We decided not to say anything to my parents because we wanted things to remain calm and I still had doubts that I was truly in labor. So we ate supper, laughing at the fact that we’d spent so much time worrying that I’d go into labor early and Sam would miss it… only to be 8 days late. Through each minor contraction, I’d squeeze Sam’s hand under the table. They weren’t painful, they were just exciting reminders that our baby was making his way out into the world. We talked about the weather, family, and politics, all the while Sam and I would steal glances at each other and smile because we knew tonight would be an adventure.
When we got back to the house we changed into our PJs and watched television. Around 10pm, we all made our way to the bed. At 11:15, the contractions were no longer little reminders, they were flipping sirens going off inside of my body telling me to take cover. I told Sam that we needed to start timing. He grabbed the iPod touch and started timing each one. Then I wanted him to get some sleep so with some serious reluctance from him, I took over. I tried to rest but the contractions were about 5 minutes apart so I would catch 5 minute cat naps. Around 3am, I told Sam that I wanted to take a bath and that he should tell my parents I was in labor.
I started filling up the bath tub and I heard him knock on the door to our guest room (I’m sure praying that the queen bed my parents were sleeping in had somehow turned into twin beds and he wouldn’t have to see his in-laws cuddling). “Hey Janice and Graham? Martha is in labor.” I heard some shuffling and my mom came into the bathroom. We laughed, she checked on me, and I’m sure there was squealing involved. A little while later the contractions were 3 minutes apart so Sam decided to call the doctor and see what their thoughts were. We all walked downstairs and as Sam described the time and length of contractions, I’d breathe through each one, remembering all of the Bradley Method, Hypnobirthing, and Ina May techniques I’d read the previous 9 months. I expected him to say, “Ok sweet girl, they said come on!” but instead he looked at me and said, “They said to go back to bed and come in when they are a minute or two apart and lasting 90 seconds.”
It was going to be a long night.
I got back into the tub and continued to labor while everyone tried to sleep. Sam kept coming in and checking on me but I told him to try and get rest while he could. He would sweetly rub my head and head back to bed. At 7am, it was getting intense. I knew I wanted to labor at home as long as possible but it was getting a bit tough. I heard my parents up downstairs so Sam and I joined them. They were watching I love Lucy and laughing together. I remember thinking how nice it was that they were enjoying some time laughing together before they became grandparents. When I got downstairs, I could barely walk through the contractions. I was having horrible back labor. Most of the pain would start in my lower back and wrap around the front. Sam, Mom, and Daddy all took turns during contractions pushing on my lower back.
The counter pressure was the only relief that would work. I’d continue breathing through and flapping my lips like a horse in order to relieve some pressure in my lady garden. I had read about that technique in Ina May’s book. I don’t know if it helped much but I was determined to keep doing it.
The next couple of hours were spent in different positions in the living room. I’d lean against the pillar in the living room, I’d be on all fours, I’d lean back into child’s pose, I’d be on my left side… I’m sure I looked like a disastrous “Yoga for beginners” video. Those hours downstairs were a bit of a blur but there are two things I remember. I remember my dad trying to distract me and make me laugh by showing me a magic video on his iPad… it wasn’t working. And I remember Roy coming and laying beside of me during my contractions. There was worry on his face and I remember feeling strangely comforted by the fact that my dog was picking up on my pain and wanted to comfort me.
At 9am, the contractions were over a minute long and 2 minutes apart. Sam called Labor and Delivery and they gave us the green light to come on in. I texted my doula and told her to meet us at the hospital. We grabbed our “go bags” and made our way to the car. We drove the 3 exits down to the hospital and when we got to the gate to show our IDs (gotta love giving birth on an army base) Sam started to hand all 4 IDs over and told the guard, “My wife is in labor!” and without blinking the guard asked Sam for some word and they had some sort of exchange that I can’t remember and we drove through the gate without having to go through the entire ID check. I remember feeling a little badass but that feeling was interrupted by my child trying to break his way through my nether-regions. Sam dropped us off and parked the car. It took forever to get to the front door because I had to keep stopping for my contractions. I remember a soldier walking by and wishing us luck. I remember wanting to say thank you but my body wouldn’t stand up right.
I hoped Emily Post wouldn’t be too angry at my bad manners.