Sunday, August 31, 2008

Happy Labor Day

Of all the questions a woman asks herself during pregnancy (Am I up to the challenge of raising another human being? Why is my third trimester twice as long as three months of regular life? Chocolate or vanilla milkshake?), perhaps the most intriguing is: How will I know when I’m in labor?

It is the hardest question for her friends, sisters, and mother to answer. The feeling of being in labor is difficult to explain, and one woman’s experience can vary greatly from another’s.

So, the response usually is: You’ll know.

And usually, you will. But, there is always that unlikely chance that you won’t. I heard about one woman who had absolutely no labor pains. Sounds nice, right? Sure, until your water breaks unexpectedly and you have your baby in the foyer because you didn’t have enough time to get to the hospital. (Still, no labor pains...hmm...)

Then there’s the story of my husband’s great-grandmother, who caught her 12th baby in her apron while doing the dishes. (Since I don’t wear an apron, I’d just dash over to a pile of dirty laundry to cushion the kid’s landing. As much laundry as I have now, I can’t imagine the massive pile I’d have with a dozen kids.) So I guess after your body goes through the birthing process enough times, it starts skipping some of the steps.

Even the third time around, my body tricked me. My husband and I went to the hospital one night and walked the halls until they finally sent us home at 2 a.m. because as it turned out I was not in labor after all.

A couple days later, my son woke me up at 5:15 a.m., and before long I realized that I was definitely in labor. If he hadn’t woken me up, who knows how much more of it I might have slept through. My daughter came into the world at 6:30, and although I had to endure most of the short but extremely intense labor without the assistance of drugs, hey, at least I was in a hospital. And the baby was caught by certified medical personnel.

Anybody got any good labor stories to share?


Manda said...

I knew I was in labor with all three of my children whereas my waterbroke than an hour later labor pains started. My boys (the first two) were easy - in and out. My daughter however was a little more complicated (as all are all girls?) - my water broke, an hour later labor pains started, arrived at the hospital - everything stopped. I ended up being there for three hours before they finally medicated me to get things going. I wouldn't change my labors because they were uncomplicated for the most part. But they were painful regardless. And you are right - you will know when you're in labor, the pains are unexplainable. Great post Mama Ruth!

Meaghan said...

Ah, Labor Day. Yes, indeed. I fit squarely in the "don't worry, you'll know" category. I had 26 whole hours to figure it out, 18 of them unmedicated.

I went into labor at around 3:30 in the afternoon, I cleaned the bathroom, ate some vanilla Haagen Daas, waited for the mister to come home. When he did, we watched "Rear Window" (watching the ethereal beauty of Grace Kelly while in painful, potentially messy labor isn't necessarily recommended), and called my doctor 56 times. I took 3 showers and finally, at around midnight, the doctor gave us the tentative "OK" to drive the 45 miles into New York City to have my baby.

Upon arrival, I was informed that I was approximately 1 centimeter dialated and that, had I not been residing in Connecticut, they would have sent me home because it would be hours before the baby actually came out. Instead, they sent us to walk the streets of Manhattan in the middle of the night, which we did, for about 2 1/2hours. I saw all kinds of interesting (intoxicated?) passers by, while contracting my brains (but not quite my baby) out. Upon my return to the hospital, unable to feel my feet, the doctor examined me and said "No change."

That was the only time I cried.

By 8 AM I was in a lovely labor suite and by 10 AM I had my epidural. (Having been terrified of this before labor, I can tell you that, after my ordeal, if they had said "We can give you the epidural, but we have to stick the needle in your eye," I would have held my lids open for them.)

My sweet one didn't arrive until 4:44 in the afternoon. To this day, she has a mind of her own.

And of course, I'd do it all over again.

Wonderful post, Ruth!!