There is this thought that birth is like it is in the movies. I am here to tell you that is a dirty lie. It’s NOTHING like it is in the movies. I should know better, being a filmmaker. We practice in the magic of illusion everyday. But I also have this hopeless romantic faith in fairy tales and happy endings so I can justify my naiveté here.
Early Sunday March 17th I pulled myself out of bed. “Today’s the day!” I thought. Anticipation since July when a sudden and surprising little bird made her presence known. It was our delivery day. Our little peanut had been right on target every week for growth and there’s no reason to even think she won’t come on time. Saint Patrick’s Day was finally here and we were determined to encourage her to hit her holiday. Both her dad and I missed our holidays by one day (4th of July and Thanksgiving) so we didn’t want her to suffer the same irritation.
I had decided I would refuse C-section unless medically necessary for personal reasons. My husband and I had also discussed at length the pros and cons of drugs during the labor and decided a natural birth (unless medically necessary) was also on the books. So we began our Sunday with a game plan. Operation Baby Drop was a GO!
I was feeling contractions and could time them but there is this numbers rule they give you in preparations to judge when it’s best to ACTUALLY show up at the hospital. 4-1-1. Contractions are 4 minutes apart lasting for a minute for at least 1 hour. I have an absurdly high pain tolerance so I called the midwife and she told me I would really be able to tell the difference, so wait. Contractions: 10-15 minutes apart lasting for 30 seconds.
First, a nice… long… hot…
Bath. Where was your mind? My two girlfriends picked my mom and I up. The four of us headed to Bella Nails in Ballard. We made our appointment and walked to Cupcake Royale. What’s a birthday without Irish Crème Cupcakes? Or Whiskey Bacon Cupcakes? This is an Irish baby damnit, she’s got to start it out right. Back to the nail salon and we all pampered ourselves. There is rhyme to this indulgence. There are pressure points on your feet that can induce labor. Of course it would have been awkward if my water had broke there, but hey we were on a mission. Alas, baby has enough of her stubborn Scottish mama (Me) to stay right where she was. Contractions: 10 minutes apart lasting for 30 seconds. I’m not unsure these are just really powerful Braxton Hicks at this point.
Onward we went to the Freemont Sunday Market. We mingled, bought things we had no intention of buying until we got there, and I got my photo taken with the best baby buggy in the world. Still my baby wasn’t encouraged enough to make her appearance. Time for lunch, er… dinner.
Normally a spicy meal is in order. But seeing as A. I’d been eating Pho and Indian food my whole pregnancy I didn’t think it would do the trick and B. It was St. Patrick’s Day we opted for home cooking. It’s sacrilegious to eat anything other than corned beef and cabbage in the Neal house on St. Patrick’s Day. My mom had recently shared her recipe with my husband who then took that and ran with it creating his own fabulous concoction.
The boys had been busy playing Halo and making the meal while we were out so it was time to head home. Contractions: 7-10 minutes apart lasting for about 30-45 seconds. Still thinking these might just be my uterus doing push-ups in preparation for the marathon.
The Godparent couples (we have two) and some more close friends showed up and it was a regular Irish gathering. We talked, they drank, played games and ate delicious food. We went for our second walk up to the elementary school and back. During the walk the contractions increased in intensity and I was happy for the pain. “This is it!” I thought.
As soon as I sat down to time them more specifically they went right back to being strong Braxton Hicks. Lame. I consulted the midwife again, emphasizing my pain tolerance and again being told that I would really be able to tell the difference. That the reason so many women have “false labor” pains is because they’re not listening to their body. “Trust me, you’ll know when it’s time. You wont have to ask, you’ll just come in.”
Several hours and rounds of Cards Against Humanity later, it was time to say goodnight to our friends. Contractions: 5-8 minutes apart lasting 45 seconds.
Well, it was time for bed. The sun had set on St. Patrick’s Day and I felt a little sad, but equally happy that our little girl had decided that she was going to do things on her own schedule. Perhaps it’s delusion, but I thought to myself it was an encouraging thought knowing she was exerting her independence even before she’d left my body.