I never really felt them with the first birth experience. I went in for a regular OB check up on a Friday and because I had "low fluids" in my uterus, they admitted me right then and there, induced me, and Emmy was born two days later on Sunday.
During the labor, I felt a lot of low back pressure. It was like a wave of pressure that came on, then went away. It was exhausting but not particularly painful. Eventually I got the epidural just so I could get a break and get some sleep. But I never felt any super severe labor pains, at least not the kind that have women screaming and punching their husbands in the face the way you see on TV.
Cut to Saturday night, about 11:30PM. The Good Doctor is exhausted after pulling off a huge surprise* and putting himself firmly in the Husband Hall of Fame. I am tired too, but for some reason, my legs are all restless and I can't get to sleep. I start thinking the my BBQ rib dinner wants to come back into the world in chewed up liquid form.
Then I start feeling this small cramp slowly building across my abdomen. It's like when you throw a paper towel on a spill and you see the liquid seeping across the paper, slowly but steadily. That's how the pain spreads. At first I thought it was food poisoning, because I was also feeling pretty nauseated.
But the cramp went away, and I thought I'd keep those ribs down after all. Not so much. Every 5-15 minutes, those cramps came back. On a pain scale, anywhere from a 5-8 out of 10. They aren't sharp quick pains, but pains that build into a crescendo, and then slowly retreat. Worse than sharp pains because there's that prelude, then the climax, then the lingering pain until they finally dissipate. Like someone slowly wringing the water out of a wash cloth, squeezing out every drop, unwrapping it, and wringing it out again. And your uterus is the wash cloth.
And you don't know when they're going to come again or how long they'd stick around. Sometimes 30 seconds, other times 90 seconds. I know because I counted. The Good Doctor is conked out. But after I get up and go to the bathroom 5 times to either pee or prepare to barf, he's like, "What's going on?" I say I have stomach pain. Which, in retrospect, is wrong. I tell him I don't know if it's food poisoning or labor pains.
He's wide awake at the mention of labor pains. So am I. Because we have NOTHING READY. I haven't packed a "go bag," I've completely forgotten everything I ever read about labor, and most importantly, we haven't taken our maternity photos yet. This baby can NOT come out right now.
But everything else decides to come out at 12:30AM. Isn't that a pretty picture?
At least we got that out of the way. By now I'm exhausted, feeling empty, and realizing that contraction pain does not eff around. It doesn't drop hints or casually mention, "Hey, you know, I was thinking..." It's in your face like a honey badger taking down a cobra. Labor pains don't give a shit.
I think 10 minutes into feeling those cramps and realizing THIS is what contractions feel like, I said, "I think I'm gonna get the epidural." Dr. Smug loved reminding me about that the next morning because up until now, I've been saying I wanted to "see how things go" and "try to do it naturally if possible" and "if your Aunt Tina did it twice, I can at least do it once" and all those other annoying things people say when they've never actually felt a serious contraction.
I'm now going to eat those words and wash them down with a nice cold glass of Fentanyl. With my husband nodding "I told you so" til the last drop.
We stayed home because we weren't anywhere near the 5-1-1 rule. Contractions 5 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute, for 1 hour. That's the golden rule for going to the hospital. And did I also mention we haven't taken our maternity photos with Emmy and the belly yet? Baby must not come out before that photo shoot.
The best part of the night was when he had to sneak into the guest room to retrieve some socks for our "go bag" that we were hastily trying to assemble at 1AM. His brother happened to be our guest this weekend and here's The Good Doctor, sliding open a squeaky closet door and blindly reaching for my fuzzy socks. Nothing like telling your houseguest, "Are you awake? Mike? Mike? I'm not sure, but Vicky might be in labor," to help him get a good night's sleep.
He also told me he "grabbed an extra bra" too. Turns out that bra would fit around my thigh right about now. My cups runneth so far over I relegated all of my regular undergarments to the guest room closet. My current 37 week pregnancy boobs would laugh maniacally at any attempt to be harnessed by that tiny scrap of padded magenta fabric.
In any case, we still don't have a fully packed go bag. But we've washed a bunch of baby blankets and clothes so that at least our newborn won't have to come home naked.
*Blog post on that coming soon.