Well. I should be more careful the next time I start complaining about due dates. Because not long after I posted my gripes about prolonged French gestation times here, I started feeling contractions. Not bad ones, but enough to wake me up and make me think le bébé might be on the move.
That was at 4am. By 7am the idea of contractions was still funny and exciting, and I woke Husband up to tell him the news. We giggled in bed and double checked the hospital bag and googled “when to go to the hospital.” And although I was having those cute little contractions every five minutes like clockwork, it didn’t seem that serious.
So Husband went to work. And I vacuumed the apartment, because it just seemed like the right thing to do (my mom would certainly agree).
By 11am the contractions weren’t as cute as before, but still not alarming, other than their consistent timing. So I called the sage femmes (the midwives at the hospital, literally “wise women”) and let them know we had a situation brewing. They told me it was probably false labor, but to come in anyway.
So I waddled to the taxi stand and rolled up to the hospital, where they took one look at me and said Non, pas de tout! How about you come back on Thursday?
Defeated, I took the bus home. But by the time I got the key in the door, my uterus decided it wasn’t taking that crap and upped the ante. The cute contractions turned into breath-taking, I-mean-business contractions. That were still 5 minutes apart.
That was slightly alarming, but I didn’t want to seem like a wuss. Husband came home just in case and quickly decided that my labor pains didn’t fit the textbook description of active labor. So he watched soccer and I paced around, calling out for him to time each contraction to see if they were fading or getting more urgent.
They got more urgent. I started getting a little panicky. But I didn’t want to go all the way to the hospital again for no reason. And, you know, I didn’t want to be a wuss. Which is not a healthy mindset and something I should probably discuss with a professional. At one point I was hunched over in pain, gripping the arm of the couch and shouting at Husband “DO YOU THINK I’M BEING A WUSS? I SHOULD JUST SUCK IT UP, RIGHT??!”
Which is about when Husband started thinking that this thing might happen for real. But just to confirm, we Skyped my sister-in-law, who’s a nurse. She took one look at my contraction grimace and told us to get our arses to the hospital, NOW.
So back to the hospital we went. And this time, the sage femmes took one look at me bent over and clawing at the door frame and said, See? Now you know what the real contractions feel like!
* * *
accouchement (ah-coosh-mehn): childbirth, delivery. As in,
“We arrived at the hospital for the accouchement and learned that our medical vocabulary had severe limitations. Hilarity ensued.”