Pull up a chair, kids. Here comes the birth story. (I’m not going to get too graphic, but babies do come out of human bodies, so if you don’t want to hear about mine, skip this series. Also, why are you reading mommy blogs if you don’t want to hear about this stuff?)
My birthday is December 20. So early on when I calculated my due date as New Year’s Eve, I knew I had doomed my unborn child to a birthday that would always be overshadowed to some extent by the hustle and stress of the holiday season.
My OB warned me not to go into labor on Christmas, because he’s a father of four young children and that’s basically the one day of the year he WILL NOT WORK. “It’s basically my Super Bowl,” he explained.
I wanted my OB to help deliver my baby. He had been fantastic throughout my pregnancy, not just reassuring my husband and me about the medical side of things, but also giving us down-to-earth advice about parenthood peppered with just enough expletives, which made him very relatable.
In addition to that,we had hired a great doula, Rachel, to see us through what I hoped would be an intervention-free labor and delivery. And as a neurotically non-confrontational person who hates to inconvenience anyone, even though she assured me that she’d be ready with her go-bag no matter when labor hit, I didn’t want to have to call my doula into service and away from her family on Christmas.
So when I woke up at 3 a.m. on December 25th with one painful, 15-second long twinge, and then another, and then another, I leaned into denial as much as I could.
This is my first baby, I thought to myself. I could be in labor for days before this is over.
Maybe I can at least hold off until late into the night, when all the presents have been unwrapped and my doctor would do anything to get away from the battery-powered mayhem in his house.
I thought about a friend who labored over the course of three days, baking her baby a birthday cake on Monday and finally meeting him on Wednesday.
So I got out of bed, plugged in the Christmas tree and lay on the couch, hitting the timer on my contraction counter app, waiting to see if it was the real thing. While they were only about 20 seconds long and definitely bearable, contractions were coming no less frequently than eight to 10 minutes apart. Not having had much in the way of Braxton-Hicks contractions, I could tell this was probably labor.
At about 5:30 a.m. I went back upstairs and whispered to my husband, “We might meet our baby today.” Ever the sound sleeper, he mumbled an “mmmmm,” rolled over, and went back to sleep. (To his credit, once he processed what I had said, he woke up and came to check on me.)
Having known there was a chance I could go into labor and all hell could break loose in our small house, we had impolitely invited The Husband’s mom and siblings to find Airbnb accommodations nearby if they wanted to spend Christmas with us. We had plans to host them for a late breakfast before their other Christmas plans. Thinking again of my friend baking her baby’s birthday cake and imagining myself eating eggs and gracefully riding through the occasional mild contraction, I insisted around 9 a.m. that they should still come over. I filled up the bathtub and tried to relax, remembering I had read somewhere that a warm bath could slow labor.
I got dressed, and kjmmmmmmmmmmm788888888888888888888u
That above is my cat stomping across the keyboard, but it accurately reflects how things intensified after that. At about 10:30, The Husband decided it was time to call Rachel when he found me lowing like a cow, on all fours on the guest bed. She asked about the timing of my contractions and stayed on the line to listen through one. She affirmed that all signs pointed to real labor, but didn’t sound concerned that I was especially close to delivery. She told us to track contractions for the next hour while she prepared to drive up (she had about an hour’s drive to meet us) and call her if anything changed. The plan was for her to come to our house and then go to the hospital together.
The Husband’s family seemed reluctant to join us for breakfast (probably because they could hear me bellowing in the background when he called them). I kept ridiculously insisting they should come over while The Husband began to grow more and more concerned. I finally conceded that I would not be able to enjoy a plate of scrambled eggs and asked The Husband’s family to at least swing by and pick up their gifts and the gifts for other family they were going to visit.
At about 11:15 they showed up. The Husband went outside… I think to walk the dog one last time? Who knows. Anyway, while he did that, his mom rubbed my stomach while I had a contraction and told me it was probably about time to get to the freaking hospital. The Husband’s sister and brother kept a cautious distance and I felt a little like a feral dog they weren’t sure they could trust. The Husband returned a few minutes later, we said goodbye to his family (with his mother again reminding me to go to the damn hospital), and that was the end of our Christmas celebrations, as they were.
I still had it in my head that this was going to be a long labor, and I dreaded going to the hospital to be told I wasn’t far enough along, or to have labor slow on the drive there, or to beat Rachel to the hospital and not have her there to help us through delivery, so I kept stalling for time while The Husband grew more and more frantic, begging me to let him take me to the hospital.
But by the 11:45, The Husband pointed out that my contractions were consistently about 3 minutes apart and a good minute long, I had to concede that this was really happening. I told him to give me three more contractions and I’d go.
Because I am a nervous eater, I foolishly wolfed down a few sugar cookies I’d made the day before while The Husband threw our hospital bags and birthing ball in the car and called Rachel to tell her we were meeting at the hospital.
Click to read Santa Baby, Part 2: Admitting I’m in labor
Click to read Santa Baby, Part 3: Hurry down the chimney