I went into labour around 4:30pm on Friday, December 17th. I knew this was the beginning of labour because the contractions remained consistent and gradually increased in length and strength. For the first few hours I watched chick flicks (Dirty Dancing -- my favourite! and Pretty Woman), which was a great distraction. As a funny aside, part way through Dirty Dancing, Darren just got up and started "nesting" around the house. I guess he didn't like it as much as me, haha.
At around 8pm, our doula, Meghan, came over to see how things were going and an unexpected thing happened, my contractions slowed down! I had heard of this happening if you go to the hospital too early but hadn't anticipated it in this case. It was strange, I remember sensing my body going into protective mode, I felt I like I needed to be a good hostess and "entertain" Meghan while she was here. She stayed about an hour and as soon as she left, the contractions resumed and continued to progress.
I tried to sleep but the contractions hurt more when I laid down so I tried to rest on the couch off and on during the night. I stayed out of our room so at least one if us (Darren) would have an OK sleep.
By Saturday morning Darren and I really began relying on the pain management techniques that we had learned from Meghan and our prenatal classes. We had been using the pain management techniques all throughout Friday afternoon and night, but by this time the contractions had really ramped up. I was so glad to have had access to such excellent prenatal education because the contractions really hurt and these techniques really helped me remain calm, focused and confident that I wouldn't need pain meds. When I would have a contraction, Darren would massage my hand and remind me to relax and breathe deeply, a routine that carried me through my entire labour. I also took two warm showers and they were quite refreshing. The only reason I got out of the shower is because we ran out of hot water (I must have been in there a looong time because we've never had that happen before)!
Throughout the entire process at home, Darren had lit candles, turned off all our lights (except for a couple of small lamps), and had employed the use of a "rain" noise maker to help me remain calm and peaceful. It really helped me relax and focus. We used "Sleep-Relax" scented massage oils, creams, and candles from Bath and Bodyworks that Darren's brother had given us for Christmas which was an added bonus.
As I approached the 24 hour mark, things started getting more difficult as the contractions started coming closer together and for longer periods of time. I started to wonder just how long this labour would last and if things were even progressing. Then I started to sob. Darren held it together (although he told after me that he felt like crying with me but told himself not to because he knew it wouldn't help the situation), continuing to encourage me that I was doing a great job.
Then he asked if I wanted to go to the hospital and I wasn't sure what to say but when he asked again I said yes. I was sick of being at home and wanted a change of scenery. I hoped that I would be pushing soon but I had no idea I knowing. At least at the hospital they could check to see how dilated I was and tell me that my body had been doing something "right" for the past 24 hours. So we grabbed our bags, texted Meghan to meet us at the hospital and headed out.
The half hour drive to the hospital seemed really long! Darren told me later that he purposely drove extra slowly, he stopped at every light and took a slightly longer route to the hospital. At the time I wondered why it seemed like it was taking forever to get there but I didn't say anything. [Edited to add, from Darren: I took a bit longer because I knew that if we got there and Tara had hardly dilated that it would be super discouraging for her! At that point we had no idea, so I figured a bit of extra time wouldn't hurt.] The contractions slowed down when we first got into the car but then picked up again so I was fairly confident that we had waited until an appropriate time to go to the hospital and my labour wouldn't stop once we arrived.
I was so in suspense, what would the internal exam reveal???