The first thing I remember on the day my son was born was rolling over and searching for my phone to check the time. 5 am. I had been tossing and turning for awhile, willing my eyes to stay closed despite the nervous excitement that came with each cramp that rolled over my midsection. They say you'll know when it's real, and despite thinking I had been going into labor multiple times over the past couple of weeks, this time there was no question. The pain was different, commanding my attention though still completely tolerable, and reminded me a bit of the kind of cramping that sends you running to the bathroom or reaching for some pepto bismol. I knew we had a long day ahead so I tried as hard as I could to fall back asleep. I couldn't help checking the time though, and noticing that contractions were coming about every six or seven minutes. I thought about waking my husband, but knew he could use as much sleep as he could get too. So I lay in the dark and silently talked to my baby. Today's the day, little man. It was a bit exhilarating, and I felt like we had a secret between us; only Finn and I knew that today would be his birthday.
My husband's alarm went off at 6:30 and I didn't let him roll over to hit snooze, instead waking him with a cheerful "you're not going to work today!". His eyes popped open and he looked like a kid on Christmas morning. "Really!?" Yes, I was sure. He kicked into perfect husband mode and made sure I was okay, got me a fresh glass of water, and helped me make a mental list of the last minute things we needed to get together. We sat in bed as he timed my contractions on his phone for the next hour or so and tried to sleep a bit in between. I knew I wanted to take a shower and get ready before things got too intense, so I yelled to my husband every time I had a contraction in the shower. We both knew that we didn't have to be so crazy about timing each one, but it made us feel like we were maintaining some level of control over the situation, so we kept it up.
Crazy as it sounds, I decided to blow dry and straighten my hair. I wanted to feel like myself. I also knew I probably wouldn't have the chance to do so for the next few days in the hospital. Also nuts was my husband's decision to give himself a haircut. We laughed at ourselves as we got ready together, pausing and turning the blowdryer and hair clippers off every five minutes or so when a new contraction came. Things were getting a bit more intense and I asked my husband to press on my lower back in order to apply counter pressure with each contraction as we had learned in our yoga birth class. It was really helping and I was breathing really deeply in order to get through the waves of pain, which were lasting about 45 seconds. I was almost enjoying the process at this point, and feeling proud of myself for working through the contractions. At some point during this time while we were getting ready on the third floor, our dog starting barking ridiculously loudly on the first floor. That's certainly not out of the ordinary for him, but he wasn't stopping and that's not so normal. Finally we realized that the electrician, who was scheduled to work on our latest bathroom renovation, had arrived. My husband ran downstairs to let the poor guy know that his wife was in labor, and he was going to have to come back another time!
After I finished getting ready (and I confess that I even added a little makeup to my pale face that morning), I called my Mom to let her know that she should probably start thinking about buying her plane ticket. The plan all along had been for me to call her as soon as I was in labor, and I couldn't believe that I was finally making that phone call. I was a bit nervous that she'd arrive only to have things stall out, and so I asked her to wait an hour or so for an update from me before booking her flight. Although I had thought ahead of time that I might like to update my blog to let everyone know that I had gone into labor so that I could be cheered on all day long by my friends, I had absolutely no interest in doing so when the time came. For some reason it felt like a secret that I enjoyed keeping. I did send my friend Katie a text message, wishing her a happy thirtieth birthday, and letting her in on the fact that someone else would soon probably be sharing that birthday. I also had to let my friend Nina know that I wouldn't be meeting her for breakfast that morning as we had planned... "I think Finn has other plans!!!!" I texted her, and then "I think these are real ones".
I called my midwife around 10 am just to let her know that things were happening. She told me try to relax as much as I could and to let her know when things got a bit more unbearable. The contractions were still coming around five minutes apart and I was managing them well with some help from my husband. We started using another technique we learned in our yoga birth class, where he actually sat on my lower back while I kneeled over a chair. The pressure of his weight on my lower back felt amazing. At some point, we decided that it would be a good idea for him to walk our dog, who we would be leaving at home when we left for the hospital with the plan that my father-in-law would pick him up in a few hours. It was during this time when he was gone that I was sitting in our living room and felt a funny POP... followed by a huge gush of liquid. I jumped up, started to run towards the bathroom, then thought better of walking across our living room rug, and ran in the opposite direction into the kitchen. This moment sticks out in my mind so strongly. I had this amazing feeling that my body knew exactly what it was doing, when to do it, and that labor was progressing beautifully without my having to think about it or control it. Feeling like I was just along for the ride and trusting my body was so crucial for me during labor and I felt it so strongly in that moment.
The first thing I did after changing into a new pair of yoga pants was to call my mom and let her know that she should go ahead and book that plane ticket.