We humans are deeply superstitious. Or, perhaps more charitably, our impressive pattern-recognition circuitry is pretty much incapable of running on anything but overdrive. So, you have two kids, both born on Tuesdays, and you think, hey, this is some kind of fact about me. I have kids on Tuesdays. And you have your first kid two days after his due date and the second kid one day after her due date and so you think, I see this pattern! (Any first grader would see this pattern, I can tell you.) My third kid will be born *on* his due date!
Nevermind that due dates, with their laughable over-precision (all the midwives I've had have considered a 5 week span surrounding the due date to be "full term" and safe for a home birth), have very little meaning. Nevermind that each kid has had a different practitioner and due dates calculated in slightly different ways. No, the annointing of a particular box on the calendar as this kid's "due date" immediately makes it quite hard to imagine that he will be born on any other day.
Except. Except if maybe, say, his due date is a Wednesday. And you have your kids on Tuesdays, remember? So, this is a time to conveniently recall the fluidity of due dates and the differences in their calculations in your particular cases to bend things a little and then re-firm them so that, in your mind, this baby will definitely be born the day before his due date, which is a Tuesday (and also your late grandmother's birthday, because biology totally cares about these things).
This is the kind of thinking (ok, yes, this is exactly the thinking) that got me to dismiss a variety of potentially noteworthy things over the past few days so that at my appointment on Monday I said, with pretty much total confidence, that this baby was nowhere near arriving anytime soon. And got me to think that taking the kids to IKEA after dropping DiDi off at the airport (after a week of fun and stocking the freezer and cleaning floors and hanging pictures, several of which happened that morning) was a totally good idea. Because the other thing about Tuesdays, besides that I have babies on them (but only precisely around their due dates, of course), is that IKEA gives you kids' meals for free on Tuesdays.
So we arrive at the kid's play area and I check the kids in (this is what they were excited about, after all) and turn the corner to discover that we will be waiting in line for at least 30 minutes before they can actually go in. This is disheartening to me, because the line has no place to sit (other than the floor, which is less appealing than standing) and I am not really feeling good about standing right now. (But, remember, totally not having this baby for another week. Because due dates.) I try to talk the kids out of the play area, but they won't have it. And, truly, they were almost perfectly behaved in the line while we waited. I had no excuse to pull them out.
Kids safely and happily stowed at Småland, I begin my slow amble through the few parts of the store I need. A small lamp for story time in their room. Two wallclocks for $2 each to maybe get them more aware of the passage of time during the morning and evening routines. Batteries for the clocks. A wire and screw eyes to hang the heavy mirror that's been propped on my dresser for a year. I find out that the main reason for the stop — earthquake safety straps to attatch bookshelves to the wall — is available for free from customer service, so we'll stop there after checking out and have everything we need. I feel tired and cranky and have lots of irritating stretchy feelings in my cervix, but no contractions. So, definitely not having this baby for another week. I sit down on a comfortable couch and read for the last twenty minutes before I pick up the kids.
We wait in a much faster line for lunch and each consume an extraordinary number of calories. The kids in the form of chicken fingers and fries with an enormous piece of chocolate cake each (plus a chocolate milk for Mr. P and a regular milk for Shmoogie); me in the form of a "salmon lasagna"... and an enormous piece of chocolate cake.
On the way out, we stop in the bathroom and the kids fight over who gets to pull the cart and I forget to stop at customer service for the earthquake straps.
But I remember, when we drive past a bike shop, that Mr. P's bike helmet got run over in the keystone-cops-style departure for the airport with DiDi and that DiDi made me promise we'd stop for a new helmet on the way home. So we circle the block and get a new helmet. Mr. P picks out a nice one, we pay, and Shmoogie needs to use the bathroom again. As we're waiting outside the door for her, which turns out to be several minutes because it turns out she needs to poop, it actually hits Mr. P that his old helmet is broken and not coming back and he starts to cry. But he's matured so much in the past year that this amounts to only a few tears and a hug from me gets him pretty much under control. We practice unbuckling the new mechanism and he gets frustrated. I've been standing up for something like 10 minutes now and am increasingly uncomfortable (but, still, definitely not having this baby for another week), so I keep cracking the bathroom door to tell Shmoogie she needs to hurry up.
Finally, we are all in the car again and heading home. Which, with traffic, is 40 minutes away (although, luckily, HOV lanes shaved some of that off). I start telling the kids about the plan for doing handwriting practice when we get home before more fun stuff. Then, as we're sailing down the highway, I start to feel achy low down in my tummy. I glance at the clock. The ache passes, then comes again. I glance at the clock again. It's been 5 minutes. Again. It's been 6 minutes. Ah, see, not regular, not strong, getting further apart. Not going into labor. You may note that the difference between 5 minutes and 6 minutes, especially as measured by a car clock with no seconds displayed, is not really meaningful in this situation. But labor today does not fit my pattern recognition system, so this tidbit is discarded immediately.
The whole way home, I'm thinking to myself, I'm just a little dehydrated. I'll drink a big glass of water and lie down and this will all go away because this is ridiculous. He's not coming for another week. Or at LEAST not for another few days, because Auntie Doula is arriving tomorrow night. I tell the kids maybe they'd like to just watch a movie when we get home, because I'm not feeling up to anything else.
We get home around 4. I do drink a big glass of water, but I don't lie down. Because this is totally nothing actually happening and I've got stuff to do, right? I sign the kids into Lego's Hobbit site to play and start hanging the mirror, hanging the new clocks, and assembling the little table lamp. But instead of going away, the contractions get stronger. Sort of. A few of them do. Once, I have to lie down on the couch and close my eyes. Shmoogie sits by my head and says, "Mommy? Are you really tired, Mommy?"
I decide maybe I should call someone. I call Mr. Right and tell him it's probably nothing, but maybe he should think about coming home because I'm not feeling great. But call me before you actually leave, I say, because quite likely things will have stopped. Then I call the midwives. Because it's still during their office hours and they did say repeatedly that they really like to know if anything is going on, even if you're not sure you're actually in labor. So I talk to the midwife and tell her that, really, this is probably nothing, but maybe. She gives me her cell number and tells me she's going to go pick up her equipment and probably start heading my way because even if it's a false alarm, she'd rather check in. (Later, she tells me she heard a certain tone in my voice that made her think she'd better come.)
I lie on the couch a while longer, but nothing happens, so I decide, yes, this is all probably a false alarm, and go upstairs to plug in the kids' new lamp. But I can't even find the plug before I have to lie down again. Shmoogie kindly lets me use her bed and even takes the giant plastic airplane toy off it for me. This contraction is serious. Shmoogie is asking, "Mommy? Why are you making those noises?"
I tell her maybe the baby is coming today. "You really think so?" she asks, "Why?"
I go downstairs and text the midwife to say that the last contraction felt like the kind that has usually broken my water before, but it didn't, so I'm still not sure. I call Mr. Right to tell him to please leave the office because even if this peters out, I'm not feeling good enough to be the only adult in the house right now.
I lie down on my own bed for the next one, which is a good thing, because it has a waterproof matress pad on it and this time, my water breaks. I think it's 6 o'clock.
I attempt to take a selfie, laughing a bit because this is ridiculous, although now for slightly different reasons than I thought it was ridiculous before.
At this point, I am really glad that the midwife is on her way and Mr. Right is on his way, and happily they get there by 6:30, I think, and things are already rolling pretty well. I hear Shmoogie inform the midwife that she doesn't want to see the baby actually come out. A bit later, she announces that she does actually want to see the baby come out, but she doesn't want to see the placenta, because that's ew.
From my perspective, it was then just a pretty intense push through to 8:27 when Lump (or maybe we'll call him Tuesday) officially made his entrance into the world. Shmoogie was there for the whole thing, in the end. They say she told me repeatedly to "calm down, Mommy!" but I don't remember that. Honestly, I wasn't sure she was actually there by the end, although I do remember her surprised voice saying, "She's pooping not in the potty!" and the midwives explaining that was totally normal and cleaning it up while I practically yelled, "NO WAY AM I GOING TO THE POTTY!" She later told me that the placenta wasn't too ew for her, afterall. She "didn't know it was going to be a circle."
Mr. P came in once or twice to check on things, but mostly kept his distance. Mr. Right got a babysitter to come over at 8, which kind of shocked me when I heard she was there, but was the right thing to do so I could stop mumbling between contractions, "Have they eaten anything??" And so they could go to bed by 10:30.
Both kids have been great today, happy and interested and apparently not at all traumatized, although I was worried last night when Mr. P came in (between baby and placenta? I'm not sure), looked startled and said, "Mommy, what's wrong with your bottom?!"
I and the midwives said it was fine, totally normal, and pretty soon he seemed to have forgotten it and was busy insisting that everyone start addressing the baby by name instead of as "baby".
All in all, we're good. It was certainly quite a ride. I'm glad I won't be doing that again. A short labor sounds good until you actually do it and discover that it's short only because all the rests and easy parts get taken out of it!