At 5:44 on Tuesday morning I woke up suddenly.
The Chief was fussing in his bed down the hall.
Filled with a sense of sentimentality for the boy, I got up to snuggle him back to sleep. But as I did I noticed I was feeling--well--wet. Not wet as in a broken Bag of Waters, but definitely something. After a quick inventory of my body I realized I had lost my mucus plug.
(Now let's agree that the phrase "mucus plug" is the worst phrase in English diction. I should call it what French call it, the bouchon muqueux (don't ask me how I knew that) (ok, Google). I thought all day, should I use the term "mucus plug" on my blog today? But what? I didn't invent it. It is a natural sign of impending labor, so sorry if makes you squirmy--and if it does make you squirmy please take note, you probably won't want to read the rest of my birth story.)
I decided to wake up Chup with the news.
"I just lost my mucus plug. We are having the baby soon!" I whispered in a voice animated by adrenalin.
And Chup, who famously fell instantaneously back to sleep after I informed him of my water breaking when pregnant with The Chief, did the same thing twice.
"Really? Cool." Honk snooze.
But I couldn't go back to sleep. Instead I was overcome by the spirit of nesting. I set to cleaning the entire house--top to bottom--folding laundry and sprucing up the bathrooms. I kept thinking to myself, I am going to start contracting any minute now.
A couple hours later Chup and The Chief woke up. I was surprised to see Chup packing his bags for a business meeting he had in LA later that day.
"Oh no you don't," I said to Chup.
"What?" he looked at me .
"You aren't going on a business trip when I know--I KNOW--we are going to have this baby soon."
"Remember this morning when I told you I lost my . . ."
"Yes, but are you having contractions?"
"No, but I am almost a week overdue, and now I am starting to have signs of labor and it would be ridiculous if you left for two days at this point."
"I have to present. I am the keynote speaker."
"I know but WE ARE HAVING A BABY."
I looked at him. He looked at me.
"Go pray about it," I commanded him in my matriarchal voice.
Chup turned around and headed for our bedroom.
In the meantime I carried on.
Lucy and Page miraculously showed up around the same time. Lucy had a premonition I was in labor and Page brought down some vegetable soup.
"I am not in labor yet," I told them, "but I will be soon."
"24 hours," predicted Page she who has endured eight labors of her own.
We decided to make it a sister lunch. We called Stephanie but she was busy taking care of the men in her life. We ate bowls of soup and sour dough bread with butter. In the middle of our feast, Chup came down the stairs with his suitcase.
"It is going to be fine," he said kissing my forehead.
"Where is he going?" asked Lucy.
"To California. He will be back tomorrow night," I explained bracing for the impact of protective sisters on guard.
"No way would I let him go," said Page in her Oldest Sister Voice, shaking her head.
"No way would I let him go either," repeated Lucy.
For a second, I thought about polling more women in my life via a short phone call. "Yes, could you tell me how you'd answer this question: You feel you are about to start labor and you are a week late on your due date. Your husband has to leave for a business trip two states over, do you a.) let him go? or b.) make him stay?"
"If he misses the birth he misses the birth." I sighed, knowing he was probably right--darn that answer to prayers bit--but still wishing he'd stay put.
He kissed me good bye and reassured me twice.
By late afternoon I hadn't felt any contractions.
My mom and Lucy slept over that night to keep an expectant vigil.
We entertained ourselves into the early hours of morning by introducing my mother to Facebook. We looked up all of her old friends from Seattle and showed her accounts of family and friends. When we had exhausted all of our Facebook possibilities, Lucy and Mom slept in my bed and I chose to sleep with The Chief.
One last night, just the two of us.
What a loaded feeling.
By the next morning I was losing all sorts of inner bodily paraphernalia, but no fluid and no contractions. I was relieved I had made it through the night.
The Chief and I spent the whole Wednesday together alone. We played "guys and vroms" which is a magical little game where I use rubberbands to attach action figures to the seats of The Chief's model motorcycles which he uses to "vrom" all over the front room. Where some children say "vroom" for the sound of engines, our little mechanic chooses "vrom" instead.
It was a sunny afternoon and Dad was set to arrive home sometime that evening. The Chief insisted on a walk with his push motorcycle. He also insisted that I push the stroller--even empty--because nothing says "We are going for a walk!" like a pushed stroller.
After one block my body hurt so badly I wanted to slump down and roll myself into the curb to be picked up on Garbage Day. My legs felt like they were going to detach from my hips. My lower back nearly gave way to the mass of maternity in my belly. My breathing was begging to come out in desperate gasps.
The Chief was having the time of his life stopping to show me every bug, piece of dirt and rock that met us on our way. His push motorcycle was making crackling noises on the sidewalk as he pushed with energetic legs.
So we kept going and somehow I got myself farther down the street then I had anticipated. Our house was now out of sight. I thought about turning around and having to walk all the way back and I groaned. I wished for my phone so I could call my mother to pick us up.
The Chief was stopping to smell some purple hyacinths.
"Mom! Mom! Mom!" He wanted me to smell them too. So I gingerly turned around, like a 747 changing directions on the runway. Slow and heavy.
Which is when my water broke.
*photo by Justin Hackworth
I am c jane and this week I am writing down the birth story of my new daughter, Ever.