The Longest Day Ever

Dear Kolya,

When I describe the events of February 2, 2008 it might be polite to bypass what happened from the late evening  of the day before to early morning that day, or perhaps to merely mention two words: Castor Oil. ‘Nough Said. I think your grandmother has a photo of Mama taking said concoction, along with Papa taking a medicinal Scotch in preparation for the day ahead. We assumed that everything we’d been practicing for months in our Bradley natural childbirth classes would soon come to pass. Mama took out her notebooks and reviewed the stages of labor. We re-read the passages on how to time labor contractions, because we figured that would come in really handy.

Then, when the contractions started to kick in early in the morning, just after midnight, Mama tried to lie down and go to sleep. We had been warned that though it might seem impossible, we should try to sleep while we still could: a first labor can be really tiring. It took me an hour or so, but I managed … for a wee bit. And when I awoke, all the lovely contractions were gone.


This was bad news. Really bad news, because of course your amniotic fluid had started to leak. We were on a deadline. The standard timeline is 24 hours – though in a hospital they would have rushed us even more. So we started to do all manner of fun things. Mama did exercises, and contractions started up again. Every time, I would time them and write them down, keeping a detailed log. I don’t have it anymore, but if you saw it, it would look something like 6-7-6-5-6-5-5-5-6-7-8-9-7-6-5-6-8-and so on. Everytime we thought we were getting to a period of “every five minutes, it would fizzle out again.

So we went hiking. In the Phoenix Mountain Preserves. You know, to get things started up.

Hiking 1

Not entirely certain what I was thinking with that outfit … but there you have it.

Hiking 2

I think this is the closest we’ll get to a full-on side view of you the day before you were born.

hiking 3

Hooray! A contraction!

Hiking 4

Ah, well … better luck next time.

So we headed home, and many hours of excitement mixed with boredom ensued. Labor started, then it stopped. Then it started, then it got regular and stronger, then it fizzled.

It was determined that the stress of being “on the clock” and my water having broken was hindering contractions. Papa gave me foot rubs (the kind that had been prohibited during pregnancy! Bliss!), back rubs, neck rubs. We laid down on my right side and snuggled. We laid down on my left side and snuggled. I was very relaxed. A few more contractions, a longer fizzle. During all this, we monitored your heart rate, and the level of fluid coming out. We ate spicy Thai food from the fabulous restaurant down the street.

In the evening, at the 24-hour mark, we huddled. Carol, our midwife, your Oma, your Papa, and Mama sat around and debated options. The infuriating bit was that our midwife informed us that all of this starting and stopping business was totally par for the course for a first labor. In fact, had my water not broken, she wouldn’t even be there. We’d still be a few days out. But noooo… you had to go and stretch or something to burst that little bubble. Kidding. I know it wasn’t you.

In the end, we opted to stay at home until the following morning. We hoped that labor might really kick in overnight … and most importantly, having reached the 24 hour mark, we knew there really weren’t any hospitals that would continue to let Mama labor naturally. Because of concerns for your safety, we were sure they’d plop Mama on a table and extract you immediately. What made this really interesting for our poor Midwife was that several other patients had gone into labor that weekend – while we were starting and stopping, she delivered two babies.

So we prayed, and did everything we could, and went to sleep. Or tried to. After all, one way or another, we were meeting you the next day. And that was pretty darn exciting.

To be continued …


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