If I were Julie, I would probably start this post as an IM conversation, or maybe a series of text messages, between me and my uterus. It would go something like this:
Uterus: u r in labor
Uberimma: no way. i have shingles.
Uterus: u r in labor
Uberimma: no way. kids are going to get chickenpox any day now.
Uterus: u r in labor
Uberimma: no way. not till 37 weeks. besides, no labor till pediatrician back from vacation.
11/10-11/29 (repeated daily)
Uterus: u r in labor
Uterus: just kidding hahaha
Uterus: u r in labor
Uberimma: This is getting really annoying. Stop.
Uterus: No really. You're in labor.
Uberimma: Fat chance. You're like the uterus that cried wolf already.
Uterus: You don't believe me?
Uterus: Okay, fine. But don't say I didn't warn you.
* * *
There's just only so long you can go to bed every night wondering if your water will break. There's only so long you can walk around having contractions before you start thinking, eh, it'll never happen. Even though logically you know that every passing day of this makes it more, not less, likely that you are in fact in labor... I dunno. That's not how my brain works, I guess.
So when I woke up at Monday morning with what felt like an upset stomach, I assumed it was, in fact, an upset stomach, because, you know, it'd been an upset stomach or just aimlessly meandering contractions for the last MONTH and I wasn't going to go paging my midwife or rushing off to the hospital for any of that. For some reason I'd overslept and my husband hadn't woken me up; it was 8:04 am, four minutes past the time I should have been out the door with Barak for the bus. This wasn't in itself a problem, though, since I'd been to check on Barak in the night and he'd had a fever. I went in to see how he was doing and he was still in bed, half awake; I checked his temp and he had 100.2 under his arm. OK, fine, you would've stayed home anyway. I gave him a kiss, told him to go back to sleep, and he just looked at me blearily and pulled the covers up a little higher.
I got Avtalyon out of his crib and dressed, got Iyyar his clothes and directed him to the bathroom while I got him Cheerios. And made a few bathroom trips myself. Ow, upset stomach. Got Iyyar dressed, got him more Cheerios. Ow. Husband must have overslept too; he's davening in the office. At around 8:45 I thought, you know, it's been a week since I saw the midwife, I should probably call her. And she'll probably want me to come in, so I might as well see if I can come in this morning, since I'm not planning on attempting any work and it's easier to go when Asnat is here. So I called midwife, at two minutes to 9, and got the answering service instead of the office. The person asked me if I wanted to page the midwife and without really thinking it through first I said yes.
My husband came out of my office at 9 and I asked him if he could take Iyyar to school, even though I knew that this would make him late to work; my stomach was really really upset at that point and I didn't want to go too far from a bathroom. He left with Iyyar, forgetting Iyyar's lunch, which I handed him through the door on his way out. Then I went to the bathroom again. Then I thought, huh. Maybe I should just... go into the office and get checked. I picked up the phone to call a cab, put it down, picked it up, put it down, and looked at it for a minute. Then I picked it up again and dialed. I asked for a cab to my midwife's office, which is across the street from the hospital.
Then I had a few more contractions and thought... huh. I wonder if... nah. Between contractions I thought it was probably nothing, and then I had one more that made me think that I might really be in labor. Then it stopped and I kind of dismissed the possibility again. The midwife still hadn't called me back, so I called again and had her paged again.
MHH came back and I told him I was going to the office to get checked. He asked me if I wanted him to come with me and I said, if you want, but I'm leaving when Asnat gets here. Asnat rang the doorbell at around 9:20; I opened it, she made a look of shock ("You're still here!") and I said, mid-contraction, yes but I am leaving NOW and then the phone rang and I saw that it was the cab company telling me that my cab had arrived. I got my bag and went in and kissed Barak and said, "I'm going to the hospital to have the baby and I'll see you in a few days." He just looked at me--I think he had sort of despaired of ever seeing the long-promised new baby too.
I put my coat on and was on my way out the door when my husband said something about needing to go get something; I didn't even slow down but called over my shoulder, "OK, but I'm not waiting for you." I saw the cab down the street and waved at him; he pulled up and I climbed in and I saw MHH running out the door after me. Good thing too, as it turned out.
In the car I texted Cecilia and told her I was going to the hospital; I just looked at my phone and that was 9:37 AM. I called a couple of people to see if they could come look after the kids that afternoon but didn't get through to anyone; then my midwife called back, and told me she'd never gotten the first page. How far apart were the contractions? 3-5 minutes, I said. Had my water broken? No. Any other signs of labor? I hesitated and said, "I'm in the cab." There are certain things you really just don't want to say in hearing of a cab driver when you are 9 months pregnant, you know? She said, OK, I'm leaving now and I'll meet you there. That was when I told the driver that actually I wanted to go to the hospital, women's hospital entrance. He said OK. I remember passing a certain intersection and having a contraction so intense I couldn't sit still, and thinking, yes, this is definitely it, but even then I had no feeling it was going to be anytime soon soon. It wasn't really all that bad.
(Don't worry. I did not have the baby in the cab.)
We got to the hospital, we got out of the cab, I remember having left my purple bag on the seat and my husband reaching back in to grab it. We walked in to L & D and I was for some reason walking a little bit ahead of him--he was talking about the statue of the extremely skinny woman cum baby in the lobby and I told him my midwife referred to it as the French au pair. We walked in to L & D and I remember the heavy double doors opening electronically; I went up to the registration desk, told the lady my name and the name of my midwife, and then had a contraction and a flash of very unpleasant memories and said to her, "Can we just skip this part? Can we just go straight to the baby?" She laughed or gave me a sympathetic look, I don't really remember, and said she wished it could be that easy. I asked for a room with a tub and she said she'd given me one; the nurse walked us both back there and started checking my vitals and the rest of it.
I know we got there at 9:58 and there were certainly a few minutes spent registering and getting into the room; I walked around, looked at the tub, put my bag down, and then told the nurse that this time I wanted drugs. I wanted an epidural. As soon as possible please. She said OK but I have to get you registered first, and I went to the bathroom and came out and looked at the tub again and asked if I could get in the tub and she told me it took a while to fill. She checked the baby's heartbeat and said something about if you want drugs you have to be on monitors and I didn't think I could sit still for that. So I went to the bathroom again. And then told my husband to move the bags on the floor away from where I was going to trip on them and thought dark thoughts toward my husband, who always catches the brunt of it when I am not feeling, ah, up to par. At this point I was really really in pain and thinking, "I cannot do this. I cannot possibly do this again," and my midwife came in and I told her I wanted an epidural, I'd done it naturally twice and I was NOT doing that again. She said, okay, but let me just check you first. Then I went to the bathroom again and she stood outside telling me she really needed to check me and that was when I called out through the door to my husband that he could leave now.
"Um. Okay. Is there anything specific you want me to be doing?"
Then I got walloped with one of those contractions that made me remember just exactly how awful having a baby is, and my midwife told me she couldn't do anything about that one contraction so I'd have to just wait till it was over, and I said I couldn't and she had to make it stop. (I know, very rational, etc.) Then the next thing I knew I was on the bed and she was saying to me, okay, you're ten centimeters and ready to push. I think I screamed once with the next contraction and she told me, very sternly, "No screaming. Just push. With this next contraction you're going to push your baby out."
And I did.
It was 10:16.
So she handed me the baby, and she was fine and gorgeous, and after they got me a little cleaned up my husband came back and they told him it was a girl and after about sixty seconds of being surprised he looked at me and said, "You totally knew, didn't you," and I 'fessed up. I was bleeding too much so they gave me pitocin; my midwife said I had a first-degree tear but didn't force the issue with stitches; I cuddled the baby and I nursed her a little bit and she thought that was great.
At some point we went up to my room and stopped at the nursery first for the baby to get checked. She had a lot of little red spots on her face which were probably from how fast she was born but because of the antigen E issue the nurse in the nursery paged my doctor to see if he wanted to get her platelet count, which he did (it turned out to be fine). She was talking with one of the other nurses about it and as they were discussing it and saying she, her, her, she, I was honestly and genuinely confused--as in, whose baby are they talking about that is she and her and she?
And then I realized. Oh yes. She's mine.