And here we go - Teddy's birth story in as many installments as it takes.
The weekend of January 17th and 18th, I'd been feeling off. Now, I'd been reading 'birth stories' for years, so I knew that I might be heading towards delivery. I also knew the Oxytocin levels peak around 3 a.m., so contractions could kick up in the night only to die down with the light of day. This is what began happening that weekend; irregular contractions in the night, nothing but Braxton Hicks during the day. On Sunday the 18th, I felt particularly awful all day, with Braxton Hicks contractions all.day.long. I checked in with doula Zoia at about 8 p.m., just letting her know what was going on. I also hit the sack early, just in case. I got up about 1,000,000 times in the night to go to the bathroom, but that was no different than usual.
At about 5:00 a.m. on Monday the 19th, I brushed off the sleep and realized that the contractions I'd been feeling all night were fairly regular and increasing in intensity. I started timing them -- consistently about 8 minutes apart. Off to the bathroom I went...and noticed a bit of blood. Since I'd had no blood since my last period on April 15th, 2008, I figured that this might be it.
I let Dave sleep until 7 (his usual wake-up time) timing the contractions all the while. They got a bit closer - 7 or so minutes - but were still manageable. When Dave woke up, we decided he'd work from home for the day, and he took over the timing. I had some breakfast, and made my first key discovery -- the only position in which I was comfortable during contractions was STANDING UP. This would be consistent throughout labour. So much for all the time on the birthing ball, and building up strength on my hands and knees!
After breakfast, I felt the urge to move around. Being January in Ottawa, outdoor walking was not really an option (especially since none of my winter coats could close over my enormous girth). I wandered around the living room and dining room for a while, but ultimately decided to walk on the treadmill to 'get things moving'. I'd been on the treadmill for about 5 minutes when I felt a slight gush. "Uh oh," I thought to myself. "I haven't had incontinence at all during the pregnancy. Is it starting now?" Then I realized - my water was breaking! Little spurts came out during contractions, though, and not any other time. I suspected a hind water break, but didn't think too much about it.
At this point, we paged our midwives and discovered that Ann was on call. She agreed that it sounded like my water had broken, and asked us to meet her at the hospital to confirm. We arranged to meet at the hospital around 11 for a check.
By the time we'd arrived at Montfort Triage, it was clear that labour wasn't firmly established yet; my contractions slowed down as I moved around. They were also still manageable. Erin, the midwifery student, hooked me up to the monitor to see how the contractions were, and she listened to the baby's heartbeat. The heartbeat was strong and consistent (another trend), but the contractions weren't. Ann came in and did a swab to see if amniotic fluid had been detected. After the swab showed a positive, we discussed our options.
Based on the irregular contractions, it was clear that true, active labour hadn't started yet. Ann didn't want to do a check because she didn't want to risk introducing bacteria into the uterus due to the ruptured membrane. She sent us home, saying that if labour kicked in before 8 a.m. the next day (i.e. 24 hours after the reported rupture) we'd be in business. If not, we'd come back to the hospital and discuss next steps.
We headed home from the hospital, contractions having started up again. Back in the house, I set up a nest of blankets on the floor in the family room; Dave hung out on the couch. We kept timing contractions, which were once again consistent at 8 or so minutes apart. At this point, it was about 2 p.m. I fielded a call from Shannon, our other doula, who advised both of us to sleep.
Dave managed to doze off for a while on the couch, but I was getting more and more uncomfortable. I alternated lying down between contractions with standing up and swaying during contractions. And I just couldn't get comfortable enough to sleep.
As day turned into evening, I began to realize that my coping mechanisms weren't cutting it any longer. Dave awoke, and I asked him to call Zoia and ask her to come over and help out. When we called, she let us know that she was already heading out the door to come by. The sun sank as we waited for Zoia to arrive; Shannon would be heading over a couple hours later. We checked the clock - 5:30 p.m., and contractions were consistently 7 minutes apart.