That’s basically what my ob-gyn told me during the entire last month of my pregnancy. In retrospect, he probably didn’t phrase it in quite that way, but his message was clear: Don’t dillydally…because when this baby comes, she’s going to come fast. Get yourself to a hospital quick. This wasn’t my first rodeo, and after each examination, my body apparently seemed like it was raring to go.
I only half-believed him. Until I almost gave birth to my daughter in the back of a taxi, that is.
Let me back up a little bit. Every new mom has a birth story, and here’s mine for Baby #2. The shortened, not-too-graphic one, I promise.
I had been dilated to 4cm for two weeks, and we’d had two false alarms, with my supposed contractions—supposed, because I really didn’t feel them, only saw them on a monitor—coming at a good three- to four-minute clip. Still, nada. Plus, I had the same issue with my son three and a half years ago, and he had to be induced nine days past my due date. And even then, I was in labor for a long time—12 hours, including two solid hours of pushing.
I rolled my eyes, but I took my doctor’s advice. I didn’t venture too far from home, even though there were fun things afoot elsewhere. No blueberry picking two hours away. No solo visits with my son to visit my nephews an hour away, even though they were only in town for a month. (My biggest fear was getting stuck in traffic and giving birth by the side of the highway, with my 3-year-old acting as makeshift doula.) No anything—not even walking—if baby was painfully head-butting my cervix. Have you experienced the aptly termed lightning crotch? No? Well, it’s as delightful as it sounds.
So, I waited.
And I mostly stressed over these questions: Would I know a real contraction when it hit me? Would I accidentally dillydally because I didn’t know that I was in labor? As crazy as it sounds, this is something that a lot of first-time moms and not-first-timers who were induced, like me, worry about.
Well, let me just put any worries you may have about that to rest: Hell, yes, you’ll know when those contractions are real!
When mine started at 7:30 a.m. on August 3rd, they were four minutes apart and getting progressively more and more uncomfortable. I only waited 40 minutes before calling my parents to tell them to hightail it over here so they could watch my son. Unfortunately, they were coming into the city from the ’burbs…in rush hour…and of course there was traffic. And I was suddenly in lots and lots of pain. I started to panic.
I was adamant about not taking my son with us to the hospital, to the point that I told my husband to stay with him while I went to the hospital by myself. He nixed that idea pretty quickly, and thank God. I mean, hello, stupidity.
Even though things were speeding up and I knew I needed to get to the hospital, I had this oddly simultaneous desire to dillydally because I was terrified to leave my son. I didn’t want to freak him out, but my eyes were welling up with tears as I hugged him, explained what was happening and said good-bye. What if something horrible happened and I didn’t make it through labor? What if I never saw him again? Yes, these were the horrible things that were going through my mind, and I was again terrified, but for a whole different reason.
I more or less held it together till my parents finally arrived, and we handed off my son on our building’s stoop and hopped—er, waddled—into the cab. That poor driver. Over the course of our 30-minute ride, my contractions got down to a minute and a half apart.
But we made it—barely. It turns out, I was a full 10cm dilated by the time we got there, and the rushed, “don’t dillydally” attitude of the nurses and the attending doctors made it clear that this was happening NOW and that I was lucky it didn’t happen ALREADY in the back of a germ-infested cab.
I’ll spare you the nitty-gritty details—though we all know that moms love to recount them like war stories—but our little angel made her big debut less than an hour and a half after our arrival at the hospital and in just four sets of pushes. That said, at 10cm dilated, I somehow still managed to get an epidural. I believe that my directive to the anesthesiologist, who was dillydallying—er, trying to make sure I was OK with his course of treatment—went something like this: “I don’t care what you’re going to do. JUST. DO. IT!” Um, sorry about that, and thank you, wonderful doctors!
So, the moral of my story: Second babies—and sometimes first babies—can come quick! If things hurt and nothing makes the contractions subside (water, laying down on your left side and so on), get thee to a hospital! And take it from me: Don’t dillydally unless you want to end up on the 11 o’clock news as the woman who gave birth on Broadway.