“I think you should take Brayden to Amy’s house now,” I told David. Labor had been mild and erratic since kicking in the night before. I had spent the day packing, napping and waiting. Finally it was evening and a contraction had grabbed my attention.
I said a teary good-bye to my excited two-year-old, and to the days of raising one child, then laid on the couch hoping labor would develop a pattern. Instead, contractions calmed and were far apart. I was feeling discouraged that after 20 hours nothing was happening. David returned and we watched TV, waiting. Finally by 11 PM, contractions were strengthening. I buried my head in the couch cushions and groaned while David pressed his palms into my lower back, helping to relieve some of the back pain. Even though contractions were powerful, some were still more than ten minutes apart. From previous experience, it seemed I was in the early stages of labor and had many hours to go.
I don’t think I want to do this again, I thought as another powerful contraction began. Suddenly I remembered reading about the “moment of doubt” that often comes toward the end of labor, usually at transition (the last and most powerful phase, around 7 centimeters). Well, I guess my ‘moment of doubt’ comes at two centimeters instead of seven, I thought.
Since the pain was increasing, we decided to head to the hospital. David loaded up the car, and I noticed I was shaking. Hmm, that’s another sign of transition, I thought. That can’t be right. I guess I’m just jittery. I stopped and leaned into the couch to manage another contraction, then turned to leave but stopped for another. They were suddenly coming on top of each other and demanding all my attention. Once I made it to the car, I leaned over the back of my seat while David tried to apply counter-pressure to my back with one hand, and drive with the other.
He swung into the library parking lot to drop some movies at the drop-box so we wouldn’t pay any late fees during our hospital stay. I was too distracted to comment on his timing (but if he ever needs a ride to the doctor for a kidney stone, I might need to stop and pick up some nail polish on the way . . .).
We arrived at the hospital at midnight and parked near the emergency room.
“I’m going to get on my hands and knees for contractions,” I told David. “I don’t care that people will watch. It hurts too much to care.”
I stepped out of the car, and went to the ground for another contraction while David applied more counter-pressure to my back. I made it half-way to the door and went down again. We made it to the emergency room, and told the woman at check-in we needed to get to maternity. She wasn’t in any hurry, so again I went down for another contraction, waiting for her to finish organizing her papers.
Finally, we were permitted to head toward maternity. We made it a little ways and I went down again, while David continued the counter-pressure and whispered sweet encouragement (Okay, I forgive you for the library). We walked on, and down I went again. A little further and down once more. As the contraction calmed, I heard someone speak . . .
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