No matter what you plan for, labor is a prime example of how life can throw a wrench in your best-laid plans!
I’ve mentioned in other posts about baby dropping and how I felt during those days. But looking back on the chaos of my first daughter’s birth and how I felt 48 hours before her birth, it’s easy to see things I missed.
I knew that she’d dropped down. In week 36, she had dropped down. But she decided to come out during week 38, something I wasn’t yet prepared for. She was born on April 16th, but my doctor had anticipated an April 30th delivery.
Now that I look back, I know why.
My deliveries for both of my daughters took place in China. Living there as an American married to a Chinese man was sometimes overwhelming. But whether you’re here or there (or anywhere) doesn’t matter. Stress can take its toll on your pregnancy, so try to keep it in check.
For my first pregnancy, I was really going for the whole “eating for two” thing. Only I was placating myself with foods that made me feel comfortable. I couldn’t stand the smell of some of the Chinese spices used, particularly Chinese 5-spice, something I still can’t really stand to this day. 🙁
So my husband would get me the things I wanted to eat, like pizza or burgers, to satisfy my cravings. But Dr. Wang had warned me not to eat so much. She said I was big and needed to watch out.
When I’d first gotten pregnant, my husband and I were living in South Korea.
We moved to his hometown in China right after this because we didn’t want to be separated during his visa process. Whereas I felt completely comfortable and loved living in Seoul, I felt very uncomfortable in China. We weren’t in some tiny village or anything, yet it felt years, decades behind even!
Important: Read some of the natural ways to induce labor at home.
It was hard for me to make friends there and unlike Korean, Chinese is very hard to learn to read. So I felt trapped and lonely. My mother-in-law would come over every day to cook for me and care for me, only she didn’t speak any English and my mastery of Mandarin was severely lacking. Our apartment was small too, so I felt overwhelmed by her presence. I could hear her chewing on carrots in the kitchen even in my bedroom with the door shut!
All these things upset me, so I tried to unleash them in my writing. The day before I went into labor, I remember cleaning up the house to a perfect shine. My floors were sparkling, and everything was lovely, just as I wanted. She came in, tracking her dirty shoes all over my floor. It totally set me off, and I think that added stress triggered something inside me.
The following day, she was back, driving me crazy yet again. I remember praying that she wouldn’t be there when I did go into labor. I used Google Translate to beg her one more time to please let me just enjoy the last moments I had to myself for myself before this baby came. She finally listened and went home.
As I angrily pecked away at my keyboard, I felt a sudden wetness. I’d been frequenting the bathroom from the early stages of pregnancy, and it had continued even after the baby dropped, but this was the first time I lost control of my bladder. Only it wasn’t urine, I realized.
I stood up, and more fluid poured out of me. I knew right then it was time to get going. I called my husband, who immediately rushed home from work to take me to the hospital.
I wasn’t dilated enough, though. Long story short, I wound up waiting in a hospital bed with labor that lasted 24 hours until, after a sudden turn inside of me, we decided it was best to undergo an emergency c-section. At the age of 7, almost 8, my daughter is still just as much of a drama queen, but I love her with all my heart.
My youngest was much easier when it came to bringing her into the world. For her, we’d decided on a planned c-section.
I remember she dropped around week 37. She was also born at week 38, like my first. Before going into labor, I remember my eldest sitting on the couch watching English cartoons, and I bent to pick something up for her. I recall hearing a faint pop but didn’t think of it until later.
That later was when I was snug in bed, sound asleep, and labor pains awoke me. I knew from my first birthing experience what was happening. Calmly, I watched the clock on our wall. My contractions were very far apart then, so I knew better than to wake up my husband and rush to the hospital simply to sit there and be uncomfortable.
I slept the best I could, and in the light of the morning, around 6 am, my contractions were progressing along. When he woke up to go to the bathroom, I told him we’d better get to the hospital.
This time we were calm, though it was a weekday morning, and now we were in rush hour traffic. We still had plenty of time to get there, though. Once we did, my doctor took one look at me and sent me in for surgery prep.
Labor is different for all of us, and even between each of your children, it can be different. You may not notice it when it’s happening, but when you look back, you’ll see it all in a new light.
Leslie Berry lives with her husband and two young daughters in Los Altos, California, where she loves helping other moms get comfortable with motherhood and embracing the insanity with facts peppered with laughs.
She loves eating too much sushi, exercising, and jamming out on her Fender. Read more about Leslie here.