Eight Days Overdue
It is June 28, 2001, which is eight days later than I want it to be. I am big as a house. I have gained 45 pounds during pregnancy; even on a 5'10" frame, the size of my butt astonishes my husband. I can barely roll over in bed and my ankles are the size of tree trunks. The baby is eight days late.
At noon I take a dose of castor oil, one of midwifery's most disgusting solutions to the problem of reluctant labor. I have an appointment to be induced the next day but I am ready to try any shamanistic suggestion that will make labor start on its own, including Mexican food, a Shiatsu foot massage, and running up and down the stairs (thanks, Mom!).
After the castor oil, I dash to the toilet and poop out everything I've eaten for the last two years. But still no labor. So I wait and continue to nest. I make sure I have two sets of sheets that have been baked in a paper bag in the oven to sterilize them. I have swabs and plastic sheeting and an empty birthing tub in the middle of the living room. I stopped working the week before. There's nothing to do but wait.
Dancing Through the Contractions
Hour One: I'm lying in bed reading a magazine. Hmm, what was that? Just a wee little squeeze in my middle. Five minutes pass. Hey, there's another one.
An hour later Jack comes home from a long bike ride (the last he would have for months) and finds me waving my hips like a hula girl. The contractions are five minutes apart! I'm dancing through them! Wheee! I prance around putting a heavy plastic drop cloth and old sheets over our bed.
Hour Two: After that first hour of fun I finally have what is technically known as a Real Contraction. Wow. I have to stop talking to concentrate on getting through it. Alice, the midwife on call that day, has appeared in my living room with her little doctor's bag. She recommends I eat something now because I'm going to need my strength. I can't. She says a shower might be soothing so I go off to the bathroom, strip down, and just stand there under the hot water, mooing like a cow in a pink-tiled barn.
Hour Three: I've done enough yoga in my pre-baby life to be able to stay with my breath during each contraction as they build in intensity. Normally a contraction lasts one minute so I get breaks in between, though there are about a dozen sprinkled in there that would have had me begging Eli Lilly himself for drugs if there were any to be had. But I am alone and glad of it. Jack is reading a magazine in the living room and I am lying on my side in bed, imagining my cervix dilating as safely and swiftly as possible. "Open, ooooopeeennnnn," I sink into a deep endorphin fog and lose all sense of time.