuggles. We had a wonderful evening; but there is nothing like saying goodbye to your baby when you know you’re about to change his whole world.
We arrived at the hospital, still without any contractions, about 9 pm. They checked me, and sure enough, my water had broke. I was concerned that my water broke three hours earlier and my contractions hadn’t started. I knew my labor would be supplemented with pitocin if it didn’t get started soon, and I had heard many complicated and unpleasant stories associated with this medicine.
We asked if we could walk the halls to get contractions going. Friends, we walked and walked, and then we walked more. The next few hours, we walked 12,000 steps around that maternity floor. And nothing, not a darn contraction. My hips were starting to hurt, so we decided it was time for a rest. Once I sat down, I began to have contractions. But sadly, they were short lived, and never got very intense or consistent. Knowing what it would mean, my worry grew that they wouldn’t start at all.
Little Brother N’s Story: A Different Kind of Birth Part II will publish Tuesday, March 14. Check back then to see how everything worked out!
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