At about 36 weeks, I had a bout of pre-term labor. Granted, I was barely pre-term at that point, but I was totally unprepared to have a baby. I hadn't given much thought to much of anything except pulling out a box of baby clothes. I didn't have any baby diapers, and I certainly hadn't packed a hospital bag! (NB: The most important part of the hospital bag for me is Gatorade. The upshot of all this is that I just threw a few extra in the back of the car!).
Here's what happened.
My husband had surgery, somewhat unexpectedly, in the middle of May. It was supposed to be a relatively easy, common, outpatient procedure for which he would be discharged the same day and recovery would take 3-6 weeks. He wouldn't be able to sit for about a week, but figured we'd get it out of the way with before baby was born so that he could help me afterwards. And I'd never delivered early, so we thought surely we had about 5 more weeks.
Surgery was difficult, and the next few days of recovery were a bit of a trial for all of us, but we were handling it OK. Sitting was painful, so he would eat dinner standing up and then be found lying down or standing or walking most of the rest of the day.
But then, after about 10 days, the surgical wound became infected, and he was still in quite a bit of pain. Back to the ER he went. This was difficult, but we were still handling it OK.
Then, he woke up the next morning and could barely walk. He'd slipped getting out of the hospital bed the day before, and his Achilles tendon now seemed to be swollen.
Oh, wow. So now, 11 days post-surgery, he couldn't walk, and sitting was excruciatingly painful.
Back to the ER we went.
Not surprisingly, I started to notice some contractions sitting in the car on the way home from the hospital. Contractions continued after I picked him up from the ER, where he got crutches, but fortunately no more serious diagnosis. Contractions continued as I dropped him off to attend the last mass we knew of happening nearby that day. Contractions continued as I sat at the playground with the little boys. Contractions continued, many were more than a minute, and some were as little as 4 minutes apart, as we drove home.
By the time we got home, I was in a panic. My father and mother were out of town and wouldn't be able to watch the boys for us. My husband was also not in great condition to watch the boys. And between the walking and sitting issues, it seemed extremely unlikely that he would be able to either drive me to the hospital OR help me during labor. My sister-in-law had just delivered her baby early, and they were struggling with the ups and downs of his NICU stay, so neither she nor my brother would be able to help, either. I had not even thought to ask for help from anyone else. I had never thought I would need help so soon, nor that all the likely candidates would be unavailable at the same time!
It had also suddenly dawned on me how quickly my last baby was born. If this labor was anything like that one, we would have about two hours from the time I realized I was actually in labor until the birth. The hospital is 45 minutes away on a good day, more like an hour at any time remotely close to rush hour. So that leaves about an hour to figure out one person to take care of the kids and another to drive me to the hospital, and having to accomplish these tasks in between intense contractions, when I might very well need to recover from the last one and prepare for the next, much less make phone calls!
Yikes. As you can imagine, I was very, very grouchy when we got home that Sunday evening. I told my husband that I really needed to take some time to eat, drink, use the bathroom, take a shower, and SIT DOWN, or else I might go into labor. But of course first we needed to put the kids to bed...Poor injured, wounded husband, I think he may have had to do that completely by himself that night. Lord, what would I do without him?
Contractions slowed, and you'd think that might be the end of the story. But then, I woke up in the middle of the night and could not fall back asleep because of the contractions. This was exactly how my third labor started, and so I decided we definitely needed to go to the hospital this time. I couldn't bear the thought that dawn and rush hour traffic would come, I would start my day like normal, and then BAM! I would suddenly find myself nearly pushing a baby out into the passenger seat of our car. My mom had arrived home by this point, so we left the boys in her care and headed out.
To make a long story short, contractions continued to slow in the car and while lying in the hospital bed. My wise doctor suggested I walk around for a couple of hours to see if they would come back, but they did not. After about four hours, we left the hospital - dilated 1 cm, 80% effaced, with baby in a posterior vertex lie.
So that's one thing that happened in the last three quiet months!