When I was pregnant with my first child, I read every book about pregnancy and labor that I could find. For a while, until I actually went into labor, my favorite was What to Expect When You’re Expecting, hereafter referred to as WTEWYE. I devoured that book in a single sitting and afterwards I was convinced that I knew everything there was to know about pregnancy and labor. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
On the day I would eventually go into labor, I awoke feeling a little bit off…not really ill, but just not quite myself and I had a dull ache in my back. I dragged myself out of bed, went to the bathroom and was startled to find I had LOST MY MUCUS PLUG. Oh-my-gosh. There it was. I’d been anticipating this milestone that signals the start of labor ever since I’d read about it in WTEWYE. Let me tell you something. Except for mucus there was not a single word printed in that book that could have prepared me for the sight of that thing. This was in the days before cell phones, so I paged my husband, Pat. Given the stage of my pregnancy, he called back immediately.
“I LOST MY MUCUS PLUG!”
“Are you in labor?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, are you having contractions?”
“I don’t think so. I don’t know. I’ve never had a contraction. I don’t know what one feels like, but I have a back ache.”
“Okay. Just relax. Are you going to work.”
“No. I’m going to stay close to home.”
“Okay. I’ll call you later.”
“Okay bye. Love you.”
“Bye. Love you too.”
Then I called work.
“Triangle Twisters Gymnastics. May I help you?”
“I’m not coming in. I LOST MY MUCUS PLUG!”
“OH MY GOSH! Are you in labor?”
“I don’t know.”
“Okay.” Muffled by her hand over the mouthpiece I heard my boss shout to the rest of the coaching staff, “ANT”S IN LABOR!”
I shouted from my end, but she didn’t hear me, “ NO, NO, I SAID I DON’T KNOW IF I’M IN…”
She interrupted, “I’m so excited! So keep us posted and let me know if you need anything. Okay?”
“And don’t forget to call and give us the baby stats, you know, length, weight, boy, girl. ” They had a pool going and the pot was over $100.00.
“I know. I will. Bye.”
Nesting was one of the many things about which I’d read in WTEWYE. I knew I was in my nesting phase. Yet, I still could not resist the compulsion to do things around the apartment, especially cook, package and store food for future consumption. That is why, before allowing myself to relax that morning, I did two loads of laundry and cooked three meatloaves to add to my arsenal of homemade frozen dinners. I stood at the sink washing dirty bowls and utensils when without the hint of a warning I felt a sort of trickle. I stopped what I was doing and stood completely still. Nope. Nothing. It was just my imagination or maybe wishful thinking. I no sooner resumed my dish washing and there it was again. This time I was certain. I rushed to the bathroom and sure enough there was a small wet spot, amniotic fluid, in my underpants. MY MEMBRANES HAD RUPTURED! Oh my goodness! I was leaking amniotic fluid! I was in labor. Ruptured membranes was yet another one of the things about which I’d read in WTEWYE. I paged Pat, and once again he called immediately.
“I think my water is about to break. I am definitely in labor.”
“What? Are you having contractions?”
“No. I don’t think so, but I felt this trickle and then I checked and there’s a spot of amniotic fluid in my underpants. I’m in labor.”
“Okay. Did you call Dr. Katz?”
“No. I’ll call him now. Are you coming home?”
The minute Pat walked through the front door, we turned around, walked right back out again and headed straight to my obstetrician’s office. There was no doubt in my mind that Dr. Katz would send us directly to the hospital. I knew all about how ruptured membranes caused the risk of infection to the baby to skyrocket. You see, this was just one of many tidbits of knowledge I acquired from WTEWYE that led to my qualification as a pregnancy and labor expert. We arrived at the doctor’s office and were immediately escorted to an exam room. Special treatment for the woman in labor! Look at me! I’m about to have a baby! I hoisted myself up onto the table as instructed by the nurse, and slid my feet into the stirrups. Dr. Katz came in and greeted Pat and me with a warm smile and his typical let’s-see-what-we-have-here manner. The exam, which was obviously a formality, took all of six seconds. I’d expected as much since I was clearly in labor, drenched with the amniotic fluid I’d been leaking all afternoon. Oh, and don’t forget about the mucus plug thing. I dressed and we met Dr. Katz in his office. Boy was I glad I packed my hospital bag and stuck it in the car.
“Antoinette, “ he began as he reached across his desk to pat my hand, “this happens all the time. You are not in labor. The trickle you felt and the wet spot in your underpants, well, it’s urine. It is not uncommon for a woman at this stage of pregnancy to leak urine”
WHAT? The word urine echoed in my ears like the banging of a gong. This is the thread that ran through my brain. My ankles are swollen, I have indigestion and hemorrhoids, I am fat and flatulent, and now my doctor is telling me that it is, in fact, urine and not amniotic fluid that is leaking out of me. Great. I vaguely recall Dr. Katz continuing to talk. It was something about my being half a centimeter dilated, blah, blah, blah, and only ever so slightly effaced, blah, blah, blah and take this litmus paper home with you and unless it turns blue or red or some other color, I can’t remember, blah, blah, blah, you’re not in labor, and how about those Tarheels. WHAT THE HECK? Where are the chapters on PEEING YOUR PANTS, or BEING SO BIG YOU CAN’T REACH FAR ENOUGH TO CLIP YOUR OWN TOENAILS? Where are those chapters in that stupid book, huh? And another thing, I LOST MY MUCUS PLUG! WHAT DO YOU MEAN I’M NOT IN LABOR? This baby needs to come out now. I hate that stupid book, What to Expect When You’re Expecting with its stupid catchy title. How about Expect the Unexpected When You’re Expecting? Somebody ought to write that book and that person just might need to be me. TO BE CONTINUED…