39 Weeks Pregnant | Labor And Delivery Pt 1

**This is the first part of a two part series: Labor And Delivery. A lot of people have been asking me about my experiences so I thought I'd share. DISCLAIMER--if you have no interest in reading about labor or my labor, you can stop here. Things may get a little graphic** My due date fell in the middle of Thanksgiving week. At 39 weeks pregnant, I was exhausted and anxious. I had planned to work right up until the day I delivered. I dreaded going into labor while I was at work, and my boss was gracious enough to let me work remotely starting the week before my due date.

It was the first day that I was scheduled to work remotely. I felt horrible, which is pretty standard at 39weeks. I started the day with an early morning doctor's appointment. My OB could see that I was ready to get the show on the road. Her assurances that I was progressing "like a rock star" did nothing to make me feel less like a beached whale. She did her best to calm me. "Just hang in there, " she said, "any day now, you're doing great."

I headed back home to start my work day. By the time I got home, V was already on campus for his last day of final exams. I had minimal distractions so that I could get through the day-- just me and Ella.

I had been having Braxton-Hicks contractions and they seemed to be getting stronger. By 5pm I could do little more than curl up in bed. I knew that I would feel better if I took a little nap...

The pain woke me up around 7pm. These weren't Braxton-Hicks. I had never felt anything like this before-- this was the real deal. V's last final was scheduled to end at 8pm. I carefully contemplated calling him. I waited for the next contraction. They were far enough apart that I decided not to call. He needed to focus on his exam--the baby wasn't going anywhere anytime soon. Plus I didn't need him speeding home and, heaven forbid, getting into an accident. I ran a bath and got in.

The warm bath definitely helped. My contractions still weren't in the danger zone yet, so I waited some more. V called at around 8:15 and he immediately knew something was going on. I told him that I was in labor, but not to rush because it wasn't "time" yet.

As I sat in the tub, I revisited my "birth plan", which was, up to this point: Step 1- go to hospital; Step 2-have baby. I kept going back and forth about the epidural during my pregnancy. A part of me wanted to experience the magic and wonder of "natural" childbirth, but my practical side wanted to be admitted with the anaesthesiologist waiting in my room. Though painful, I thought the contractions were bearable. I decided to hold off on the epidural until I thought I really needed it. That was the biggest decision I had left to make since I had already ruled out a water birth, birth ball,  a "room with a view" (I didn't want to see anything that couldn't be unseen), mood lighting, and music. I figured I was having a baby, not going to a Cirque Du Soleil show.

V got home around 30minutes later. I transitioned from the tub to the bed. He helped me time contractions while he scarfed down his leftovers from the night before. We were in for a long night and he knew it. I got up to check my prepacked hospital bag one more time to make sure I hadn't forgotten anything. As I rose from the bed, I felt warm fluid trickling down my legs.

"It's time."

The Myth Of The Restful Weekend Getaway

The weekend of the fourth coincided with my older cousin TK's birthday weekend. He was having a hard time coming to terms with turning the big 4-0, so to help him get over himself, his wife Sammy planned an elaborate weekend retreat at a mountain cabin so that he could share his milestone with family. We set out on Friday afternoon. I was exhausted after another hectic week on the road. V loaded up the car and we started our journey towards radio silence. We got to the cabin an hour later, in awe of the beauty and tranquility that was practically at our doorstep. The huge deck overlooked a gently flowing river and we knew we were in for a peaceful weekend.

We thought we were in for a peaceful weekend.

We had food catered for the weekend so that we would avoid the stress of having to prepare meals for the entire family. We were, however, the first ones to arrive and the food was not yet on its way. Tired, hungry, and unable to wait, we left the cabin in search of food. We drove with no destination in mind partly because we wanted to see what the small town had to offer, but mostly because we had no reception to operate our phones for GPS. We approached a Gas Station that had a sign up out front that read "BBQ". I screamed out to V and he pulled into the gravel lot.

**Don't judge me... I know most people wouldn't trust barbecue from a Gas Station, however, in all my travels across these United States, I have learned to have more of an open mind when trying food from establishments that may be "off the beaten path". But back to the story**

The trip to the barbecue joint was actually quite uneventful. (Sorry!) We got a few dinners and some homemade ice cream and headed back to the cabin. Not bad for Gas Station food.

Now that we were good and content, it was finally time to relax and unwind. I went to our room to change into some more comfortable cabin-in-the-woods-appropriate clothes. V's bags were in the closet.

Did he really just leave my suitcase in the car? 

No biggie. I am strong, invincible, woman, and all that jazz. I can get my bag out of the car.

Except for the fact that the car was completely empty. 

Rewind to us packing at the house. V declared, "You get ready, I'll load up the car." So naturally, I got ready while he packed the car.

Except for the fact that he never packed my suitcase. 

Fast forward to the current situation. A simple misunderstanding. I thought he was packing my bag, and he thought I was packing my bag. I still needed my (and Mimi's) stuff. So we headed to our house and back.

This night set the tone for the rest of the weekend. Don't get me wrong. It was an amazing weekend. Food, drink, and family bonding.

It was almost cathartic to be shut off from the outside world (albeit involuntarily) and TK clearly appreciated having us all there to celebrate his milestone with him. But between Mimi's clinging due to separation anxiety, cooking breakfast for the household because I was up early with Mimi anyway, and our multiple trips back home to let Ella out (I still regret not boarding her--lapse in judgment), I was completely and utterly exhausted.

I spent all my free time after this "retreat" stealing naps and trying to recharge. Now, two weeks later, I finally feel like a human being again.

I was naive to fall for the promise of a restful weekend getaway. This elusive ideal is reserved for the single and carefree or the couple with no obligations. While I can't say that I'll avoid weekend trips in the future, I will say that I'll avoid delusions of rest and/or relaxation.

Don't Pity Me

This morning I shared my row on the airplane with a woman and her young son. As we waited for the aircraft to finish boarding, the boy peppered his mother with questions, at times interjecting with exclamations regarding the progression of his video game. She turned to me and apologized on his behalf for his outbursts, and warned that he was likely to continue for the duration of the flight. I warmly smiled and assured her that I had no problem with it since I have a young one at home and I know how it could be at times. Her brows furrowed as if she wanted to ask me what circumstance would lead to me traveling without my child. Instead of asking directly, she began the delicate dance of asking indirect questions to satiate her curiosity; a dance I have grown accustomed to, yet despise.

What do you do for a living?

How often do you travel?

Do you like it, though?

That must be really hard. I could never do that! 

Hey, can you do me a favor?

Don't pity me. 

Because I left the security of my parents' home at 18 to move to a new country to go to college, have new experiences, meet new people, and step outside of my bubble.

What's it like moving to a new country and starting over without a support system? Can't run home to mommy and daddy!

Do you miss your friends back home? You must be so lonely!

Don't pity me.

Because I did it all over again to go to grad school. New city, new state. New challenges, new expectations.

Yeah that's cool and all, but what are you going to do with a PhD?

Oh, you're stopping with your Master's? What's the point? That's kind of a waste of talent. You're smart, why don't you just get a PhD?

Don't pity me. 

Because I did it all over again to start my first job: same state, new city. Because I married my best friend and we were preparing to welcome Mimi into the world.

Do you have any family here? Does your husband?

How are you going to do it by yourselves?

You're only taking 12 weeks of maternity leave?

You're going to put Mimi in daycare?

Don't pity me. 

Because I do what I need to to for my family. Because we do what we need to do for our family. Because it's hard as hell but we're making it work.

I May Not Be Perfect, But My Husband Is

I know, I know, *gag* nobody's perfect. Bear with me, people, it's Father's Day weekend!!

I still have feelings of mom guilt. Standard, I think, for the working mom, but even more severe for the working mom who happens to travel for work.

Every Monday morning at 5:30am, I dutifully head to the airport. I leave my precious Mimi at home sleeping peacefully in her crib. She never knows when I leave, but she always knows when I'm gone. V is tasked with keeping the household going; he's captain of the ship Monday though Friday.

He always keeps me updated about Mimi's progress throughout the week. "She sprouted a new tooth!" Or "she started singing her A-B-C's!" My favorite was "she used the potty!" (This last announcement was accompanied by visual aides). He does everything without complaint, and is so gracious and loving.

When I get home on Friday afternoon, he doesn't just tap out and let me "take my shift". That's when he kicks in to high gear, mowing the lawn or tackling small projects around the house (like building our dining room table and benches... Did I mention he's perfect?) I don't know where he gets the energy, honestly.

The weekend is usually split into girls time, family time, and couples time. Couples time naturally occurs whenever Mimi is asleep, so during daytime nap and any time after 7pm. This time is so valuable because it helps us recharge, well, as a couple! Girls time happens so that he can have V time to decompress, and Mimi and I can have "we" time. We start with brunch, then run errands, and usually finish up by visiting family across town. Family time occupies the gap between couples time and girls time. (Did I mention I'm type A?)

But back to the mom-guilt bit. I can't help but feel like Mimi is growing up without me, and that I'm not "carrying my own weight" in the household. V has been so amazing and supportive in not only taking care of everything on the home front but also constantly reassuring me that he's okay, she's okay, we're okay, and that I should be okay too.

This has been the most significant Father's Day because I am able to truly appreciate everything that V has done and is doing as a husband and a father. He's pretty amazing, if you ask me.

I'm definitely not perfect. And I'll admit, he may not be perfect, but he's pretty damn close.