I was nine months pregnant. The date was January 22, 2018. I was due on January 27th. I was at my weekly checkup, scrolling through Poshmark (I’m obsessed), and letting my legs swing off the edge of the examination table. My doctor walked in, and while she was checking for a little heartbeat and feeling my hot air balloon-sized baby bump, she mentioned to give a call if I felt any tightening or squeezing, because it was probably a real contraction.
When those words came out of her mouth, I thought That’s been happening since yesterday. They’re Braxton Hicks. It’s crazy how experienced I am now that this is my second pregnancy. If it was the first time around I’d be panicking! She informed me that at my next visit they’d check my cervix and see what was going on. There was no next visit.
I drove to my moms after to get some work done and have coffee (yes, coffee) with her. Every now and then, my stomach would squeeze and I would grimace in pain for a second. She stared at me over the top of her steaming mug, wanting to mention her concern but too afraid of me to speak up. I despise late pregnancy. It makes me mean.
That night, I went to dinner with my husband, daughter and in-laws. I polished off a plate of chicken tenders, stopping mid-bite every now and then to have a short “Braxton-Hicks” contraction and then continued eating.
Life went on as normal that night and the next day, with me working, cleaning, doing laundry all the while contracting my little heart out because I (and I’m sure most of you guessed it) WAS IN LABOR.
January 24th rolled around, and I woke up as normal and started to help my 5-year-old get ready for school. I was braiding her hair and chatting with her about whether or not unicorns sleep in beds or on clouds, and I saw it.
There in her hair: Lice.
The war began. I deloused her, myself, my husband. I cleaned sheets, blankets, furniture and stuffed animals. I made three trips to the store. I steamed pillows and smothered all of our fabric belongings in tea tree oil.
I did seven loads of laundry. I vacuumed repeatedly. I overreacted, to say the least, all the while pushing my body to the limit and my ever lengthening contractions to the back of my mind. I was literally too busy to realize I was in labor.
January 25th, I woke up at 7 am. I was spotting and I was having contractions that kind of hurt, but school lunch wasn’t going to pack itself! Begrudgingly, I woke my husband up to take over school preparations, laid down and called my doctor.
They told me to time the contractions, both length and space apart. Once they were regular, and I couldn’t talk through them, it was time. For the record, they were never regular, and I could always talk through them. Can I suggest a new “How to Tell if You’re in Labor” scale?
I told my worried family members to leave me alone because I wasn’t an idiot, and I would know if I was in labor. At 10:20 A.M., my doctor told me that I was having pre-labor bowel issues. At 10:44 A.M. my water broke.
I was induced with my first, and after my water broke it took me an additional six hours to evict her from the womb. Going by that knowledge, I went to the bathroom to take a preemptive strike against pooping in front of people I don’t know, and took a shower. I had plenty of time, right?
Wrong. I had no time. My first crippling contraction hit about eight minutes after my water broke. I was in the shower, and I hit my knees. My husband had stayed home from work despite my ridicule of him being a “worry wart” and rushed in. He helped me up, got me dressed and out to the car we hobbled.
He started the ignition while I yelled a whole slew of swear words and then turned and frowned at me. “What?!” I snapped. Panic was setting in. Were we no longer in a hurry? He continued frowning and replied “How many times have I told you that you cannot leave the car in the driveway on empty in case you go into labor? You have to get gas!”
I kicked the dashboard as another contraction took hold, swore again and then gave him a brief but elegant speech on where he could shove his lecture. We pulled into the nearest gas station, and it was there that I poked my head out the window while he was filling the tank and yelled “I feel like I have to push!” He explained to a few nosey/scared onlookers that I was about to have a baby, and then got in the car and we took off.
If there had been traffic, I would have been screwed. It was the longest car ride of my life, and consisted of a brief argument about what we would do if the baby came out in the car because it was a lease. Would we have to buy the car? We didn’t know.
Anyway, we got to the hospital at 11:20 A.M. and had no idea where to park. Another brief argument broke out about why we never took the tour of the hospital that was suggested to us throughout the pregnancy. Apparently it was my fault because I brushed it off, scoffing something about how that was for emergencies.
We had called my stepmom on the way, as she works a few blocks away from where I was delivering. She was there, thank goodness, waiting with staff and a wheelchair. They shoved me into an elevator, and I proceeded to take the cross country trip to the eighth floor.
A kind doctor who happened to get on while I was yelling in pain said to me “Just breathe, honey. Breathe.” I glared at him and asked him why the hell the maternity ward wasn’t on the second floor. He got off the next time the door opened, probably to take the stairs the rest of the way.
They wheeled me through Labor and Delivery at the speed of light, until we reached the check in desk. There was a LINE. Not to be rude, but I think I’m crowning. Can we fill out papers in like 20? A cute, well-dressed couple was checking in for their scheduled C-section.
They were adorable, and so sweetly nervous. I told them to please get out of my way because I needed a room, but offered up good luck and congratulations to all. My nurses got me changed and helped me into bed.
They were calm and wonderful and warm. You L&D nurses, you’re all angels. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I meekly brought up an epidural. My request was met with nervous laughter and a resounding “No!” I was 10 centimeters dilated and a few minutes away from meeting my second daughter.
The next 10 minutes were a blur of pain, pushing, swearing, screaming and effort. I kept thinking it was going to get worse. It never did. She was born at 11:40 A.M., exactly 20 minutes after we pulled up to the hospital door. She was healthy, she was beautiful and I was ready for lunch, some sweet baby snuggles and a nap.
To all the pregnant mama’s out there: this story is not to scare you. It’s to let you know that you can literally do anything. Pregnancy can leave you feeling helpless, and we think that by assigning a birth plan to the end game, we can take charge.
The bottom line is that there is a human being in there ladies, and a very short list of ways that it’s coming out. None of them are fun, but all of them are so worth it. In moments of doubt, remember that you are strong, you are brave and you can absolutely do this.
Don’t panic if things aren’t going as planned. You, too, could make it through a lice outbreak and labor all within two days, if you had to! Have a plan, but be ready to adapt. After all, this will likely become one of your super powers after the baby arrives!★
Chelsie Dautrich is a full time freelancer/online shopper and work at home mom. She lives in Upstate New York with her two girls, one husband and one rescue dog. Likes: Coffee, shopping, the written word, horses and really long walks without her phone. Dislikes: Making dinner, lines and reduced fat Oreos.