I had been having a lot of Braxton Hicks contractions towards the end of my pregnancy. But the real fun began when they seemed to intensify about three weeks before our baby was due. My brother-in-law and his wife were coming to visit us for a Canadian Thanksgiving (October 12), and we were all kind of hoping the baby would make his appearance during their visit. We had a great holiday weekend, but no baby.
Early the next Saturday morning (October 17), I began having what seemed like regular, though fairly mild, contractions every 20 - 30 minutes. Throughout the day they became stronger and closer together. I assumed this was it. After all, I'd already done this twice and figured I knew what labour felt like. We called our families, loaded our bulging suitcases, pillows, and two boys into our truck and headed off for the 1 hour 15 minute drive to drop our children off with relatives. By the time we arrived that afternoon the contractions had slowed down.
We waited around until later that evening when I had had a few more strong contractions close together then proceeded to the hospital which was 20 minutes from where we were. To shorten this long story I was not effaced or dilated at all. Needless to say, I was very disappointed to hear that I had been in false labour. I was sent home but warned to return at the first sign of labour. I was no longer confident that I would be able to tell if I was actually in labour and reluctant to make this long trip too many more times. We would just have to wait it out.
The contractions continued all the next week at a frequency of between 15 minutes and 1 hour. They became progressively stronger until I was no longer able to sleep through them at night. I was getting tired and frustrated. We went to my regular appointment with our O.B. and I still had not made any progress.
The next morning, which was my due date (October 22), I was still feeling the contractions (I had really started to hate hearing and saying that word). Later that morning I lost my mucous plug. I was excited, frightened, and really grossed out all at the same time. I knew that this meant something was happening. The contractions actually tapered right off until later in the afternoon. I couldn't figure out what was going on. Was I in labour or not??? By late that evening the contractions were getting closer together and stronger just like they did before. Then I would go for 45 minutes with nothing and the whole process would repeat itself. The difference was with each of these I had to stand up and lean on our dresser. I got ready for bed and another long night of interrupted sleep.
My husband felt that I had had enough and called the hospital for advice. He explained our ordeal and they suggested that I take a Gravol and try to rest. After that he called our hospital here in town to see if we could get a Gravol from them since it was about 12:45 a.m. (Friday). They suggested that I come in to be checked so we left our sons with the neighbours (incidentally, our neighbour was one of the ambulance attendants on call that night) and headed over. Meanwhile I had 4 or 5 contractions from the time the phone was hung up till we got to the hospital in town which was only a few blocks away. We waited for the doctor to arrive and during that time there were no breaks between the contractions.
The nurses called for the ambulance to take me to another hospital 45 minutes away. Everyone was very excited, and I enjoyed all the extra attention. When the doctor arrived, he checked me and told everyone I wasn't going in the ambulance. I was already fully dilated. I was actually shocked to hear this because I thought I'd just be going home again. Just then my water broke. The doctor (it turned out that our family doctor was the one on call) and nurses scrambled to turn that emergency room into a delivery room, started an IV, preheated the incubator, etc. and within 35 minutes, our third son was born, without pain meds or stitches. It took the nurses about 15 minutes to find my pants and shoes when it was all over. They'd been flung under a rolling cupboard in the corner. I still laugh about that.
After the placenta was delivered, the baby and I were taken by ambulance to another hospital where they weighed the baby, and I finally got to hold him. We were looked after and released the next day (Saturday). Samuel Jeremiah Armaly was born at 1:44 a.m. He weighed 6 lbs. 15 oz. and was 21 inches long.