When I was pregnant with my second child, I woke up the day before my due date not feeling well. I was tired, crabby, and had no appetite. I didn’t take a shower and didn’t even bother getting dressed. Even though it was February in Chicago, our apartment was well insulated and always felt warm, no matter what we did with the heat. So I continued to wear the oversized t-shirt and gym shorts that I had slept in. I also didn’t bother dressing my 15 month old son. I just didn’t feel like it.
I don’t remember what I did, but I’m pretty sure I laid around on the couch, fed my toddler Cheerios and milk and probably watched TV. I don’t even know if I washed the dishes, which normally I never left for long in the sink. I remember calling Mr. French at work mid-morning to complain about how bad I felt.
“Maybe I’ll have the baby today since I don’t feel good.” I said.
“Do you think so?” Asked Mr. French, deciding then and there that he was not leaving his desk even to get a drink in case I were to call back later, in labor.
“Well, I don’t know. I just don’t feel good.”
“Yeah.” he said sympathetically. “Honey, I think you should put the plastic sheet on the bed just in case. You never know.”
I sighed loudly. “I don’t feel like it.”
“I know honey, but just in case.”
“I don’t want to.” I whined.
“Okay, but what happens if your water breaks or you go into labor and you go really fast like last time? It will just save time, not to mention the bed.”
I think I cried a few tears at this point. “It’s just too much to do.”
It was Mr. French’s turn to sigh loudly. “Honey, pleeeease. Just put the plastic sheet on the bed. You can do it.”
“Fine.” I said meanly and hung up the phone.
And then I put the stupid plastic sheet on the bed.
About one-thirty in the afternoon* I got C down for his nap. I couldn’t wait to go back to bed myself. My mood had not improved much, but with the prospect of going to sleep I was feeling slightly better. Mr. French called.
“I feel about the same. I just got C down for a nap so I’m going to go take one too. I kind of doubt I’ll have the baby today. I’m not even due until tomorrow.” I said.
“Well, okay. That sounds good.” he said hopefully. “Did you get the sheet on the bed?”
“Yyyesss.” I said with the eye roll of a teenager.
“Good, honey. I hope you sleep well.”
I fell asleep as soon as I lay down. When I woke up half an hour later, I felt as if I had slept for hours. And then I realized why I woke up. There was a whoosh of warm fluid between my legs. I sat up quickly and made my way to the bathroom. It definitely seemed like my water had just broke. I pulled off my wet shorts and tossed them into the bathtub. I grabbed the phone and sat back on the toilet.
It was 2 p.m. when I called Mr. French. He told me later that he had just sat down at his desk with his just reheated lunch when I called.
“My water just broke.”
“I was sleeping and my water just broke.”
“O.K. I’m leaving right now. I’ll call the doctor and you call the Millers** to come pick up C.”
The contractions were getting stronger with each one. At this point I’d only had a few, but I couldn’t talk through them.
I called Mrs. Miller, who was the first one on our list of who would take care of C when I went into labor. Thankfully, she was there. I told her what was happening and that C was still taking a nap.
“Do you think I should come out right now, or should I wait until after the kids have their piano lessons?” she asked.
Now, normally, I’m a fairly decisive person. I don’t usually have trouble making decisions and if I really don’t care about something I’ll let someone else decide. But when I’m in labor, I can not make decisions. I don’t know what I want, I don’t know what anyone should do and I certainly don’t know if I’m ready to push. “I don’t know.” I said.
She continued talking it over and I had to stop at one point because of a contraction.
“You know what, I’ll just come now. Okay?”
“Okay.” I said meekly.
“Oh, Nancy? I didn’t even get C dressed this morning. He’s still in his pajamas.” I said, embarrassed.
“Oh, that doesn’t matter! He’s just a baby. No one will even notice.” she assured me.
Mr. French’s workplace was about 20 minutes from our apartment and he got home in record time at about 2:20 p.m.. He immediately got busy pulling off the wet bedding, putting another sheet on, getting old towels out. I continued to labor in the bathroom on the now very uncomfortable toilet.
He walked past me and I said, probably in a whiny voice, “It’s just so hard. How am I going to do this for several hours?”
“Honey,” he said confidently, “I think you’re going to have this baby very, very soon.”
“But you don’t know!” I wailed.
I was finally lying in bed when nurse Sharon and her nurse-in-training arrived at 1:40 p.m.
“I remember you. You’re the same nurse I had last time.” I said.
“Oh yeah. I thought that was you. You guys were in a different apartment then.”
Mr. French ran to get C’s car seat out of our car to put in the Miller’s car and then came back to get C and his diaper bag.
The nurses got busy getting organized and Sharon donned gloves to check me as soon as my contraction stopped.
“You’re basically a ten. There’s just the tiniest little lip of the cervix left, but it should move out of the way soon.”
Again, the best news you can possibly hear when you’re in labor.
Mr. French walked in after he had just gotten C off with the Millers.
“Do you feel like pushing?” asked Sharon.
“I don’t knoooow.” As if on cue, my body convulsed with a push. “I guess so.” I said meekly.
“Okay, let’s try with the next contraction.”
The first push was pretty pathetic and I asked if she could once again tell me how I should be doing this. The next push was better and with about 4-5 pushes, at 3:04 p.m. the baby was out. Mr. French was sitting behind me on the bed and couldn’t see everything.
“What is it?” he asked. He wanted a girl and was pretty sure he would get one.
“Look for yourself.” said Sharon.
The baby was put on my stomach, and I couldn’t see that end very well, but Mr. French eased himself into position to see.
“It’s a boy!” he said disbelieving. “I never thought we’d have another boy!”
“He seems so small. He’s so much smaller than C was.”
Then the doctor arrived. He couldn’t believe he’d missed the birth altogether.
When Mr. French got off the bed, his pants were soaked, down to his boxers. The nameless little boy was quietly laying on my stomach. He was breathing well, but the nurse thought he needed to cry more to clear his lungs, so she kept poking his feet and rubbing his back. Still he wouldn’t cry much. It was about that time that I started having contractions (afterbirth pains) again, which is the very last thing you want to feel once you have the baby sitting on your belly.
Mr. F took the baby and tried to get him to cry, which, eventually he did. Once the afterbirth was out, I felt much better and when I took the baby back, he stopped crying immediately.
And he just starred at me.
He had very long fingernails and fuzzy red hair.
He came a day early, with an hour’s notice and he’s been making us wait ever since.
Birth weight: 8 lbs. 2 oz
He was born 2/21/02. Mr French had been hoping he would come on either 2/20/02 or 2/22/02.
*Times are more exact because I wrote them in the baby book.
**Name changed in case they didn’t want to be in this story.