Two nights ago, I finally had contractions that kept me from sleeping. That was the sign I’d been waiting for; I decided several weeks ago that when contractions kept me awake, they were officially labor. Yesterday morning they were still strong and consistent (and had been for over 12 hours), so I called my mom to take Anastasia for the day, told my husband to stay home, and settled in to relax and wait for the baby to arrive.
Twenty-four hours later, I’m still having strong, regular contractions that haven’t changed. At all. No baby, no progress, no nothing. At least I was able to sleep a little more last night (although they still woke me several times).
What the heck is a girl supposed to do with that?
Well, obviously–it’s time for an early labor project! Or late pregnancy project. Whatever. Same thing.
I had never heard of this before I started researching home birth. In the first part of my pregnancy with Anastasia, I still imagined labor the way it happens in movies: your water breaks, you dash off to the hospital in a flurry of haste, you scream and make crazy faces, and then the baby’s in your arms. Fast, hectic, but–most important–predictable.
Real labor, of course, is nothing like that. It can take a long time (days, even), and it’s not that unusual for it to happen in fits and starts. I’ve been so relieved by all the friends who have told me that I’m not the only one to feel like I’m in labor for weeks–or to call my midwife and my childcare helpers in for several false alarms (maybe I should call them practice runs?) before the real show started. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who thought she was in labor when she wasn’t. Even with a second kid.
But the great thing about slow labors–or slow-start labor, or whatever this is–is that you have time to work on projects before the baby comes. This was one of the biggest things that attracted me to home birth when I first heard about it. In fact, there was one story in particular that made me decide I wanted a home birth. I have no idea now where I heard it, other than that it was online somewhere, but it was the story of a woman who was birthing her second child. When she realized she was in labor, she and her toddler decided to make a birthday cake together. After the cake was in the oven, she birthed the baby. Then everyone–the family and the midwives–all ate the cake. It was such a beautiful story: so peaceful, so gentle, so ordinary. It made birth a part of normal life, instead of a traumatic, frantic interruption. I knew that was what I wanted for my birth.
With Anastasia, I did have a long, slow early labor, but I knew it was the real thing–I hadn’t had any contractions before that, and I was twelve days past my due date, so I never had any doubts about whether I was really in labor or not. So despite my dreams of doing something productive and homey during labor (like, you know, baking or cleaning), my early labor projects with her all had to do with taking care of myself. I set up the birthing tub, read Harry Potter 5, and watched movies. Still a pretty awesome way to spend a couple of days while you’re waiting for baby to arrive.
This time, however, I’m feeling a lot more drive to be productive. I wish I had the urge to bake, because that would just be cool, but apparently homemaking and labor just don’t go together for me. I could be doing something cool like making a birthday cake, or sewing or knitting something for the baby, or heck, even cleaning our bathroom, which could really use it. But no. What am I doing for my labor project? I’m redesigning my blog.
Because I am much more of a nerd than a homemaker.
But I’m actually very excited about this. I’m finally making the switch to wordpress. I’ve been wanting to do this for months, but my current software (weebly) does its best to make it absolutely impossible to switch by not having an export feature. I have to transfer all the blogs by hand. But you know what? That’s a perfect labor project. Long, sort of interesting, but requiring very little mental attention. A bit creative and a bit repetitive. Oddly enough, I’m enjoying it–and I’ll enjoy it even more when the switch is finished and you get to see how amazing my new design will look. The site will probably be down for a while (hopefully overnight) when I switch the domain to my new host, and when it comes back up, you won’t recognize it. But it will look amazing. At least I think so. And hey, I’m in labor, or practically. Which means that for the next few days, everything I think is right. Maybe this long-sort-of-labor thing won’t be so bad after all.