For the Love of Harrison
I love my job and one of the things I love about it is the perks. In September, when I was 6 months pregnant, I learned we were offering 6 months of paid time off to parents. One other perk nested in there was that my company was offering memberships to a company called Cleo, which offers pregnancy and postpartum guidance through experts. Always wanting to take advantage of free things, I scrolled through the list of topics and one that resonated with me was advice on how to prepare big siblings for little siblings. It’s a topic that was weighing heavily on me as I realized how much we were going to be disrupting Harrison’s world, so I set up time with an expert. The call was a 1:1 with a psychologist and was really great. I got a lot of great nuggets out of the conversation and shared them with my husband, who was on Harrison duty during the call. I’d read before that often when you’re in labor your contractions will slow down when you get to the hospital due to the bright lights. I was surprised when the psychologist also mentioned that contractions typically slow when you leave the house and leave your child/ren behind. Knowing how fast and furious my contractions were last time, I didn’t think much of it.
One complicated thing about this pregnancy has been nailing down a due date and I’ve been given two: December 30th and January 6th. I’ve always gone by the earlier one, knowing I could fall back to the later one when convenient (like when flying late in the pregnancy or preventing being induced).
My sister arrived late last Wednesday (26th) with her daughter to help take care of Harrison when the time came and I went into labor. Right on cue, last Friday I had my “39/40 week” checkup and learned, to the shock of my doctor, I was 5 cm dilated and unlikely to still be pregnant by the end of the weekend. That afternoon at my non-stress test I learned I was also having consistent contractions, every 10 minutes. It helped me recognize the pressure of these early contractions to now know what to look for. The nurse flagged a doctor for review and after waiting for her blessing to leave, in spite of having contractions, I promised to come back if the contractions got worse or my water broke, given they didn’t think it would be a long labor. These contractions continued into the evening on Friday, again Saturday afternoon and evening, and Sunday afternoon and evening. Each night we’d prep Harrison that mommy and daddy might not be there when he woke up, but Aunt Kari and Brielle would be while we were at the hospital having the baby. You could visibly tell that stressed him out as he’d lay awake, not falling asleep, and would call for us in the middle of the night. And, shortly after bedtime is when the contractions would stop.
I didn’t have any contractions Monday and Tuesday and that started to worry me. Combined with the fact that my sister and her daughter had been here for almost a week with no action, I was starting to stress. We had booked them on a one-way ticket so they could go home after the baby was born, but hadn’t thought about what happened if the baby was overdue. I finally asked my sister the fateful question of when she’d told her work she’d be back and she told me Monday, the 6th.
Thankfully the contractions came back Wednesday (2nd), but ended again early into the evening. Desperate and having tried most old wives tales to naturally induce labor, I scheduled an acupuncture session to promote labor on Thursday. Upon leaving the acupuncturist, the contractions started again. That evening I also had a “40/41 week” doctor’s appointment. I had inquired to his nurse earlier in the day to see if they could do a membrane sweep to attempt to promote labor. She said the doctor typically wouldn’t as he liked to see things progress naturally, but would check with him. She later called back and confirmed that the doctor would not, but was happy to talk to me about it. I couldn’t get an appointment with any other doctor for the week, so I had no choice but to keep my appointment. At the appointment the doctor was shocked when he realized I was 6-7 cm dilated, admitting he’d assumed the doctor from the previous week was inaccurate. He also confirmed the baby had dropped and was in station 0, at my pelvis. He gave me a membrane sweep and offered induction options for me to think about since he couldn’t give me an answer on why this baby hadn’t been born yet. He was as puzzled as me.
By the time I got home the contractions were coming pretty fast and furious along with cramping. I found myself unable to sit and wanting to do the familiar pacing. I was convinced the baby was coming and had my husband verify he had everything ready for the hospital. In pain, it was time to read Harrison his bedtime stories, which I decided I wanted to muster through for his sake. By the time I finished and said goodnight to Harrison, the contractions stopped. Disappointed, I went to bed, hoping maybe I could will the contractions to start up again. It didn’t work.
Now here we are two days before my later due date, with my sister leaving in less than 48 hours to fly back to Wisconsin and not having held her new niece or nephew. The guilt and stress are destroying me along with the panic of what we do for childcare for Harrison if the baby comes after my sister leaves. In the midst of all these emotions, I can’t decide if this baby is just being extremely inconsiderate or if my love for Harrison is preventing by body from letting him/her enter this world.