You’d think a writer would have no problem writing her birth story. I guess it’s not that easy sometimes. Even now, the words sputter out like the tentative mist from a faucet with a lot of air in the pipes. Maybe we will both understand why after I finish writing this, and you finish reading it.
My due date – which was completely fabricated from start to finish because I couldn’t remember exactly when my LMP was, so my midwife and I hazarded a guess from a span of nine days and picked a date based more on hedging bets towards later rather than sooner, to prevent the possibility of my going way “post-date” on paper and transferring out of her care even though the baby was not, in fact, that late – was Friday, July 20th. Since first-time moms statistically deliver at 41 weeks 5 days instead of the overall average of 40 weeks, I told anyone who would listen that the day would go by uneventfully. This might have been more for me not to be disappointed if nothing happened.
But then every so often I would notice that the utterly painless, in fact rather pleasant, Braxton Hicks contractions were coming and going regularly, and they seemed to stay for a significant period of time. Dutiful daughter in the family of engineers that I am, I used a stopwatch program and Notepad to record data starting Thursday morning. For six contractions, they were all approximately a minute long and 3-4 minutes apart. I had the 5-1-1 “rule” fixed in my head, thumping like a pulse: “five minutes apart, one minute long, for one hour”. But then they became more irregular, and after the ninth contraction, I waited almost ten minutes before throwing in the towel. I ignored them the rest of the day so as not to get my hopes up. When I want to, I have some pretty good delayed gratification skills. Just don’t expect them to exist when it comes to sweet stuff.
Friday morning, 7:36am, I started timing contractions again because they seemed to be lasting a long time. Still painless, they lasted between 2-3 minutes, but they were spaced 5-7 minutes apart. I still kept track because I thought if they were lasting that long, they might turn into something, but after the fifth one I wrote: “need a nap. starting over.” I tracked twice more on Friday, at 10:39am and 2:39pm, but both of them petered out before an hour went by. I knew nothing was going to happen that day. I told people that my contractions were shy, and ran away to hide whenever I paid attention to them.