On Thursday, at 38 weeks pregnant, I had an OB appointment. I was surprised to hear that I was already 4cm dilated. I’d been having a lot of Braxton Hicks contractions and was getting really uncomfortable and in pain. (I should also mention that that afternoon at a company wide meeting I remarked that I was feeling really really tired, like how I remembered feeling the afternoon I went into labor with M. My eyes were twitching from tiredness and I felt like I could fall over – although I didn’t think much of it) The doctor said 4cm could mean that I would have a baby soon or that it could be 2-3 more weeks. He had a patient that was at 4cm for weeks once. It freaked me out, but I didn’t really think it meant anything would happen super soon. I called my dad, who was in NH at his brother’s house, to let him know I’d like him to come Sunday instead of Monday. I decided I REALLY needed to get serious about the final preparation stuff I wanted to do that weekend. I went to Sam’s to get some groceries and the Braxon Hicks were really bothering me and I was starting to feel nauseous, which I assumed was from the anxiety of knowing I was already 4cm dilated! But the doctor did say that 4cm meant that I was already almost half way there and that delivery should go that much more quickly. It also meant that I shouldn’t mess around with getting to the hospital when it was time. I picked M up at school, I got her fed dinner and then I called Ryan, who was working late, to tell him to please come home, that I was not feeling well. While M finished eating dinner and while Ryan bathed and put her to bed I did some last minute work that I wanted to finish up. I was wondering in that back of my mind, is this it and if not, why do I feel so badly? I think I started timing contractions in the late evening, but nothing was at all regular. The contractions didn’t last long and were 12 minutes, 8 minutes, 10 minutes, etc. They were uncomfortable, but not overly painful, as I remembered. I tried to go to bed, but was just so uncomfortable I couldn’t sleep longer than an hour. The contractions started to get worse, starting in the front and then moving around to my lower back. I started really timing the contractions at about midnight. The timing was not consistent, with the minutes going something like this: 4, 7, 5, 4, 7, 3, 9, 8, 11, 5, 3, 4, 5,. At one point I called the answering service of the doctors’ office to see if there was a doctor on call at the hospital. They said there was a doctor on call, but he was at home. I really didn’t want to wake someone up if I wasn’t in labor. The answering service assured me that it was his job and it would be fine. I can’t remember if I spoke to him then, or called back later. I told him my contractions were not regular and he said if they were not regular I wasn’t in labor. I was still so uncomfortable, couldn’t lie down and the pain was getting worse with each one. I finally asked R to get up out of bed. This was probably around 1am or so. I thought maybe I felt horrible because of the anxiety of calling someone to get them out of bed to take care of M, getting the doctor out of bed and then looking like an idiot when I got sent back home from the hospital. This was something that caused me anxiety last time around, but now I had an older child who needed a caregiver thrown in the mix. Ultimately, we talked it out and timed contractions and they were getting pretty close together and regular (about 5 minutes apart starting at 1:30am and moving to 4 minutes apart by 2am). I called my friend Jen who I’d just seen the day before and had assured me I could call her. She’d been working from home a lot and doesn’t have kids, so I knew if I kept her up all night, she’d have the weekend to recover. And she and M just adore each other. I called her about 2am and she was there before 2:30am ready to help out! I had written her a quick note (my plan to prepare instructions on M had been for Friday, the next day!) R kept saying he was going to do this or that, or email work or whatever and I kept saying, we NEED to leave when Jen gets here. My contractions were 4 minutes apart by this time and I was getting worried. I felt very nauseous. As soon as she got there, I explained a little bit, referred her to the note and hit the road to the hospital by 2:44am (the last contraction I wrote down). The hospital is only a few miles from our house and the ride was quick. We were in labor and delivery by 3am on Friday 1/25/13. After they monitored me and the baby for half hour or so, they determined I was 6-7cm, checked us in and moved us to a room. They got me going on fluids and I pretty quickly decided I’d just rather do an epidural. I was so uncomfortable, in so much pain, couldn’t sit down, and was just beginning to get really exhausted from standing and not having slept. The epidural was an easy decision for me this time, and it did not come with near the guilt of last time (which seems to be the general theme of this second baby – much less guilt!). The epidural was finished by 4:45am. It was what I called the perfect epidural. First of all, the anesthesiologist was so much cooler than last time. Last time he was so mechanical and stressed the risks so much. This time he was so personable and chatty. It made it such a more relaxing experience getting a needle in your back while having contractions and trying to hold still! Secondly, last time I was so numb. I couldn’t lift my legs, wiggle my toes or feel anything. This time I could lift my legs, feel my toes, slightly feel each contraction enough to know when I was having one, but overall I was very comfortable. I was fully dilated and they broke my water at 7:52am. After that they were just waiting for her to move down a little bit before I started pushing. We did a few “practice” pushes to be sure she’d move enough for delivery before they called in the doctor. I started the real pushing at 8:36am and Simone Madeline was born at 8:49am on January 25, 2013. Of course she’s considered full term at 38 weeks, but to us two weeks early was quite a surprise!