Yesterday, I had my 38-week appointment at the birth center.
We loaded the car in the morning with snacks and toys to keep Ella happy all day, and, as I thanked my lucky stars the hubs had the day off for once in our lives, we took off.
About 10 minutes into the two-hour drive, I started to notice contractions.
They weren't bad, but they were there. And they weren't going away.
I noted them to my husband, who joked that, "Wouldn't it be funny if she came today, since we are already on our way up there, anyway?"
I made comments about how she must really be my child - such a practical, planner type already - and he groaned we'd just have to keep having babies so one of them could be spontaneous with him.
Honestly, I didn't take the contractions seriously. I've been contracting for weeks, months even, truth be told.
So we arrived in Savannah and decided to stop at Target to grab a few necessities.
I went to change Ella in the family bathroom, still contracting, and discovered what had to qualify as the World's Worst Toddler Diaper in the 21st Century.
It was so bad that it had taken over the entire cloth diaper, which never happens, and spilled out into her pants, which I then unknowingly removed, shedding poop all over the changing table, her, me, and the floor of the bathroom.
It took me 15 minutes to clean up, with the help of the husband. We had to buy her new pants in the store, and by the time it was all over, my contractions had picked up majorly, mostly due to stress.
So I suggested lunch, figuring sitting down and eating would slow things down if they weren't the real thing.
Even during lunch, they continued. In fact, they were intense enough that I felt them in my legs; they made me a bit nauseous, in fact, just like Ella's labor did.
We went to the park after, for Ella's sake, and still, I was contracting away.
At this point, I began to wonder, "Maybe this is it. Maybe I'm starting."
It had been going on for more than four hours, and for the first time in nine months, I let myself go there.
Now, I refused to time them. Mostly because I didn't want to know. And also because, honest to God, with Ella, I never felt "normal" contractions.
I had premature ruptured water. I had back labor only. The feeling of someone stabbing me in the back with a knife was all I felt when I contracted till the very end, when I felt the pressure in my bottom to push. I felt nothing on the front of my body at all. Ever. My uterus might as well not have been involved at all.
So, as far as I'm concerned, when it comes to "normal" contractions, I might as well be a first-time mom. My midwives had explained that time and again this pregnancy.
So, finally, we walked into the birth center, still contracting. My midwife took one look at me - my face must have been drawn because I was fighting back tears; I didn't want to be wrong, but I also didn't want to cry - and said, "Are you in labor maybe?"
We talked for a bit, and finally, I consented to a cervical check (which is saying something because neither the midwife or I really believe in them.)
I was 2-3 centimeters dilated, but the baby was "as low as she can be without coming out."
And I was still contracting. But irregularly.
"I don't want you to stay," she told me. "You may very well have a baby tonight or tomorrow. But it could just as easily be next week. There is no telling. And I don't want to trap you somewhere with a toddler unnecessarily. So go to the comfort of your home, but know you might just drive back here tonight."
I knew what she meant.
I apologized to her that my contractions weren't painful enough yet, to which she laughed, assuring me that my contractions were legitimate and very real; it's just that compared to my back labor with Ella, they were going to be easier.
And we went home.
And then the funk - and the tears - hit. My poor husband sat bewildered next to me the whole way home.
I have had false labor that scared me and managed to stop it. But now, now that I finally let myself think maybe, just maybe? No. I was truly let down, just like I'd feared.
We all know I'm a huge believer in the fact that babies come when they are ready.
But the waiting is hard. Harder because, even though I'm just barely 38.5 weeks, she's already later than her sister was by a few days.
Every few minutes, I feel pretty defeatist about it all, muttering that "This baby will never come." I joke about it to the people I talk to, but honestly, I feel that way a great deal.
So much so in fact that I stopped answering phone calls and text messages about the baby; I don't really want to talk about it.
Some people act as if it's my fault, which doesn't help any, considering I take a mountain-load of labor preparation vitamins and herbs a day, plus all the exercises and activities that bring on labor happen all too frequently in this house over the last few weeks.
I know this isn't me or my body, but I don't want to justify that to anyone.
The baby just isn't cooked yet. Period.
But I'm kind of done talking about it.
I want her here more than anyone. Heck, I will drive myself two hours to the birth center in a heartbeat and deliver her all alone if I have to. I'm not afraid of that. I just want her here.
But not yet, I guess.