***This post was written on Sunday afternoon. I am so thankful I took the time to write what I was feeling then, because there is no way I could write this post today. In reality, this truly was the start of labor and I can't wait to share all of my experiences here!***
I apologize in advance, because Part 1 of Eleanor's Birth Story really isn't all that exciting. At least for me it was quite annoying. I left off at 38 Weeks: Everything Changes. When I wrote that post on Thursday night I knew that my belly had dropped significantly and my stomach (AKA uterus) was cramping. There were no other signs that labor was impending and I really thought nothing of the cramps. They weren't coming and going in a wave, like contractions do.
By Friday morning it was a different story. I was 38 weeks pregnant, and counting on a very late baby. I was trying my best to set my mind at 42 weeks to ward off any anxiousness. But when I awoke at 4am to the coming and going of cramps in my uterus, it was hard to turn off my brain, "She's coming today, she's coming today!"
I finally woke up Alex around 5am and he rubbed my back through a couple contractions. They were coming every 10 minutes and while painful, were manageable. I was excited that my labor was beginning like this, it gave me a chance to practice breathing through the contractions and training my body not to tense up.
We crawled out of bed and ate breakfast. I stuffed my face with bagel and peanut butter, "feuling up" for what could be a long day. After a little discussion, Alex went off to work and I sat down to my computer to tackle a few projects. The hours ticked by. I decided not to time my contractions. I knew that would only drive me crazy. I decided that if they started to hurt bad enough or seem close enough together than I would start timing. But they never did. They stayed consistently inconsistent. The level of pain was not much more than the cramps from Thursday, only these came in and out in a wave. It was almost a relief from the pain I felt the day before. And they were at least 10 minutes apart all day long, although they persisted.
I picked up Alex from school around 4, still experiencing the same contractions. And throughout the evening and night they continued to come. I was beginning to feel so exhausted so I took a two hour nap around 7pm. When I woke up still experiencing contractions I decided to time them. They were no more than 40 seconds long and still 9-10 minutes apart. After an hour I gave up and settled in to watch some TV, heading back to bed around midnight.
Sleep escaped me throughout the night. I think I may have caught two hours between 1-3am. Again, I waited until 5 to wake up Alex. We laid in bed talking and praying. I was shocked to wake up after a full day of contractions and still not have any progression. As we laid there, the contractions continued to come steadily every 10 minutes. Unsure of what to do, we decided to just go about our day as usual. We had a busy Saturday planned and I knew it would be a good distraction.
Throughout the day on Saturday the contractions continued to come. As I stood at the Rock N Read 5k spectating, as we sat through breakfast with friends, while we walked around Ikea, ate lunch, hung out at Babies R Us, and even through a short hour nap back at home in the afternoon. They never subsided, but always were around 10 minutes apart and relative pain. They didn't hurt enough to cry out but I would occasionally gasp for air or tense up, only to remember to breathe and relax.
Finally on Saturday evening I noticed they began to pick up (we practiced a little "encouraging"). Weary of raising my hopes, I decided not to time them. They were definitely hurting more and coming more quickly. But I just continued about my business as usual. In my head I was thinking "She's coming tonight, she's coming tonight!"
Alex and I headed out to Target to pick up a few more last minute baby items, and then to Wal-Mart to do some grocery shopping. Once in Wal-Mart I began to time the contractions again as they were coming much closer and much stronger. Each contraction was about 6-7 minutes apart but lasting only 30 seconds.
I really thought that Saturday would be the night so when we reached home I called our mid-wife just to clue her in on what was happening. I told her I had been experiencing contractions since Friday morning and that they were beginning to pick up and that I had seen a little bloody show on Saturday morning. She suggested taking a warm bath to relax. It would do one of two things: either slow the contractions down and help me to relax so I could get a good night's rest, or the contractions would pick up once my body relaxed. I was dejected when I got out of the tub that night to realize my contractions were slowing down and easing up. They still came consistently but the pain was subsiding.
Saturday night I managed to get a much better night's sleep. The contractions were less intense and although I woke up a bunch in the middle of the night, I was able to fall right back asleep. Of all night's for Day-Light Savings, however, that was the worse. By 4am I was once again wide awake and ready to get out of bed. By 5am I woke up Alex, only to be reminded that it was still only 4! I tossed and turned in bed with contractions a while longer and finally got up to take another bath.
Now as I sit here, 6 hours later typing this story, I am once again feeling dejected. I am still experiencing contractions, but they are still spaced so far apart and lasting only 30 seconds or so. The intensity of each contraction also remains the same. I was once excited for labor to begin slow and steady so I could become acquainted with contractions, and now I am so disappointed. As each day begins I think "Today will be the day." But then each night falls and I am left writhing in mild pain but without any benefit or end in sight.
Alex has been so patient and so kind and since Friday afternoon has been by my side. Finally this morning I urged him off to church so our friends wouldn't get the wrong idea of our missing in attendance. No baby yet. Just lots of contractions. At this point I am feeling very low. On one hand I just want them to pick up so I can get into real labor and finish this ordeal. On the other hand, the contractions are starting to make me very nervous about what is to come. On a scale of 1-10 I would say these are at about a 4. But they are really wearing on me. What was once manageable is starting to be more awful. I am just tired of them. So when the pain really does pick up I am not sure how I will handle it.
I told you Part 1 wasn't very exciting. And once hard labor really starts I may not even consider this as labor, but right now it is part of our story and I wanted to get it all down before I forget the details. It is now noon on Sunday, and I can only hope that Eleanor is just waiting for Monday because it is November 5th. I have decided that would be the ideal day for her to come. My birthday is the 5th of March and Alex's is the 5th of May, so it is only fitting that she be born on the 5th too, right? So if that's all she is waiting for, then I guess I can wait one more day.