We were prepared for a long labor. The ones where you start out at home, feel cramps that gradually, over hours, work up to painful contractions. We prepared for husband-led coaching, tennis ball back rubs and focal points. We were ready to stay strong through the transition period when panic and doubt set in. We anticipated hours of pushing before we'd get to meet our little man.
At our 39 week appointment, we found out I was 50 percent effaced (had been this way for three weeks) and only 1 centimeter dilated. Baby boy had dropped more but still had a ways to go. After leaving the appointment, I called my mom and cried for an hour. I was tired. Swollen. Ready. That night I cried more and Shea rubbed my back as I bounced on a birthing ball. I felt nothing that would indicate labor was just hours away.
At 4 a.m., I woke up to what felt like strong menstrual cramps that seemed to come in waves. I slept in between them but started to casually check my phone to see how far apart they were coming. Six minutes. At 5 a.m., I got up to walk around. I still figured it was just another bout of false labor that would end up with me sitting at work yet another day. I calmly woke up Shea. I walked around, got the trash ready to go out, and shrugged my shoulders as Shea asked, "so do you think this is it?"
At 6 a.m. we called my mom. We think this is it. Shea made me peanut butter toast, which I couldn't eat. I started a bath but then immediately drained the tub. Next, I tried a shower. Shea washed my hair as I realized standing there was not comforting at all. I dragged myself to bed. Quickly, the contractions were closer to three minutes apart. I was yelling through each contraction - low, monotone yells. We talked about the hospital but I was determined to wait at home until the clinic opened at 8:30 a.m. I was starting to feel like I was drowning in pain, losing control as the contractions started to come on top of each other. I dragged myself to the bathroom afraid I was going to throw up. And there I would lie curled up in the fetal position on our bathmat, yelling Shea's name followed by "please help me" during contractions where a break never came.
This was supposed to be happening during transition. The deep pain, the panic, the doubt - not now, not at home. Shea wisely packed our bags into the car, and somehow I got myself to the car as he put the dog away. The car ride was a blur as Shea tried to call my midwife to tell her we were on our way while speeding down Ward Parkway and running red lights. I was getting no break from contractions and alternating my yelling between "just please help me" and "put on your flashers!"