I was eight months pregnant and hanging out with my four and six year old daughters outside our apartment. We played (well, as I recall I was pretty stationary about it!) for a while, and then one of then remembered a toy that was urgently needed for the game. Not wanting to get up and waddle inside myself, I asked my oldest to run in after it.
No sooner was she out of sight than I heard her screaming like mad – a truly panic-stricken scream that set off all my mommy-alarms. I had no idea whether she was hurt, or if someone was trying to take her, or what – but I jumped up and ran as fast as I could go to rescue her, without a care to the protests of my heavily pregnant body. I found her just inside the door – the inner door of our apartment building was very heavy and swung itself shut, and she had gotten her fingers trapped by the door. It didn’t turn out to be too big a deal for her; her fingers were sore but otherwise ok.
My dash across the yard was not without its price, though. By the time I got her back to the apartment to examine her fingers, the adrenaline had more or less worn off, and I began to hurt. Very soon, I hurt so much I could barely walk. The motion of my uninhibited sprint had damaged one of the ligaments that support the womb, and it was around a week before I could walk very well again. I was nervous about how this might affect my labor, but as my due date approached, the ligament pain disappeared entirely, and I relaxed.
Fast forward – The week I was due, I got sick with a fever. I stayed in bed for several days; then, one morning I woke up feeling terrible. I was still feverish, I was sick to my stomach, and the ligament pain returned and became severe. I had no signs of labor, but I was worried by the fever especially, so I called my doctor to get her advice. My symptoms led her to think there might be a problem with the placenta, so I called Mark, who headed home from work (almost an hour commute, at the time). I also called Grandma, who came to take me to the hospital and keep the girls.
Mark met us at the hospital, where I was shortly to get quite a surprise. The nurse took my temperature – my fever was gone. Then, when she hooked me up to the monitor to see how baby was doing, she looked at me kind of funny and said, “you’re in labor!”
How could I be in labor!? Can you be in labor with no contractions?? But there were contractions, right there on the little monitor screen – I just couldn’t feel them. The pain of my ligament injury was so severe that it blocked out any sensations of labor.
At this point I began to be really afraid. I was in a lot of pain already, and it was not the ebb-and-flow of labor that I knew how to focus and cope with. How was I going to deal with this pain as labor progressed?
Hoping for relief, I got in the bathtub. Now, in general, I’m not big on water labor – it just doesn’t help me that much. But this time – it was incredible! The warm water melted away the ligament pain, and instantly I could feel my contractions. I stayed there for just a little while, then I felt like I needed to get up and walk around. As soon as I emerged, the contractions redoubled themselves, and I began to bleed. A nurse suggested I return to the bed.
At that point, it gets a little blurry. I had only been there for 45 minutes – I had only known I was in labor for 45 minutes, and now, baby was coming. I was pushing involuntarily; my doctor was busy with a birth at another hospital, and the nurses were in a panic. I was a little busy, but through the haze, I remember the room filling with what must have been every labor nurse on the floor, and I remember hearing them paging a doctor, any doctor, to come right away. No one made it in time, but praise God, there were no complications. My water never broke; she was born still in the intact membranes, caught by a very anxious labor nurse.
I always wonder what that labor would have been like if I had not damaged that ligament – but as it was, we were kind of stunned at how fast it all happened. If we had known what would happen at the next birth, however – it would have seemed pretty normal by comparison!