For some reason I had got it into my head that Pickle was going to arrive before their due date. Now, this was probably the worst thing I could have done as it meant the two weeks before my due date were tense and disappointing when each day passed without me going into labour. However it did mean that once my due date arrived, I felt a lot calmer and resigned to Pickle arriving in their own sweet time. I made my peace with the likelihood of having to be induced (the thing I was most fearful of), and managed my disappointment by eating anything that came within a few feet of me. Then, Dark Thursday happened.
Dark Thursday was 2 days after my due date and the day that, unfathomably, I had arranged to pick up my new estate car (the car I’d had to buy last minute because I’d waited until starting maternity leave to check whether the pram would fit in my old car’s boot- it wouldn’t). So, massively pregnant and in 28 degree heat I drove the 40 minute journey to the garage to pick the car up. Paperwork signed, I drove off in said car, very quickly realising that the air conditioning was in no way working (when I say not working, I mean it felt like I was being blasted by a hairdryer in a warm wind tunnel), which, given the situation, got my goat ever so slightly. After a heated exchange over the phone with the garage, I drove to their servicing department where after a 30 minute wait I was told it wouldn’t be fixed for another 5 days. I gestured to my massive belly, eyes wide and angry… in response, the man gestured to a Honda Jazz. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Honda Jazz, but in a nutshell, it’s tiny. In fact it could probably fit in a nutshell. The baby car seat base wouldn’t fit in my husband’s car so we knew the Jazz would be my chariot into hospital. Maybe the fact that my knees were pushed up to my chin would aid the birthing process?! Strike one.
To drown my sorrows re:Jazz-gate, my mum treated me to a coffee (decaf of course*) and cake (massive of course) in town ahead of my midwife appointment later in the afternoon. We decided it probably wasn’t a big enough deal to get upset about and the baby probably wouldn’t come before I got the big car back anyway, so no biggie (I’m playing down my side of the melodrama hugely here). I drove back home to my midwife appointment, optimistic that she was going to work some voodoo style magic to kick things off. After some undignified rummaging, she looked at me and very matter-of-factly said “Nope, nowhere near I’m afraid.” She may as well have said “I have never seen anyone less about to go into labour than you.” I felt a lump forming in my throat. I just wanted to shout “GET THIS BABY OUT OF ME!!!! I’m sooooo done being pregnant, I hurt all over and I’m so tired! Just get it out!”, but I’m British so, of course, I just thanked her enthusiastically. However, she wasn’t finished: “But your blood pressure is now high and there is also protein in your urine, so you may be developing pre-eclampsia. If it doesn’t arrive soon you’ll probably have to be induced”. Just like that. Bomb dropped. Strike two.
Panic set in at this point and as I waddled home by myself in the baking heat I quietly sobbed. When you get to this stage of pregnancy you just want to get it done with- I was so big, my pelvis was rickety, I couldn’t get shoes on my elephant feet, I couldn’t bend forward to pick things up, and I was so apprehensive about how I was going to handle labour that I just wanted to be IN it! Added to that the fear of pre-eclampsia and something happening to the baby and I was devastated. My husband came home to find me bouncing on my exercise ball in the garden, listening to London Grammar whilst quietly crying through a tight, pasted on smile. “Right, we’re going out” he declared. I had no energy to argue and waddled behind him to the car. We drove to a seaside town not far away, and getting that space and distance from home was miraculous. I felt lighter (metaphorically obviously, I was the size of a zeppelin) and calmer immediately. We indulged in a curry (unexpectedly hot) and slowly made our way home through the sticky evening. At 3.30am, I went into labour. So it just shows, you really never know. Dark Thursday is only funny now because it led to Labour Friday. When you’re in it, it all feels very stressful and difficult. But that is the great thing about context and perspective. Dark Thursday has truly taught me that ‘This too shall pass’. Never a truer word was said.
*The best bit about this story is when Pickle was about a week old, my mum very sheepishly told me that when we’d gone to the coffee shop on Dark Thursday, she’d accidentally ordered me a double shot caffeinated coffee but I was so stressed she was too frightened to tell me. That was probably why my blood pressure had gone up. She’d felt really guilty but apparently I was just too scary to confront. Must work on my approachability…