I'm finally sitting (deeply reclining) down on day 12 of little Joe's life to type out what has become my favorite birth story so far. Not necessarily favorite as in blissful or dreamy but favorite as is funny and really?? a even a little WTF!!!! (as the title suggests). I hope you like it half as much as I do.
Let's rewind the clock back to 15 days ago, 39 weeks exactly. I laid down that night feeling a twinge more Braxton Hicks-y than usual, so I decided to pay attention. 10 pm rolled into 11, 11 rolled into 12, 12 rolled into 1... And they were still there. I was sure tonight was the night. The contractions weren't getting too much stronger than when they started and the timing was really varied, too (every 5-15 min?), BUT that is not an unusual way for labor to start with me. It's usually pretty slow and pokey for a while until things get going but the key is that they generally don't stop once I've had a few hours of consistent contractions. I was sure I was in early, early labor but still I was stressing. I realized in these moments that I've never had to leave my house before to go to a hospital... I had no idea how to factor in drive time (25 min about) and registering and getting checked in and getting my IV hooked up and ALLLL of that before I could get the epidural which was the entire reason for me going to the hospital in the first place. How do I time it right?? When do I know?? Why, even after 5 births do I still feel like a clueless idiot when I'm going into labor? Y?
I got up and moved around a bit and felt like they were coming on a bit stronger. In the back of my mind, I heard my OB's voice reminding me that this was my sixth and there is no such thing as showing up "too early" and that nobody wanted me to be pushing out of baby on the floor of the elevator (ESP ME), and so in the name of prudence I decided to the hospital we must go! I snuck out of bed in the quiet and got dressed in my coziest clothes. I packed the final touches for my bag and combed and braided my hair (inspired by Jenna). It felt really lovely to be awake and alone, like I was the only one in the world who knew the secret of what was happening. I savored the quiet. And then I woke up Kirby. He blinked 4 or 7 times and whispered, "Are you sure??"
"Yeah, babe, we've done this a few times... I'm sure" (so sure)
On the highway to the hospital I felt that same awesome peace. We were en route, no more playing that game of when to get up and leave, contractions still coming, kids back at home snoozing, quiet, dark, empty highway. It felt super exciting to be driving off somewhere with only Kirby. All the feels in that 25 min drive. It was 2:40 in the morning.
I checked in via the emergency room and the hospital was empty and silent. We got our paperwork and trekked down the hall towards the elevators, past the guy mopping the floors, past the empty main lobby, up to maternity, floor 2. The first place they put us was triage to monitor the baby and see what my contractions were doing. I felt like I was at Disneyland. Everything was oddly familiar... the gown, the beds, the machines, but totally foreign and new. I loved taking it all in. I loved knowing that this was the start of us meeting our baby, I loved that the experience felt so completely original.
I climbed on the bed and explained why I was there- sixth baby, contractions steadily since 10 pm, not very close together but that's typical for me in early labor, oh and I WANT TO GET AN EPIDURAL I DON'T WANT TO MISS MY EPIDURAL IT'S THE ONLY REASON I'M HERE. (((Just fyi.)))
They hooked me up to monitors and asked me all sorts of intimate questions and reclined the bed to check me... (MOMENT OF TRUTH) side note: why does this matter so much?? I'm always terrified to be a 2 or a 3. In fact, anything less than a 4 seems downright shameful. As if cervixes just skip 1-3 centimeters? I hate those three centimeters... I don't want to know if my cervix is any of them.
You are 1 and a "wiggle"
A wiggle? Let's check this off as WTF number 1. What even is a wiggle? Let's pause to imagine...
I didn't dare look Kirby in the eye. He was propped up against the wall at this point trying to be semi-awake and I sort of just pretended he wasn't awake at all. The nurse said they would leave me on the monitor "for an hour or so" (die inside, die). But, hey! I told myself. Snap out of it! You're still *FUR SURE* in labor, it's just super early. Thank God you're here! You've got that drive out of the way, you're already checked in, the kids are all taken care of, all you have to do is be here and have a baby. It won't be that long anyway. This is your sixth baby. Sometimes sixth baby's just fall out.
They left me to rest/contract and I resolved to be fine with it and to make zero apologies to my 6'3 husband who was scrunched in between my bags and the curtain in a plastic chair near the foot of my bed. NOT SORRY! NOT SORRY!
Meanwhile... In the triage stall next door a woman came rushing in in full, hard, active, moany labor. Kirby and I immediately looked at each other and his eyes were like lemur eyes (or big-eyed emoji eyes, pick your poison). I knew he was thinking OH MY GOSH. Here we are in the hospital, sitting in a curtained triage cubicle at 3:30 in the morning with a woman fully in labor about six inches from us while we sit as still and as quiet as humanly possible. Y!? ((This was perhaps his first WTF)). We sat there frozen (bc the awkwardness!!) while we heard evvvvverrrry intimate intake question e.g. have you been emotionally or sexually abused? Do you use drugs? O____o. We heard how far along she was (7cm), we heard all her primal 7cm sounds (I feel u, girl...). Poor thing. My only consolation was knowing that 1. She was enough in labor to not care that she was sharing a room with a very self-aware, in touch with her body, 1 cm dilated, casually laboring woman and her uncomfortable husband and 2. She was probably enjoying her baby by the time the sun came up.
She was rushed out of triage pretty quickly and it was back to us and the monitor sounds and the ticking of the clock. Kirby asked if I'd mind if he went to sleep in his car for a bit, being that absolutely nothing was happening in my labor's neck of the woods. I said sure and promised to text with any and all exciting developments.
And it wasn't long before there was one! At about 4 a.m. another nurse came in the room and asked me the verrrrry delightful following question: "So, why are we here, sweetie? You were having a couple of contractions?"
What I wanted to say was "Why, yes, sweetie. Just a couple since 6 hours ago and by the way this is my **sixth** baby so how dare you cross me and/or my knowledge of my body and by the way THE ONLY REASON I'M EVEN HERE IS FOR AN EPIDURAL." But what I really said was much nicer than that and then she said, "Well, nothing's really showing up here on the monitor.... Maybe the belt slipped (YES, SURELY THE BELT SLIPPED). Let me check you again..."
You are baaaarrrrely 1.
Barely 1. Not even a wiggle this time. -_____- forever. Hashtag shoot me plz.
Maybe you're dehydrated. Mhmmm.
You can guess the rest, right? I slipped right on out of that soft, pastel hospital gown and right back into my civilian clothes. And I slipped my bag over my shoulder and tucked my pillow under my arm and I SNUCK out of that maternity ward. I am telling you, I snuck. There was no way in hell I was going to be seen as the lady who has had five kids and was false alarming it. Humility be not mine.
I walked out of the hospital realizing I had not had even one teensy contraction since sweetie back there gave me my formal dismissal. (Love you, sweetie. You were right after all, no hard feelings.)
(commemorative farewell shot)
I found our little, dark Prius with the curled up giant in the back, knocked on the window, and burst into tears.
But don't feel sad for me. Tears are sort of essential when you get sent home from the hospital for being not in labor with your sixth baby and you realize you've cost yourself (and your husband) an entire night of sleep and there is still work and 5 waking up children in about 45 minutes, right? Tears are, like, "normal" in situations like this.
So, we drove back. Back down the same highway with the sun rising in front of us. Back to our babysitter who I was rapid-fire apology texting, back to still being very pregnant. My contractions had stopped completely. Kirby said he didn't care and it's not a big deal and he wasn't really even tired (of course... he is always the best) (even though moments later he suggested that he might go find an overpass to sleep under for an hour or two before work...).
For the next 48 hours I felt extraordinarily emotionally volatile and fluish as lack of sleep is my kryptonite with a capital K. I cried a few more times and felt grateful I hadn't gone into labor yet because surely I was NOT READY FOR THIS. I even cried when Grace sent me the sweetest bundle of gifts to bring with me to the hospital, including a pair of these and the most lux robe ever for my sad little self. As silly as it sounds, that little package became the silver lining to my failed hospital over-nighter. If I was going to have a baby soon, at least I would have a new robe to wear.
And it turns out I did...
But more on that soon.