On June 23, Sunday, 2012, I woke up with an unexplainable urge to clean the house. I was due to give birth anytime now, so with my very pregnant belly, I marched right up to the most disorganized part of the house—the bodega (dum dum de dum).
Like a madwoman, I started clawing at all the stuff of yesteryears that have piled up in that closet. Books, cassette tapes, wires—-lots of wires—CDs, the occasional embarrassing photograph….they all ended up in piles by our feet.
By the time the closet and all its shelves were emptied, dusted and swept, and all of the things inside them organized and kept, it was late in the afternoon. I went into the bathroom and to my surprise; there it was…my bloody show. (To the uninitiated, bloody show is the coming off of your mucous plug, which is what serves as the “cork” of your cervix during your pregnancy.)
In my opinion, the most exciting thing about giving birth is that no one, not even the most sophisticated means of science can actually predict your due date. Isn’t it amazing that only our Maker knows the exact day of our birthdays? But just so you don’t pop in the middle of say, taking a shower (although I’m sure this has happened before) there are signs to help you know that the hour is fast approaching.
Some of these signs include: 1) Nesting or the sudden strong urge to clean the house 2) A bloody show and 3) the mother-to-be’s intuition.
All three of them happened that day.
Me: Hun. I really think I’m going to give birth tonight.
Dondi: Are you sure, hun? I give it Wednesday at the earliest. Or even Friday.
Me: Nope. It’s tonight.
Dondi: But I’ve got a meeting tomorrow. (Of course, he was kidding.)
Later that night, as we got ready for bed, I suddenly felt like getting a foot massage, something that mothers and pregnant women know to be a strong way to help induce contractions. And something that I never wanted during my entire pregnancy until that night.
Yup. I was almost positive the baby was on its way.
At about 11pm, I felt the first waves of contractions. Very mild, nothing to get excited over. I went back to sleep. At 1am, I woke up to another series, stronger now. Strong enough for me to nudge awake the sleeping figure beside me.
As instructed by Pammi, he switches on the Contractions Application on our phone and started to time them. When they began to reach 30 seconds each, at about five minutes apart, I told Dondi that it was time to go to the birthing center.
In the flurry of activity, I adamantly told Dondi to bring Boopy, my black dog along with us. I don’t know what I was thinking except that his fur looked mightily comforting and that this would surely help when my contractions grew stronger later on. Dondi thought I was crazy but agreed, anything for a laboring wife, I guess. So, with my contractions growing stronger by the minute, I busied myself preparing Boopy’s food and water dish, another mentally questionable side effect of a woman about to welcome a baby into the world.
Of course, we ended up bringing Boopy back home but my contractions pressed on. They were stronger now and unquestionably painful but I could still close my eyes and doze off for a few minutes before the next one began.
At around 4am, we reached Shalom Birthing Center (We left our house at around 3am with Dondi driving intentionally slow). Pammi arrived a few minutes later garbed in hospital scrubs. I felt bad for having to wake her up at such an hour and had to remind myself that nurses were used to this kind of thing. I dragged myself very slowly to one of the delivery beds where they checked how dilated my cervix was.
“Oh, it’s still a long way off. You’re only 3cm dilated. You may not give birth until later today or even tonight.” Said a very cool Pammi.
Not until tonight? Thinketh I, my eyes probably growing as huge as saucers. I honestly didn’t know if I could handle a full day’s worth of more contractions. Can’t the baby come out now? Obviously, God had other plans. Very uncertainly, I removed myself from the delivery bed and wondered what I would do with myself until my baby was ready to pop out.
Thankfully, Pammi offered for us to stay in her home up until I was ready to give birth. We all piled up in her blue 4×4 and made our way to what was going to be my sanctuary until it was time for the baby to pop. I took note of the two cute shitzus that welcomed as at the door. With Boopy gone, these two looked that they would make good alternatives. Pammi took us to a spare room, gave us new sheets and a blanket. Before closing the door, she popped her head in and smiled, “Now get some sleep, you two.”
Get some sleep?! With my contractions getting longer and coming at even shorter intervals, I couldn’t even think about sleep. Dondi gratefully dove into the bed and left me to fend on my own.
Now is probably a good time to discuss how contractions feel.
It’s been described many different ways by many different women. Accounts vary from feeling like menstrual cramps cranked up to the hundredth power to a ton of bricks falling on you lower abdomen.
I shall try my very best to describe exactly how they felt to me. The most accurate description that I can think of is, at its’ most intense, a train slowly running you over starting from your lower pelvic region all the way to the tip of you upper body. I don’t mean to scare you but, yes, that was how I imagine a train would feel.
Which brings us to the question, but how on earth was I able to take all that pain?
Was I made of iron? Nope.
Instead, I can give you two reasons how I was able to take all that pain.
One, the Bradley Method taught me to visualize what was happening inside of me, that my uterus was contracting itself to push my baby out. Since the uterus is the largest muscle in the body, of course the sensation that it brought about was a very powerful one. Knowing what was happening inside me and knowing that each contraction was actually an ally and not the enemy helped a lot. Each contraction, no matter how long and drawn out they would get, was a step closer to bringing my baby out into the world.
Weird as it may sound but each contraction did not grieve me. Painful as they were, they actually excited me….My baby was coming out.
The second thing that strengthened was prayer. Everytime a contraction hit, I lifted the pain up to the Lord. Lift, lift, lift. I prayed for grace, I prayed for strength, I prayed for the health of my baby. I prayed, prayed and prayed. It was all I could do, really. I can safely say that the power or prayer was severely tested and proven for me that day.