I'm writing this at about noon on Friday, still in my sweatpants because to be quite honest I only woke up about an hour ago. Normally that's not something I would do, much less admit to, but today I have an excuse: last night was awful.
Now, yesterday itself was not so bad. I had a nice afternoon and spent most of my time puttering around and being domestic. I got some chores done and was feeling good but very, very tired. When Avery got home he helped me finish cleaning the back porch and then I decided I had to lie down. I was dozing when the first contraction hit, and it woke me right up. Having contractions is nothing new, as I've had a handful of false starts already, but I still get excited each time. So I checked the clock and went back to sleep hoping that this time would be "it." I woke back up ten minutes later with another one, and then again ten minutes after that. I gave up on sleeping and got in the shower while Avery prepared dinner. Usually getting in the shower will slow or stop my contractions altogether, but this time they kept going, much to my discomfort and delight! In fact, they kept on going for the next few hours, right through dinner and a phone conversation with my mom. Gradually they increased from every ten minutes to every five minutes, and by 10:30 I was too excited to just sit and watch TV. Avery and I headed out the door for a walk around the neighborhood, and as we left I caught myself believing that this-- THIS-- could be my last pre-baby walk.
The streets were extremely dark, but there weren't many cars to dodge. We crept along at a snail's pace, stopping every five minutes so that I could lean on Avery through a contraction. As we walked we peeked into peoples' yards and watched the lightning overhead. There were booms and flashes coming from every direction! It was very dramatic, and seemed to fit the mood of nervous anticipation. After walking for almost an hour we decided to head back toward home, and thought it would be a good idea to stop off at the hospital on our way to fill out any necessary paperwork while I was still able to carry on a conversation. Plus, we reasoned, a hospital is filled with doctors and nurses. Surely someone there could tell us whether this was truly early labor or just another false alarm. It had been nearly five hours at this point and we desperately wanted permission to get excited.
Of course, at 11:30 the main entrance to the hospital is closed, so we came in through the E.R. and explained that we just wanted to pre-register and maybe ask one of the nurses if this could possibly be The Real Thing. Looking back, I'm not sure how articulate I was about this, considering I was kind of out of it. We were escorted to a side room to fill out some paperwork and then asked to follow a nurse upstairs to Maternity. We were told, "they want to check you." Okay, so we were going to be checked. That must be a good sign! Up we went.
That's when things started to get weird. I was immediately ushered into a small exam room with two beds and was told to pee in a cup and change into a gown. That in itself didn't seem too strange, but there was no other explanation given. In fact, the nurse quite nearly left the room without telling me what it was she wanted me to do! I used the restroom and changed out of my clothes, then perched on one of the beds. The nurse came back and performed an internal exam, where I learned that I had dilated to........ ONE! One centimeter after five hours of contractions. I was not the most pleased I've ever been, but the nurse seemed very cheerful and reminded me that this meant my contractions were doing something productive, even if it didn't seem like much. Then she told me to lie flat on my back and, without further explanation, started strapping me to an external fetal monitor. I happen to know what these look like, having worked in a nursing lab, but I don't think Avery had a clue what was going on and I was too groggy to protest. I meant to say something like "can you tell me why I need continuous fetal monitoring?" or maybe "I would prefer not to be lying flat on my back" but all that came out was "Ummm" as the straps dug into my sore belly. The nurse straightened up and said "make yourselves comfortable. I'll be back to check on you in a while." My brain screamed "WHAT?" and I had the presence of mind to ask "what's 'a while'?"
"An hour and a half."
And so we waited there, Avery in his hard little chair and me flat on my back, watching the baby kick the monitoring device and listening to her little heartbeat as my contractions, which had been going strong for over five hours, slowly stopped. I remember watching the clock, knowing somehow that the next contraction wasn't coming, and thinking what a horrible idea it was to hang a clock right over someone's hospital bed. At that point I started to cry. I had been so sure that we would finally be meeting our daughter soon, and instead we were sitting alone in a tiny hospital room, both of us uncomfortable and exhausted and wanting nothing more than to just go home. It was too much, and I couldn't even stop crying when Avery brought the nurse back in, hoping she would let us go. She was very kind, but kept us for a bit longer to monitor the baby. Avery was mad, and I was drifting in and out of sleep so that nothing seemed entirely real. At some point another girl was brought to the bed next to mine, and I was grateful that everyone was whispering for my benefit. Finally, around 1:30 we were released. I didn't have to sign anything; we just hobbled back down the hall and out the door into the night. The storm that had been threatening must have broken while we were upstairs, and the rain was coming down in sheets. At least I had a sweatshirt-- poor Avery was wearing shorts, a t-shirt and sandals. We walked slowly home, soaked to the skin and not saying much. Like before, the weather seemed appropriate to the circumstances.
I know I shouldn't complain. My baby is healthy, I am healthy, and whatever happens I know she'll be born soon. This whole thing will probably seem funny later, but right now I just feel frustrated and disappointed, and don't have the emotional stamina required to put this in perspective. My daughter was supposed to be here today and instead I'm sitting on the couch in my sweats writing a serious downer of a blog post. Not exactly what I had in mind.