Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Dear Baby,

On Monday night, you decided you wanted to come early! However, thanks to modern medicine and wonderful tocolytic (contraction-stopping) drugs, you are still inside me and hopefully you're going to stay that way until at least 36 weeks when the midwives will attend your birth at home.

Here's what happened: when we went to bed I was having (what I thought were Braxton-Hicks) contractions, which isn't unusual for me lately. They were slightly painful but I wasn't alarmed, so I drank a lot of water to try to stop them and then went to sleep. I was waking up more often than usual, noticing that I was pretty uncomfortable, but I didn't pay much attention to it because I was tired! I got up to go to the bathroom a couple of times and noticed I was feeling a little nauseated and still having quite a few contractions, but each time I would just have some water and go back to bed.

Around 1:30 AM on Tuesday, I woke up suddenly knowing I was going to vomit, and ran (sort of) to the bathroom to be sick. It was then that I realized I was having strong, painful contractions and I started to get scared. I didn't want you to be born so early! I went into the bedroom and woke up your dad and told him what was going on, and he proceeded to make me lay down next to him because he wanted to go back to sleep. He quickly realized that was not happening, as I was having contractions every 4-5 minutes, and they were lasting about a minute each. It was hard to tell when they were ending because the pain wasn't going away in between. (I saw later on the monitor at the hospital that I was having "coupling" contractions--where the contraction has two peaks, or two come in a row right on top of each other.) It was at this point that we called our wonderful midwife Catherine, who assessed the situation over the phone and then advised us to go to the hospital to stop labor.

I experienced a couple of very interesting things during this time talking to Catherine and then our trip to the hospital:

First, I found that when I let myself be afraid and go into the "fight or flight" response, my pain was much worse. When Catherine gently told me, "You need to breathe through your contractions like you're in labor...because you're in labor," I was able to get out of my fearful place and just do what needed to be done to get through that moment.

Second, when we arrived at the hospital, my contractions slowed down significantly. The nurses kept saying, "oh, this always happens." I knew it to be true that a change to an unfamiliar environment can shut down labor (which is what we were going for, so yay!) but to experience it firsthand was really amazing.

Both of these experiences solidified my desire to give birth at home, where I will not be afraid and I will be surrounded by familiar and comforting things and people I know and trust.

The rest of the story (thankfully) isn't as exciting: your dad and I checked in to the labor & delivery unit, they gave me several medicines to get things stopped, and we had to wait there so the doctors could monitor you and me until they were satisfied that my cervix was no longer dilating. The nurses wanted me to sleep and I kept thinking, I'd sleep a lot better in my own bed without this IV in my hand, but we had to stay until around noon yesterday when they finally let us go home. Now I'm on bed rest which is difficult, but we'll manage.

In the car on the way to the hospital, I realized that either you were going to be born early and at the hospital, or I was going to have to do this whole labor thing again...very soon. I am so glad you didn't come early, and with some perspective from Catherine, I am trying to think of this first labor as a blessing: I know it's going to take hard work to bring you into the world so we can all meet you, and I know how fear and unfamiliar surroundings would affect that process. But, my body knows what to do, you know what to do, and I just need to get out of the way and let that unfold how it will.

I love you, child. I'm so glad you are eager to come out and meet us! We all have to be patient and wait just a little longer, so you can have more time to grow strong inside me. I know when the time comes, all the waiting and hard work will be more than worth it. See you soon!



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