I just knew that Lucy would come early. Big brother Benjamin had arrived at 39 weeks and I there was no doubt in my mind that she would come at least as early. At 37 weeks I started losing my mucus plug, experiencing extreme pelvic pressure and some mild cramping, dilating and effacing, and feeling the Braxton-Hicks become more frequent and intense. “Any day now!” I started to think. I even stopped teaching ballet in South Georgia because I didn’t feel right about making the drive alone in case I started having real labor contractions. At the midwife’s office I perfunctorily made an appointment for the following week thinking, “well, it’s not like I’ll still be pregnant 7 whole days from now!” But…I was pregnant 7 days later. In fact, I was pregnant 14 days later….and I was pregnant 21 days later when my due date came and went. Each night as Daniel and I settled into bed I would try to find a comfortable sleeping position (ha! Yeah right!) and then groan, “I’m going to be pregnant forever!” Well-meaning folk would call and text asking whether we’d had our baby girl yet and I just had to stop answering because it was too frustrating to say “No, we’re still waiting,” for the 10 millionth time.
I had an appointment at the midwife’s office when I was four days overdue. I was 3 cm dilated and 60% effaced so everything looked promising but….still no labor. We had tried all the natural labor inducing techniques I’d heard of except for castor oil so my midwife recommended acupuncture to induce labor since, for many women, an acupuncture treatment will induce labor within 48 hours. Because I was overdue, she also scheduled a non-stress test and a biophysical profile. If both came back showing that Baby Lucy was still happy and safe in the womb, then I could wait another week before being induced at almost 42 weeks. I really wanted another natural birth without having to be induced with Pitocin because I’ve heard that it makes the contractions so painful so I decided to give the acupuncture a shot. I called an acupuncturist, (one of the deacons from our parish) and set up an appointment for the next day. Having never had acupuncture before, I didn’t know what to expect but it was completely painless and from the table I could see pictures of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Perks of having a Catholic acupuncturist! I didn’t start having contractions after my first treatment so Wednesday morning, Deacon Mike gave me another treatment and I started having contractions. They became a little stronger and more regular that evening and I got up around 11:30pm to sit up and do some laundry and watch 30 Rock streaming on Netflix while I timed the contractions. They were consistently 10 minutes apart but not at all strong so I decided to try to sleep at around 3am and slept through more contractions until 7am when Benjamin woke up.
Thursday morning my contractions spaced out and were still very mild but I would still have a strong one occasionally. By evening they started getting more intense, but were still at least 10 minutes apart so I just went to bed and slept in between them. We sent Benjamin so spend the night at Marmee and Grandaddy’s house just in case we needed to rush to the hospital in the middle of the night. But…by Friday morning they had spaced out again, were very erratic and not at all consistent either in strength or frequency. Daniel stayed home from work with me to time contractions and we took some walks. Whenever I stayed on my feet for any length of time, the contractions got stronger and the pelvic pressure became more severe. During my last month of pregnancy I had some sciatica in my legs and this intensified making walking difficult. Early evening I had my mom come over with her “doula bag” so that I could soothe my lower back with the awesome heat packs she made from socks full of rice. That’s where the contractions were really hurting. We sat and talked between contractions and watched a few episodes of Modern Family and although the contractions continued to be strong, they would sometimes space out to almost 30 minutes, so at 8pm I figured nothing was going to happen that evening and sent her home to get some rest….but I was oh so wrong…
To be continued in Part II!