Tom got home from his wild night on the town at 10:42 p.m. I know the exact time because, before he went to bed, he leaned down and woke me up with a kiss on the cheek.
I lifted my head from my pillow and said, “Why did you do that? You just woke me up.”
Tom: I thought it would be sweet. I wanted you to know I was home.
Amanda: You were wrong. You woke me up. Don’t do that again.
And this is why each and every one of you should send Tom flowers.
From 10:42 p.m. to 12:36 a.m. I fell into a fitful sleep. I’m tempted to say I never went to sleep in those two hours, but I used to deal with sleeplessness, and one thing I learned is that you’re often asleep when you don’t realize it. Often, you fall into a light sleep at 10:50, then wake up at 11:30 and think, “WHAT? It’s 11:30 and I’m still awake!?” I’d love to tell you how I realized that, but I already promised this story would only have three parts.
While I was heaving my body around, looking for a comfortable position, I blamed my restlessness on Tom waking me up. But looking back, I’m sure it’s because my body was preparing for labor, which I guess is something that lends itself to discomfort. At 12:36 a.m. I woke up and I felt like I had to pee, even though I didn’t have to pee, which is exactly what early contractions feel like. They just feel like a sudden, onset, need to pee. I laid in bed and tried to decide whether it was worth it to get up when BOOM my water broke.
My labor with David began the same way — my water broke. Despite what they show in the movies, labor begins that way for less than 15 percent of women. With David, I felt a small trickle. It was so small I wasn’t even sure what was happening. This time, there was no doubt. I was laying there minding my own business and BOOM.
I froze — because it seemed like moving would only make things worse — and I called out to Tom, “Tom! You need to get up! You need to get up right now! I need help.”
And instead of telling me that he could not be bothered between the hours of 10:43 p.m. and 6 a.m., he jumped out of bed and said, “Um.”
He just sort of looked at me, and I looked at him. I felt like I couldn’t move, Tom had no idea what to do, and I didn’t know what to tell him to do. Eventually I got the nerve to get out of bed and go to the bathroom, where I stayed until we could think of a plan.
I really wanted to stay home for a while until my labor progressed. Last time I went to straight to the hospital, and four hours after my water broke I was only dilated to a four. When you’re in labor those numbers mean everything, and a four? A four is nothing. A four is a joke. Your momma is a four. To make matters worse, my doctor was like, “You’re not in active labor yet. You can go home if you want.” Did I mention I was 41 weeks pregnant? I resisted the urge to demand his credentials right then and there because there was no way he was right.
This time I wanted to wait. I didn’t want to cut it too close (we live around the corner from the hospital) but I wanted to be one of those women, like my sister, who go to the hospital and the doctor says, “Hey! Betcha didn’t realize this, but it’s time to push! Let’s have a baby!”
Knowing we had a long night ahead of us and I wouldn’t be able to eat once we went to the hospital, I asked Tom to make me a bagel with peanut butter.
Then Tom went back to sleep. As a quick side note, I’m very tempted to preface each stage of labor with “When I had David…,” but I really don’t want to compare my first labor with my second, because each and every labor is completely different. So this is the LAST TIME I’ll mention my labor with David…Last time my water broke at 4:30 a.m. and I wasn’t really having contractions. I told Tom to go back to bed and he said, “GO BACK TO BED!? ARE YOU KIDDING!? I CAN’T GO BACK TO BED!!!”
This time he said, “Are you sure that’s ok?” And then he slept for three hours.
That is the difference between child #1 and child #2.
So Tom went back to bed and I decided to pace around our room and wait for something to happen. I would have walked around our house, but we happened to have a house guest that night. Remember how Tom was out at a concert? The friend he went with stayed at our house because it ended so late. I wish I could watch my 21-year old self, who thought showing up at a party before 10 p.m. was “dorkishly early,” read that sentence.
It was incredibly convenient that this friend happened to be at our house; it meant no frantic calls asking family to drive to our house in the middle of the night. But it also meant that I felt just a little awkward turning on all the lights to do childbirth exercises in the living room. So, instead, I walked a 10-foot L-shaped path in our living room, read this book (which is now in our Goodwill pile because it is so boring), and downloaded an app to track contractions. The whole time I had Elmo’s bicycle song in my head. Ahem, another difference between child #1 and child #2. (Ok, really, I won’t do it again.)
I think there are guidelines about when you should go to the hospital, right? There’s something like 5-1-1 (one contraction, every five minutes, lasting a minute…or something) but I set other goals for myself. I knew that, at some point, I’d have a contraction that I couldn’t walk through, and that’s what I was waiting for…but even that is hard to gauge. I was having to stop and breathe through them, but did that count? Maybe I should wait for a contraction Tom couldn’t sleep through? According to my app, the contractions were coming an average of every 4 minutes and 22 seconds, and lasting about 55 seconds. So did that mean we were 5-1-1? I couldn’t be sure because I don’t know what 5-1-1 means. Mostly, I just didn’t feel like it was time to go to the hospital.
Plus, and I know this sounds stupid because my water had broken, but part of me didn’t really believe I was in labor. Just a few hours ago I was preparing to go past my due date, so was this really happening? I reminded myself, Amanda, your water broke. GET IT TOGETHER! Because when your water breaks, it means the clock is ticking and the baby is going to come one way or another. But it still didn’t seem real. It couldn’t be real.
Since I couldn’t trust contractions, I decided to make time goals. I decided to wait until at least 2:30 a.m., which seemed like a long time, but when you’re in labor, time sort of changes into something you can’t quite trust. A minute and an hour become sort of melty and interchangeable. When the doctor says “the baby will be here in three hours,” it actually doesn’t sound that bad. You think, Ok. Three hours. That’s nothing, I can do three hours. But those minute-long contractions that are hitting you in the gut and ripping your body in two? They’re kind of like having your body strapped to the railroad tracks and being told, “Try to relax, the train will be here in about two minutes, and when it gets here it’ll only pummel your body for about a minute. Breathe.”
So there I am, pacing around our room, not totally convinced I’m in labor, having regular and increasing contractions. I left our bedroom a few times for some last minute, um, nesting? I cleaned my bagel plate, and got things ready for David in the morning. (the friend who was staying with us also happens to be named David, so I’ll use “David” as a pronoun in the next few paragraphs that refers to both friend David and toddler David.) We had his schedule typed up for my family, and I put it out on the counter. I set his plate and cup and fork by the schedule because, what would happen if David couldn’t find them?
Then I realized David would need an outfit, so I went to his room to set something out on his changing table. I was using my phone to see, and I glanced over at David’s crib and realized he was awake and smiling at me. (This is the part where I get really sentimental, so instead of being sucked into the hormones of a laboring mom, think of how weird it would be if I was talking about friend David instead of toddler David.)
I walked over to reassure him and said, “Hey! It’s Mama.” David often wakes up crying in the middle of the night and just wants Tom or me to reassure him that we’re here and, no, PBS has not changed its morning line-up. Elmo will be on at 7 a.m.
I must have interrupted an awesome truck dream, because he held up the truck he was sleeping with and said “Truck!” Then he showed me his car and said “CAR!” and then smiled snuggled into his mattress.
I stroked his head and then, I could not help it, I started sobbing. I haven’t been super emotional about this “adding a second child to the family” thing, but my goodness it all came out in that moment. Suddenly I wanted to freeze time, to remember when David was my only child, my baby, my sweetest boy. The part that made me most emotional was that David had no idea what was about to happen. His world was about to change and he didn’t see it coming. I wanted him to stand up and give me a kiss. Maybe he’d even want me to hold him? And we’d sit in the rocking chair and cuddle like we used to when he was a baby? But being emotional with a toddler is a little like being emotional with a dog. They have no idea what’s going on and all they want to do is get back to their dream about trucks and balls.
That’s when David reminded me that it was, um, 3 a.m. and invited me to leave his room by saying, “Night night, Nonee!”
Now that I think about it, how creepy must that encounter have been? Mom comes in waving a cell phone around and has to hold onto a piece of furniture every few minutes to do some deep breathing. Then she starts crying uncontrollably. No wonder he wanted me to leave. To make matters worse, when he wakes up mom and dad are gone and a guy he barely knows but is also called David is making his eggs in the morning.
By then it was 3:30 a.m. My contractions were sort of the same as they’d been an hour ago, and I was getting really tired. I laid down in bed for a few minutes, which slowed the contractions significantly. Tom rolled over and asked me how I was doing. I sighed and told him it was time to go to the hospital.
For some reason going the hospital seemed like defeat. I know that doesn’t make sense. My water had broken, and some doctors encourage patients to go to the hospital the moment that happens because of risk of infection. Going to the hospital was a good idea. But you aren’t thinking straight when you’re in labor, and I felt like once we were in the hospital we were in for a really long, really difficult, exhausting labor.
I’d spent a lot of time thinking about labor and reminding myself that I did it once, I could do it again. But I didn’t want to do it the same way. It didn’t have to be faster or easier, but couldn’t it at least be different?
But, so far, this wasn’t any different at all. It felt the same, which was my worst case scenario. The only difference was that I was starting out more tired, more exhausted.
Tom gathered our bags and took them to the car. Then I told him to go check on both Davids. They both said something like, “Dude, I was having a truck dream.” And then went back to sleep.
I’d been preparing for this for weeks. Everything was in place, everything was ready, the only thing left to do was get in the car, drive to the hospital, and meet the newest little Krieger.
Part three…the good part…is on its way. You can read Part One here.