The Day I Wasn’t in Labor


Four years ago today I woke up in a Very Bad Mood.

The baby who was Ella had dropped four days earlier, so I was feeling discomfort for the first time in my entire #blessed pregnancy.

(Note to 2013 Danielle: subsequent pregnancies will be neither easy nor comfortable, enjoy this while it lasts.)

I had decided to work from home the week of my due date, since I had a two hour train commute from Salem to Cambridge and I was not interested in having a baby on the MBTA. Usually I loved working from home, because it gave me enough time to walk downtown and start my day at the Gulu Gulu cafe, with orange juice, cappuccino, banana bread, a parfait, and free wifi.

This day, though, the walk made my feet swollen and my back hurt, and breakfast gave me heartburn. The adorable hipster waitresses, who had to be maybe 20 years old maximum, asked questions about pregnancy that pissed me off, namely, “Do you feel like she’s coming soon?”

Because no. NO. No, I did not feel like she was coming soon.

I’d been on baby watch for weeks, having been told by so many people that I looked like I’d go early. And now it was the day before my due date and every possible early labor sign had disappeared. There was no frantic movement from my little ninja, there were no Braxton Hicks contractions in evidence. Nada.

“I am going to be pregnant forever,” I grumbled back at the tweens serving my food.

I grumbled all the way home, and then I grumbled some more when I found I could no longer sit comfortably on our couch because my back was killing me. I pulled out our birth ball (basically a large exercise ball marked up 150% to be marketed to pregnant people) and tried to sit on it with my laptop on our coffee table.

This was neither comfortable nor conducive to productivity but I didn’t have many options, because that day, the DAY BEFORE MY DUE DATE, HR had scheduled THREE interviews for me to phone screen candidates for my old position, which I had transitioned out of months before.

I completed two of these interviews before firing off various grumpy emails about competencies and qualifications and lack thereof. The third was, thankfully, postponed until the next day, which I wanted to be mad about but couldn’t because it was very obvious to me now that I was never having this baby.

I sat and stewed on my birth ball until Jon got home. He took one look at me and very gently suggested I should try to make it to the yoga class I’d planned on skipping BECAUSE MY GD BACK WAS GD
KILLING ME to see if it might help me feel better.

He had the good sense not to suggest it might help put me in a better mood, so I figured I could at least give it a try.

At yoga, we all went around and introduced ourselves and shared our due dates. The women all either laughed or gasped when I told them I was due the next day.

“Don’t worry, though,” I said. “I’m never having this baby.”

Our instructor asked if I wanted to move into the lucky labor corner of the room, which was rumored to have a track record of getting labor started for women who parked their mats there.

“Nope,” I said. “This baby is a wizard. She’ll arrive precisely when she means to.”

This is a Lord of the Rings reference almost no one got, and it had been my mantra for being patient towards the end of my pregnancy. That night, though, my back hurt, and I just didn’t feel like moving.

Yoga usually made me feel strong and calm, but that night I left more uncomfortable and even grouchier.

Jon was waiting for me when I got home. “Maybe,” he began, cautiously.

I just raised my eyebrows.

“Maybe you’re actually in labor,” he said.

He was, of course, right. We still had a little more than 24 hours to go, but Ella June was on her way.

There’s more to this story, but the day I was sure I wasn’t in labor is on my mind today. I had no idea then what an incredible adventure was about to begin. I’ll tell you the rest tomorrow, because right now I need to go back to watching Ella’s baby videos and crying while I sit in the play area of this Whole Foods.

Thank you, God, for your impeccable sense of timing, even if I can’t always see it. Thank you for Jon’s powers of observation, which kept me from having an accidental home birth when I missed all the signs myself. And thank you for my Ella June and her glorious little life.

Tell me what you think!