I hate to say this, but Gloribeth's birth starts five whole days before she was born.
When, at 5 a.m. on Friday, two days before my due date, I woke up with contractions I felt all the way down to my toes. They hurt; they weren't consistent, but they were coming. My stomach felt like it was in a vice.
So, I called the midwife.
We talked, said we'd wait it out for now and see what happened, but that I should plan on heading up to the birth center if things continued.
So, I did what any woman would who wanted the baby in her uterus to evacuate it post-haste.
I walked a few miles. Drank a pitcher of red-raspberry leaf tea. I even scheduled and attended a session with a chiropractor.
And things continued on. Contractions. Big ones. Deep ones. But not totally consistent.
So, when the midwife called to check on me, and she heard me gasp when the baby pushed further into my pelvis, she told me to get ready and drive the two hours up to the center.
My husband was excited. I was excited. Ella was particularly cuddly and had me tearing up, thinking this was it; that these were our last minutes of only-child-and-mama love.
I went so far as to call my parents and told them to start heading up, giving them the rather empty warning, "This isn't for sure yet, but we'll see. We're heading up there, and you may want to come."
We got to the birth center just as business hours were wrapping up.
The midwife met me, beaming. She was so excited for me, too, and I just about wanted to hug her right then and there.
And then she checked me.
I hadn't progressed at all from almost two weeks before.
In that moment, I felt worse than any contraction could make me shake.
The poor midwife. She felt my contractions and assured me they were real and strong and very well could bring a baby about in the next 24 hours.
But not right now.
And, so, we loaded into the car, me in tears, and we headed home, telling my parents to meet us at our house and not the birth center.
Two hours later, back at home, I was dejected enough to eat an entire box of Girl Scout cookies and yell at my poor mother, who had done nothing but tell me she was going to stay till the baby came.
And, so, we faced a weekend, where everyone swore this baby was coming out before it was up.
We walked and walked and walked. I bounced on the exercise ball like never before.
Contractions continued. And then stopped. And then continued. And then stopped.
On Sunday, my due date, I woke up and didn't even feel pregnant. There was little fetal movement, and the contractions had pretty much stopped. It's called "the lightening," and it was terribly unnerving.
My husband took us all shopping 45 minutes south, figuring putting us three hours from the birth center instead of two would surely test Murphy's Law, bringing the little one in my belly on.
I shopped and spent money I shouldn't on more matching little-girl clothes and nothing. I ate a huge salad and sandwich and nothing. I walked and walked and walked. And nothing.
The only sign of labor was a brief conversation I had with Ella, when I asked her, "When's Sissy coming?"
"February," she told me matter of factly.
"When in February?" I quipped back.
"Full moon," she replied back quickly.
We all laughed; the full moon was the following day, and we'd been discussing it in front of her, the little mimicker. Still, I didn't have too much hope.
I just kept telling my mom, "I just want her to come before Tuesday. I don't want to drive up and back to Savannah again for another pointless weekly appointment. I don't want to drive up there again unless I'm having my baby."
Monday morning came, and we were officially post-due.
My husband went to work. My mom stayed.
We went to the grocery store. I made granola bars and fruit-and-veggie popsicles for Ella. I didn't even try to get things going. It was the full moon, after all.
But just like everybody else, Ella's prediction seemed to be wrong, too.
Sure, I was contracting. Real, strong, serious contractions that hurt like heck.
But their inconsistency was astounding and frustrating, especially considering all my false labor and the concerns I'd go too early.
So Monday came and went; no baby.
And I woke up Tuesday morning, mad. Contracting, like I'd been for the last five days. But distinctly ticked off.
I loaded the car, got my mom and Ella ready, and sadly started toward the two-hour drive toward Savannah, for yet another weekly pre-natal visit I didn't even want to attend.
My one lone hope, it seemed, wasn't going to come true.
I was heading back up there, but not because I was in labor.
Or, at least, that's what I thought.
I hate cliff-hanger birth stories. I'm so sorry; I really am, to do this to you all. But I promise, on Monday, I'll finish this up, complete with pictures.
But for now, here's a little shot of the star herself.
Be back Monday!