On August 13th, five days before my due date, I woke at 2:00AM.
I lay there in bed, feeling remarkably calm as I tried to wake myself enough to start timing what I thought to be contractions. They were very, very weak and not painful at all—but I knew they had to be something, considering I hadn't experienced any cramping at all since the very beginning of my pregnancy (which had been one of the first symptoms of pregnancy that I'd experienced). After keeping track of the contractions for about thirty minutes, it was very clear. Yes, these were real. Seven minutes apart. One minute long.
Eisley was on her way.
I decided not to wake Jay, knowing he had to be up for work fairly soon—and there was nothing we could do at that point, anyway. It was kind of nice to hold the secret to myself for the next couple hours as I drifted in and out of sleep, wondering what the day ahead would hold. I knew I needed to get as much rest for what was ahead of me, but my mind was spinning. Is this really happening? What is Eisley feeling right now? How painful is this going to get? Will I be in labor for days? Is it too late to hire a doula? What if I need Jay while he's at work? WHY DID I NOT GO TO THE LAUNDROMAT YESTERDAY?
At 4:30AM, Jay's alarm went off. I was already awake and as he got out of bed, I quietly gave him the news.
"So, I'm having contractions."
"Yeah, they're real."
"Are you sure?"
"Definitely. Yes. I think so."
Since the contractions were so faint (and far apart), I didn't have an issue with Jay going to work. He would be home by 3PM that afternoon, and I had relatives to drive me to the hospital if something crazy happened before then. Truth be told, I was looking forward to having some time by myself that morning…I knew that I wanted to labor as long as I could at home before heading to the hospital, so I prepared myself for the day—not knowing exactly what it was going to look like.
I never shared much about my "birth plan" with anyone except family and close friends, mostly because I had what I like to call the "anti-plan". I knew if I spent too much time focusing on exactly how I wanted things to go, that I'd be crushed if anything didn't go as I'd hoped. Knowing how awful I am when it comes to building things up in my head, I decided to just try and let it go. To have hopes, but not plans. To prepare for the ideal, as well as the unexpected. Surprisingly, I was able to do just that. For the most part, I think.
But I'm getting ahead of myself…
Throughout the morning I kept track of my contractions, and they slowly gained strength and became more frequent. I spent most of the day on the couch, calling my mom and sister, watching (but not really watching) anything that was on TV, lamenting the fact that I hadn't washed any of the baby clothes, feeling surprisingly okay with the way my body was handling labor at that point, texting Jay updates here and there.
It was kind of ridiculous, how calm I was. All day I was waiting for something crazy to happen—for my water to break as I made my second frozen waffle of the day, or for my contractions to go from mild to excruciating within minutes. However, even once Jay arrived home that afternoon, I knew I wasn't even close to being ready to go to the hospital. I wanted to stay home as long as possible (at the recommendation of so many people, and because I was so worried I'd be sent home because I hadn't progressed enough). And as the day wore on (and the contractions grew stronger) I decided I was going to stick it out for as long as humanly possible. Or until I started to feel like a crazy person. And, in hindsight, I'm very glad I stayed at home as long as I did. It was nice to have the day to be somewhere cozy, calm and familiar.
The afternoon continued on and soon it was evening. Five o'clock? Contractions were about five minutes apart. Six o'clock? Contractions were closer to four minutes apart. Seven o'clock? Contractions were getting painful (yet still tolerable, somehow). However, they were to the point where I had to blow out a steady stream of air for the duration, as well as pause where I was and act all ultra-dramatic like they do in the movies (except way more awesome, obviously).
We decided to head to the hospital at 7:00PM. We gathered what we needed, freaked out our neighbor by telling him we were going to go have a baby (I'm pretty sure he didn't believe I was in labor), and we were on our way. I kept thinking, This is so not the way I expected this to happen. Why is everything so calm? Why aren't we running around and screaming our heads off? Why am I not ready to stab things after being in labor since 2AM? OH, MY GOSH, I'M HAVING AN ACTUAL BABY.
On our way there, I asked Jay if he was ready for this. He just nodded and smiled. We didn't talk for much of the ride there. We just sort of sat in this quiet anticipation and excitement of what was ahead of us. It was so odd not knowing how it would happen, when it would happen, what it would take to get there.
I just couldn't stop thinking about how it was finally time to meet my little girl.
[To read part two, click here!]