So, I’d read a little about labor in these previous weeks…mostly by such Google search key words like “False labor vs true labor”, and “what do contractions feel like”. Because I’ve had the “practice” kind called Braxton-Hicks since January or February I guess – painless, just sort of an “everything-bunching-up” feeling. But I couldn’t tell how to decide if it was the real thing. My experience of labor comes from the movies, which universally involves a dramatic moment where the water breaks or the woman turns purposefully towards her husband and says, “it’s time.” A clear and decisive moment. I also was given to understand that there would be lots of screaming and giving birth in the backseat of taxis. Because, Hollywood.
Hilariously, it happened to be May 1st, which in France is the Fete de Travail, or Labor Day. (And like English, the French word for le douleur de enfantement or childbirth pain, is also “labor” – travail – so this became the running joke of the day.
For me, I woke at one thirty with the insomnia that has built steam for most of the pregnancy. I had some sharp pains that kind of felt like gas, but nothing huge, and as I typically did during nights with insomnia, I took advantage of the time difference between France and the US to text my sister. We talked about the castle and about her finishing a load of paperwork related to an immigration deadline, but our conversation was punctuated with occasional exchanges like this : (capped from various points in our conversation)
I love reading back over this conversation. It’s so clear now what was happening, but at the time, I really wasn’t sure! It didn’t feel exactly like what I was expecting, but then again, I don’t know what I was thinking it would be like.
After the final text, I got up and sat on my yoga ball. The “cramps” kept coming. At one point I slipped downstairs past Ariana, still asleep under the Mexican blankets, to go to the bathroom and the pain came so intense that I threw up.
At this point, I realized that this was probably entering new territory. I tiptoed back upstairs and kneeled on the edge of the bed.
“Baby? Mathieu? Are you awake?”
He wasn’t. He kind of half turned towards me in the dark.
“Sweetie, can you hear me?”
“I think I just started.”
“I think I’m in labor.”
(to be continued)