Our story begins at 35 weeks pregnant and already extremely over it. I couldn’t sit down comfortably for very long, couldn’t stand comfortably, and waddled when I tried to walk. M and I knew that the writing was on the wall for our having date time, so as we enjoyed a leisurely Sunday morning sipping coffee on our patio and chatting, I mentioned that I would love to visit the ocean together. M suggested we head to Kemah, a mysterious beachy-tourist town in Texas that I’d never been to. During the hour long drive there, I felt a little stiff and a bit extra achy, but assumed it was just more random side effects of being that pregnant. It wasn’t until M dropped me off to search for parking that I realized that something different was happening.
I hadn’t noticed any Braxton-Hicks contractions during my pregnancy, and I really didn’t know what a contraction felt like. But I started trying to time these weird sensations I was having- and I was so very inaccurate (as it turned out). After a minute of making weird faces, I texted M to get his butt back to me and not worry about parking, as I didn’t think we’d be staying.
We actually managed to dart over to the end of a pier before driving back into Houston to the hospital. Standing and looking at the waves with my love, I felt calm- but also like I might drop a watermelon from between my legs at any time. Off we went.
On the hospital admitting floor, I was surprised to find that I was 4cm dilated, and definitely contracting- part of me had kind of thought that I was being a hypochondriac. But no, I was promptly admitted. I felt a little bit better about nearly falling on the floor while trying to check in, and circling the “ARHGDHDGJHDGJHG” face on the pain scale. I got a wheelchair ride to the laborin’ floor.
We texted the doula, but she was sick and said she’d send an assistant. L turned out to be an early 20-something, sweet girl- not quite the birth expert I’d paid for. But I digress. At least she brought lavender oil and heat packs- those made life nicer.
I’ve never had so many people shove their hands up in my stuff before- repeated checking to see if I was dilating any further had me wanting to kick a couple of the residents. Not everyone is equally good at those checks. I’m looking at you- short-haired female resident!
But the main issue was the fetal monitors. I had been hoping to walk around, sit on a birthing ball, take baths, etc. But because there were two babies, I had to have two full sets of monitors on me, and neither were the wireless kind (those apparently can’t be used if you need two of them). I was tethered to the bed, and could only pace a bit nearby unless I wanted to break rules and take off the monitors. When the nurses put a separate pulse monitor on me, I nearly punted one of them. Oh, and I nearly forgot- I hadn’t had the bacteria test thing done yet (because: only at 35 weeks), so I had to have an IV on me pumping me with antibiotics just in case. Y’know, so I didn’t give crotch-monkeys to the babies.
(Honestly, Baby A was so far down that nobody seemed able to get the monitor to stay on him anyway. The constant poking and prodding and rearranging the monitors was the worst part of the whole thing.)
M and I tried to watch episodes of The Great British Baking Show on iPhone between my contractions, because that was about all my poor brain could handle. The assistant doula napped on the window seat while Not A Lot happened.
Somewhere in the middle of this, M’s mom arrived with our hospital bags- just in time for me to get another dilation check. I kinda flustered a bit about the idea of having family members see my “business”, so M wound up encouraging her to leave. She offered to pick up my little geriatric dog Mei from our house, and dog sit her- and then she cleared out so I could wave my bits in the doctors’ faces in relative peace.
But I wasn’t getting any more dilated, just hungrier and more fatigued. Eventually, I was allowed to take a break from the monitors to get in the bath tub- which had lovely jets, but a nonfunctioning drain. I shoved my heel into it and tried to, y’know, earth mama my twins out into the world.
Doc made another appearance and told me that it seemed like my contractions had stalled and, indeed, not much was happening. This was the first time I heard that I might be discharged, and I was like “Really? I have to do this again in the future? I have to go back to work tomorrow?”
When Doc finally made the call that I would be going back home, M went and got us McDonald’s breakfast sandwiches- because that was what was open in the medical center at 4am. Until recently, I hadn’t been to McDonald’s in more than a decade. That morning, it was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.
So we went home. We didn’t go to work that day- we dozed on the couch and decompressed a bit, and grumbled and fussed. We didn’t see any more action for two whole weeks.
Continued in Part 2!