I spoke with our doula, Erin, shortly after three in the afternoon. She told me that she had class at the Durham Tech campus not far from our house that evening. She planned on stopping by and checking in on us shortly after seven.
The late afternoon passed slowly. I anxiously awaited contractions to begin. Emily, MQD and I sat side by side and hand in hand on the couch. We watched a movie, Fast Girl, about a girl that learns to drive race cars and we talked about how this would be the last time Movie Night would be just the three of us.
MQD said to me at one point “We are gonna have a baby in this house. It just hit me. I’m crying a lot right now. I just cried over Wizards of Waverly Place. Fisher is too ashamed to even look at me.” And we laughed.
We firmed up plans with Amy for the evening. Em would go to school in the morning if necessary. We would call her if things started progressing.
Some time between an early dinner and Emily getting ready for bed I started having fairly regular contractions. True to form, I timed each and every one on my iPhone. Seeing the numbers change as it averaged “all contractions” vs “last five” or “last three” I had to admit that things were progressing. Not unbearably. An uncomfortable 45 seconds or minute every five to seven minutes was more than tolerable. I’d not remembered this predictability. I could feel myself making a checklist of things to do during my next break. Give myself an enema. Put your bathrobe in the dryer. Run the vacuum. Empty the dishwasher. One task at a time we got closer to “ready.”
When Erin called just before seven I assumed she would stop by and say hello. Go home and tuck in her kids. Rest, maybe. Early labor with Emily was a long day of movies and worrying and I’d not imagined this would be different.
When Erin arrived I noticed my contractions slow down for a short while. I told her about how I had felt that after my visit with Maureen I was emotionally ready in a way I had not been yet. That my water breaking felt very mind over matter.
In the moment I did not connect the dots. But hours later it was obvious that my contractions began as soon as I knew that Erin was close by.
We laughed a lot. Told stories about our kids. Took the chance to just get to know one another. The more comfortable I became the stronger my contractions became.
At one point I can recall rolling forward off of the ball and falling to my knees, in quiet tears I said matter of factly “I do not like this. I am NOT comfortable.” and seconds later I was laughing. Not comfortable? No shit? You don’t say?
Erin said more than once that this would be a fun labor.
Eventually I connected the dots between an event and with what I perceived as the next stage of labor. Maureen told me I was ready and my water broke. Erin was near by and my contractions began. She was with us in our home and they progressed.
Shortly before ten I felt like I’d not see any more progress until I was at the birthing center. Mike called and spoke with Sarah, the midwife on call. He passed me the phone and I tried to keep my head screwed on. Eventually I had to say out loud “I know you’re just keeping me on the phone until you can hear me… Here we go….” and a little over a minute later I said “So, that is pretty much where we are. Every three or four minutes. We will be there soon.”
Amy came over and we woke Emily. I asked Em if I could take her pinkie blanket and I kissed her goodbye. And we piled in the car. Still clutching my iPhone contraction timer I started doing the math. A fifteen minute drive should be no more than seven contractions even if they started getting closer. I counted the first few. Chatting with Mike between the rest. He pulled up to the door to drop me off, parking spots only fifteen feet away I cried out “No, park the car. I’ll walk. I don’t want to be away from you.”
He came around and opened the door and helped me out. Slowly we walked away from the Maternity Parking spots I had driven by the last nine months and it dawned on me that we would come back to the car with a baby if all went as I had hoped…. part three.