On January 6 I woke up, as many pregnant women do, before dawn. Padding back and forth from the bathroom to my bed, it occurred to me that something baby-related was happening; I couldn't have guzzled enough La Croix the night before to require five ladies' room visits in a half-hour.
At 34 weeks along, I chalked it up to our boy finally turning head-down. He'd struck a nerve, I told myself, and surely the discomfort would die down soon. This was a good thing, in the long run - a sign that his debut would be an easy one when the time came.
Unfortunately, the pains didn't die down; they intensified. I pictured his head nuzzling into my lower back, convincing myself that whatever yoga poses he was doing in there would settle down shortly.
Soon it felt like Chapman was burrowing down every few minutes, with a whole lot of purpose behind his movement. This was my third rodeo, but it was weeks too early for labor, and I clung to each shred of denial I could find.
By 6:30 I knew I'd need to go into my OB's office as soon as it opened so they could make the pain stop. I showered, took deep breaths and rocked side to side to "calm" my little guy; I crawled in bed beside a just-stirring Mary Brooks to distract myself. Mac, attuned to anything out of the ordinary, gave me the side-eye immediately.
"Why are you breathing like that, Mama? Are you feeling ok?"
Welp. How do you answer that, exactly?
I shimmied into my comfiest outfit, putting aside my feelings about leggings and long cardigans, and prayed for business hours to arrive quickly.
Bradley packed up milk in sippy cups, baggies full of Cheerios and tiny boxes of raisins for a picnic in the car. I tried to quiet my huffing and puffing from the front seat so Mac and MB could enjoy their early morning drive en famille in peace.
I waddled into the OB's office, asking the receptionist to work me in and, after a moment or two, returning with tears in my eyes. It was okay if they were too busy to see me so early, I said; just say the word and I'll head to the hospital instead. Someone had to make this baby stop hurting me - and stop trying to be born - but I didn't want to terrify every mother-to-be in that waiting room in the meantime. I was early enough that no doctors had arrived yet; every second felt longer.
The OB nurse immediately came out, took my BP during a contraction and had a near conniption fit. Obviously my body was telling me something, so she scurried me into an exam room as I texted a friend, "Owowowowow." Watching videos of Mac and MB kept me distracted for a moment, and then I saw a white coat.
The sweet doctor who delivered MB came to check on me; knowing my history, he told me to hurry to L&D and we'd develop a game plan there. I offered him, between contractions with a lovely nurse's fist pushing into my back for support, several options: I'd go on six weeks of bed rest, I'd sleep right until his due date, I'd stay at the hospital even. I just didn't want to have a baby today.
He smiled knowingly, gave me a hug and reminded me that he'd be on duty Thursday. (It was Monday.) If I could wait until then, I joked, I'd wait until next month!
Bradley whisked me to the hospital, kiddos in the back seat, and I gave them kisses before sidling up to the OB floor all by my lonesome. B was back in a flash, but not before the nurses helped me realize our son was coming today. Eep.