How It Went Down (Part I)

My little man is 10 weeks old now, and I hate that his little life is passing by and I’m not sharing it with you.

You’ve been out of the loop since the beginning, and I haven’t known where to start, so I thought I’d start at the very beginning cause, you know, Julie Andrews said that was a good idea.

I’ll spare you the goriest details and, over the next three days, give you an edited version of how Adlai came into the world.

His due date was December 3rd, and everybody kept telling me first babies are always late, so I’ll admit that, in true Faith fashion, I was putting off a lot of things till the last minute – things like stocking his changing table and washing his clothes.  What’s more, his stroller and car seat had been ordered but hadn’t arrived yet (don’t get me started on that epic customer service fail by Mamas & Papas).

It was November 19th, and I woke up in the wee hours of the morning – wee being the operative word here as, when I awoke, I was pretty sure I had wet my pants.

“That’s weird,” I thought.  I mean, I knew my bladder had been getting weaker in the late months of pregnancy, but I had yet to revert to the bedwetting practices of a six-year-old.

Anyhoo, I got changed and went back to sleep.  A few hours later, I woke up again and the same thing had happened.  (I know what you’re thinking – I said I’d spare you the gory details, but I promise, this is as gross as it’ll get.  Promise.)

I wondered if my water had broken, but it wasn’t a huge gush, so I wasn’t completely convinced.  We decided to go to the maternity ward and get things checked out, just to make sure.

When we got there, they checked me over and said that, although my story sounded like my water had broken, they couldn’t see any evidence, so they sent me back home and told me to keep an eye on it.

The next day, some friends threw me a baby shower.  I got all gussied up and enjoyed drinking juice out of baby bottles and opening packages of tiny little jeans and eating blue cakes, but even then I felt something wasn’t quite right.  When Simon picked me up from the shower, I told him I wanted to go to the hospital again.

When we got there, another midwife checked me out and said the same thing I’d been told the day before.  But, she said, because they weren’t sure, and because hospital policy said they should induce within 24 hours of water breaking (which, by the way, they refer to as “waters” breaking over here), she needed to consult the doctor.  A few minutes (okay, probably an hour.  What’s the deal with doctors keeping you waiting for ages?) later, the doctor came in and told me they wanted to induce me.  They hadn’t seen conclusive evidence my water had broken but, again, my “story” sounded like a leak, and a leak meant a risk of infection.  “Hospital policy,” said the doctor, “is that we induce you.”

I was devastated.  I had had visions of labouring in the hospital’s midwife-led birthing center, using the birthing pool, bringing my baby into the world completely naturally, in a candlelit room with my favorite music playing over the speakers.  Not to mention it was 9 o’clock at night, I’d had a big day already, and just the thought of beginning labour and going through the night was exhausting.  The doctor wanted us to stay, but we asked if we could go home and sleep, and come back in the morning.  She said yes.

At home, we got in bed and prayed for my labour to start naturally.  At around 2am, I woke up with light contractions.  “Yes!” I thought.  “This is it!”

I stayed awake for hours, willing the contractions to get stronger.  I imagined waking Simon up the next morning with the good news.

My contractions continued for a few hours, but never intensified, never got closer together.  At about 7am, they stopped altogether.  Simon woke up, ready to go to the hospital, and I burst into tears.  I had dealt with the excitement and subsequent disappointment of my fruitless contractions on my own, and had to catch him up on the emotional night I’d had.

He told me not to worry, that even though my labour wasn’t as I’d imagined, in the end we’d have a baby, and that was the only thing that mattered.  He was right.  I tearfully prepared for our trip to the hospital, disappointed, but excited about the promise of meeting my little boy within a few hours.

At the hospital, we were met by the lead midwife.  An amazing, no-nonsense, tiny woman, she looked me over, mmm-ed and ahh-ed, and frowned as we caught her up on our story.

“I don’t want to induce you if we don’t have to,” she said.  “Let me get the doctor.”

This time, the lead OB doctor came in to greet us.  After a few jokes and smiles, he told me he thought I’d go into labour naturally within a few hours.  He told me to take my bag and go home, and to come back in in a couple of days to monitor the baby if I wasn’t in labour yet.

As we walked back to the car, we breathed a collective sigh of relief.  Finally, someone had told us what to do, instead of citing “hospital policy” or inconclusive test results.

It was Sunday now, the 21st of November.  And we went home and waited for labour to start.  We didn’t have to wait long.  At around 6pm, my contractions started again.  I guarded my heart, knowing they could fade again as they had before.

But they didn’t.

As the night went on, they got stronger and stronger, although not strong enough to keep me from getting some much needed sleep.

In labour at home. Swollen, bless my heart.

Early the next morning, I awoke, thrilled as I felt my abdomen contracting, the dull pain a reassuring sign that something really was happening.  As the morning went on, the contractions got stronger.  I took a bath, and Simon excitedly paced the house, gathering last-minute things for my hospital bag, bringing me drinks and hitting the stopwatch every time I gave him a sign that another contraction was coming.  He watched me intently as I braced myself through the strengthening contractions, breathing deeply and clutching his knee, the armchair, whatever was within easy reach.

At about 2pm, with contractions three minutes apart, we locked up our flat, threw my bag in the car, and took the short drive to the hospital for the fourth time in three days.

Author: Faith

Faith Dwight is a photographer and a writer. She is a Southern American girl living just north of London with her British husband, Simon and their two halfling sons.

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