The long story about the long days before labor


August 22, 2021

During each month of pregnancy, there are either 30 or 31 days. The last month of pregnancy is one million days. The days inch by so slowly during those last few weeks. I was so done with the carrying the extra weight, barely getting any sleep, and the constant thoughts of wondering when I am going to go into labor.

My due date came and went, and we proactively scheduled my 40-week appointment for the day after my due date. I remember scheduling that appointment and laughing in my head thinking “I won’t need this visit!” Sure enough, I did and the way the week played out is something I will never forget.

I knew it was important to also enjoy all the moments I possibly could with my husband, friends, family, and myself before our baby girl enters the world. Some of my favorite things that I did was have a date night dinner with my best girlfriends and our husbands, get breakfast at one of my favorite restaurants by myself, enjoy a 90 minute massage, a pedicure with my mom and sister, go on the boat, get my hair highlighted, snuggle with my dog, and eat out with my husband as much as we could because it’s our favorite thing to do together!

Dinner with my besties – She had her baby boy the day before Lucy was born!

Powering through the end of the third trimester

First let me back track to me 39-week appointment. Many practices will offer a cervix exam at 38, 39, and 40 weeks. I opted out of the exam at my 38-week appointment because I did not want to get even more in my head about how far (or not far) I was progressing towards labor. For those of you who do not know what a cervix check is, it’s when the doctor uses their fingers to check dilation, effacement, and cervix placement.Some women can walk around at four centimeters dilated for weeks before they go into labor.

Since I declined the cervix check at 38 weeks, I decided I may as well get checked at 39 weeks to see how things are going. Before she started, I told her to please not do a membrane sweep. Side note for those of you who don’t know what this is or why to voice your requests to your doctor. I am not a doctor, so I will explain what these different procedures are from my point of view. A membrane sweep is when they use their fingers to check your dilation and then sweep their fingers around to break up the membranes near your cervix, in hopes to start labor within the next few days. I was super excited to see where I was at during this checkup, but to my disappointment, I was barely even a fingertip dilated, which is around one centimeter. However, I didn’t let it bother me because of where I was in the pregnancy. Most first-time mom’s go past their due date, so I reassured myself my body was doing all of the right things and to keep positive thoughts!

I was also not progressed enough to conduct a membrane sweep, which again was totally fine. I researched when is the best time to do a membrane sweep and much of what I read advised to wait until you are at least 40 weeks. It is important to let your doctor know your wishes because sadly, I have heard many women experiencing membrane sweeps without their consent.

Out on the boat at Cape Lookout on May 15th – our 5 year engagement anniversary and where Drew proposed!

Due Date… coming right up!

Moving on through the rest of the week, my due date came on that Monday (May 24th), which coincidentally was my sister’s birthday. We were really hoping Lucy would make her debut on that day! I had my 40-week appointment scheduled for the following day (May 25th). As you can imagine, I was really looking forward to this appointment because I was well over being pregnant at this point. Keep in mind, I was still working (remotely), but it became incredibly hard to focus on anything else besides being uncomfortable and really wanting to meet my baby!

With my excitement in full effect, I went in for the cervix check. I had progressed to about two centimeters, which wasn’t the best of news, but also wasn’t terrible. I told the doctor I would like her to do the membrane sweep if she could. I felt like my body needed a little help to progress and with the research I had done, I felt okay moving forward.

Holy freaking moly. I do not have the appropriate words to type on an online platform on how this procedure felt. I will admit it is one of the most painful 30 seconds of time I have ever experienced. The doctor kept apologizing as she was conducting it because she knew how much pain I was in. My body naturally started to freak out and tense up when she was doing it, but then I remembered what I learned in hypnobirthing. I started using deep 360 style breathing and doing everything in my power to relax and let things just happen. One of my friends is a nurse at this practice and thankfully she let me squeeze her hand during the procedure. I left the appointment feeling jittery and anxious because a membrane sweep can start labor in 48-72 hours.

Since I was past my due date, the protocol at my doctor’s office is to schedule induction at 41 weeks. However, I made it known that a 41-week induction was not what I wanted, pending the baby is healthy and no need for rushing things. Ironically, they wouldn’t have been able to schedule induction at 41 weeks for me anyway because that would have been on Memorial Day. My doctor was understanding about why I wanted to delay induction to as far as 41 weeks and 4 days, which made me feel empowered that I was advocating for myself with evidence-based research and not giving in to a blanket set of rules that did not match the birthing experience I wanted.

Many first-time moms have their babies five to eight days after their due date. I wanted to let my body do things as natural as possible and avoid any unnecessary medical interventions. The doctor also wanted to see me at 41 weeks for a non-stress test and an ultrasound to check the baby. Because of the Memorial Day holiday, we bumped up that appointment to Friday (May 28th).

Enjoying a solo breakfast by the water while doing some work.

Attempting to keep myself busy

The days continued to drag after my 40-week appointment, and I made the decision it was best for me to stop working. My body was very tired, and my mind was totally distracted, where the last thing I could do was focus on customer meetings. Drew and I stayed at my sister’s house the beginning of that week because it was a nice distraction and very close to the hospital. By the middle of the week, I felt it was best to go back home to our house where I could sleep in my own bed and feel more “comfortable” (like that what was really even possible at this point). Drew agreed and said I probably need to satisfy that urge to go back home because of the whole “nesting” theory. He kept saying I needed to get back in my nest, which I really think there was some truth to that.

Like I’ve mentioned several times before, I was growing more annoyed and uncomfortable that I wasn’t really having any signs or progression towards labor. I reached out to my hypnobirthing instructor for some tips to keep me calm and getting back into the mindset of having a positive, natural birth. We decided I would do an hour “childbirth hypnobirthing induction” session with her on Thursday afternoon. In the meantime, she encouraged me to go for walks, eat very spicy foods, drink a lot of water, take warm baths, and anything that would make me happy or relaxed. That night, we had the best spicy Thai to-go food and I took a nice long bath with my favorite Epsom salts and essential oils.

Finally getting to Thursday morning (May 27th), something very exciting happened… I lost my mucus plug! I couldn’t believe it. I had never really seen one before so when I found it, I was over the moon! I’m not the kind of person that loves to watch a pimple being popped or anything gross like that. However, this was so fascinating to me, I even took a picture of it (LOL!). TMI but a mucus plug basically looks like a huge snotty booger, sometimes with a tinge of blood. I had no idea if I had lost it beforehand, but once I saw it, make no mistake I knew that is what it was! I kept losing more of it in hunks the remainder of the day. The mucus plug is what protects your cervix from any bacteria or anything that shouldn’t be getting near the baby, and it falls out as your body continues to dilate. When you lose your mucus plug, it usually means that labor is coming soon, but not always. Some women lose their plug weeks before hand, while others lose it hours before their baby is born. It’s amazing but also wildly frustrating how every woman’s body is so different!

When things starting speeding up (literally)

As we got to Friday, my non-stress test(NST) appointment was scheduled for first thing in the morning. It is about a 30-minute drive to the doctor’s office. Drew and I decided to grab breakfast before our appointment, to make getting up super early less painful and more attractive. I don’t know about you, but the thought of a warm chicken biscuit can definitely make me hop out of bed!

As we are making our trek into town, for whatever reason, Drew starts unknowingly speeding. Reminder, this is a holiday weekend in a small beach town, so the cops were full force. Another fun occurrence is at this point, I would start having contractions whenever we were driving in the car. As my contractions are happening (nothing too crazy), I glance at the speedometer and look back up to see a cop on the other side of the highway. I knew right then and there he was going to whip around and pull us over, and sure enough my instincts were on point to where he did.

Drew had gotten two speeding tickets in Houston right before we moved, so needless to say I was freaking out because one still isn’t resolved due to COVID. I told Drew that I was going to tell the police officer I am in labor and we are going to the doctor RIGHT NOW. The officer comes up and asks Drew why he was speeding and Drew points over to me and my huge belly. I tell the officer the situation and he asked if we need an ambulance to take me to the hospital. I was so offended and annoyed, although his question was valid but ya know pregnancy hormones. I was huffing and puffing and told him no. Luckily, we were able to leave the scene emptyhanded and no ticket! I cannot believe it. We still made it to Chick-fil-a before my doctor’s appointment, while I kept staring at the rear-view mirror to make sure the cop wasn’t following us!

We finally make it to the doctor, where we completed the NST and the ultrasound to check on our baby. I was having contractions during the NST, so it was wild to watch them on the graph and get a peek at what they look like. Thankfully, the ultrasound looked great and the amniotic fluid levels were also normal. We moved on over to the exam room where the doctor did a cervix exam and informed me that I was at the same place I was on Tuesday. Hearing this news was the icing on the cake for me. I was so beyond frustrated because I was having contractions (to some degree), had lost my mucus plug, and completed the hypnobirthing session to relax my body. I was drinking red raspberry leaf tea, eating an overabundance of dates, chugging water, you name it! What was I doing wrong and why wasn’t this baby coming out?!

I left the appointment in tears. I called my mom and sister to tell them how I was feeling. My mom told me she would come stay the night with Drew and I to distract me. She said, “we are going to laugh this baby out of you!” Drew and I headed back home and at this point I was angry. I mustered up the energy to go for a one and a half long mile walk in the hot sun. I was so motivated to do anything and everything to get this baby out. We saw several of our neighbors and they were all giving us words of encouragement. Towards the end of our walk, we met a couple that we had not met before. The wife looked at me and said, “you’re past your due date, right?” I replied with a yes and she kindly and jokingly said “well you know what they say, what made the baby come in will help the baby come out!” You better believe I told Drew we are going home and doing just that!

Them: “Are you still pregnant?!” Me: “Yep!” Taken on May 23, the day before my due date!

Flipping that ‘labor’ switch

The few paragraphs are a little too much information so if you don’t want to hear these details skip down. We decided to take our kind neighbors advice, and afterwards I was able to get a short nap while I let things marinate (if you know what I mean). I can’t remember exactly but I think I did pump because breast stimulation is supposed to progress labor (with the O.K. from my doctor.) Later that evening, Drew made tacos with a new seasoning we picked up from the store. Our dinner was absolutely delicious, and it was so comforting to have my mom and her cousin over. We had the best evening together, talking about labor stories and other family memories. There is no replacing the emotion of when your mom is with you and how much at ease and grateful that can make you feel!

Remember the “new” seasoning, I mentioned in the previous paragraph? There must have been something in it to kick start labor.. My stomach started getting upset. For those who are curious, it was the Siete Foods Paleo Taco Seasoning. Maybe that is the trick to get you into labor?! Over the last week, I had contraction like pains whenever I had to go to the bathroom. This started to happen shortly after dinner, and I could feel my body getting tight and having the urge to stretch out my hips. My cousin left around this time and later she told me she could tell by my face and body language that I was getting ready to go into labor.

Around 10 pm, I told my mom I should try to get to bed and get some rest. The day was an emotional roller coaster for me, and I knew rest was my number one priority. My mom walked with me into my bedroom to help me lay down and I looked over at her and said “Mom, I don’t think I can lay down!” I went to the bathroom and the contractions really started picking up.

At this point, I whipped out my phone and started timing them. The contractions were consistently one minute and seven seconds long with about 3-5 minutes in between them.

Drew had gotten in bed this point and I was pacing around the house. I yelled from the living room “Drew! I think I’m in labor, are you just going to sit there?!” He didn’t know if it was for sure happening since I had experienced some pretty intense Braxton Hicks before this night. This time, things just felt different than they had in the past. I quickly hopped in the shower, while Drew and my mom scrambled for our belongings for the hospital… From there, Drew drove him and I down to the hospital (this time driving the speed limit!), which was about a 30-minute drive, while my mom and our dog, Bagheera, were shortly behind us.

Come back soon for the rest of the story detailing our experience starting in the hospital through Lucy’s birth!

xo, ajb

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