No one ever told me that the last few weeks of pregnancy would be the hardest and most emotionally challenging weeks of my experience. But here we are--right in the middle of it. Eight days until my due date and this week has been brutal. It all started a few weeks ago when I went for my 36-week appointment and the doctor told me that I was already 2 centimeters dilated and that my cervix was soft and thinned out. I knew in my mind that people could be like this for a while before giving birth, so while I was optimistic that I'd deliver a little early, I tried not to get too excited. But that was impossible. Everyone told me that delivery was just a few days away.
The next week, I asked the doctor to check me to see whether there had been any progress. I mean, no contractions, no signs of labor--and I was already 2 cm. and effaced?? I'll take it! She obliged me (got to love those pushy first-time moms!) and told me that I was still 2 cm. dilated but she said that my cervix was 90% effaced. Everyone told me that delivery was just right around the corner.
On Tuesday of this week I had my 38-wk appointment with one of the midwives at the practice. She graciously offered an internal exam to see whether there had been any progress. I had moved up in the world! I was now 3 cm. dilated, my cervix was still 90% effaced and she told me that the head was in -1 station, meaning it was below the break-even point of my pelvis and fully engaged. This was all good news! "Keep doing what you're doing," she said. So I did. And more. Walking, climbing stairs, walking, squatting, lifting, laying flooring... You name it, I did it! And wouldn't you know those contractions started coming about 7-8 minutes apart Tuesday evening. They gradually increased in their intensity and I knew this was the start of my labor. These were not the Braxton Hicks of the past few weeks. They didn't take my breath away yet, but they didn't feel cozy either.
We thought for sure that Tuesday night or Wednesday we'd get to meet our darling little baby. But my contractions died off during the night. They did resume activity upon waking Wednesday morning, and were back at 7-8 minutes by the time I left for work. So I decided to wrap up all of the loose ends there and begin my maternity leave, since delivery was obviously impending. Sometime after lunch, though, the contractions again died off. So we tried everything we had heard yet again...walking, spicy Mexican food (although I'm pretty sure the baby's immune to spicy stuff since I ate it the entire pregnancy), even bowling. I thought for sure it was going to be Wednesday night or Thursday when my contractions were 6 minutes apart for over an hour and so strong that Ben had to remind me to breathe through them. Why didn't we go to the hospital then? I could be holding my sweet baby in my arms right now if we had. But the pink card said to call when the contractions were 5 minutes apart for an hour... I'm such an obedient student.
Once again, the contractions waned overnight, although not as abruptly as the night before. It wasn't until about 3 am that they finally came to a halt...at which point, I had not slept much more than a wink in between contractions. We both felt beat down when Thursday morning rolled around and I was still pregnant, with no contractions and bags under our eyes. Maybe pancakes would do the trick. No luck there. I even tried the breast pump. Everything and anything, busting myth after myth until... I ended up with a tear-streaked face, puffy red eyes and a snotty nose as I tried to pull myself together with quick little gasps, but unmercifully kept falling apart instead. I couldn't do it anymore. No more hope. I felt abandoned. Not by Ben or anyone here. But God certainly couldn't care about me at this point. I mean, how could He tease me like that? How could my body play such games with me? It was an up and down roller coaster for 3 solid days and I derailed. I was, officially, done.
And in the shower, as I stood there washing off the sweat and grime of a 90 degree day, without tears or words or prayers, I started humming...
Everlasting. Your light will shine when all else fades.
Neverending. Your glory goes beyond all fame.
My heart and my soul, I give you control.
Consume me from the inside out Lord.
I couldn't remember all of the lyrics. And I was so surprised to find myself humming this song, because when I did think about the lyrics I could remember, I knew my mind and my heart were not in a place to utter any of those words with conviction. I had been so self-absorbed. So focused on my own timeframe and controlling the outcome of my delivery that I didn't want to know what God thought about it all. I had just gotten finished saying that I felt abandoned by His love. And yet, I kept humming this. The same parts. Over and over. And after I had dried off from my shower and finally sat down on the couch, I realized that I was okay. Of course I still wanted to meet my child. Badly. But I was going to be okay. It was as though I had washed the control right down the drain with the sweat and grime of the 90 degree day.
I slept like a baby. Still no contractions. But it's in His time. And He knows best.