A week ago, I started experiencing extremely strong Braxton Hicks contractions that I recorded as coming every 3-5 minutes for over an hour. On the advice of my doctor I made my way to labor and delivery to have them monitored. Because of their strength and frequency the Labor and Delivery nurses thought surely I’d be having our baby boy that evening, but after my examination the on call doctor told me the contractions weren’t causing me to dilate any further and she was sending me home.
I burst into tears.
This would be less embarrassing if this were my first child instead of my second, or if this exact same scenariohadn’t occurred with my first babe. In the midst of my blubbering it was impossible to explain that I wasn’t upset, perse, about going home – in fact, I had no interest in having my baby early, actually, I was just concerned I wouldn’t know when actually to return to labor and delivery.
“Come back when your pain is a 10 out of 10,” the resident said, backing away. It’s something the nurses reiterated, and a measurement I knew to be preferred by the hospital at which I plan to deliver – the hospital performs over eleven thousand deliveries a year and has two floors expressly dedicated to delivering babies – its capacity makes it one of the premiere mother/baby hospitals in the nation but also means little time can be wasted on the Braxton Hicks contractions of an reactive second time mom-to-be.
I left triage a hormonal, sobbing mess, trying to explain to Ian that I was crying because I felt silly, and because I was concerned I wouldn’t know exactly when to return to the hospital – I wasn’t crying because my baby boy hadn’t been born yet. I managed to calm down by the time I got home, relieve my friend who was babysitting Grace, put Grace to bed, and eat dinner before I could laugh at myself, even a little bit.
“Waiting until the pain is a ten out of ten before going to the hospital is just so, so fucked,” I said to Ian. “In what other instance would any patient be advised to do that? You wouldn’t advise someone with chest pains to wait for the pain to grow to a ten – definitely not a cancer patient. You wouldn’t advise someone with a gaping wound to wait, either, or a post-surgical patient. But laboring mothers have to wait until they truly believe their contractions are 10/10 on the pain scale before heading to the hospital.”
“When you say it like that, it does sound ridiculous,” Ian agreed.
Over the course of the last week, it’s dawned on me more and more why this scenario bothers me more than it did the first time around. It bothers me because I know just how badly laboring contractions can be, and with no family in the area and Grace to consider, I feel like waiting until my pain is a ten out of ten to head the hospital means my judgment might be compromised when it comes to making sure Grace is properly cared for. Oh, we have a wonderful, dependable list of friends ready and waiting to take her into their homes, or come into ours, should I go into labor before my parents arrive to help, but friends can never be quite the same as family and Ian and I have discussed the suddenly very real possibility that he could miss the birth of his son if the stars don’t align and my labor begins prior to my mom and dad’s arrival. It is – intensely nerve wracking – to prepare for my son’s birth without the benefit of family in the city.
And, of course, I REALLY hated the pain of labor last time, and our baby’s due date draws nearer that pain becomes more and more of a reality for me! I’ve been debating whether or not to get an epidural but I think I probably will this time, with the hope of the possibility of enjoying delivering my baby instead of desperately clutching Ian, claiming I knew it would hurt but I never realized how much!
So this is where I sit, in the middle of January, anxiously awaiting the arrival of our baby boy but hoping he doesn’t come before my parents can get here and, if we are being completely honest, maybe not before I finish the first book of Game of Thrones,either.