What Does Labor Feel Like?

I cannot tell you how many times I googled those words. What does labor feel like? How do you know it’s contractions? What does your water breaking feel like? What is early labor?

My search history was full of labor and delivery forums, articles, and blogs. I pestered every mom I encountered with contraction questions. What was labor like for you? When did you know? Was it slow or fast? I didn’t care about the delivery. That I knew- I’d go to the hospital, the nurses would get me through, and I’d have a baby on the other side. But the labor. Oh my gosh, what if I missed the signs?!?!

Towards the end of my pregnancy, Baby J was measuring 2 weeks ahead. It felt like my due date was just wrong- but it wasn’t. We knew from a 3 day window when I wasn’t pregnant and then magically when I was. So a 2 week miscalculation was not possible. But every doctor’s visit felt like the twilight zone where baby would be the perfect size for a 36 weeker but I was only 34 weeks. He was big.

It wasn’t so surprising to have a big baby. Hubby is 6’3″ and I’m 5’8″ and both of us were over 8 lbs at birth. I also have a chronic health condition that leads to bigger babies (prize to those that guess it). But it was emotionally jarring every week as the doctor prepared me for having this “huge” baby. See, if he was over a certain weight, they wouldn’t let me do a vaginal birth. It was an automatic C section. Which I did NOT want.

It wasn’t the incision, the surgery, the pain, the recovery. I didn’t care about those things. I wanted a vaginal birth because I’m crunchy. I wanted all those immune boosting, lung improving benefits of baby exiting the birth canal. We asked the doctor- if this is a C section, will you let us swab baby with fluids from the birth canal? He said no. Europe was doing it but there was risk. I still don’t get the risk because if baby exits that way on his own, he gets it. If he doesn’t, what was the extra risk of doing it? But alas, my doctor was old school.

So every week closer to 39 (when my doctor said he’d take baby), the anxiety set in. When would this baby make his debut? What was that twinge? Were these Braxton-Hicks or the real deal?

Week after week, no baby. Week after week, more googling. Week after week, more anxiety.


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